The conspiracy theory that some of Hollywood’s most prominent elites are part of a Satanic cult is circulating the internet, and today, Liz follows up on the responses to the horrendous graphic and whether or not this theory is true. Plus, she explores what’s infecting our culture and how society became so desensitized to the pervasive evil. This is The Liz Wheeler Show.
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain typos, mistakes, and/or incomplete information.
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so what I wanna talk about today is I wanna talk about, this is a follow-up show in a sense to Monday’s show what, right after the Super Bowl. We talked about that. well, we talked about the halftime show, obviously, Rihanna’s halftime show. And I showed you a graphic or a meme that was going all around Twitter, and it showed Rihanna, it showed Sam Smith, it showed Lizzo and Dylan Mulvaney.
Now, obviously, Rihanna was from the Super Bowl. Sam Smith, Lizzo and Dylan Mulvaney were from the Grammys a couple weeks ago. They were all wearing this very bright, scarlet red color, not a color that’s particularly in fashion. And so it got noticed by some people who, when I say a conspiracy theory, has, has come of this. I say it obviously laughing because is a conspiracy theory an insult anymore?
Perhaps not. But the conspiracy theory is that these, these four, perhaps more, but at least these four, are part of a Satanic cult in Hollywood. And this is the way that they, this is the way that they display that by wearing this color, this scarlet red. Now, Sam Smith, obviously at the Grammys, did that performance where he was, performing, dressed as Satan surrounded by Demonn. So a little less farfetched for something for someone like him.
But I mentioned this graphing in the Post Super Bowl show, and I gotta tell you, I got hundreds, thousands of responses, to the show, of course. But a huge percentage of the responses to that show from you guys were about that graphic, we’re about this idea, or this suggestion, or this conspiracy theory, whatever you wanna call it, that there is a Satanic cult in Hollywood.
So I wanted to dig into that a little bit more. Tell you, my thought process on how I’m breaking this down, how I think about it, whether this is true or what it means, is there any nuance to it? I also wanted to talk about, I got a, I got flack on Twitter after the Super Bowl for criticizing the halftime show, the Rihanna halftime show. And it wasn’t just from liberals, obviously, liberals criticize everything I say, I don’t care about that. But a lot of Republicans and conservatives were very positive about Rihanna’s halftime show. They were like, oh, she kept all of her clothes on.
So what’s your problem then? It was all the classics. It was wonderful. It was fun, it was family friendly, and I could not disagree with this more. And don’t, I don’t care in and of itself about the criticism, but the fact that the criticism exists made me think that we need to do a deeper dive into the problems with our culture, because even conservatives and Republicans have gotten so desensitized to the evil pervading our culture, that we almost fail to see it, unless it is to the level of shocking that, you know, Sam Smith’s Grammy performance is, and I understand, I totally get it.
Sam Smith’s dressing up as Satan compared to Rihanna at the Super Bowl. Yes, obviously, the Sam Smith performance is a lot more shocking. It’s a lot more grotesque. It’s certainly more, more irreverent. But that doesn’t mean that what Rihanna did isn’t extremely problematic as well. So I wanted to talk a little bit about what exactly is infecting our culture? Is there a Satanic cult that is, that is in Hollywood, or do these people in Hollywood belong to a Santa Satanic cult? Are they doing the work of a Satanic cult? So, that’s what we’re gonna talk about. Let’s get to it.
Okay, so let’s talk about this graphic, this cult of Satan graphic. It went all around Twitter on the Super Bowl. I mentioned it in our Post Super Bowl show. We talked about it just a little bit there. This is it on the screen for anybody who once their eyes to fall out of their eyes sockets here. It’s Rihanna, Rihanna in the top left, and then Sam Smith and some kind of horrible bondage sex clothes, I can’t even think about it.
The top right Lizzo on the bottom left in her red Afghan, her Furby costume that she wore to the Grammys. And then Dylan Mulvaney, the girls of, or the days of Girlhood, transgendered, you know, the man pretending he’s a girl on the bottom right. They’re all wearing this scarlet, this scarlet color. And it is an unusual color. It’s not in fashion. So it’s led some to say that perhaps these people, these Hollywood celebrities are in a Satanic cult.
Like I said, I mentioned this after the Super Bowl show. Probably half of the responses I got from you guys after the show was about this topic, this specific graphic. I also got a ton of flack for talking about, well, talking critically about Rihanna’s halftime show. I stand by what I said on that. I don’t care about the criticism, but the criticism itself, the fact that so many conservatives thought that her halftime show was appropriate and good and classic, and even family friendly, makes me think that we need a little bit deeper dive into this. So that’s what I wanna address this in a more philosophical way.
Today. I wanna talk about this illness that our culture is suffering. And if this illness is what it appears to be, meaning, so many people think that this Satanic cult is a realistic idea. It is believable whether or not it is the thing, it is certainly believable based on their behavior. What’s the antidote to a culture that has been infected with this kind of illness? So, I wanna bring on author of a new book called How to Save the West, ancient Wisdom for Five Modern Crises. Spencer Klavan. Spencer, good to see you,.
Liz, it’s great to see you. Although you did not tell me you were gonna make me look at pictures of Sam Smith. I’m beginning to reconsider our entire friendship. Now that you’ve forced me through this door end.
I feel like I owe an apology to the public at large, because it’s the second time this week on the show that I’ve displayed that without prior, without a trigger warning preceding it. But, oh, man, I mean, I’m sorry about it. I’m sorry that I had to see it. It sticks in your mind. But at the same time, if we don’t properly diagnose this, how can we properly prescribe a solution for it?
That’s what I wanna ask you about today, because when we’re talking about the problem with our culture, it seems to me that, you can’t address our cultural ills without addressing religion. I know people are gonna say, oh, you’re religious, right? You’re a Bible thumper, you’re this, that, and the next. But can we actually solve our cultural crises without religion?
You know, in seriousness, Liz, I think you really do put your finger right on it here. there is a line in the Bible that says, the fool, Heth said in his heart, there is no God. And sometimes I think we read that line and we think, oh, this just means like atheists are dumb. Like it means it’s dumb to be an atheist or something. And okay, fair enough.
But I actually think the line goes much, much deeper than that. I think what that line means is if you tell yourself that you have no God, if you tell yourself you don’t worship, that you have no religion, then you have made yourself into a fool. You’ve fooled yourself by telling yourself that you don’t have a religion. That there’s such a thing as atheism. There’s actually no such thing as atheism. There’s just different forms of worship, and there’s people who worship different things.
Every one of us who wakes up in the morning gets out of bed for a reason. We do things because we think such and such a thing is good, because we have some aim or goal. And what that means is that somewhere in the back of our minds or in the front of our minds, there is a highest good, something that demands our allegiance, that we submit to, whose, demands we wish to obey.
And what the Bible really, I think illustrates about, demonn worship, idle worship, which is all kind of under the umbrella of satanism, is that people who are engaged in this kind of worship or this kind of ritual, often don’t know that they’re doing it. In fact, one of the central kind of identifiers of idle worship is blindness. Blindness about yourself not knowing that you’re doing what you’re doing.
And that is what I think we are observing in all of these pictures that you’re showing. It’s not that, you know, people think that conservatives were bible thumpers, and we believe in the secret cabal of evil satanists that are getting together in their satanic temple. And for all I know that may be happening somewhere, but that’s really, not striking to the heart of what we’re looking at here.
People who worship powers other than God don’t know that they’re doing most of the time. And so when Sam Smith gets up there at the Grammys and he puts on his little red hat, and he says, I’m doing something unholy. he’s professing, he’s demonstrating in his art, what he places highest, you know, sex pleasure, whatever you wanna call it. Anything that you put into that slot of the highest good besides God is going to betray you and make you a fool.
We can’t talk about or understand these things without making reference to religion and to worship. This is why in the book I talk about the crisis of religion. It’s not because we’ve lost our religion. It’s because we’ve put our faith in something other than God. And the way back is to read the great texts and understand that there’s actually only one thing that’s worthy of being put in that position worthy of really being worshiped.
So, you know, call me a Bible thumper or whatever. But it’s not as if I’m saying, these guys are, you know, rubbing their hands trying to do evil. It’s that the people who say to themselves that they aren’t religious are the most religious people of all.
Right? Which I think is kind of striking when you think about our culture, because it means that there are a lot of people who are unwittingly complicit in satanism because they’ve put these unholy things on a pedestal in the place of God. So I found it very fascinating in your book, I wanna talk about the way that you’ve divided our cultural ills into these five different buckets.
Because I think actually, unfortunately, each of these pictures that I showed at the beginning fall into one of these categories. You talk about the crisis of reality, the crisis of the body, the crisis of meaning, the crisis of religion that you just mentioned, and then the crisis of the regime. And if we could, I’d like to break down each one, because I think a lot of times sitting here, we identify the evils that are happening in our culture.
It’s obvious to us when we see something like Sam Smith or see something like, Lizzo, and what I, what I mean, Lizzo, I mean, we’re not, we’re told as conservatives that we’re not allowed to comment on the fact that Lizzo is humongously fat. We’re told that if we call her obese, not, not as an insult, but just an as an observation, that she is morbidly obese, she’s overweight, that that’s a slur the same as the N word, right?
So we’re t we’re told that, we’re not even allowed to observe the physical reality of, of her body, what she looks like because of this. and we, we can diagnose these cultural ills, but finding a solution to them is something you talk about in a lot of depth in your book. So I’d like to go through these, if you would, and start with the crisis of reality and the basis for this and, and how we’re seeing it play out and how we can fix it.
Absolutely. I think that’s spot on. You know, we, we talk about these things. We know there’s something deeply wrong with a lot of this stuff. And I think that in addition to the, you know, musical performance stuff, we started about talking to, talking about, we could go into all sorts of other things. Like we could talk about that statue that they just put up in New York, representing, you know, abortion and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
And so, help me, it looks exactly like the goddess Ishtar, like one of these kind of pagan deities, that we should all, we were all being asked to kind of bow down and, and worship. and of course, in a more supposedly secular sphere, we have things like the BLM riots where we were all supposed to take a knee and ask for forgiveness. there were the covid, there was the Covid regime when Dr..
Fauci represented the science. this stuff is very easy to react against. It’s very easy to see this and know that there’s something deeply wrong. It’s less easy to say, what are we really facing? What are we grappling with here? And part of that is because all of these problems seem so new, it seems like it’s happening, you know, at at light speed, a mile a minute, every day there’s some new problem to deal with.
And what I suggest in the book is that really underneath those daily crises, beneath those daily news cycle problems, we are facing some of the most fundamental questions that mankind has ever faced. Digital technology especially is making us reckon with these questions, w what is real? Where do I stand in the universe? What is a human being? and so, yeah, the first of these questions that I, that I raised, that we’ve dealt with is, the crisis of reality.
Is anything really true, whether I want it to be or not, or is it all just my truth, your truth? And we kind of get to fight over, who gets to shut whom up. and I think we’re seeing this all over the place with, you know, our quote unquote post-truth politics and the battles over social media censorship, this idea that if I can stop conservatives from saying what they wanna say, then those truths won’t exist. You kind of alluded to that with Lizzo. You know, it’s like if you can stop people from saying she’s, un at an unhealthy weight, that she’s fat, that she should lose some weight for her own sake. if you can stop people from saying that, then somehow it won’t be true. Right? You can kind of wish it away, but of course, it will remain true.
And all that will happen is we’ll have installed a new kind of oppressive regime, which is what this stuff always boils down to. And the final kind of instance of this, of course, is, is a virtual reality where the whole notion of true and false, of, of, of real life, physical space, is supposed to just evaporate into this imaginary world. what I argue in the book is that the kind of crisis that we’re up against goes right back to the beginning of Western philosophy in Athens that Socrates and after him, his disciple Play-Doh, were really grappling with this very question, is there anything that we can know is true no matter what, no matter who says otherwise? And they concluded that yes, in fact, there is.
And not only that, but if you don’t believe that, you might think that you’re going to be made free, but you’re actually gonna just subject yourself and everyone around you to power politics. Because if there’s no such thing as absolute truth, then all that’s left is power. And that’s what we’re seeing with all of these, I think, trends that you’re identifying. when you really pull back the camera and you understand the kind of fundamental questions at stake, you realize that we’re up against something that’s very deep and has been going on since the beginning, really of, of recorded history, which is why it pays to study the great texts.
It’s interesting because I mean, you and I are friends and we talk about these philosophical, nerdy stuff off the air frequently. I mean, what, what were we texting about two days ago about first principles and freedom, liberty.
We were, we exactly, exactly. We’re just nerding out. Our conversations are built on, but I, whenever we have a conversation, and you remind me that what we’re facing in our country is not the first time that a nation has faced this, right? We feel like it’s the first time we’re like, has any nation ever dealt with a transgender crisis where we’re mutilating the bodies of young girls and young boys based on, based on an ideology that was indoctrinated into them, that plays on mental, that plays into vulnerabilities because of mental illness? Have we ever faced this?
And you remind me like, yes, other places have dealt with this because just because it’s manifesting like this doesn’t mean the root cause is something new. I always find that in a sense, comforting, because if we study our history and we learn from the historical mistakes of others, then we are not as the, as the saying goes doomed to make those same mistakes. And I think in this book particularly, you do a good job, especially when it comes to the crisis of the body. If you wanna talk about that for a second, I think, and that doesn’t just relate to the transgender stuff that relates to the transhumanist stuff as well.
That’s right. Yeah. Well, it’s like, you know, the first time you fall in love, the first time anybody falls in love, they think they’re inventing the problems. You know, like they’re the first people that ever had this or that issue or concern. And you’re like, this is the, I feel this way about this person. Nobody’s ever felt this way.
And at some point, you talk to, if you’re lucky, you have an older person to guide you through and say, no, actually, this is just the way this stuff tends to go. And, you know, don’t go that way, go this way instead. And in fact, that is, you know, in the big scheme of things and the big time scale, that’s how the great tradition works. You know, each of us only has one life. And so when we come up against these big civilizational problems, we can feel like that teenager who’s falling in love for the first time, we feel like, nobody’s ever been up against this before.
But you’re right, it’s comforting to realize that actually in various ways, these questions have, have come up in the past, because that means we’re not alone and so on, on the crisis of the body. You know, even though, yes, transgender surgery is kind of a radical innovation and a horror, it doesn’t actually boil down to something that nobody’s ever seen before.
For a long, long time in our history and the history of the human race, there has been discomfort with, with our bodies, it’s, it’s difficult, to live in this fallen world where our bodies break down and eventually die. These are hard truths to have to face up to. And for a long time, there has been a kind of philosophical idea that, well, actually, our bodies are just a kind of accident. They’re like, you know, a a burden that we have to deal with, but what’s real about us is this sort of divine spark.
There’s some kind of, ghost in the machine that can float up, up above our flesh and can, that’s really what we are. And the modern version of this is quote unquote gender identity, which is a radical innovation to be sure. But it’s just another idea version of this idea that there’s some kind of floating u in the abstract that’s not really the same as that lives in real life.
And therefore, you should be free to do anything you want to your body to just totally reconfigure it and remold it and do surgery and hormone injections, or, as you said, brain implants, chips, you know, if you, if you’re going the technological route, that you should just be able to kind of use the body like a lump of clay. and what I propose in the book is that by studying the history of this idea, we can see that , it always makes people sick and unhappy.
it always makes us more miserable rather than less to treat our bodies this way. And even better, there is another option. There is another way of looking at this and addressing this question. It’s called hylomorphism, which is a beautiful word from the Greek meaning form in matter, that our bodies aren’t an accident, they’re not an encumbrance, they’re not a burden. Our bodies are actually the language that expresses our souls.
We are embodied souls, and it’s not a mistake that we are the way we are, that we are human beings with both spirit and flesh. This is actually a beautiful thing about us, and if we learn to live through it, and if we learn to understand ourselves as more than mere matter, and yet embodied in the here and now, we’ll be saner happier and healthier than if we go down this route, which has been tried a million times of just floating up out of our bodies and, seeking some imaginary freedom that never really materializes.
It is kind of a heady thought. It’s a little bit of a, of a mind bender, but it is beautiful. Yeah. When you, when you can clearly, clearly articulate that. Can you gimme some examples though, when you say that this idea that we are floating above our bodies, or that there’s a ghost that operates the machine, that this is not something new to our culture. What have other cultures, how has it manifested in other cultures and how have they dealt with it, and what has been the outcome of how they’ve dealt with it?
Oh, absolutely. So one guy that I talk about a lot in the book is Plato. He’s a neoplatonist philosopher. And, you know, Plato himself, the great Greek philosopher, did often sort of talk as if there was this realm of pure ideas beyond anything that we can see or touch in the here and now.
And in a certain sense, course that’s true. If we do believe in absolute truth, then we must believe that there is something beyond just the world of change and decay. There are absolute truths. but there were people from very early on who took that further and said, therefore, you know, what we should do is just get out of our bodies as soon as possible. And, Plato’s biographer said that, he seemed ashamed of being in his body. He didn’t want to, you know, have, have a body at all.
and this idea, you know, which kind of gets translated then into mysticism that early Christianity has to deal with, it becomes very deep rooted in the Western mind. And in many ways it’s really the church that that gets around this that gets past this. and it does so by clinging to the idea of the incarnation, the idea that God doesn’t actually reject our flesh.
He loves us so much that he took on our flesh, that the world is created by God, and it was made to be good, even if it is, is fallen without him, not one thing was made that was made. and and through understanding this, we kind of arrive at, this doctrine of the incarnation, and I think really crucially that the doctrine of, of the birth, of, of Mary’s virgin birth right, that Mary is kind of a conduit, in her role as mother.
she’s a conduit for the flesh to become the medium of the divine. I really think that this is one reason why the transgender stuff so often seems to target women, especially, to talk about women in the most degrading and dehumanizing sort of ways. You know, that they’re just chest feeders. They’re just menstruated to reduce women to their body parts, basically.
I think it’s an attempt to deny the truth that the church sought out and kind of understood, both from Greek sources and from its scriptural tradition, that the incarnation and the installation of that at the center of, of the Western heart, that’s really the way out that our ancestors found, and that can still guide us today.
And cultures that don’t embrace, that don’t end well, to put it bluntly, I’m not gonna say it in as flowery of rhetoric as you can say it, but that’s simply the facts of the matter. It, it’s something that I’ve been grappling with. I think it’s something that represents the evolution of my own political views. I think when I was a younger conservative, I leaned more libertarian because don’t we all love this idea of, of just being accountable only our actions only accountable to the government and to community as far as they would violate someone else’s inherent rights based on this maybe secular idea of ethics.
And I, the evolution of my views has stemmed from the fact that I wish that worked, but it simply doesn’t work. There’s maybe even no such thing as secular ethics, because you have to be grounded in something. And if you’re grounded in political whim, if you’re grounded in mob rule, if you’re grounded in something other than natural law, then you are, you are going to beget exactly what we’re seeing in this culture right now, which is the false gospel. And in a sense, the second fall of man, not to sound irreverent, but a fall of a culture.
Hmm. Wow. Yeah. Well, this is another subject of our, you know, off mic friendship. We text a lot about this stuff, and I think it’s really important, you know, the way in which, people talk as if there’s only two options, and the options are, liber, full libertarianism or full classical liberalism, or however you wanna put it, that, you know, the government and society has no business saying anything at all about subjects other than the tax rate, basically.
And people should be just left alone in every other respect, as if that’s the only alternative to like full theocracy and like Pope hat intensifies, you know, to just like bringing down the hammer. and of course, those aren’t the only two options. That’s a false choice. And society has more than one way of speaking to people, because really, if you think about it, to be s to say that, you know, you want to be left alone, that can sound kind of liberating, but it’s actually very lonely .
you know, leave me alone means that I’m gonna just be getting by on my own personal resources. I’m gonna have no, ancestral wisdom to turn to no community to really, network with and, and to thread my, my being through, you know, that’s a recipe for a very lonely life. And politics is not just about the laws that you write. I think we can broadly agree, right, that the founders did say, you don’t establish a state sect.
You don’t impose one particular brand of religion onto people. But there’s a world of difference between saying that and saying, you should just leave people without any spiritual guidance whatsoever. Faith is not a team sport, and we don’t talk about spiritual things in our kind of life together. that’s not the vision of the founders at all.
What the founders envisioned was small communities getting together and living according to their lights, shaping the souls, especially of young people, by, by training them up in the way that they should go, the way that we honor things, the way that we teach in schools, all this stuff that we’re having, these so-called culture war fights over right now.
they all exist in that space in between like total libertarianism and total kind of like theocracy or whatever you wanna call it. There’s, there’s a lot of room in the middle there, where society does have a role to play in guiding and shaping people, leading them toward the good. Because if we’re not, as you say, if we’re not going toward the common good together, then we’re actually not doing politics or civilization at all.
And we couldn’t even define common good unless we had some baseline understanding of what good is and what is. And in order to do that, unless it’s written by political mob, then mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you have to turn to the o you have to turn to the author of Good. By the way, I should have prefaced this part of the conversation. This is the crisis of meaning in our culture.
We talk the crisis of reality, the crisis of the body, the crisis of meaning. So the crisis of religion is actually a little bit different than what we were just talking about. We were talking about the philosophical part of meaning, what is our purpose? What, what is good, what is bad, but the crisis of religion. You talk more about what has supplanted, what institution has supplanted religion. I found this to be very interesting because this is so obvious to so many of us in our culture when we see, you know, the science , the science himself claim that he is infallible. Dr. Fauci, talk to me about this.
Yeah, this is where we’ve arrived back at the thing we were talking about at the beginning, and you, you can see how, you know, you start out talking about Sam Smith and Rihannand of course, you know, these things are, are, are very riveting. but the deeper you go, the more you realize that there’s something more profound at stake here.
And this is why this, that religion conversation we were having early on is so important. Everybody has a religion, everybody serves something. And you mentioned capital T, the science, you know, when Dr. Fauci got up and after people had already been lighting prayer candles to him, which I’m not making that up, that’s a real thing, you know, he, he then got up and he said, I, represent the science, you know, and whatever else that is, that’s not a man who’s doing science.
You know, it’s not a man who’s performing experiments and telling you the results of his data so that you can go away and make your own decision. That’s a man who is claiming clerical authority, who’s setting himself up as a priest that has a cult knowledge. And he gets to tell you based on the kind of ineffable, pure divine truth, he gets to tell you what to do.
And I really suspect that what we’re seeing is the end point of kind of scientific materialism, not science itself, but just the reduction of everything to physical science. you can’t live that way and eventually you’re gonna start worshiping the human heart needs an outlet for that worship. and if we don’t take that impulse to church, we’re gonna take it somewhere else.
We’re gonna take it to the streets. And in the BLM rallies, we’re gonna take it, to the, you know, the W H O and the World Economic Forum and all these kind of, governing bodies. but people always do worship. So it, the benefit of going back to the tradition is it helps you to become self-aware about that and to say, if I’m gonna worship, if there’s gonna be a highest good in my life, what deserves to be placed in that role?
And, just spoiler alert, it’s actually not Anthony Fauci who deserves to be in that role. it’s God. And so we, we ought to become more aware, I think about the ways that we are doing this and reorient ourselves to a better north star.
Yeah. Perhaps we should send that portion to Dr. Fauci, because the spoiler alert, he might be the only one that’s spoiled by that. He might be the only one that is surprised to hear that. No, I think, I think you’re correct. I think when you look, especially as this applies to a governmental structure, it’s the same, you’re saying the same thing as saying that there’s no such thing as an absence of morality. There’s no such thing actually as just pure tolerance.
This even playing field where there’s no good or bad legislated, there’s, there’s, there’s always going to be somebody’s version of morality. It’s just whether it’s the good, the true and the beautiful, or whether it’s twisted morality. So all of these different crises, reality of the body of meaning enough religion has have led us to the point where, I promise I’m not gonna bring up the meme again, even though, even though I’m gonna reference it.
Sam Smith has given us, Rihanna has given us, Lizzo has given us Dylan Mulvaney and our governmental structures are being focused on protecting and perpetuating that ideology instead of what we were founded on. And it’s, it’s brought a lot of people to the point where they’re asking, are we past the point of no return?
Yeah. This is the crisis of the regime, the American regime specifically. and I think what you’re saying, which is basically neutrality is fake. Right? that’s really right. And that’s kind of a good way of summing up a lot of the realizations that we’ve been coming to. This notion that you can have, that you can scrub the public square, clean of any kind of moral value, any kind of principle.
It was always a deception. It was always kind of a slight of hand. because even if what you say is, you know, mankind was born in God’s image and therefore he deserves, liberty, right, that he has the right to liberty. I believe that with my whole heart. But it’s not a morally neutral thing to say. It’s a claim about, the moral world and what is good, and that it’s a claim that personal liberty is included in the good, as part of the premise of, you know, the moral life.
You do have to be free to make choices that that can be judged, good or bad. but that means that, you know, that’s maybe not the only thing that government has to say about what is, is good because all of our government statements, all of our life together, involves some notion of, of what is good and, and, and what is the common good. The regime that we live in, which is a republic is designed, I think, to support that human flourishing as, as best, as humanly possible.
And that does mean that there’s a wide sphere for individual choice, but it also means that we have a small ce constitution, not the big sea constitution that tells you the law, or even, you know, the laws themselves that Congress makes, supposedly, or that the, in reality, often the administrative state enacts, but even not even those, but at at an even deeper level, that small sea constitution, is what Aristotle refers to as, you know, the rituals of our life, marrying and, intermarrying between families, the rituals that we perform, the way that, you know, going to the sports game, going to the PTA meeting, these kind of daily practices of life together.
and Aristotle says something about this that I think is really crucial, that it’s easy to forget. And that is that this kind of stuff, this small sea constitution stuff is an act of love. It’s a labor of love. The, the Greek word is flia, which we translate sometimes is friendship. And political friendship, civic friendship, is the attachment that we feel towards one another and that we build when we live together in community, especially in small communities, in neighborhoods.
And this is what, James Madison, the founding father identified as kind of the key to American success. I think it’s still the key to our success, even though we’ve lost sight of it in a, in a lot of ways. When you see people going to their school boards or protesting, you know, covid shutdowns, or even gathering at a state level, like in Florida, out here in Tennessee as well, we’re, we’re seeing some of this.
You’re seeing people doing, the American project saying, no, I don’t want to be grouped into some giant national scheme to, you know, overturn the patriarch year, whatever, but I actually want is to live side by side with my neighbors, as Americans and figure out tailored solutions to the problems that face us in the here and now. That’s a, that’s a hopeful sign, and that is actually the way out of a lot of our problems is recovering that civic friendship, that civic love.
Do you feel hope?
I sure do. I’ll tell you, you know, it’s funny, I also feel paralysis and despair. There’s no question about that. From time to time, I wake up and I think our problems are like too, too big. but I think that when we start thinking that way, we’ve kind of lost the plot a little bit because we’re thinking we’re both thinking too big and too small. We’re thinking too big because we’re trying to imagine like, how am I gonna rewrite the laws of the country so that the whole constitution is rescued and the wheels of history are turned back into the right place?
And, I hate to break it to you, but you ain’t got that power. You and I don’t have that power. It still matters. Who wins the 2024 election? All that stuff still matters, but you and I individually can’t fix that problem at, at a, you know, personally, at a wave of magic wand kind of level.
But we’re also thinking too small because we’re thinking in these immediate terms about what’s going to happen, you know, tomorrow or, or five years down the line. and when we understand that we are actually inheritors of the Western tradition, then we realize that we are carrying forth a light that has survived the life and the death of civilization after civilization.
This is maybe the deepest comfort, even if it’s a paradox. The deepest comfort that I draw from the great traditions of the West is to think about Marcus Cicero, who lived at the end of the Roman Republic, and who probably died thinking that he was a failure because the republic was ending and the new regime was coming in. The Empire was beginning to, harden and to take shape, and Cicero was one of the first victims of the new regime. So at a human level, he, he failed.
The truth of the matter though, is only shown hundreds and hundreds of years later when in, north America on this continent, a man called John Adams shows up. And this old curmudgeon has poured over the speeches of none other than Marcus Tulio Cicero from his boyhood. He’s carried around these speeches and he gives up, gets up, and he gives his great speech in defense of the Declaration of Independence sets this country on the path to its birth.
When you understand that you are dealing with that kind of timescale, that that’s the tradition you are inheriting, and the tradition that you are tasked with preserving, there’s actually no room for despair. We have no right to despair. We have a job to do, and that is to acknowledge we don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next five minutes, let alone tomorrow. but we do know that any effort we spend in defense of the good, the true and the beautiful will not be effort wasted. I do believe that. And so I do have hope.
That’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. And my final question for you before, and by the way, I, obviously this goes without saying, which is why I haven’t said it. I obviously highly recommend that everyone get Spencer’s book, how to Save the West, ancient Wisdom for Five Modern Crises. We just scratched the surface of the kind of stuff that’s in his book. It really is not just a blueprint, but it gives you so much hope because it does, it’s a comfort to know that what we’re facing in our culture today has been faced by mankind before. People have responded in various ways, and we can learn from how they responded. where can they get through your book?
Oh, well, thank you for asking and thank you for those very kind words. It means a lot when somebody who, you know, really reads the book, understands it. And, of course, as you say, your friendship means a lot to me as well. So I’m, I’m grateful that you, you say that people can get the book wherever, find books are sold, but if they go to How to Save the westbook.com, they’ll find all the different platforms where it’s available, or you can just go to Barnes Noble or Amazon or, any of those platforms, and check it out.
Absolutely. And this is probably the most important question. How many books did you read in the course of researching this book?
Ha. You know, I had to count it up. I mean, really, in some ways, I’ve been working on this book my whole life cuz there’s stuff in it from when I was a little kid. And there’s stuff in it from just recently when I was in grad school. I think there’s something like 30 pages of bibliography in there. So that’s hundreds of books. I, you know, I’m not totally sure what the final number is, but you’ll have to check me on that.
And full disclosure, this was something I texted him last week when we were talking about his upcoming, his upcoming book release. And I was like, how many Count him up, how many, because I knew it was gonna be hundreds. I knew it was gonna be hundreds, which I find to be endearing and confidence inspiring and hilarious. So, Spencer Klavan, thank you so much for being on the show. Everyone can go to, I forget the long u r URL that you said. So go to Amazon or Barnes Noble or whatever, whatever, however you read your books, and, and buy How to Save the West by Spencer Klavan. Spencer, good to see you.
It’s great to see you, Liz. Thank you so much.
Okay, so go to Amazon, get Spencer’s book. I mean, Spencer’s one of the smartest people that I know. You heard that in this interview with him. He’s one of the most well-studied people that I know, and he has poured his heart and soul into this book. He’s been talking to me about this book for over a year now as he has, as his sweat, blood, and tears have gone into it. So highly recommend it.
One of the things that is a complaint oftentimes among people in our movement is that we expose the evil of the culture so much that we forget to find solutions for it. Or we feel very depressed and very hopeless because we’ve identified these horrible things, these horrible sometimes satanic, communistic things that are happening in our culture. And it seems like there’s no hope.
It seems like there’s no recourse. Well, that’s not, that’s not the case. When you read this book, you will see that what we’re facing is something that we can fix and you will understand how to do that. So go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and get How to Save the West: Ancient Wisdom for Five Modern Crises by Spencer Klavan.
And then tweet about it. Put it on social media. Let him know. Let him know what you think and, share it with a friend. Thank you for watching. Thank you for listening. I’m Liz Wheeler. This is the Liz Wheeler Show.