The Vandals are within the gates, Fred Reed warns — but they are all texting each other:
Why are things that once were the common property of the cultivated now regarded as fossils predating the trilobites? One reason I think is the weakening of the barriers of class. The educated cannot maintain standards of excellence when constantly bathed by television in mangled grammar and illiterate usage.
Then there is a variant of Gresham’s Law that says bad culture drives out good. Stated more carefully, in the absence of barriers of class the values of the drains of society tend to become universal. Thus we have rap music, if such it is, hanging pants encompassing louts, piercings, and functional illiteracy. In a sentence, the vulgar have discovered that it is easier to reject higher standards than to meet them. By sheer numbers they prevail.
The death of good language is part of the larger death of all culture, springing from the same causes: the domination of society by the mob. Note the decline in the sales of books, particularly books of history, the sciences, and literature: the rapid growth in genuine illiteracy, the disappearance of symphony orchestras. We have no poets, a nation of over three hundred million being far inferior to tiny, muddy London in the Seventeenth Century. Classical music is seldom played and never written. Architecture means K Street boxes; sculpture, curious confabulations made to be sold to bureaucrats in the Parks Department.
Little hope exists of a reversal any time soon, if ever. In 1850 those deficient in schooling knew their deficiencies, and wanted to learn. Today there is an actual preference for ignorance, which is regarded as authentic or democratic and morally superior to knowing anything, which would be elitist. In politics we see a vengeful delight that control of society passes to non-European minorities without interest in any culture but that of the streets. “He is street smart,” or sometimes just “He street smart” conveys approbation that once would have been expressed by “He is a man of taste and discrimination.” Once learning or even the desire for it has been lost, they do not readily return.