The word civilization itself now rarely appears in academic texts or in journalism without the use of ironical quotation marks, as if civilization were a mythical creature, like the Loch Ness monster or the Abominable Snowman, and to believe in it were a sign of philosophical naiveté. Brutal episodes, such as are all too frequent in history, are treated as demonstrations that civilization and culture are a sham, a mere mask for crassly material interests — as if there were any protection from man’s permanent temptation to brutality except his striving after civilization and culture. At the same time, achievements are taken for granted, as always having been there, as if man’s natural state were knowledge rather than ignorance, wealth rather than poverty, tranquility rather than anarchy. It follows that nothing is worthy of, or requires, protection and preservation, because all that is good comes about a free gift of Nature.To paraphrase Burke, all that is necessary for barbarism to triumph is for civilized men to do nothing: but in fact for the past few decades, civilized men have done worse than nothing — they have actively thrown in their lot with the barbarians. They have denied the distinction between higher and lower, to the invariable advantage of the latter. They have denied the superiority of man’s greatest cultural achievements over the most ephemeral and vulgar of entertainments; they have denied that the scientific labors of brilliant men have resulted in an objective understanding of nature, and, like Pilate, they have treated the question of truth as a jest; above all, they have denied that it matters how people conduct themselves in their personal lives, provided only that they consent to their own depravity. The ultimate object of the deconstructionism that has swept the academy like an epidemic has been civilization itself, as the narcissists within the academy try to find a theoretical justification for their own revolt against civilized restraint. And thus the obvious truth — that it is necessary to repress, either by law or by custom, the permanent possibility in human nature of brutality and barbarism — never finds its way into the press or other media of mass communication.
— Theodore Dalrymple, Our Culture, What’s Left of It : The Mandarins and the Masses
The Great Zero Gate: