“Oral histories often paint a rosy picture of the moral fiber of previous generations,” write Anthony Bradley and Sean Spurlock in this week’s Acton Commentary. “But close attention to history reveals the truth about human condition: that regardless of our social status, everyone is in need of moral formation – and thus it has always been.”

In Britain and elsewhere, as the contrast between the publicly held moral code and private behavior became clear, the code itself was discredited. The need for repentance and reform among today’s aristocratic elite – in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill, on Wall Street – is obvious. Thanks to the media, private indiscretions held in secret among the elite in a previous era are now part of the daily news cycle. Couple these stories with America’s high divorce rate and we begin to see why confidence in the virtues of marriage among our youth is on the decline.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.


  • gates of vienna

    That same media pushes a degraded culture. Instead of a top-down influence, the gangsta culture is ironically kewl and imitated, right down to slut couture and rampant illegitimacy.

    Sad to say, it will take a reform of our badly battered masculine values for anything to happen. Men are ever more androgynous while women are far too liberated to listen.

  • SteveD

    The late Victorian period was a product of the decline of genuine Christian faith among the upper classes, and the lapse of the Anglican “high church” into ritualism and away from a Scripturally based call to EVERYONE to renounce sin and build a personal relationship with Christ. “Liberalism” had beset the Anglican Church. It was against this that the Methodist movement had risen to try to revive the Anglican Church, only to be expelled for disrupting the class-based conventions held by the Church hierarchy. When the church fails to clearly preach the full Gospel expounding human sinfulness, God’s absolute holiness and loving mercy, and the need for each person to embrace Christ to be reconciled to God, the result is an amoral society that pretends that it is moral because it behaves so “nicely.”

  • Aleteia

    I do not understand Mr. Bradley and Mr. Spurlock’s intentions, especially on the site of Lord Acton who is famous for its verticality. It is no need to “prove” the immorality of the “elite.” The masterminds of the French Revolution and later Marx and the other “isms” developed out of Marxism, are preaching the same, how immoral are the elite and how virtuous are the poor. This constant effort has its fruits nowadays. The word “elite” has become almost infamous when attached to somebody. So what is the intention/agenda?
    Luis Bunuel, a felt leaning film director, made a film called “Los Olvidados.” This film portrays the life of the disenfranchised, as many would call it. The film shows how poor youth engages in brutal criminal behavior in their environment, not as a reaction but for the pleasure to kill. This is the reason why the left harshly criticized the film, it dared to show that poor people are not as virtuous as they are assumed to be.
    M. B and Mr. S., we know that each person has its angels and its demons, let’s be honest and not write sugar coated leftist propaganda, especially in a journal which praises itself to hold the flag for religion and freedom. Freedom is the possibility to tell the truth.
    One of the main flaws of the Marxists ideology is that the upper class is the “bad guy” in the society, and the lower class represents the “good guys.” This apparently innocent idea is a very harmful one. Nazism, communism, and Islam uses this type of thinking to commit its crimes. Thinking such as, “We have the right to kill you because you proved or you are worthy of being eliminated based on our truth”, prevails.
    A legitimate question is, what class do Mr. B and Mr. S belong to?