The Guilt of Hollow Men: Global Warming as Postmodern Apocalypse Chapter uri icon


  • Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014. Our traditional moral system will continue to lose authority with the rate of change likely accelerating. This is caused by secularism, which removes the ground from moral interdicts. The rate of change will accelerate as multicultural mixing of peoples denaturalizes moral conventions. One result will be what T. S. Eliot called hollow men who do not live under judgment.As Irving Babbitt and Philip Rieff argue, traditional inner life requires moral striving, guilt, fear, and gratitude, all of which are attenuated in our humanitarian and therapeutic society. Traditional morality is being replaced by ethics and personal guilt by social guilt over stolen privilege.This is notfelt for personal failings, but, as Kenneth Minogue argues, for occupying a privileged place in what is perceived to be an exploitative system. This guilt is expiated by working to overturn the system and institute social and environmental justice. Whether or not global warming is occurring, persons suffering from the social guilt over stolen privilege need to believe that it is occurring. Global warming is for them a literal apocalypse, a vision of the end of the world as we know it, in which a time of tribulation ushers in a new age of social and environmental justice.

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, J. M.

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Jonathan M

editor list (cited editors)

  • Norwine, J.

Book Title

  • A World After Climate Change and Culture-Shift

publication date

  • January 1, 2013 11:11 AM