Our Bruce Jenner Century

Probably the most influential person of the twentieth century, for better or worse, was Vladimir Lenin. He created the Russian Communist Party. He led his party to victory in the Russian Revolution. He initiated the worldwide Communist movement, which in turn led to the triumph of Communism in a number of other countries, especially China, the world’s most populous country.

Under the leadership of his successor, Stalin, Communist Russia played the principal role in defeating Germany in World War II. Further, if it had not been for Lenin and the triumph of the Communists in Russia, the anti-Communist movements of Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany probably would not have arisen and certainly would not have triumphed in their countries.

In all probability, there would have been no World War II in Europe. Nor would there have been any Cold War; nor any Korean War; nor any Viet Nam War. From 1917 (the year Communism came to power in Russia) until 1991 (the year the Soviet Union collapsed), Lenin bestrode the geopolitical world like a colossus.

But who will be the most influential person of the twenty-first century? It’s still early in the century, so nobody can be sure of the answer. Perhaps the most influential person hasn’t even been born yet. It may be that we’ll have to wait till the year 2100 before we’ll be able to tell. However, since I don’t expect to be around in the year 2100 (at least not in corporeal form), I am submitting my answer now.

I think the most influential person of the twenty-first century will prove to be Bruce Jenner (aka Caitlyn Jenner).

In the last third of the twentieth century, cultural progressivism (otherwise known as cultural liberalism), led by its atheistic vanguard, initiated a great war against nature; or more exactly, against the idea that nature is in any way normative.


The first battle in that war was the struggle to make abortion legally and morally acceptable. Conception, gestation, and childbirth make a natural continuum. This is perfectly obvious; we can see, if we observe nature, that this is a natural process that must not be interrupted.

Abortion is a rejection of nature’s moral authority. Abortion is not like ordinary surgery, in which the surgeon removes an unnatural growth. It is surgery to remove a natural growth. It is a hatred-of-nature kind of surgery.

After the abortion battle had been won, atheistic progressivism fought and won another great battle, the battle to make the world safe for homosexuality. The voice of nature, by giving us very obvious hints – for instance, the complementary nature of male and female sexual organs and reproductive systems – had told us that heterosexuality is fitting and that homosexuality is, to say the least, somewhat odd (or queer, as one used to say).

But progressivism was unwilling to submit to what it regarded as the tyranny of nature. After a long struggle – aided by its allies in the news media, the entertainment industry, and our leading colleges, universities, and law schools – atheistic progressivism has persuaded the majority of Americans, especially those of the younger generations, not just that homosexuality is a fine thing but that it must be honored by the institution of same-sex marriage. Another victory for the hatred-of-nature movement.

The latest battle in this war against nature has to do with the progressive assertion that a person’s “gender” is an elective thing, having no necessary connection with one’s biological sex. Nature says, “When I give you male sexual organs, that means you’re a man; and when I give you a female reproductive system, that means you’re a woman.” Progressivism replies, “Shut up, Mother Nature. Enough of your tyranny. Henceforth, we are free. We refuse to listen to you any longer. Leave the stage. Your time is finished.”

When Bruce Jenner declared that, despite being a male and despite being one of the greatest male athletes of all time, he was now a woman, our progressive cultural elites immediately agreed with him. They applauded, and they insisted that all the rest of us must applaud too. Not only did they grant that he is now a woman, but they declared him to be a really outstanding woman, a very model of womanhood. (Glamour magazine named him one of its “Women of the Year.”)

The sudden glorification of Bruce Jenner’s repudiation of nature was tantamount to a definitive rejection of the moral authority of nature. It was a celebratory announcement of the death of what many thinkers – the Stoics, Cicero, Aquinas, John Locke, the signers of the American Declaration of Independence, Pope Paul VI – had called “natural law” or the “law of nature.”

For the remainder of the twenty-first century (the century of Bruce Jenner), we’ll be doomed, I fear, to witness the unhappy consequences of this death – this murder – of nature.

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, and most recently Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church.