Plato in the Republic talks about how the younger generation—and we’re talking fourth century BC—can’t stand up to the moral values of their forefathers.
Older people have always thought that the younger generation wouldn’t quite measure up. In recent American history, you’ll recall, the younger generation were the beatniks in the ’50s, the hippies in the ’60s, and the yuppies in the ’80s—so it’s a passing parade. Older people have a tendency to think the world is going downhill. Nothing new there. But there’s always a rebirth.
The bottom line is that societies arise from poverty through moral strength—and that brings them prosperity. But that prosperity brings on arrogance, and the arrogance brings on laziness, which brings on weakness and moral decline. Then they’re reduced to a condition of slavery and poverty again. Change is the only constant—except in human nature.
As I look at the United States, it seems to me the peak of American culture was the time just before Teddy Roosevelt came into office. Teddy is certainly among the top five worst presidents. And there’s plenty of competition for that title.
He was the first real “progressive” president; he wanted the government actively involved in all areas of life.
Now, that’s not to say that Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t have been a really great drinking pal, a wonderful guy to go camping with, a fun guy to have an intellectual conversation with. He had a lot of admirable personal values. But he was a nationalist, a statist, and a warmonger. That’s why I say he was a horrible president.
The long-term trend of US overseas imperialism started with the Spanish–American War and the building of an overseas American empire in Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Hawaii—followed by World War I.
The US has gone from being noninterventionist to now having many hundreds of bases around the world and trying to give orders to every other country in the world. That kind of arrogance always ends badly.
As a civilization—a culture—the US has been on an accelerating path downhill for about 120 years now. That’s true even while science and technology have greatly increased the general standard of living. It’s a mistake to conflate a higher standard of living with higher moral values.
I question whether that trend will change—at least until we have a genuine crisis. Why not? Because a lot of the way a society acts comes from the way kids are brought up—the values that are inculcated in them when they’re young. And increasingly, kids are taught what I would call the wrong values.
Saint Ignatius said this in the 17th century, and Lenin repeated it in the 20th century. They both said that if you indoctrinate someone in his youth, chances are you’ve directed his worldview for the rest of his life.
Cultural Marxists are now totally in control of the US educational system, and have been for a couple of generations. That’s absolutely the case in the colleges and universities but also in the high schools and even in the grade schools. Kids are being taught to be socialists, ecowarriors, social justice warriors, and “woke” from an early age. It’s really serious.
Most just continue to believe what they’re taught as kids, reflexively and automatically—right or wrong. So I don’t think there’s really much hope of a serious change in the direction of American culture. At least until a major crisis—and the outcome of that is in doubt.
If we go back to the beginning of the 20th century, the country really wasn’t very political at all. People worried about their own lives, their own families, and their own local communities. Americans shared a common culture, beliefs, and values—that’s no longer true. Now the country has become very politicized—everybody has a loud voice and they use votes as weapons against their neighbors. It’s become a nation of nasty busybodies.
That makes me think the next upset will be something like a revolution. It’s likely to be really ugly, because we’re looking, simultaneously, at an economic catastrophe, political chaos, and a social and demographic upset—and probably a military situation as well. Government often sees war as a way to unite the country.
So, what’s going to happen?
I’ll hazard a guess that 50 years from now, the United States and, for that matter, most countries are not going to exist in anything like their present form. The best solution is a peaceful break up into smaller political subdivisions. As opposed to a civil war—which is a contest between one or more groups for the control of a central government.
Doug Casey, International Man