Civilizations go through three stages; Barbaric, Vigorous and Decadent.
find all the barbaric civilizations to suit an entire faculty's worth of
anthropologists in the Middle East. And then back home we can see the
decadent civilization that employs their kind to bemoan the West. Vigorous civilizations are a rarer breed. They change the world. But don't last.
America used to be vigorous when it was moving west, producing at record
rates and becoming a world power. It is growing decadent. And decadent civilizations fall to barbarians.
barbaric civilization is purely crude. It runs on kinship. It is pre-rational and its guiding ethos is self-esteem often misspelled as honor. It has no notion of
enduring facts or objective reasoning. It is incapable of recognizing inconsistencies in its code because truth is whatever it feels at a given time.
The barbarian has no morals. He obeys tribal codes that he does not understand, but accepts. Fairness exists only relative to his own interests. Empathy is foreign to him. He holds life cheaply and kills
casually. He loathes outsiders and obeys no universal laws. His tribe is ruled by
hierarchies which gain their position through brutality and trickery. And he assumes the world works the same way.
He cannot and will not interact with a more advanced civilization on any terms other than these. Cunning barbarians may learn the languages of more advanced civilizations and even ape their values for their own purposes, but they never adopt them. When a barbarian speaks of democracy, he means power. When he talks of religion, he means the worship of his own power. When he prattles of morality, he does not mean universal laws, but anything that impinges on his own power.
To the barbarian, all values are reducible to power. They are his gods, his religions and his laws.
The decadents are obsessed with filtering hierarchies of ideas and people. Their societies have grown too complex, too full of ideas, cultures and interest groups. The management of this unmanageable plenitude occupies all the energies of their fading civilization. They are the miser with the fading memory still struggling to count his gold. Decadents have too much of everything and no idea what to do with it except to squander it in fits of misguided and destructive impulses.
decadent civilization has a million laws which it applies selectively.
Its universal laws, inherited from a vigorous civilization, are buried between equivocation. Decadents don't believe in objective truths and so they cannot have universal laws. Instead they mire them
in so many legalisms as to be meaningless. The laws must be interpreted by a specialized caste. Everyone is
always in violation of some obscure law. Life depends on a lawless
dispensation from the law. Justice is impossible. Corruption is mandatory. The only way for the decadent civilization to function is to bypass its own safeguards through corruption, black markets and lobbying. This is true in all things.
The crucial task of the law
is interpretation that keeps everyone from constantly being punished.
This task is accomplished by lawyers, lobbyists and the politicians who
are constantly adding more laws to fix the interpretations in the old
laws creating a complex mass of contradictory information.
This holds true in every other area of decadent life.
is what the decadent civilization does best. While vigorous
civilizations discover new things, decadent civilizations endlessly
categorize and re-categorize them to accommodate intellectual fads. Decadents compulsively seek new systems of organization. The computer age is the glorious final era of the decadents who finally have infinite ways to manage infinite information.
What they lack is any way of distinguishing what is worthwhile in both information and systems.
decadents are great categorizers. They know where everything should
belong. They employ armies of bureaucrats to operate vast filing systems
which never quite work as planned. They spend fortunes on intricate information systems and yet the more speed and storage space they have, the less they seem able to filter worthwhile information from the morass of junk clogging up their time.
decadent civilization is convinced that if it can amass enough
information, its interpretations will be superior, but its information
gathering techniques and its interpretative techniques are both fatally
flawed by an inability to focus, by ideological obsessions and structural corruption. Scientists may have more rapid access to more
information, but their community is more intellectually contaminated leading
to worse results. Similarly, corruption undermines information gathering
efforts from the start.
Vigorous civilizations understand
that a process must be kept clean by open debate. Decadent
civilizations operate corrupt closed processes while convinced of their
own innate superiority. Decadents and barbarians both believe that they are always right and that the outcome will reflect that. They learn to forget setbacks or blame them on others. This is why they frequently fail.
The vigorous civilization is confident and skeptical. It understands the importance of mistakes in getting the right result. Decadents and barbarians don't acknowledge mistakes. For barbarians, it is a matter of honor. For decadents, mistakes violate their confidence in their cultlike baseless theories. Unlike vigorous civilizations, their path to truth is constricted by their own intellectual corruption.
But decadent civilizations are also less
interested in discovering new things than in disproving old things. The
middling talents at the helm rewrite history while justifying their
misrule by denouncing the achievements of their vigorous ancestors. Instead of standing on the shoulders of giants, they point out their flaws to obscure their own worthlessness.
the vigorous civilization disproves the old through its achievements,
the decadent civilization considers the disproving of the old
civilization to be an achievement in and of itself. Where the vigorous
civilization outside its parent, the decadent civilization is still
stuck fighting "Daddy".
If you examine our achievements
today, they have much to do with the supposed social progress we have made since the fifties. Much of this progress is a matter of outlook, rather
than in reality. We are better because we are morally superior. Not because we actually do more.
the disdain for the past, decadent civilizations struggle to do more
than deconstruct and then helplessly imitate the past. Chaotic
deconstruction of past creative arts is followed by retro copying of
them, first ironically and then earnestly. Nostalgia becomes the central
industry of a dying civilization mired in irony and incapable of mining its own
culture for creative energies.
The central cultural critique becomes updating
older works to more politically correct forms. A classic character is
remade black or gay. Problems with diversity or sexism are tackled. The
critic becomes a commissar whose job is to sanctify the transformation
of an old politically incorrect work as politically correct. That is the
role of the social justice warrior.
All this energy
makes it appear as if there is cultural ferment when nothing is actually
being produced. Instead older works are being "cleaned up" in keeping
with new social values by a civilization that frantically chews up the
past in a desire to forget the problems of the present.
living in decadent civilization have a greater need for entertainment
due to leisure time, extended adolescence and the breakup of the family.
But their lack of meaningful work, family engagement and adult
responsibilities leaves them less able to produce it.
Instead they become children putting together pieces of stories that
"Daddy" once told them while taking the credit.
confuse criticism and curation with creativity. They develop great
sensitivity to everything from literary styles to foods. In a decadent
society, everyone is a cultivated critic, but these critics value style
over substance. Their criticism is a cultural signal rather than a
mastery of technique.
The decadent civilization is obsessed with taste
as brand. It is sensitive to subtleties, but fails to see the large
flaws in a work. Its creativity is microscopically innovative and
macroscopically a failure. Its subtle refinements cannot compensate for
the lack of vision. It has style, but no substance.
In a decadent civilization,
everyone can be a critic or a collector of something, even as no one
actually produces anything new until there are more critics and
collectors than creators.
The decadent civilization
spends much of its time and effort in a battle against apathy. It is
forever "raising awareness" about something or other. Its sophisticated
messaging however creates apathy as quickly as it erases it. Its
messaging becomes more short term and more hysterical. Everything is a
crisis and every message is pitched at the shrillest possible level. And the worst crime is not paying attention to its noise.
outrage of today is quickly forgotten by the outrage of tomorrow. The
organizers dream of sustaining awareness for real change only to dive
into the next round of short-term messaging.
decadent civilization, life becomes a constant political battle. Everything is politicized and nothing is personal. The individual is constantly being trampled by mobs in the forum.
Barbaric and decadent civilizations are both so dishonest that they are incapable of seeing their own lies.
barbaric civilization simply does not understand the concept of a fixed
truth. The minds of its people are capable of understanding it as an
abstract notion, but not of holding it in their minds on a specific
subjective matter of interest to them. A barbarian can understand that
stealing is wrong, but not that robbing you is wrong.
decadent however can understand that stealing from you is wrong, but
not that stealing itself is wrong. The decadent civilization does not
have fixed truths. Its people are trained to apply mores to subjective
situations, much as barbarians do naturally. While barbarians can evolve
from the fixed truth to the fixed value, the decadents have devolved by
rejecting the fixed truth.
Fixed truths have been
deconstructed and routed through a complex array of relativistic values.
A decadent understands that murdering this baby right here is wrong,
but can be taught that it is acceptable to trade parts of dead babies.
For decadents in an information society, definitions are very important.
Decadents and barbarians have an empathy that is triggered by cultural
For barbarians, these signals are honor-shame
kin-based. For decadents, the cultural signals are
group-based signals that are routed through complex intellectual
justifications. These justifications create their own
unrecognized hypocrisies. Both operate on the moral blindness of herd logic.
are politicized and every moral code is routed through an identity
politics based on insecurity. There are no morals, only sides. Responses
are emotional to shortcut rational reasoning. Decadents function like
barbarians, convinced of their own superiority with no self-awareness of their flaws.
A major difference
between vigorous and decadent civilizations is objectivity and long term
thinking. Decadents are incapable of either while vigorous
civilizations thrive on both. If decadent civilizations could engage in
long term thinking, they wouldn't be doomed. If they could engage in
objective reasoning, they wouldn't be slaves to the media machines under
a lawless tyranny.
The barbaric and vigorous
civilizations speak little of sex and yet have high birth rates.
Decadent civilizations are obsessed with sex and have few children.
Perversions multiply in decadent civilizations, especially among the
elites, who have the fewest morals, the most wealth and the greatest
need for new taboos to violate. This is not a cause. It is only the
Gay marriage, like so much else, is the
symptom of a decadent elite that confuses its own power and privilege
with civil rights, that wants to legalize its illicit behaviors even
though it only embarked on them because of their illicitness. In its
perversity, it must find new taboos to violate each time an old one
becomes socially accepted, before then embarking on a civil rights
struggle to make its latest taboo socially acceptable.
have large families and a tolerance for limited personal space. They
speak loudly, are more casual about the deaths of their children, and
view success in terms of power. Decadents speak softly, have a high need
for personal space, have small families while obsessively controlling and coddling them and view success in terms of their own unattainable happiness.
Vigorous civilizations have medium sized families, speak loudly, view
success in terms of personal accomplishment, are not too concerned about
personal space and value their children while allowing them to take
Decadents want emotional rewards without
commitments. As a result they are constantly unhappy. They pursue
happiness as if it were a quality that could be permanently obtained
through the right techniques, rather than a shifting response to the
rigors of daily life. The more decadents do this, the more unstable they
become, obsessively self-medicating and attempting to otherwise set the
conditions of their happiness by controlling its application, and
blaming others for their failure.
The more deranged
decadents search for those who deny them their right to happiness by
failing to accept them, reward them or otherwise please them until they
find meaning only in attacking others. Behind their venom is
narcissistic self-pity, they are searching for revenge against a cruel
world when they are the authors of their own unhappiness.
decadent civilization senses inwardly that it has no future. It becomes
obsessed with apocalypses. Its people are always fixated on the next
great threat to their health individually and the next great disaster
that will bring their civilization to its knees. While vigorous
civilizations boldly stride forward into the unknown, decadents are
nervous and unsure. They veer between comfort zones and ritualized
displays of destructive behavior that accomplish nothing.
Vigorous civilizations pursue
meaningful risks. Decadent civilizations pursue meaningless ones. For a
vigorous civilization, adventure ends with an accomplishment. For a
decadent civilization, risk is the accomplishment.
decadent civilization obsessively manages risk. Its layers of government
are mainly dedicated to that task. Accomplishment in a decadent
civilization becomes a difficult task because of the many lawyers of
corporate and government risk management standing in the way of getting
Fear is the true currency of the
decadent civilization. A corrupted fear that is used to expand a vast
bureaucracy that claims to manage risk, but in reality manages who is
allowed to circumvent it. Groups are stampeded into accepting new tiers
of fear government and fear authority based on the risk that something
might happen. And yet the source of the fear is never dealt with.
A vigorous civilization rushes out to deal with threats. A decadent civilization imprisons itself out of fear.
in a civilization can be reversed. While the barbarian civilization
must evolve upward, the decadent civilization must undo the damage that
is devolving it. This is easier than it seems. Unlike the barbarian
civilization, the decadent civilization has most of the same
infrastructure, physical and mental, of the vigorous civilization. Only
its ideas have become corrupted. And ideas can be healed.
Barbarians advance by absorbing transformative new concepts. Decadents however must unlearn their new concepts by recognizing them for the dead ends that they are.