Signs of the decline

If you've been around in the world at all, it should be clear to your that our society is in collapse not from "global warming" or "peak oil," but because it has rotted from within.

Note this compact analysis:

Durant largely discusses the life cycle of civilizations thus, from birth to decay:

  1. New civilizations begin with pasture and agriculture,
  2. Then expand into industry and commerce,
  3. And luxuriate with finance;
  4. Thought passes first from the supernatural (gods),
  5. To the legendary (heroes),
  6. To those naturalistic (scientific) explanations;
  7. Experiments in morals loosen tradition and frighten its beneficiaries,
  8. And the excitement of innovation is forgotten in the unconcern of time.

He notes that every situation is different, and there is no guarantee the future will repeat the past. The overall trajectory of history, though, is one of a pendulum, with each civilization swinging back and forth between order (in the beginning) and freedom (in the end).

During periods of order, the emphasis is on following tradition, respecting the rules, and consolidating society to be more insular and exclusive. During periods of freedom, the emphasis is on tearing down tradition, violating the rules, and expanding society to be more open and inclusive. Both periods are needed; freedom, to challenge outmoded and stale rules and traditions; and order, to establish control and rein in man's baser instincts.

I don't necessarily buy into this. I think Plato is somewhat off-base as well, in that the best time for everything in society is an order period. It doesn't need freedom to challenge "outmoded and stale rules" because it doesn't work by rules. All is done by a healthy and active elite who can actually think, which almost no one in a freedom period can.

I think decay just happens. Why? Because people want to be dramatic. They are basically procrastinating from life's actual questions and instead, invent these "new" ways of living that get them around the traditional path. Socially at least, it gets them around it. In reality, they've dodged nothing at all. The culprit is individualism, which turns a society from something larger than the sum of its parts to those parts in competition with one another, and thus it tears itself apart from within.

The evidence for this won't be found in history, or rationality, but it can be found in logic itself. When people are committed to freedom, there is no shared goal except the non-goal of freedom, which is the choice to not make a choice regarding goal and instead to keep up the state of making no decision. It's tautological circularity. This produces people who fall into the abyss of themselves, and become selfish:

I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited — they went there. They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island, and somehow they ended up at Gatsby’s door. Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby, and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks. Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.

Here's what extreme freedom gets you:

Friends find it interesting that I, a straight male, agreed to take it up the ass not once but twice, and would willingly do so again. My immigrant grandfather thought that clearing the dinner table was a womanly act. I reason that since I clear the table and do the dishes, getting fucked by a woman wearing a strap-on doesn't rob me of my manhood either. For me it wasn't a sexual orientation thing, or a power thing: It was just a sex thing. And if Mac feels like sliding her long legs into that harness tonight, I'll be more than happy to get on all fours and take it in the ass like a man.

He's just so precious and unique.