Sunday, 6 November 2016

Is the decadent West in terminal decline?

An article in Xinhua, the state-controlled Chinese news agency said that the US election shows 
the twisted mentality of an empire moving downhill.
That makes sense, though I think it is Europe that is in decline much more than America.

Christopher Booker in the Telegraph thinks the same. In an article headlined

It doesn't matter who wins the US election. The decadent West is in terminal decline
he says :
...Britons of the early Fifties could see the society this revolution has now brought about, with half of our children born out of wedlock, same-sex marriage, the all-pervasive cult of empty celebrity, the rise of intolerant “political correctness”, the woefully diminished standing of our politicians, our ever-rising sea of national debt, they would reel back in horror at our “decadence”.
The period since 2000 has been as dramatic as the one 1985-200. The disastrous wars of the last fifteen years have diminished the standing of the West, while its economic dominance of the world lessens. The Euro, immigrants and terrorism pose huge, insoluble problems for Europe. 

This reminds me of historians Neagu Djuvara's and Bernard Lewis's conviction that Europe's inescapable destiny is to become Muslim.

The fact that Europe, more united than at any time since the fall of Rome, feels it requires American, British and Canadian help to defend itself is very telling.


I increasingly feel that we may be living in a period like the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the golden age where Gibbon starts his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Come to think of it, there is something of an outlandish late Roman emperor about Donald Trump, perhaps a rich wheat importer who got his position in an auction held by the Praetorian guard. 


As Goldsmith put it,
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.

Europe has been in relative decline since the late 19th century and no longer enjoys the ascendancy that it once did, measured in all ways, over the rest of the world. Clearly this process is continuing. On the other hand, Europeans are enjoying in many ways a golden age, as are most parts of the world, measured not only in material but in many other terms.

But think how few great men Europe (and the West in general) has produced since 1945, outside the spheres of technology, medicine and hard science. Who are the great writers, painters, composers, philosophers?

Christianity is flourishing in Africa, China and Korea, but Islam is flourishing in Europe. Europe is flourishing vicariously in the former British colonies of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but they are becoming much less European, less Christian and more multicultural. The old order changeth.