Friday, October 10, 2008


"Decline and Fall"

I suppose that people thought me crazy for talking about the "Decline and Fall of Western Civilization", but now that we have experienced the first stage it may not seem that ridiculous. We won't see a literal collapse for a while yet, when Obama wins the presidency that will break the "Glass Ceiling" for people of color just as Hillary and Sarah Palin have (in their various ways) broken the Glass Ceiling for women, the pressure from the Internal and external proletariat will be somewhat reduced. But the spiritual basis of Western Civilization is wealth as the primary status symbol, and we can no longer believe in the value of wealth.
Even if the financial system recovers to a certain extent, the middle class will not be able to easily forget how trillions of dollars of wealth simply vanished in the course of an afternoon. And everything about the basis of our civilization is as ephemeral.

Consider a share of General Motors (or Apple, for that matter). It is only worth something if there are people willing to purchase what the company manufactures. There are fixed assets in buildings and machinery, but if they aren't being used they are merely scrap, some of which is recyclable and a lot that isn't. And if the spiritual value of wealth evaporates, and people aren't willing to buy a new car or computer for its prestige value, the wealth represented by shares in the company vanishes.

So we have suffered a fatal blow to the spiritual basis of our civilization, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. The only questions left are when it dies completely and what it is replaced by. There is the possibility that we will evolve into a civilization that is globally egalitarian, ecologically responsible and creative; but that may require a "dark age" to rub in the lesson of using wealth as a spiritual basis.

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