Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Are We a Great Civilization in Decline?

 

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” — Will Durant

Many civilizations have indeed come and gone, giving in to decadence, tyrannical rule, mismanagement and a lack of purpose or direction.

But when we look at the troubles of the United States, we have to wonder about our own direction? Are these times only a blip in the development of this young country? Or does the lack of religious belief, the prevalence of moral relativism, the move toward socialism, or naivete about the fragility of a democracy, all endanger our existence?

Is there a chance we can change direction and resurrect the foundational beliefs of this country? What would it take?

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There are 52 comments.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Is there a chance we can change direction and resurrect the foundational beliefs of this country? What would it take?

    Is there a chance? Absolutely!

    What will it take? Complete destruction of the Democrat party as a major power in American politics.

    Can the Republicans accomplish this? No, they’re too timid and “nice”.

    Can Trump do this? No, not alone.

    Unfortunately, there are too many pantywaists in the Republican party or conservative punditry to fight the fight needed for a quick turnaround. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out battle, and we need pols and pundits who have the stomach to wage warfare against our enemy – not our “friends across the aisle” . . .

    • #1
    • October 13, 2019, at 7:45 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher

    [T]here is a great deal of ruin in a nation.

    — Adam Smith

     

    • #2
    • October 13, 2019, at 7:47 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):
    Unfortunately, there are too many pantywaists in the Republican party or conservative punditry to fight the fight needed for a quick turnaround. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out battle, and we need pols and pundits who have the stomach to wage warfare against our enemy – not our “friends across the aisle” . . .

    Someone in another post commented that even if Trump wins in 2020, we may be faced with the Dems all over again, and they will be relentless in making things worse. I hope some folks have reasons to be optimistic, @stad.

    • #3
    • October 13, 2019, at 7:49 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Unfortunately, there are too many pantywaists in the Republican party or conservative punditry to fight the fight needed for a quick turnaround. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out battle, and we need pols and pundits who have the stomach to wage warfare against our enemy – not our “friends across the aisle” . . .

    Someone in another post commented that even if Trump wins in 2020, we may be faced with the Dems all over again, and they will be relentless in making things worse. I hope some folks have reasons to be optimistic, @stad.

    Heck, I’m optimistic we might even retake the House. A lot depends on how many quitters we have this cycle . . .

    • #4
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:17 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  5. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):
    Heck, I’m optimistic we might even retake the House. A lot depends on how many quitters we have this cycle . . .

    I wish I could be but this is not just an American phenomenon. Europe is going down faster. England is as bad. There is a populist revolt going on here and in England plus several other European countries like Poland and Austria. This may have begun with World War I. Pat Buchanan blames Churchill and Edward Grey in his book, “Unnecessary Wars.” I partially agree, but doubt Churchill was the villain. It has gotten me to read a biography of Grey. The decline goes back a century but is accelerated by the education of the young. I attended college in the 1950s and had no idea of the political beliefs of my professors. Now, it seems to be more important to them than their subject. I am amused by a rant published recently by a young feminist professor about the decline of her college. Then, I looked at her topics in her class catalog.

    https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20190925-my-university-is-dying

    Social Justice Warrior.

    I hope Trump wins and the Republicans take back the House but this is not the end. Maybe as Churchill said, it is the end of the beginning.

     

    • #5
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:30 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    Heck, I’m optimistic we might even retake the House. A lot depends on how many quitters we have this cycle . . .

    I wish I could be but this is not just an American phenomenon. Europe is going down faster. England is as bad. There is a populist revolt going on here and in England plus several other European countries like Poland and Austria. This may have begun with World War I. Pat Buchanan blames Churchill and Edward Grey in his book, “Unnecessary Wars.” I partially agree, but doubt Churchill was the villain. It has gotten me to read a biography of Grey. The decline goes back a century but is accelerated by the education of the young. I attended college in the 1950s and had no idea of the political beliefs of my professors. Now, it seems to be more important to them than their subject. I am amused by a rant published recently by a young feminist professor about the decline of her college. Then, I looked at her topics in her class catalog.

    https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20190925-my-university-is-dying

    Social Justice Warrior.

    I hope Trump wins and the Republicans take back the House but this is not the end. Maybe as Churchill said, it is the end of the beginning.

     

    We could even say that some of it began with Progressivism here and Woodrow Wilson (not that much earlier), @michaelkennedy. With the indoctrination given at the college level happening more excessively and openly, it’s hard to be optimistic. Even when I was in college in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I don’t remember this type of propaganda.

    • #6
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:41 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. Rodin Member

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    This is known as “bad luck.”

    ― Robert Heinlein

    We are in for some bad luck, because we are always in for bad luck. Our Founders had the formula but it takes an understanding people to make it work. The “magic” of the Founders formula was that it was not reliant on a particular identity, a familial or tribal loyalty. But it did require and underlying understanding of human tendencies and how they more naturally organize to create bad luck rather than fulfilling the potentialities of humanity. And it requires a belief in something above government.

    In some ways the American story parallels the Biblical account of the Jews — adopt secularism and earthly values and you fall into ruin. The Constitution is our national Torah. Forswear fealty (or bend it to your own preferences which amounts to the same thing) and you are lost.

    • #7
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:57 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  8. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Even when I was in college in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I don’t remember this type of propaganda.

    My youngest daughter began U of Arizona in 2008. I was helping her review for finals when I read her study guide provided by the professor for her “US History Since 1877” class. In it “The Silent Majority” of the 1960s was described as “White people who refused to accept the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” No mention of Nixon or the Vietnam War.

    • #8
    • October 13, 2019, at 8:59 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  9. EJHill Podcaster

    Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame on Friday:

    • #9
    • October 13, 2019, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 20 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame on Friday:

    A brilliant man, Barr. I wish he were wrong . . .

    • #10
    • October 13, 2019, at 9:04 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. Arahant Member

    We have had our Great Awakenings before.

    • #11
    • October 13, 2019, at 10:02 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    We have had our Great Awakenings before.

    @arahant, is there something we should be doing to lay the groundwork? Any thoughts?

    • #12
    • October 13, 2019, at 10:03 AM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Vectorman Thatcher

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    In it “The Silent Majority” of the 1960s was described as “White people who refused to accept the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” No mention of Nixon or the Vietnam War.

    What really bothered “The Silent Majority” were the riots and lack of respect for those serving in the Armed Forces. Blacks were well regarded in music, starting with Louis Armstrong and others. By 1966, James Brown was on the Ed Sullivan Show. Like now, the Leftists fomented the riots in the cities, especially in the North were there wasn’t de jure segregation.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are only 4 open days left on the October Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #13
    • October 13, 2019, at 10:27 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. Stad Thatcher

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    In it “The Silent Majority” of the 1960s was described as “White people who refused to accept the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

    It would have been interesting to ask her, “If this was true, then why didn’t politicians elected by this alleged bigoted silent majority repeal the Civil Rights Act, along with the 13th and 14th Amendments? Hmmmmm?

    Does any school (besides Hillsdale) teach critical thinking any more?

    • #14
    • October 13, 2019, at 11:35 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  15. EJHill Podcaster

    Stad: Does any school (besides Hillsdale) teach critical thinking any more?

    The folks who used to tool around in their Prius have replaced their “Question Authority” bumper stickers with stickers that read “Don’t Question MY Authority.”

    • #15
    • October 13, 2019, at 11:41 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  16. Theodoric of Freiberg Member

    “From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”

    – Abraham Lincoln

    Lincoln’s famous admonition was not only about his time, but for all time.

    We tried to tear ourselves apart in the 1960s. The seeds of that struggle, seemingly lying dormant over the past few decades, are now producing rotten fruit. One of our two great political parties is now openly hostile to our country, its founding and its great constitution. Our nation cannot survive as a whole for long with a large percentage of citizens who don’t buy into the foundation upon which it rests.

    If you think that’s hyperbole, see What the Constitution Means to Me, a broadway play which argues that the constitution doesn’t protect all Americans because it was not created to protect all Americans, just wealthy white men. The New York Times calls it, “not just the best play on Broadway this season, but also the most important.” At the end of the show, the audience is asked if the constitution should be kept or abolished. The audience for most shows votes unanimously to abolish it. Of course, it’s in New York and the audiences are self-selecting, but this kind of thing would have been unthinkable back in the days of JFK.

    You ask, “What is to be done?” The time to begin to act was back in the 1960s. That didn’t happen. The radical left slowly took over our great universities, the public schools, the news media, entertainment and corporations. I fear it is too late.

    • #16
    • October 13, 2019, at 11:42 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  17. Western Chauvinist Member

    I conclude that civilizations, like every other human creation, wax and wane. By the nature of the case there can never be a lasting civilization anymore than there can be a lasting spring or lasting happiness in an individual life or a lasting stability in a society. It’s in the nature of man and of all that he constructs to perish, and it must ever be so. The world is full of the debris of past civilizations and others are known to have existed which have not left any debris behind them but have just disappeared. […]whatever their ideology may be, from the Garden of Eden onwards such dreams of lasting felicity have cropped up and no doubt always will. But the realization is impossible for the simple reason that a fallen creature like man though capable of conceiving perfection and aspiring after it, is in himself and in his works forever imperfect. Thus he is fated to exist in the no man’s land between the perfection he can conceive and the imperfection that characterizes his own nature and everything he does. — Malcom Muggeridge

    I think we need to explore what the features of a civilization in decline are? I’ll start:

    1. family decline
    2. the elevation of (sexual) deviancy and the diminution of proven, traditional values
    3. widespread mistrust of fellow citizens/residents
    4. emphasis on wealth/prosperity providing idle time for mischief
    5. absorption of large numbers of people from foreign cultures.

    Anything else? 

    I think a religious revival is absolutely necessary (walking humbly with one’s God), but I think the only way we’ll get one is through some cataclysmic event. Our funny money (loss of the dollar as the reserve currency), debt, and negative interest rates (see Europe) might just do it. Sad to say we may only be saved by economic collapse.

    On a brighter note, the lessons of the American founding are not entirely lost by all people, so a rebirth of freedom and common sense may yet happen in another part of the world. Maybe it’s finally Africa’s turn.

     

     

    • #17
    • October 13, 2019, at 12:48 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    Anything else? 

    I had a few in my OP; we overlap. Good points, WC!

    • #18
    • October 13, 2019, at 1:11 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. I Walton Member

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    — Malcom Muggeridge

    I think we need to explore what the features of a civilization in decline are? I’ll start:

    1. family decline
    2. the elevation of (sexual) deviancy and the diminution of proven, traditional values
    3. widespread mistrust of fellow citizens/residents
    4. emphasis on wealth/prosperity providing idle time for mischief
    5. absorption of large numbers of people from foreign cultures.

    Anything else?

    I think a religious revival is absolutely necessary (walking humbly with one’s God), but I think the only way we’ll get one is through some cataclysmic event. Our funny money (loss of the dollar as the reserve currency), debt, and negative interest rates (see Europe) might just do it. Sad to say we may only be saved by economic collapse.

    On a brighter note, the lessons of the American founding are not entirely lost by all people, so a rebirth of freedom and common sense may yet happen in another part of the world. Maybe it’s finally Africa’s turn.

     

    The five points, all valid, are products of the main cause of decline, centralization of power. That was what the founders set out to avoid and it worked until the 20th century. Among Republicans only Reagan tried to reverse it. It grew from Wilson to Roosevelt then again under both Bushes and accelerated under Obama. Trump is doing things that may make reversal possible, but he must win big enough to thwart the insanity, then actually do it. 

    • #19
    • October 13, 2019, at 1:55 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Theodoric of Freiberg (View Comment):
    The time to begin to act was back in the 1960s. That didn’t happen. The radical left slowly took over our great universities, the public schools, the news media, entertainment and corporations. I fear it is too late.

    I tend to agree. The leftist students who were avoiding the draft, stayed in grad school and became the PhD professors of the next generation. They then mentored the leftists of today. The level of ignorance among college students is startling. The newer professors are starting to fear that the merrygoround may stop spinning.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2019/10/05/my_university_is_dying_and_soon_yours_will_be_too_488373.html

    This young professor seems to fear consequences. Then I looked up her field of study.

    https://und.edu/directory/sheila.liming

    For example.

    Materialist Theory / Object-Oriented Critique

    Gender and Queer Theory

    If I were a legislator in North Dakota, I would be interested in the funding of this.

    • #20
    • October 13, 2019, at 3:25 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  21. Western Chauvinist Member

    I Walton (View Comment):
    The five points, all valid, are products of the main cause of decline, centralization of power.

    I know I’m probably an outlier in this opinion, but I believe it was when we “became as gods,” deciding when the marital act would result in new life or not (contraception) and taking inconvenient lives at our discretion (abortion). This inverted relationship with God is the original, deadly sin of pride. It’s that arrogance that leads people to believe in Big Government (centralized power), as long as they’re the ones at the controls. 

    Most leftists (and even left sympathetic) I know are utterly devoid of humility. 

    • #21
    • October 13, 2019, at 4:32 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. Rodin Member

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    I believe it was when we “became as gods…..”

    This is an important point. Does anyone doubt that human capabilities should continue to be governed by a moral code as opposed to personal preference? Without that code we do whatever we can regardless of whether we should. Take a conception of G-d away as a controlling force and you make psychopaths of us all. Yes, there are those who would continue to run their lives in what we consider a moral way, but the broader society could not be counted on to do so.

     

    • #22
    • October 13, 2019, at 4:39 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  23. Western Chauvinist Member

    Rodin (View Comment):
    This is an important point. Does anyone doubt that human capabilities should continue to be governed by a moral code as opposed to personal preference?

    Pope Saint JPII described true freedom as the freedom to do the right thing. We’ve come to interpret freedom as personal preference, as you say.

    A nation “under God” believes there’s a Yardstick by which to measure good and evil. We’ve lost any kind of moral consensus. So, yeah, we’re doomed.

    • #23
    • October 13, 2019, at 4:46 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame on Friday:

    I’ll look this up.

    • #24
    • October 13, 2019, at 6:31 PM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    — Malcom Muggeridge

    I think we need to explore what the features of a civilization in decline are? I’ll start:

    1. family decline
    2. the elevation of (sexual) deviancy and the diminution of proven, traditional values
    3. widespread mistrust of fellow citizens/residents
    4. emphasis on wealth/prosperity providing idle time for mischief
    5. absorption of large numbers of people from foreign cultures.

    Anything else?

    I think a religious revival is absolutely necessary (walking humbly with one’s God), but I think the only way we’ll get one is through some cataclysmic event. Our funny money (loss of the dollar as the reserve currency), debt, and negative interest rates (see Europe) might just do it. Sad to say we may only be saved by economic collapse.

    On a brighter note, the lessons of the American founding are not entirely lost by all people, so a rebirth of freedom and common sense may yet happen in another part of the world. Maybe it’s finally Africa’s turn.

     

    The five points, all valid, are products of the main cause of decline, centralization of power. That was what the founders set out to avoid and it worked until the 20th century. Among Republicans only Reagan tried to reverse it. It grew from Wilson to Roosevelt then again under both Bushes and accelerated under Obama. Trump is doing things that may make reversal possible, but he must win big enough to thwart the insanity, then actually do it.

    You left out LBJ’s Great Society and Nixon’s growth of the regulatory state.

    • #25
    • October 13, 2019, at 6:35 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Theodoric of Freiberg (View Comment):
    The time to begin to act was back in the 1960s. That didn’t happen. The radical left slowly took over our great universities, the public schools, the news media, entertainment and corporations. I fear it is too late.

    I tend to agree. The leftist students who were avoiding the draft, stayed in grad school and became the PhD professors of the next generation. They then mentored the leftists of today. The level of ignorance among college students is startling. The newer professors are starting to fear that the merrygoround may stop spinning.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2019/10/05/my_university_is_dying_and_soon_yours_will_be_too_488373.html

    This young professor seems to fear consequences. Then I looked up her field of study.

    https://und.edu/directory/sheila.liming

    For example.

    Materialist Theory / Object-Oriented Critique

    Gender and Queer Theory

    If I were a legislator in North Dakota, I would be interested in the funding of this.

    abject failure at the state level to actually control their state universities and K-12.

    • #26
    • October 13, 2019, at 6:37 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. Percival Thatcher

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame on Friday:

    And academia? At Notre Dame?

    Inside fastball, high and tight.

    • #27
    • October 13, 2019, at 6:46 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. James Lileks Contributor

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame on Friday:

    The same people who scoff at Barr’s remarks as nonsense are usually the same people who say, in the following breath, that this is precisely what needs to be done. Religion and traditional values are oppressive at worst, and at best a free-floating frowny-face that prevents the full glory of self-actualization.

    “Traditional values” are white supremacism, the patriarchy, heteronormative constructs, grammar, civility, unrestrained speech (that’s a newcomer to the blacklist), racism in language (like blacklist), gun ownership, private property, freedom of association, empiricism in science, and so on. Oh, and the Constitution, except for the parts that outgas the required penumbras. Each of these things perpetuates inequity, and hence must be abolished.

    • #28
    • October 13, 2019, at 10:25 PM PST
    • 15 likes
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Attorney General William Barr at Notre Dame on Friday:

    I’ll look this up.

    I looked for a transcript of the speech, but couldn’t find one; it was a private speech so that may be the reason. I found bits and pieces; if you come across the transcript, @cliffordbrown, please let us know.

    • #29
    • October 14, 2019, at 5:47 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. DrewInWisconsin, Type Monkey Member

    A depressing read from Victor Davis Hanson:

    Members of Previous Generations Now Seem Like Giants

    Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

    As we walk amid the refuse, needles and excrement of the sidewalks of our fetid cities; as we sit motionless on our jammed ancient freeways; and as we pout on Twitter and electronically whine in the porticos of our Ivy League campuses, will we ask: “Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?”

    In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

    • #30
    • October 14, 2019, at 11:17 AM PST
    • 7 likes
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