A repeating pattern of rise, decline and fall

posted at 7:01 pm on November 19, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

These past few days, particularly when out walking Max around the neighborhood, I’ve found myself falling into a cycle of repeating thoughts, somewhat dark in nature, about the larger arc of the human journey. To be sure, this might be partly credited to absorbing the impact of the recent election, but some introspection – even of the bleakest sort – can often serve as a benison to those feeling under the gun. To sum up the general theme here, the idea I keep circling back to is the following:

Mankind has, for most of the course of recorded history, demonstrated a marked propensity toward entropy.

I’m fully aware of how depressing that sounds at first glance, but it’s an idea which has been simmering under my fedora long enough to flesh it out a bit. I should also point out right up front that I’m equally aware how some of you – and you know who you are – are going to read this as yet another case of froideur, intent on disparaging liberals and Democrats and spinning up the whole Takers vs. Makers, 47% meme. It’s not, but I understand how easily it could be interpreted that way if that’s what you’re looking for. If so, you are excused to skip this entirely and head out to your next Obama victory party, Rachael Maddow book reading, unicorn hoof polishing clinic, or whatever it is you do in your copious free time. But back to the matter at hand.

I’m sure I spend far too much time watching History Channel specials or being dragged into my wife’s endless fascination with medieval Europe, but it seems to me as if humans have been in an endless cycle of success leading to self-destruction for at least the past few thousand years. Some of the classic examples include the Romans – when their spectacular success bred a society of those dependant upon bread, circuses and the conquered doing their work for them. The Egyptians reached a point where their victories resulted in so many slaves that daily struggle and work were vastly reduced. (And then they met the Romans.) The ruling class surrounding the court of Henry VIII reached a point where there was nothing to do but feast and debauch, leading to well known results.

It’s as if we’ve been living a millennial cycle resembling an early version of Groundhog Day. Societies struggle to rise up, they achieve sweeping domination, and then fall rapidly into gout infested decay. This is strictly anecdotal – I’m neither an historian nor an anthropologist – but we seem to be pre-programmed to be victims of our own success. When times were hard, the wolves or barbarians were at the door and you knew that there wouldn’t be anyone there to bail you out aside from your own family, community or church. People understand there is nothing for it at a time such as that but to fight like hell, work like madmen and discover a way to feed themselves, protect their own and survive. But as a group, we work to build societies where everything is safer, easier, and – just perhaps – a bit less precious to us.

And when there is an easy path to comfort available, we seem to produce a series of generations more than willing to eschew the hard scrabble grind to advance and settle for whatever may be easily obtained, even if the resulting lifestyle is nothing to brag about. Humans do indeed seem to fall into the “Type A” and “Type B” personalities which Friedman and Rosenman postulated back in the fifties, but it extends deeply into our roots. Any given moment in time will produce some who are driven to succeed and others who are willing to do what is needed to get along, willing to be led as long as their baseline level of acceptable comfort is maintained. But on the longer scale, the analogy appears to carry forward, generating sufficient individuals willing to keep on keeping on to sap the drive which built the cornucopia feeding the crowds at the arena.

We don’t have to look back to ancient history for examples, and this may put the lie to the commonly held claim that “the good old days were never that good, actually.” My grandparents were both born around the turn of the last century and they came up through the depression. Life was hard and they always reminded us of that. There were people dropping dead in the streets of now controllable diseases, no real safety nets when the economy collapsed and modern technological advantages were still far in the future. They farmed. They worked. They kept themselves fed even when there was no cash money for long periods of time. Their brothers and sisters also ran different types of farms and they traded amongst each other. And every time the fiscal world or society at large came crashing down around everyone’s ears, they kept going. And yes… it was hard.

But they had no choice. It was that or die. And they – along with the millions of others like them – were the people who spawned and raised The Greatest Generation. But now we’ve built a nation envied across the world as the –former – sole superpower with the highest standard of living the species has ever known. Fear of survival is largely a thing of the past, except in the most violent and deprived enclaves. But it’s hard for me to escape the idea that somehow we are once again beginning to stall.

Perhaps that’s why some of the longer lasting and hardest to uproot societies have been run by brutal despots. (Several incarnations of China come to mind.) The people were miserable and knew little of freedom, but they kept on slugging away to bring in the rice crop, put an arrow in the stag, forage for the berries or gleanings of grain… whatever it took to make it through.

I’m not wishing for another great depression, the lash of a dictator or a collapse of society. Far from it. But it’s difficult to ignore the historical parallels. Comfort seems to breed complacence, and complacence seems to seed the roots of decline. Is it just us? Is that simply how we’re built? It’s as if there’s a governor installed in our engines, allowing us to only accelerate just so far before the flow of fuel begins to squeeze off. I just hope that’s not by design.

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Some men aren’t looking for anything logical.
They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with.
Some men — just want to watch the world burn
.”
–Alfred Pennyworth

FlatFoot on November 19, 2012 at 7:09 PM

As J. E. Dyer wrote,

history’s father is the human heart.

That’s the problem.

Nothing bad that America has gone through has lacked a precedent in history. People keep doing the same old things, no matter what we call them or how many times they end in sorrow. History never did end; history’s father is the human heart. . . .

We must learn from the past, because each one of us, when he is born, is the finger of the past pointed at the world we happen to be alive in. We are no better today, and no worse, than our most distant ancestors were. We behave with exactly the same motivations and fears, aspirations and evil. History was there all along, and it has settled on us with a vengeance.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Meh, I live in the South and we’ll survive.

Punchenko on November 19, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Call for Alexis de Tocqueville, line 5!

Wino on November 19, 2012 at 7:12 PM

With apologies to Robert A. Heinlein:

Looks like we are in for a run of bad luck…

Bruno Strozek on November 19, 2012 at 7:12 PM

If I recall Jazz, you are one of those libertarians. You know, the people who are all too happy to side with the degenerates of our society in their freedom to INDULGE in their prevarication of debased activities. With that said, since you have no compulsion to try and prevent the decline of our nation in this respect, you are part and parcel of the decline.

Abortion and gay marriage are just the stepping stones our culture will take to making human sacrifices to the gods like the Aztecs of long past. The gladiator rings with Christians fed to Lions for entertainment like the Romans of long past. The concentration camps of Germany, another nation that chose to go out in a blaze of glory, rather than die a peaceful death.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

All empires fall, it’s just how things are

MoreLiberty on November 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

I’d say the parallel is about 60 AD in the Roman Empire.

Nero is just beginning the second half of his disasterous reign, where he severely taxed the people to build his own golden home. Whether he played his lyre while Rome burned or was involved behind the scenes in some other way, he put the blame on the Christians.

Norwegian on November 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

When my parents were born, Britain ruled the world. After WWII, Britain was broke (we won, yay!) and the USA assumed the mantle for civilization and the leaders of the free world. My father had the California dream and dragged me and me mum to America for a better life, which I believe they certainly had. However, I never dreamed they would live to see the decline and fall of 2 empires within their lifetime!

yubley on November 19, 2012 at 7:14 PM

Romans fled Rome once the barbarians destroyed the aqueducts. The aqueducts were everything to the Romans. The barbarians are working on America’s aqueducts… our energy. Once electricity rates skyrocket, like Obama promised, what will we power our phones with? Our homes? Our TVs? Our video games?

The past 4 years they have been tearing down perfectly good dams and replacing them with nothing. Our roads and bridges are not being repaired. Farmland is being turned into forests and what farmland there is is going to corn.. for our gas tanks.

Oil used to be green Now it isn’t. Hydro power used to be green. Now it isn’t. Windmills are the newest green. Won’t be long before they aren’t. Because it was never about being green. It’s about destroying America.

And the GOP, the party we always thought was on our side, is racing to compete with the barbarians.

Two hopes. Flee to country while you can.. but where will you go once America falls? What will be safe?

Or, find a Red State, tie a knot and hang on.

JellyToast on November 19, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Nations rise in dented armor, and die in decaying splendor.

orangemtl on November 19, 2012 at 7:16 PM

The Greatest Generation

Eh, that term annoys me. The generation who voted themselves social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, welfare, etc., at the expense of their grandchildren. Then they have the nerve to call us the selfish generation.

I will admit, it takes a lot of gall to turn your back on the history of the US, where every generation was willing to sacrifice for their kids, and say “screw it, I want everything for ME NOW.”

Don’t worry, grandpa, we’ll pay off your debts for you.

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:18 PM

You are describing a Christian world. One in which those that drive success have come to believe all people matter. This is not true of the pre-Christian world. Would the Romans have declined if not for Christianity? Certainly prior to that most societies fell due to over expansion,not complacency.The sight of societies falling to some other power despite still having the clear capacity to stop it is a modern phenomena.

Rocks on November 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Ich bin ein Obama-er. I am Obama. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, rich or poor, male or female, gay, straight, bisexual, or transgendered — and yet, those things matter more than anything. In fact, all that matters is you, and maybe your family, if you so choose.

Let it burn.

Paul-Cincy on November 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

The Greatest Generation

Eh, that term annoys me. The generation who voted themselves social security, medicare, medicaid, food stamps, welfare, etc., at the expense of their grandchildren. Then they have the nerve to call us the selfish generation.

I will admit, it takes a lot of gall to turn your back on the history of the US, where every generation was willing to sacrifice for their kids, and say “screw it, I want everything for ME NOW.”

Don’t worry, grandpa, we’ll pay off your debts for you.

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:18 PM

The Greatest Generation is between those people and the Boomer Generation. They were too young to vote for the Social Security. But what they did do is start the ball rolling on poor educations for their children, starting in the home and ending up in the classroom.

No one actually voted for social security. It was foisted on the people by someone who knew that it would eventually lead to the decay we see.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

When times were hard, the wolves or barbarians were at the door and you knew that there wouldn’t be anyone there to bail you out aside from your own family, community or church.

Sorry but church is out in this equation, community = government, and family? Would that be the one where the child has 2 daddies? OK. Now we’ve got the modern equivalent of that statement I can tell right away that the 47%ers wouldn’t know how to survive.

The correct analogy is: the ant and the grasshopper. One plans for a winter and one eats voraciously everything in its path – then goes after the ant’s storage.

As for Rome? Right on! Bread and circuses. Words won’t do anymore. We’re programmed for eye candy and horror. Events will lead the way.

Dictator? I’m wondering how many executive orders and regulations this administration has put into place without congress vs. ALL OTHER ADMINISTRATIONS COMBINED.
Anyone have a calculator? Just curious at what point in time – Eisenhower, Truman, Wilson..do we have to get to in order to equal out Obamaclaus and the Machine.

Remember – democracy is 50.5% of the people voting for tyranny over the other 49.5% of their neighbors . That’s why we’re a representative democracy. Nobody remembers that part though do they?

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Or, find a Red State, tie a knot and hang on.

JellyToast on November 19, 2012 at 7:16 PM

We need to post signs at our borders that state “Liberals not welcome. Turn around now voluntarily or you will be escorted out involuntarily.”

Red states need to do whatever is necessary to make our states hostile territory to Liberals. Make it very, very difficult to get on the public dole. Enact social legislation hostile to Lefty beliefs. Make it known to any Liberals that you may know that they are welcome to leave for Blue states if they don’t like us backwoods, redneck, hayseed, bible-clinging, gun toting, racist, sexist, homophobic, haters. Wear it proudly on a bumper sticker.

Charlemagne on November 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

So, Jazz ran out of Twinkies on Friday..?

HA seems to be suffering from post election psychosis…or maybe just mailing it in?

d1carter on November 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

Nice, thoughtful survey about the place. I refuse to even argue.

To be sure, this might be partly credited to absorbing the impact of the recent election, but some introspection – even of the bleakest sort – can often serve as a benison to those feeling under the gun.

ben·i·son
[ben-uh-zuhn, -suhn]
noun
benediction.

– But for the Mrs. Jazz:

JAQUES

A fool, a fool! I met a fool i’ the forest,
A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool
Who laid him down and bask’d him in the sun,
And rail’d on Lady Fortune in good terms,
In good set terms and yet a motley fool.
‘Good morrow, fool,’ quoth I. ‘No, sir,’ quoth he,
‘Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me fortune:’
And then he drew a dial from his poke,
And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye,
Says very wisely, ‘It is ten o’clock:
Thus we may see,’ quoth he, ‘how the world wags:
‘Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more ’twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.’ When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,
That fools should be so deep-contemplative,
And I did laugh sans intermission
An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley’s the only wear.

:)

Axe on November 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM

The Greatest Generation is between those people and the Boomer Generation. They were too young to vote for the Social Security. But what they did do is start the ball rolling on poor educations for their children, starting in the home and ending up in the classroom.

No one actually voted for social security. It was foisted on the people by someone who knew that it would eventually lead to the decay we see.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Social security was passed in 1935 as the old age, survivors, and disabled insurance (or some such nonsense) and has been expanded on many times since then.

So, fine, the older brothers and parents of the “greatest generation” conceived of social security… how does that make it any better?

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM

That’s why we’re a representative democracy. Nobody remembers that part though do they?

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 7:24 PM

ahem, representative republic. As in, we have “guidelines” by which our “representatives” rule. Not mob rule democracy, which is possibly the worst form of government possible and in to which we have descended.

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Call for Alexis de Tocqueville, line 5!

Wino on November 19, 2012 at 7:12 PM

Exactly!

Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue.

John Witherspoon, 1776

It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, 1781

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams, 1798

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:29 PM

George Washington, draft of first Inaugural Address, 1789

No compact among men…can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.

George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796:

Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Whether he played his lyre while Rome burned or was involved behind the scenes in some other way, he put the blame on the Christians Bush.
Norwegian on November 19, 2012 at 7:13 PM

FIFY..

MaxSplinters on November 19, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Social security was passed in 1935 as the old age, survivors, and disabled insurance (or some such nonsense) and has been expanded on many times since then.

So, fine, the older brothers and parents of the “greatest generation” conceived of social security… how does that make it any better?

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:26 PM

I was just saying that you were heaping blame on someone who was not to blame. The Greatest Generation is the one that fought WWII. The Boomers are the ones they bore as children. Thus, it was a different generation that foisted Social Security on us.

Also, I do not recall reading anywhere of FDR running on a platform to create Social Security. He just simply forced it through congress and threatened the Supreme Court for not rubber stamping it and eventually got them to rubber stamp it without ever actually making a finding on the old age payments being constitutional, EVER. It has never once been determined that payments from the Federal Government to individuals is constitutional as far as I know. It was just determined that congress has the power to tax people and call it a social security TAX.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM

Or, find a Red State, tie a knot and hang on.

JellyToast on November 19, 2012 at 7:16 PM

I tried. Arizona in the early 1980s. It was WONDERFUL. Then came the Rodney King riots in L.A. and I noticed the first waves of California license plates – early 1990s. Still ok. Now? They’re all leaving L.A. and the area, if they have the $$ for gas to get across the border, they get to Phoenix or Tucson somehow and look what happened – we lost 2 of the newly drawn congressional districts.

One to an atheist,communist lesbian,gay,transgender,bisexual leftie and one to a plain Leftie loser. For the first time? We have 5 democrat congress people and 4 republican.

I’d love to move now to another red state. I’m worried that more of the california roaches are going to come inward – to Idaho and change that state or Montana. See? How do you keep the california roaches from coming to your state? I’ve got 1 move left in me.

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

The term Greatest Generation was coined by Tom Brokaw for the title of his book on his parents’ generation.

While they were better this generation, they were still lacking wisdom and discernment in that they kept re-electing FDR. That’s heresy, I know, but so be it.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

I was just saying that you were heaping blame on someone who was not to blame. The Greatest Generation is the one that fought WWII. The Boomers are the ones they bore as children. Thus, it was a different generation that foisted Social Security on us.

Also, I do not recall reading anywhere of FDR running on a platform to create Social Security. He just simply forced it through congress and threatened the Supreme Court for not rubber stamping it and eventually got them to rubber stamp it without ever actually making a finding on the old age payments being constitutional, EVER. It has never once been determined that payments from the Federal Government to individuals is constitutional as far as I know. It was just determined that congress has the power to tax people and call it a social security TAX.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:33 PM

They are to blame! The major shift in government philosophy happened with the progressive movement in the early 1900s. The first generation to fully accept that philosophy and pass it on to their children was the “greatest generation,” the ones who fought world war 2. They and their parents voted for FDR’s re-election 4 times. They wanted social security, and all of the improvements and more generous payouts and expanded pay base that have occurred since 1935. They, along with their children, have voted, consistently, for increase spending year after year, the principle of which will EVENTUALLY have to be paid off, probably by their grandchildren and great grandchildren (me & my kids)

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Mankind has, for most of the course of recorded history, demonstrated a marked propensity toward entropy.

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of closed systems never decreases, because closed systems spontaneously evolve towards thermal equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy. (Wikipedia)

Sorry about that.

bofh on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

JellyToast, are you still around?

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM

You could probably make the argument that when times are tough only the tough survive, whereas during good times everyone survives.

So it’s probably a dynamic of our species that when we don’t have to work and work hard at our survival, our species becomes saturated with…..less than ideal prototypes.

hisfrogness on November 19, 2012 at 7:39 PM


ahem, representative republic. As in, we have “guidelines” by which our “representatives” rule. Not mob rule democracy, which is possibly the worst form of government possible and in to which we have descended.

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Thanks for the correction.
SEE?
I’m starting to be indoctrinated. At least I still remember the representative part.
*smh*

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 7:39 PM

And yeah, the “greatest generations” parents brought us the income tax, and the federal reserve… but they’re dead, and also not known as the “greatest generation” so they don’t bother me as much. But they still planted the seeds for their children to keep voting for more and more money.

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:41 PM

A repeating pattern of rise, decline and fall

…they get what they voted for!

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

They are to blame! The major shift in government philosophy happened with the progressive movement in the early 1900s. The first generation to fully accept that philosophy and pass it on to their children was the “greatest generation,” the ones who fought world war 2. They and their parents voted for FDR’s re-election 4 times. They wanted social security, and all of the improvements and more generous payouts and expanded pay base that have occurred since 1935. They, along with their children, have voted, consistently, for increase spending year after year, the principle of which will EVENTUALLY have to be paid off, probably by their grandchildren and great grandchildren (me & my kids)

Timin203 on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Average age back then was 62 I think…
World War 2 veterans average age was 26. Voting age was around 21 at the time. 5 years of voters… compared to 36 years worth of voters.

You are going to find it very hard for me to accept that the blame squarely belongs on the shoulders of those that Fought WWII… PERIOD. Unless you can find me the spot where there evidence they overwhelmingly supported Social Security.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:46 PM

JellyToast, are you still around?

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:38 PM

…I hope so!…he had a good post up there ^
…and when he gets on a roll…I want more!

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

astonerii, perhaps you should look to the Johnson years for why the “greatest generation” requires a fair amount of blame for the mess we’re in.

Wino on November 19, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Democrats got what they wanted. They pushed us off the cliff. OK, they felt it necessary to take The USA down a notch or two. To what end? We are now LES able to pay for these unsustainable entitlements.

The big question now is: What’s behind Curtain Number Three?

southsideironworks on November 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

I know just what you’re talking about, Jazz. What you’ve laid out is what I’ve been thinking since the election. My father started a business that I now help him run, and will take over soon, and he’s always used a saying that applies to businesses mainly but follows the same “cycle” you’ve described above. The saying goes:

“Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”.

Essentially the patriarch begins a business from nothing. He’s destitute, poor (shirtsleeves), but builds something great. His son, seeing his fathers difficult work in laying the foundation, works just as hard to build upon it, and extend it. His son’s son reaps the benefit of two generations of prosperity, while being completely detached from the generational hard work that was required to secure it. Thus he pisses it away, and even begins to resent his life (gilded cage). After a lifetime of excess, his sons are left with nothing and are once again back to shirtsleeves after three generations. Life doesn’t always play out this way, but I can’t help but feel as though we’ve watched the final grandson of our founding fathers piss away their inheritance of liberty. And like you say, it’s beyond the 47% thing, although that’s part of it. But it’s more of a symptom than a cause. Anyway, thanks for writing this, Jazz.

Weight of Glory on November 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

The possibility that happiness may only be pursued, not attained with any permanence, was implied by Jefferson’s phrase, dwelled on by Proust, &c. but rarely admitted by modern polities. Once you acknowledge happiness as a serious societal objective, you’re probably doomed.

Seth Halpern on November 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Weight of Glory on November 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Not cheerful, but I hear ya. Thanks.

Jazz Shaw on November 19, 2012 at 7:53 PM

The term Greatest Generation was coined by Tom Brokaw for the title of his book on his parents’ generation.

While they were better this generation, they were still lacking wisdom and discernment in that they kept re-electing FDR. That’s heresy, I know, but so be it.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

No argument here, but let’s be fair…it wasn’t them who supported the 16th Amendment, the Federal Reserve Board and backing Britain and France against Imperial Germany and then laying all the blame upon Germany.

Sure, the “greatest generation” thought that the original stimulus package (Marshall Plan) was a great thing, and yes, they did with less so that Uncle Joe and Chairman Mao could have what they needed to defeat countries we probably never really had to go to war with in the first place.

But I see all this as them being victims of propaganda from various groups who took advantage of their Patriotism and their belief in helping others in need.

Dr. ZhivBlago on November 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

astonerii, perhaps you should look to the Johnson years for why the “greatest generation” requires a fair amount of blame for the mess we’re in.

Wino on November 19, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Fine, but they were not the reason for it. Which is what the original post was insinuating. It was their parents that gifted them with Social Security.

As for repealing it, all for it. I hate the baby boomers. I say let it burn, and move to greener pastures afterwards. I am happy to salt the Earth for those moochers who survive.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Neil Howe and his book on Generations was right. Generation X is the last generation to know freedom. Think about it – the next one was GenY and they started with “baby on board” signs in the car, more monitoring of them – leaving them less to develop a sense of freedom for just playing on the street corner hopscotch. Then the millennial generation started with a computer in their hand when they were born, plus they had to be scanned for their lunches at school – making them lemmings (used to lines, not stepping out, or you don’t get fed) – it was pure Pavlov. Now these people are in college and they’re sponges for what is being taught, shown on MSM, and have no idea of the other side of the argument and worse yet? They don’t want to know. Its mean.

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Every once in a while Jazz impresses me.

wolly4321 on November 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Maybe he’ll come back later.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:03 PM

But I see all this as them being victims of propaganda from various groups who took advantage of their Patriotism and their belief in helping others in need.

Dr. ZhivBlago on November 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

I just finished writing this is the post on Matthews calling people racist:

Did you know that in 1937 the Institute for Propaganda Analysis was established “to educate the American public about the nature of propaganda and how to recognize propaganda techniques. . . . [It] identified “the seven most common “tricks of the trade” used by successful propagandists.”

1. Name Calling

2. Glittering Generalities

3. Transfer

4. Testimonial

5. Plain Folks

6. Card Stacking

7. Band Wagon

Some would have been taught about these (I, myself, learned them in high school). It’s a matter of doing some thinking about whether or not all the things you hear are in fact true.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Comfort seems to breed complacence, and complacence seems to seed the roots of decline. Is it just us? Is that simply how we’re built? It’s as if there’s a governor installed in our engines, allowing us to only accelerate just so far before the flow of fuel begins to squeeze off. I just hope that’s not by design.

If it is installed, it does not work for many people. Think of Bill Gates, he has a life of utter luxury and kept going long after he had it made a permanent feature of his existence. Many people like him throughout history.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Life will go on after President Obama…the stronger ones will regroup and build communities of like minded people despite him. The weak minded will obsequiously ask Obama for more and the elite liberals in power will use him to widen their moats. The president, of course, will oblige.

There are pockets of traditional America in southern and western states; move there and build your own moat – don’t wait for someone else to build it.

mcra99 on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Fine, but they were not the reason for it. Which is what the original post was insinuating. It was their parents that gifted them with Social Security.

I wasn’t refuting your original point. It dealt with a specific point. Namely, that the pre-WWII generation started SS, which they did. My only point was that the WWII generation took a mistake and turned it into a colossal blunder of proportions that are trillions of times worse than the original program ever could have become.

As far as babyboomers being aced out, I’m fine with it. I think the government has no right to be in the charity business at all. Social Security has become nothing less. Let’s take away all grants from your generation as well, though. I mean, fair is fair.

Wino on November 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 7:55 PM

I disagree.

If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.
~Samuel Adams, 1780

We’re in a crisis of character, and frankly, the last thing the country needs is this nihilistic Let It Burn thinking. The Entitlement Mentality is part of the character crisis on the Left, but this Let It Burn Mentality is part of the character crisis of the Right.

In December 1776 Philadelphia was in such a state of chaotic panic that it took Thomas Paine 10 days to get The American Crisis printed. It was finally printed in a newspaper on December 19th, and as a pamphlet on December 23rd. He didn’t give up and say Let It Burn.

On December 18, 1776, George Washington wrote his brother and another relative and told them:

. . .In a word my dear Sir, if every nerve is not strain’d to recruit the New Army with all possible expedition, I think the game is pretty near up

Did he lay down and die or go back to Mount Vernon and say Let It Burn?

Cynicism and despair and contempt don’t solve a thing. They may give a false sense of superiority, but that’s about it.

Surrounded by charlatans, takers and petty tyrants, we need grit and endurance. Whether the game is up for us or not, the very least we can do as Americans and Patriots is to have the courage and character to do what we can in our own circle of influence.

Time to Let the Country Crash?

Think Weimar Republic.

Make no mistake: encouraging an economic crash is a bad idea. A parasite may eventually kill the host, but it usually takes a while, and there is always hope for recovery. Predators, however, devour the carcass in a rapid fashion. No easier meal can be had. Do not forget that predators are foreign to the body, and there are many circling outside our borders. Even today, there is still plenty of flesh left on America — flesh worth fighting for by whoever wants it most.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Another fascinating aspect of this instance of the cycle is whether or not technology has the capacity to affect the ascending / declining nature of it all.

I’d venture that the Romans probably thought their aqueducts were “permanent”, i.e., they build them once and they have solved the water crisis.

Is there some event horizon that, once crossed, will ensure that whatever progress we’ve made technologically will not be lost? A lot of knowledge, resources and labor go into manufacturing technology that makes life easier for us. Kurzweil (the noted futurist and synthesizer builder) posited that eventually we’d discover free energy, automated manufacturing and distribution, and it would become so cheap that humans would literally run out of things to do other than leisure activities.

I feel like humans need problems. If we don’t have any real problems we’ll find something to substitute.

hisfrogness on November 19, 2012 at 8:17 PM

My greatest fear is that we are the Roman Citizen of the 5th Century. Like them, we were born into a world, into a country and civilization that was the greatest the world had seen, but destined to SEE IT ALL FALL into chaos, depravity, and poverty in our lifetime.

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:17 PM

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

The problem with your thinking is that we end up left with a majority moocher population and a democracy that gives them the power.

There is no longer a rudder to this nation.

let it burn.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

America has been through worst times and we will make it through this as well. We always never act without a crisis that spurs us into action. It is just how this nation is…and always has been.

William Eaton on November 19, 2012 at 8:31 PM

The problem with your thinking is that we end up left with a majority moocher population and a democracy that gives them the power.

There is no longer a rudder to this nation.

let it burn.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

What Ayn Rand was missing (due to her atheism) is that there is only ONE check in a Republic to Looterism: Judeo-Christian morals. The 10 Commandments tell you not to steal. Not to lie. Not to covet what your neighbor has. Jesus told us that 10% was a just tithe, amongst other things.

The irony is that she failed to see that the rise of atheism has marched hand in hand with the rise of socialism and of Looters. Every socialist state that has existed has been officially atheist and has oppressed Judaism and Christianity, not just because there can be no God greater than the State (which would presumably be judged by God, therefore they must suppress the Lord), but because people of good moral character do not rob other people, nor condone it.

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Weimar Republic.

Do you even attempt to provide a rudder for those you know in your circle of influence or are you content to be smug and superior?

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:38 PM

America has been through worst times and we will make it through this as well. We always never act without a crisis that spurs us into action. It is just how this nation is…and always has been.

William Eaton on November 19, 2012 at 8:31 PM

This is arguably the greatest national crisis since the War Between the States, and is actually very similar in character.

A nation that is half slave and half free cannot survive. Except in 2012, half the nation is being enslaved by the half that is getting government checks.

This is as unstable and unsustainable as the situation in 1860, and may lead to the same tragic results. And the rise of America to greater greatness than before…

Let’s face it, just as the North’s victory was inevitable due to the fact they had the advantage in numbers and manufacturing, the victory of Producer over the Looter is inevitable for similar reasons. How good an army can you make out of people who are unwilling to GO TO WORK to earn their own food and bed vs people who have lived that way their whole lives?

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:38 PM

The Let It Burn mentality is Ayn Rand personified.

She wrote some books. She never built a nation. It beats me how so many people are willing to follow her and her unproven philosophy off the cliff.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:43 PM

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

I don’t know that there were enough people of good moral character to protest it.

Look at Nazi Germany or the U.S.S.R. Yes, they oppressed Christians (not the fake ones) and Jews, but was there in truth a critical mass of people of character standing in opposition?

I think not.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

I don’t know that there were enough people of good moral character to protest it.

Look at Nazi Germany or the U.S.S.R. Yes, they oppressed Christians (not the fake ones) and Jews, but was there in truth a critical mass of people of character standing in opposition?

I think not.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

No, mainly because Russia had (and has) never had any tradition of freedom.

Which is why it will go much harder in the United States. I don’t think the American People that count (those who produce) will ever accept living under a dictatorship. Especially when they can simply cease production, join the sheep at the trough and cause the system to collapse.

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:52 PM

She wrote some books. She never built a nation. It beats me how so many people are willing to follow her and her unproven philosophy off the cliff.

INC on November 19, 2012 at 8:43 PM

You say that like people have a choice. I’m not sure they do.

As we sit, we are going off the cliff. If we are to not go off the cliff, we have to stop or change direction. The point being the choice is already made and the carriage is already moving. We lost.

The only difference between you and let it burn is that you think there’s still a chance, and let it burn thinks its over.

Axe on November 19, 2012 at 8:52 PM

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the
University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the
Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: “A democracy is always
temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent
form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until
the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.”

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the
beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200
years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
The Obituary follows:

amr on November 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM

What Ayn Rand was missing (due to her atheism) is that there is only ONE check in a Republic to Looterism: Judeo-Christian morals. The 10 Commandments tell you not to steal. Not to lie. Not to covet what your neighbor has. Jesus told us that 10% was a just tithe, amongst other things.

The irony is that she failed to see that the rise of atheism has marched hand in hand with the rise of socialism and of Looters. Every socialist state that has existed has been officially atheist and has oppressed Judaism and Christianity, not just because there can be no God greater than the State (which would presumably be judged by God, therefore they must suppress the Lord), but because people of good moral character do not rob other people, nor condone it.

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Exactly why the only solution is to let it burn. Those who are righteous will survive to rebuild sometime. Those who are moral free will be doomed to decay til death.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
The Obituary follows:

amr on November 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM

Man has been under tyranny far more often than liberty in history. The United States probably sustained it longer than any nation in history. The British succeeded themselves in overthrowing British government tyranny in the 19th Century only to beg for it back with a vengeance in the late 20th and 21st.

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM

Dear Mr. Shaw,

I understand your frustration, as I share it. You are correct that our civilization (I speak of the western industrial world, commonly known as the First World here) is headed for a “stall”. However, you must remember that every civilizational stall stopped at a point that was more beneficial to mankind than the “stalls” that went before it. The current stall stops now when so-called poor people in the First World have access to pretty much all the technological advances that the more affluent have. The only thing lacking in their upward trajectory is, apparently, personal ambition coupled with realistic strategic plans. This mostly has to do with devolved politics (otherwise known, in Heinlein’s theorem, as “bad luck”).

All the gloom and doom has tired me out, as it should you. Isn’t it time we started accentuating the positive, so to speak? The Obama reelection is definitely a setback, for the world as for the nation, but it’s certainly not the end of civilization. Let things go dark, let some things be wrecked. All that accomplishes is spurring the human spark to make things better.

RebeccaH on November 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Democracies always fail because capable people are pushed to the sidelines and bread and circuses are favored by the majority.

Dictatorships always fail because governments can’t generate income and the capable people, who produce said income, are no longer around.

Sometimes the country defeats itself as in a coup, civil war or temporary feudal anarchy out of which grow powerful feudal states- one inevitably taking control.

Sometimes the country becomes so weakened that it is militarily defeated by another country.

MaiDee on November 19, 2012 at 9:04 PM

The thing that bothers me the most is my parents who worked sacrificed and gave back their entire lives are seeing all of this happening. Now they are worried about the government taking everything and they feel demonized by our current president.

ldbgcoleman on November 19, 2012 at 9:05 PM

The thing that bothers me the most is my parents who worked sacrificed and gave back their entire lives are seeing all of this happening. Now they are worried about the government taking everything and they feel demonized by our current president.

ldbgcoleman on November 19, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Who were they voting for? Did they ever tell you, “you know, this country really needs to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. I have written my representatives telling them that those programs should be repealed.” If not, then they did not protect you the child from this problem.

This is the first generation to turn over to their children a worse America in almost every respect.

astonerii on November 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Some here don’t like Ayn Rand. Paul Ryan is a devotee of her. If you liked Romney/Ryan then you liked Ayn Rand.

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Some here don’t like Ayn Rand. Paul Ryan is a devotee of her. If you liked Romney/Ryan then you liked Ayn Rand.

athenadelphi on November 19, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Is this what passes as logic in today’s liberal circles?

Stupid.

tom daschle concerned on November 19, 2012 at 9:43 PM

I just hope that’s not by design.

When you have a communist elected president, and a leftist administration which is not accountable for anything while simultaneously promoting division amongst the polpulation, with a complicit media machine, and leftist indoctrination occurring at every level of education – what you have is the only formula that works to destroy the United States. Why try to attack from the outside, when you can destroy your enemy from within. After all, isn’t that how liberals truly view life in the US… living in the belly of the beast?

The only thing preventing a more aggressive and rapid process is the right to bear arms… The rest of us non-leftists are simply frogs, being slowly boiled to death…

For those of us who have come to the US from communist countries, or 1st generation Americans – children of people who fledcommunist countries to live in the US can see this for what it is.

I just hope that’s not by design.

Don’t be stupid. Of course it is by design.

Danny on November 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM

The analogy to Egypt or Rome is misplaced.
Rome plundered the wealth of the nations it concurred to sustain a welfare state.
Modern democracies, like France and Britain, have plundered the wealth of their own citizens, through socialism, to do the same. The result has been a slow descent into a poverty of low production, low consumption, and low birth rates combined with high alcoholism, and high suicide rates.
Socialism is incapable of producing the goods and services necessary for a “gout infested decay”.

MHatch on November 19, 2012 at 11:16 PM

Meh, I live in the South and we’ll survive.

Punchenko on November 19, 2012 at 7:10 PM

yup

It is not that America has too much wealth, but too little faith.

The Founders were fairly wealthy, but all had belief in higher power, judgement, and a need for moral society. A work ethic was a Biblical moral requirement. This was not hypothesis but belief

The nation created was a theory based on their beliefs

Ancient Romans had many gods but placed their faith in men. Wealth could not erase the truth of the fragility of their lives, and they embraced nihilism and decadence. Public duty became a joke.

They were originally warriors and builders with a special relationship to the pantheon of gods. Somewhere Romans became too smart to believe in gods or destiny, and saw only their mortality. Rome surrendered long before the barbarians arrived

Funny in the US, the South, the Bible Belt, was separated from the North because of the war between the states, and held tightly to what remained, their culture. Now that divide has given the South an advantage in survival while the north, too smart to believe in god, self destructs by counting on man

entagor on November 19, 2012 at 11:39 PM

The Doom Patrol adds another.

DFCtomm on November 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM

What Ayn Rand was missing (due to her atheism) is that there is only ONE check in a Republic to Looterism: Judeo-Christian morals. The 10 Commandments tell you not to steal. Not to lie. Not to covet what your neighbor has. Jesus told us that 10% was a just tithe, amongst other things.

The irony is that she failed to see that the rise of atheism has marched hand in hand with the rise of socialism and of Looters. Every socialist state that has existed has been officially atheist and has oppressed Judaism and Christianity, not just because there can be no God greater than the State (which would presumably be judged by God, therefore they must suppress the Lord), but because people of good moral character do not rob other people, nor condone it.

wildcat72 on November 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Right, we’re in this mess because the vast majority of American voters are atheists…. /s

DarkCurrent on November 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

–Rudyard Kipling

rockmom on November 20, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Not going to bother checking if someline else wrote this, but we are in the era of Nero. Overtaxed his people, fiddled while his land burned and blamed it on others. That is our stuttering piece of shit president’s administration in a nutshell.

Kakalak Pundit on November 20, 2012 at 4:07 AM

King Soloman pointed this out vividly in the book of “Ecclesiasties” some 3000 years ago.

tommyboy on November 20, 2012 at 5:47 AM

This country is where it is because it has turned its back on God and the morality that results from godliness. Toqueville had it right. A modern bumpersticker variation is “God, Guns and Guts built this country.”

The country started down this road when the north allowed itself to be manipulated into fighting Lincoln’s war. The tipping point was passed back in the 70s as the boomers began taking over and progressivism took over the major institutions of the country. Lawlessness has resulted and it will be very hard to walk the cat back. Historically, no civilization has ever walked the cat back.

Quartermaster on November 20, 2012 at 6:29 AM

Right, we’re in this mess because the vast majority of American voters are atheists….
DarkCurrent on November 19, 2012 at 11:50 PM

They are certainly practical atheists. Just as were those who called themselves Jews in the time of Ahab but “walked in the way of Jeroboam.”

tommyboy on November 20, 2012 at 6:37 AM

Mankind has, for most of the course of recorded history, demonstrated a marked propensity toward entropy.

Actually this is just a collapse of large scale systems that you see. I would posit that the modern world is not Rome, circa 400 AD, but closer to the closing part of the Bronze Age. Rome did not have the complex trade system amongst multiple large powers like were present then, nor did it have the complex interplay of trade that is witnessed by the large number of late Bronze Age Wrecks in the Aegean which carried goods brought in as far away as the Indian sub-continent. Indeed the Linear B writing on clay could be found that far away, as far north as modern day Moscow and all the way to what would be modern day London, and all the way to the Pillars of Hercules. That is not a rude, crude civilization but one with an extensive and vast trade system that Rome would equal in size, but not in power diversity. That too, fell, however and the horror for the old City-States can be found in the clay that had been fired in them… by the burning of their cities.

Jump forward to just going into the Dark Ages and while the mainland of Europe is seeing all sorts of local tyrannical rulers, the Angles and Saxons decamped from what we would call Denmark to the British Isles. They had a different way of viewing Kings, not as top-down monarchs, but closer to a first amongst equals with limited power granted to them by those equals. Indeed carrying the tradition of the Thing with them they brought a society that had trial by one’s peers and that nobles and even Kings could and were charged under local laws. No King was above the law. In taking over all of what had been a Roman Province plus Scotland, the new Angla-Land changed from the decayed Roman estates system to one of Shires and Burroughs with a diverse set of interlocking laws that could still be described in the 14th century as a diverse and generally unwritten, unlike much of what was going on in the mainland. In the 9th century the second most populated and prosperous city in Europe was Jorvik or as we now know it: York. That was done not by Romans, not by Roman law, nor by the remnants of the Roman system but by Anglo-Saxon ‘barbarians’ in Angla-Land. Canute would uphold this system following on his father’s successful (and only a few months long) take-over, even while transplanting many Danes into it, and give it reinforcement.

This system would prove to be durable, adaptable and be a fall back position for any monarch seeking legitimacy in England. After the Norman conquest and its system of Dukes and Sheriffs were put on top of the older Earl and Shire system, the law had to be diverse and yet still local with guaranteed trial by jury. With William the Conqueror also came the idea of the King’s Land (set aside for the monarch and having its own law) which was abused by his son, William II, and then see the second son rush to put in a Charter of Liberties to reverse much of the excesses, put back into place traditional taxation and reduce the scope and power of the King’s Land. This sort of thing was first done in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which records that foundation that Henry built upon, the one that put the National rule in check by local governments that could stop actions at the highest level by simply not showing up when called for or, even better under Ethelred just prior to the Norman conquest, by actually forcing factions to get along because no one wanted a civil war to kill prosperity.

This concept is not a republic, per se, but that other thing that would come to play a huge roll centuries later: federalism.

The outline of what federalism is, what it does, how it works and why it works, and the prosperity it creates by keeping government in check at all levels is something that can be seen not in the Enlightenment, not in the Medieval, but right there, smack dab in the middle of the ‘Dark Ages’. While Charlemagne and that lot were trying to create some Holy Roman Empire, those rude, crude, socially unkempt, not really well Christianized people until you get to just after Canute, they were putting together a federalist system that, by and large, worked by holding National power to account by local power and local power was not above the law nor were National laws something that could be imposed when they went contrary to local sensibilities.

Was it a generally hard, nasty, awful time when the large scale system of Roman law, power, and larger systems collapsed? You betchya! And what was put together by the rudest and crudest sorts way up there in great unwashed masses land with barbarians galore we call Vikings would be something that would actually make a republic a more durable system once they were fused together in a new framework. When this current large scale system collapses, it collapses not completely (like the late Bronze Age) nor into a time of pure horror, like post-collapse of Western Rome, but down to that nasty, barbaric and highly accountable localized system that was created to counter the effects of that large scale system collapse. That wasn’t made by intent, but by looking at human nature, realizing that power unchecked is a scourge to all, and that the best check is the local one.

Even if you aren’t taught this system, enough of it remains as a social background that the good sense of it will re-assert itself out of necessity. It is the necessity that is the unpleasant part, but my fellow citizens seem to wish for such necessary times. Don’t look for some mighty ruler to try and run it all: that doesn’t work all that well. But this durable, local based system of not trusting government because it collapses due to such power… why that is just good old common sense. Brought to you by those Anglo-Saxons. You wouldn’t want to try and run a large scale system without federal checks and balances as we are about to find out, yet again.

ajacksonian on November 20, 2012 at 6:51 AM

bofh on November 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

I suggest that rather than entropy, we are experiencing a form of “Brownian Motion” wherein a system of particles otherwise undisturbed begins to shift in random directions.

Spots the Dog on November 20, 2012 at 7:16 AM

The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?

-The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Chapter 35

I just read this the other day. Seems relevant somehow.

BigGator5 on November 20, 2012 at 7:24 AM

I hate it when the page refreshes and wipes out my partially-typed comment.

mr.blacksheep on November 20, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Even if one believes that any religion is just a fairy tale, you have to admit that a persons faith drives behavior. The American “experiment” married liberty and freedom with a set of moral values from religion. The Founders understood the dark side of human nature and the danger of the experiment in Anerica was that human nature would destroy it due to the inability to control negative behavior among the population. In other words, the very freedom they enjoyed would destroy them.

But it was the moral foundation provided by religion, instilled in the citizens, that made America a success. So, it is no wonder why America falls into the abyss as it destroys that foundation once embedded into the citizens.

artman1746 on November 20, 2012 at 7:55 AM

ajacksonian on November 20, 2012 at 6:51 AM

We have become like the Soviet Union was in the ’70s, and our fate is guaranteed to be similar: a generalized systemic failure followed by devolution into a level of chaos.

Let’s hope our grandkids or great-grandkids or whoever it is who formulates the consitution of what follows the U.S.A. have at least absorbed these lessons (although the debauching of our educational system has probably largely precluded it):

The poison-pill for the U.S. was allowing the federal government to raise revenue on the backs of the most politically impotent: individual citizens. This virtually guaranteed what we have now: a split between the makers and the takers.

A wisely-structured future federal government would only be able to raise revenue from the states, who would only be able to tax administrative units (e.g. counties) that comprise a limited number of *families*. Businesses, whose purpose is ultimately to generate income for its owners, and which have the by-product of producing income for their employees, would be exempt from tax unless they were foreign-owned.

Needless to say, the scope of the federal government would have to be strictly limited, as our founders envisioned, but “loopholes” (e.g. the “commerce clause”, the “welfare” clause) would be explicitly forbidden.

Individuals would not elect federal or state representatives, but only those of their county. The county representatives would elect state representatives, who would elect federal representatives. This structure would make concentration of political power and its ever-consequent corruption very, very much more difficult, and would make the expansion of government scope nearly impossible: counties could withhold tax payments from a rogue state government.

mr.blacksheep on November 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Romans fled Rome once the barbarians destroyed the aqueducts. The aqueducts were everything to the Romans. The barbarians are working on America’s aqueducts… our energy. Once electricity rates skyrocket, like Obama promised, what will we power our phones with? Our homes? Our TVs? Our video games?

Jellytoast

USA is poised to surge back with fracking. We can have energy independence before long. Keep your attention on how Dems seek to marginalize it.

We don’t have to fade yet. Conservatives lost the election to the gift-promisers but we just might come back after slogging through the next two and four years.

shades_of_gasden on November 20, 2012 at 8:10 AM

Debate is fun but pointless, the mother-of-all reset-buttons is coming, the sheer mass of the economic can-kicking, the wonton piling on of debt, the over-leveraged markets, curency manipulation…all this Neo-Keynesian insanity is about to reach a climax where the unzipping of everything will throw the entire globe back into a new dark age. Plan accordingly, all else is wasted effort.

insidiator on November 20, 2012 at 8:14 AM

Jazz, you really should read Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West”, originally published in 1918. It is a 2 volume work centered on the very ideas which you have just presented.

Spengler laid out a model of the life cycle of High Cultures, a system of organic growth and death that apply to all of them. He has never been very popular because one of his basic assumptions is that all cultures eventually grow old and die – and that is something that very few people are ready to accept, even though all of our historical observations tell us this is true.

He held that there have been only 8 true world-changing HIgh Cultures since the beginning of history, and that all other societies have been merely echoes or copies of these. Example: world culture today is a clone of the dominant Euro-American culture, except for the Islamic world which is still playing out the older Arabian/Islamic culture. (100 years ago Spengler noted that the tensions between the Islamic world and the Amero-Euro world could never be resolved because they represented a fundamental clash of competing Cultures)

A culture is born, enters a period of expansion, achieves great success, becomes a civilization, and enjoys the benefits of its power and dominance. Democracy at first expands the benefits to all, but Democracy always morphs into Caesarism and Empire, and all Empires burn themselves out and collapse under their own weight.

We’re not at the point of collapse yet, but we are at the point where Democracy collapses and the age of Caesars arrives. (although the fake forms live on, just as the Roman Senate lived on in appearance for hundreds of years after their Caesars appeared.)

Rome still lasted hundreds of years after their civilization became terminal, and we’ve got at least a few decades left in us. But there’s really no example of any great culture making it to the point where we are and turning things around.

Tom Servo on November 20, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Nothing new.

I believe this is called “The Pride Cycle

Sackett on November 20, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Welcome to conservatism, Jazz. A true conservative understands the fallen nature of man, and that he is not perfectable. It’s why the founders built a limited government, with checks and balances – they knew that eventually Washington would morph into Obama. Understanding the fallen nature of man and his unperfectability prevents utopianism.

It can be depressing, but it is also liberating. It’s nothing personal as to why all those morons rejected the wiser answer Nov 6. It’s nothing personal as to why another group of morons chose not to vote.

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude, than the animating contest of freedom – go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

GWB on November 20, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The Republic was killed by the early Progressives and their 16th and 17th Amendments.

You can argue over how much blame the “greatest generation” bears for the decline of the US, which is a great deal IMHO, but without those two changes to our government we would never have ended up where we are.

Nathan_OH on November 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Plan accordingly, all else is wasted effort.

insidiator on November 20, 2012 at 8:14 AM

And have no compunction about borrowing heavily from the banks to do so.

mr.blacksheep on November 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Thanks for your thinking on this topic, Jazz. I found your thoughts measured and wise. It gives me some comfort at this time just as it does you to contemplate the longer view.

The smartest, best conservatives like Thomas Sowell and Victor David Hanson do more than simply talk short-term political strategy. I think one of the reasons that Republicans lost this last election boils down to the fact that we as a nation have been dumbed down to the point of living in a narcotic stupor. Very few understand economics. Very few understand history. Articles like this that you wrote are moving in the right direction.

Burke on November 20, 2012 at 10:27 AM

The Republic was killed by the early Progressives and their 16th and 17th Amendments.

Nathan_OH on November 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM

That and letting any fool vote.

Carnac on November 20, 2012 at 11:39 AM

That and letting any fool vote.

Carnac on November 20, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Yeah, that kind of led to the two amendments.

Nathan_OH on November 20, 2012 at 1:39 PM

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