Is this decline just circular, as a Chamberlain leads to a Churchill, who leads to an Attlee, and eventually back to Thatcher, or as Carter begets Reagan, who begets Obama, who loses the Congress and the nation’s support? Certainly, equality and fairness are parasitical luxuries that depend first upon Western productivity, which is the harvest of personal freedom and economic liberty. Before you can have Cornel West, Sandra Fluke, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders, you first have to have grimy frackers and horizontal drillers, pajama-boy techies, the loggers of reality TV, long-haul truckers — and, yes, conniving capitalists at Goldman Sachs and showmen like Donald Trump.

So far, the West has been lucky. The present generations of nihilistic redistributionists are no Sullas, Robespierres, or Lenins. They do damage, but for now not enough to endanger the architecture of their own privilege. Al Gore still jets around the world to hector about climate change. Barack Obama won’t retire to an iffy neighborhood in Chicago. Al Sharpton won’t order the police away from his doorstep. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates believe in property rights. Mark Zuckerberg assumes that he has the right to buy up his neighbors’ property to create a moat defense against those who he insists must be allowed into the United States without following legal immigration procedures. Even George Soros adheres to international finance laws, most of the time.

At least for now, we are in a cycle of Western decline, waiting either for another Churchill, Thatcher, or Reagan to scold us out of it — or for an existential enemy, foreign or domestic, of such power and danger that all our progressive pieties will dissipate in the face of danger.

If, God forbid, Putin moves into the Baltic states, if Iran launches a nuke into Israel, if North Korea shoots chemical shells into Seoul, if China absorbs Taiwan, if, in another 9/11, a dozen 757s take down the Sears Tower, if the interest rate on a soon-to-be-$20-trillion national debt hits 7 percent, if Social Security checks start to bounce, or if Wall Street trumps its 2008 implosion, then Miley Cyrus will go the way of Britney Spears, Barack Obama the way of Jimmy Carter, and Black Lives Matter the way of It’s a Black Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand. Then the televised presences of Caitlin Jenner and the Kardashians would vanish as the decadent indulgences of a society that could no longer afford them.