Much of my free time has been spent in the contemplation and study of history, specifically that of civilizations in decline. There is a certain amount of morbidity in it, but nonetheless I find the matter fascinating, and have since my youth. One particular moment stands out. The movie Revenge of the Nerds has a scene where one of the nerds asks his perspective female conquest this question:
Wait – would you rather live in the ascendancy of a civilization or during its decline?
The woman answers his question by jumping his bones — the exact sort of thing your average American would do in such a circumstance: ignore the question and have copious amounts of sex. And this was the 1980s, long before most would have thought the decline terminal, or even recognized its presence. My five-year-old self ignored the antics of the characters and pondered the question seriously, something I’m sure the original producers did not expect.
I can tell you for certain that living during the decline of a civilization is profitable for some. For instance, would Lena Dunham’s insufferable antics be tolerated by a strong, vibrant civilization? Here she is, a singularly unattractive woman without a the slightest concept of good sense or taste, displaying her flabby body in transparent underwear, declaring that you should find her attractive — or, of course, you are a patriarchal, heteronormative… whatever if you do not.
Don’t click this link if you want to preserve your eyesight. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a freak show, be my guest. Looks like living in the decline is good business for ugly, idiotic, insufferable morons with money. Most of your celebrities, political leaders, and corporatists are similar. A civilization on the rise, or nearing its apex, naturally reserves most of its attentions for the worthy, for individuals who have proven themselves in some fashion or another. A declining civilization works in the opposite manner.
You can tell a great deal about a nation by those the populace chooses to worship. And worship they do. Many individuals cannot name more than 5 or 6 presidents, but could tell you what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast last week, or who some celebrity slept with last night.
Looters are heroes, thugs are good people who just need a chance. Racists are blameless and the blameless are racists. Gamers are rapists and rapists in Syria are marginalized, oppressed freedom fighters. Driving your car is destroying the environment, but flying private jets is for the benefit of mankind. Tolerance is being intolerant to those who are tolerant. Marriage is female patriarchal slavery, except when it is gay, then it is proper and good. Women should fight and men should get in touch with their feminine side. Fat is healthy and skinny is bad. Every value that served the civilization during its rise is turned precisely in the opposite direction.
Good is evil. Evil is good. Beautiful is ugly. Ugly is beautiful. Look at Lena Dunham’s modeling antics and tell me, with a straight face, that we have not passed the point of no return.
Sure, it’s a minor thing. In the fact of race riots, ethnic tension, the rise of militant Islam and the lunacy of Social Justice Warriors, this is a mere trifle. But consider that a people who tolerate this sort of thing will tolerate anything.
The question was asked over 30 years ago, and like the characters in Revenge of the Nerds, the only answer was more of the same. Drink, fuck and go into debt while the world burns.