by Sarah A. Hoyt
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Sure, okay. We’re decadent. Why not? I’ve been hearing it my entire life so it must be true (giggle and since I was born in the sixties, nooooo, it was totally not Soviet Agit Prop. That’s Un-possible. Our top men would surely see through that!) but let’s talk about what decadence is and what it looks like.
I’ll start with the image I picked, that of an incontrovertibly lost civilization. Weirdly, despite all the “decadence” of Greece and Rome what caused the ruins wasn’t that they slept with one too many unapproved partners (look, for Greece is that decadence) but that they were invaded, conquered and dismantled.
Most of the images when you look up decadence on pixabay are of…. Cuba. So, I’m going to guess that the definition is actually “invaded, conquered, dismantled” because that’s what communists do, even if they theoretically are from the same culture they’re taking over. Because their assumptions and goals are antithetical to any real human civilization.
Yes, sure. I hear any number of you gnashing your teeth on that side of the screen: the soft living, the snowflakery in — mostly — our universities, the demands that everyone cater to them, people being completely terrified of a bad cold. Oh, yeah, rampant crime and bad sexual morals. We’re OBVIOUSLY decadent. How can I make fun of it?
For one your gnashing of teeth rhymes eerily with Romans gnashing of teeth for millennia, long before Rome was anywhere near ripe to fall, and in fact while Rome was the bad ass of the world. Second, it echoes even more eerily all of the Christian explanations of why Rome fell, which curiously also echoed the Christian beliefs in the loss of paradise.
“Decadence is sinfulness, and then comes the end and only G-d can save you” is the narrative there. Which is fine, in a spiritual sense, and completely bonkers insane when it applies to cultures and history. But it served the nascent theocracy that replaced Rome quite well. One of the things it served was to explain why life was now much, much harder. Because you know, abundance is what leads to decadence. Life is too soft, you don’t work hard enough and …. bam! suddenly you’re in the middle of an orgy or worshiping a goat or something. Never you mind that the Romans pretty much did that all along, even when they were the badasses of the world. It’s really easy to shape the history of a fallen civilization so it suits the purposes of its successor.
Which brings us to the fact that Communism is a Christian heresy, complete with paradise — the supposed egalitarian and property-free pre-history (it’s also really easy to shape a period that left no account of itself that we can find) — until greed — and in one version PATRIARCHY and in another “whiteness” WTF that means — kicked us out of it. Now we must force the perfect human (Homo Sovieticus!) to emerge, so we can go back to living in caves in (sing it) perfect harmony. (Yeah.)
The complaints of decadence I heard as a young woman were mostly Soviet Agit Prop. Yes, yours were too. They ranged from incoherent to frigging insane. Some of it was a very old rhyming chorus: Americans were decadent because they were too rich. They had too many choices. They were too immoral. They never had enough, and would commit crimes to be richer. They ate too much, drove too much, slept in too comfortable a bed, and in general were DECADENT. Just like Rome before it fell. (If you realize the actual structure of Imperial Rome was closer to the Soviet Union’s, a plunder culture that could only survive by stealing, the whole thing will take your breath away with its chutzpah.
The fact that our (even though at the time it was your, as I was a foreigner at least in some ways) entertainment and art echoed these crazy accusations only made the whole thing stick, so even the right, American loving side (which anyway always has a vast side of puritanism in America. And speaking of puritans, let’s talk about what some of them did to…. turkeys? If weird sexual kinks are a sign of decadence, we’ve never been non-decadent) bought into it. I mean Spartacus (the novel) portrait of the decadence of Rome was meant to echo how bad America was. What’s that I hear? The author was a communist? You. Don’t. Say. I think I sent my shocked face out to be mended, but I won’t be a sec while I retrieve it.
In a more personal sense, my own family told me Portugal too was decadent. Why, unlike mom, I didn’t have to walk beside the train line to pick up enough coal for the family to cook. We had butane bottles delivered, even if they were super expensive, so we often cooked on a petrol lamp in the patio, if the weather was fine.
Decadent and soft living, I tell you. Sure, the bathroom was outside, but it was a bathroom, with running water included. JUST like Rome before the fall. How much longer till we started screwing Nightingales’ Tongues, eating Bear Sausages and electing horses to congress (I think in America we’ve been doing that all along, too. Though I’d prefer if every now and then we elected the front half of the horse.)
Yeah, so, I took packed and irregular trains to school, but I didn’t walk both ways. (Dad never tried to claim he did so in snow. Let’s be grateful for that, because given the rate of snowing in Portugal, I wouldn’t have believed him.)
But Sarah, you’ll say, we’ve really gone decadent, compared to our founders and their principles.
Decadent? No. I mean, look, guys, there was a miracle in (Filthy fuming) Philadelphia in how our founding documents were worded and that has kept us weirdly safe despite the rest of the world, and an evil conjunction of technology and ideology that has almost destroyed humanity several times (but not without our paying a price in liberty, and more on that.) But the people, themselves, were not some mythical giants of liberty. If you went one on one, without the media in between, more people are likely to understand individual rights and their importance now. Look, we have some experience of them. Most people back then simply didn’t.
Unfaithful to our founding and squandering liberty? Sure. But that’s because we’ve been invaded and propagandized by an enemy ideology for decades now. (Close on to a century.) Which, frankly, we’re holding up admirably against, because America retains a dose of horse sense that is the despair of the world. (And no explanation of why we send horse halves to congress, but that’s something else.)
It has bloody nothing to do with decadence and/or a falling in morals.
It has to do with having our problems diagnosed as the wrong thing, and more poison prescribed — which is part of what this post is about — because our institutions have been co-opted, taken over and weaponized by people who hate everything we are and do.
But SARAH! Screwing everything that moves! And letting criminals out of jail. Oh, and the heartbreak of psoriasis. (Okay, I made that last one up.)
Sure. Look, Americans have always been extreme. We have extreme trends. We create extreme art. We even dress in extreme — meaning not all the same — ways. That is a foreign complaint about us, that has been going on a long time.
Sexual immorality? Yeah, there’s plenty of that to go around all over the world. Our media makes much of it, though honestly, part of what shocks me about leftists is how little joy they derive from their sins. If you’re not going to have fun screwing that turkey (we’re looking at you, Hillary) why do it? But they seem to have co-opted the French idea of all sex, no pleasure. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.
Most of the most visible and atrocious behavior in America is either created, enforced or propagandized by those same institutions that have been taken over by the leftists. Yeah, I know, it’s touched some of your own families, etc. But that’s because public schools and mass entertainment are two of those institutions (Thank heavens losing power.)
As for divorce, which in America is almost the norm (Husband and I are weird as we were each other’s first spouse, and are chugging on at 36-almost-37 (for the Summer anniversary) years of marriage) there are tons of reasons for that, which have bloody nothing to do with culture or decadence.
Oh, sure, Hollywood normalized divorce, but 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, let’s talk about longer life spans, smaller families, dual careers, etc.
We were talking in a group the other day about how to stay married you must choose to grow together. (And even then transitions like from parents to empty nesters will try you) but no one mentioned how much harder that is, when each of you functions as an independent economic unit, in a different environment from your spouse, which was in no way the norm throughout history or most of the world even today.
While the feminists are crazy-go-nuts about how women weren’t allowed to work in the past (Also full of sh*t, but that’s par for the course) the fact is that throughout most of history people couldn’t choose not to work (Their idea of history is wealth Victorian families, and then the imaginary fifties.) But families usually worked together, or in the same field, or — as my grandparents did — in different crafts, but in the same house, so each was intimately acquainted with the other’s business/contacts.
Now, weirdly, this work at home brought on by the covidiocy might bring the later condition back, and slow down the divorce rate. Maybe. Because the major issue remains: our marriages are really, really long. Because we live long, healthy lives. (Eh, TPTB are trying to mitigate that too.) And being married for 25 years, happily is one thing. For 75 it’s a whole other ball of wax.
Fact remains most of the people I know who get divorced don’t do so because they must have some strange (oh, there’s always one or two, but those are usually super-young) but because their whole life just doesn’t “fit” or “work” anymore. (It could be argued the husband and I move, instead. But since I’m hoping not to move much for at least 10 or 15 years, I hope not.)
But! Soft. On. Crime.
Uh…. sure. We’ve seen that before in the seventies, haven’t we? And it does make all of society WAY more dangerous.
Oh, bullshit. You tell me which Americans, i.e. every day people, are demanding that murderers be let go to save them from Covid.
No. This is more of TPTB which are not Americans (no matter where they were born) but Marxists trying to destroy America. I suspect their being ridiculous on crime (Truly? Public camping for feral homeless?) is their attempt to make us look decadent according to the propaganda of decades. I’m not sure they know why, either, or what it means except that Make America look decadent = ??????? = Communist paradise.
Yesterday at Legal Insurrection there was a post saying “If the left controls everything, why are they so scared.”
Well…. because things aren’t working out as they expected.
Look, — cues Sympathy for the devil — if they weren’t such despicable creatures, I’d feel sorry for them. Or at least for the ones who are true believers.
Like the rest of us they’ve been propagandized on the “decadence” of America and how we were falling and then…. the Soviet Union fell? Those who are older than I are still in shock, and the younger kids are convinced there was some evil capitalist trick.
To make things worse, they don’t think much, so they’re not cognizant of what’s happening.
You see, communism as we know it didn’t die as the crackpot brain child of Marx because it hit at a time when mass communication became a thing. And it’s an ideology that appeals to crackpot grifters who are likely to be “Journalists” and “novelists” and “media executives.”
So the left has been able to shape the narrative, particularly so after they took over education.
Which means everything they know — everything — is things that aren’t so.
And when things stopped working — oh, to an extent, and to some effect — in the late nineties, and the wheels really came off in 2016 they didn’t know what to do. They ran around in panic, doing crazy things.
I’ll admit the covidiocy has been…. breathtaking in its stupidity. What has most interested me is how the rest of the world fell for a con that was designed to f*ck with the elections in America. I’m still not absolutely sure if their leaders did it, because they too feel the terror nipping at their heels, or because they simply assume if Americans are doing something there must be a reason, because the future comes from America.
I can almost guarantee that for most of them it’s not “the great reset” or if it is each of them has a different view of it. (Mostly because in Europe none of their leaders really trusts the other countries.)
And yet, despite everything, the American people hunched their shoulders, lifted their middle fingers, and voted for Trump in numbers that made the left have to fraud in front of G-d and everyone, at the last minute.
And despite their lavish praise of ice-cream-Joe, we made Let’s go Brandon! go viral.
That’s why they’re in a panic.
And you could say they’re decadent in the ways that count.
What? Well, yes, there is a way you can go decadent, and the American public is at risk for it –though less now that public schools are losing power and parents are becoming aware of what’s been going on for fifty years or so, in those hallowed halls — which is where you lose the skills that made your ancestors great, so you can’t keep civilization going, no matter how you try.
The American public at large is at risk for this, to the extent our kids aren’t even being taught to read. But as Dave Freer said, years ago, America has lousy primary and secondary education. It’s the largely self administered tertiary that’s superb.
He’s not wrong. And the kids are all right. I’d like to claim my generation started the great re-learning, in some ways, trying to learn to do things “from scratch” and do for ourselves. The kids are even more like that. Oh, not all of them, but a good percentage. And again, the crazy lockdowns accelerated that. And dear Lord, what Americans will do for fun. I have more friends with backyard forges than makes any sense.
We’re all right. Sure, the overculture is trying to decadence us in the only meaningful sense — invade and destroy — but they’re losing. And they know it. Which is why they keep going crazier.
It’s going to get rough, but we’ll innovate, create and learn our ways out of it.
The overculture though– yeah, they lost the skills their ancestors had — none of them are a patch on FDR (And those of you who think of his time as the pinnacle of America should take a good look at it, then take an emetic, because it will make you sick.) He knew what he was destroying, even if his vision of glory was cockamamie and based on the idea that “mass everything” was the future.
They have no clue. They’re half propagandized, half indoctrinated and all ignorant.
They keep acting as if the media still provided them full coverage for their insanity (which has always been florid) and are always shocked they’re doing things out in the open, in the age of cell phones and peer-to-peer.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But the communist model depends — always has always will — on tightly controlled communications.
And that means they have already lost. The mop-up is just going to hurt US like a bitch.
It will hurt worse if we confuse ourselves with them.
Sure, they’re decadent. They have lost or never had critical skills their ancestors had. This is largely because — thanks to Mass Media and the charming commie habit of only hiring their own — they’ve had it soft. Being a “liberal” (What an interesting euphemism for Marxist!) was living life on the easy setting. They’re not ready for anything else.
They’re decadent. But what does that have to do with us?
They don’t understand us, and tell lies about us constantly. Some of them old, old lies from the Soviet Union propaganda (some of which was designed to keep the happy people of brutopia happy they weren’t rich.)
You’re not required to aid and abet them. In fact, if you want to avoid decadence, you’re required to do the opposite.
In the end we win, they lose. Because when they scream “decadent” they’re projecting.
It’s going to take all our skills, all our determination, all our invention. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t need Americans.
Go and get her done.
Reprinted from According to Hoyt for January 15, 2022
[For more about decadence see From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, by Jacques Barzun — Editor]