"The rise of Obama is our nation is an indicator of how great has been our decline as a people..."
It is a very tempting thought, an enticing fear.
And very logical.
But I've got to respectfully quibble with that. Because ya know, what you know, and what I know, about what is happening to us "as a people", comes mostly from those who have visibly declined as a people - the relatively small amount of people who are pleased to call themselves 'the elites'.
But ask yourselves something, who among us hasn't had the sensation of seeing the NEWS and then looking around them and saying..."What?! Where is that happening...?"
Looking no further than myself (looking at TV shows, News, etc), I often shake my head and despair. But I began to notice a few years ago, especially among my kids friends… that I see very little of this all consuming decay - at least nothing on the scale which popular conceptions would have us believe. This has been very disorienting to my pretensions of philosophical crystal ball gazing. Hear me out on this, I know it is a tenuous thought that I've been thinking, and I don't have the time or space to flesh it out much more now, but give it a whirl about the cranium and see if it doesn't have some brightness to it – after all, the alternative is complete darkness.
"How great has been our decline as a people" rests on the tried and true 'the snake dies from the head down' theory of political philosophy. Chop off the head of the snake, and the whole snake dies.
It's certainly not a difficult progression to imagine, and historically it has been replayed over and again throughout history - it practically IS history. A united civilization rises, prospers, even conquers, and then in leisure and wealth, begins to contemplate, and then to question all the beliefs of their ancestors. Not being able to find satisfactory answers to fundamental questions, their questioning makes a subtle change into doubting. In short order, what began with questions of “Why does God (or The Gods) allow this…” become “Why would God (or The Gods) allow this ?!” and the moral truths and practices of their ancestors become reduced to ‘talking snake stories’, which are ridiculed, and fresh with the belief that they are smarter than their ancestors, they discard such ‘superstitions’ and focus upon things, pleasures and vices as goals and ends in themselves.
Personally I don’t believe that leisure and wealth and prosperity are problems, not in and of themselves… but wealth does allow a distancing from interacting with reality. As the prosperous are distanced from the unforgiving corrections of nature and reality, they begin to substitute preferences and whims for Reason. I’ve gone over this elsewhere, where Voltaire artfully thanked Rousseau for the gift of his ‘Social Contract’, saying
"I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it. Nor can I embark in search of the savages in Canada, because the maladies to which I am condemned render a European surgeon necessary to me; because war is going on in those regions; and because the example of our actionsOur founders were too steeped in reality and morality to take Rousseau’s offer either. Our Founders still had the memory of their founders, who had tried to live the communist/socialist dream, and were nearly destroyed by it – but here in America, with no deluded populace to depend (leach) upon to enable them to become distanced from reality... communism nearly killed them, but Gov. Bradford returned private property to the colony, and the puritan work ethic was born.
has made the savages nearly as bad as ourselves."
This land was unique in history, in having to deal with reality without a supply of conquered and pliant victims to prey upon. Every other peoples, as their elites lost contact with reality, they eventually sickened and died, because their bad ideas had nothing and no one to correct them. Bad ideas kill. Immorality, is but rebelling against truth for pleasure's sake - the baddest of bad ideas.
Our elites would very much like to reenact the ancient dance of metals, with men of gold, falling to silver, then bronze, then lead and being wiped out by another taking their place. They of course, believe that they know better and can ‘re-form’ man and history. The motivating conceit of progressives, from Rousseau on (I could include Plato too, but I really hate blaming him), has been that there needs to be an expert put in power to direct everything from personal hygiene, to how 'the people' should live, work, the thoughts they should be allowed to think... but of course as their thinking has become progressively more detached from reality, it becomes apparent that the snakes head is dying, and once the head of the snake dies, the civilization dies. Chop off the head of the snake, and the whole snake dies, and of course, from the progressives perspective, the snake can't live, move or eat, without a head to tell it what to do.
But in every other civilization in history, the elites were the society, they were the only ones, the only ones, to think, and plan, and act, and they controlled the rest of the population. That is not our world! That is not a Free Market, that is not Capitalism, that is not a world of Law and Order - which of course is why our elites keep trying to do away with the Free Market, Capitalism and Law and Order based upon, and governed by, a written Constitution.
America, from the beginning, no matter the proregressives flaming conceit, America has been not a lifeless beast to be led by its head, as are kingdoms and empires, but a people who are alive and thinking in place for themselves - each person, each family, each neighborhood, does it's own thinking and living, themselves. They still attend church, they still revere truth and reality... yes, certainly we have degraded from even a century ago, but even at our current levels, we are a greater manifestation of moral, thinking, productive people, than the world has ever, ever, known.
We, as was mentioned above, despite 50 years of propaganda and govt coercion, do not yet fear guns. The head of the snake is indeed diseased, gangrenous even, but for the first time in history, in the place of what traditionally had been little more than the thoughtless body of the snake, is instead, a living, truth revering, independent people, and even more importantly, we are not isolated from communicating and organizing amongst each other, once we finally realize that merely shaking our heads at the decadent head, is no longer a sufficient response.
This is the real historical novelty we possess, and which the progressive elite fear more than anything else. We are not dependent upon them. And we still think for ourselves.
Every other culture in history, once those in power decayed, the people had no other access to history, no other access to information about what was Beautiful and True and Good, but what the dead head of the snake told them, and consequently no other options but to follow them into dissolution and destruction.
The 'Tea Parties' springing up around the country, are instances of the people recognizing that the 'plans' they are being told to follow, don't measure up, and they are organizing, and beginning to think on their own, and thinking of how best to act to correct this situation, On. Their. Own.
This IS unprecedented.
It remains to be seen of course, whether or not ‘We The People’ can disinfect or discard the head and/or generate a new one.
But Truth is a powerful disinfectant.
Don’t give up on U.S. people, if we talk to each other, if we, with reflection and reason and respect for what is The Good, The Beautiful and The True, make the effort to not just do something, but do what is needed… well… amazing things just may be possible still. As Samuel Adams said about seemingly darker times,
“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.”
Don’t hide your fire under a bushel people. Take this occasion of the Tea Party movements, and make them become something good and effective. Spread the light and light the fire. It is my contention that blogs like Scipio's, and One Cosmos, and mine, are helping to do just that, and if we give just a bit of action to our words… well, then we’ll see what we’ll see.