Great nations do not just collapse out of the blue. The fall of an empire is preceded by a decline, a period of growing weakness, decay, and corruption. History has shown us the rise and fall of countless civilizations, and one of the clearest patterns it allows us to see is the link between decadence and the decline of nations.
Decadence, on a national level, is the result of excess and inequality, the spoils of an empire’s conquests and the fruits of its people’s labor being hoarded and wasted by a small ruling class. As this class becomes wealthier and more self-indulgent, it also contributes less and less to the functioning and welfare of the nation it rules over. It becomes parasitical, and eventually it kills the host.
In some societies it was the nobility that became decadent, the unworthy descendants of lines that had once produced great warriors. In some it was the priesthood, men of god who became men of gold. In some it was a dictator or a king who hoarded everything for himself. In some it was the bankers, the merchants, the billionaires. No matter what form it takes, the results are always the same. Every society has an elite, and every elite can become decadent.
But there is more to decadence than the rich hoarding all the wealth. Equally important, and always going hand-in-hand with the economic side, is the collapse of a decadent civilization’s moral order. Honor, faith, duty, fidelity, all the virtues that make for both a strong and happy society are cast aside and replaced by their opposites. Marriage gives way to promiscuity and deviance. Entertainment becomes cynical and vulgar. Art become obscene and grotesque. Families break up, communities drift apart, criminals escape justice. Everything that should bring people joy and fulfillment instead becomes a source of misery and distress.
Study the history of any declining empire, whether it was the Romans or the Athenians, Ottoman Turkey or Tsarist Russia, any of the Chinese dynasties, or of course, today’s America, and you will find those same elements again and again. Men become perverts, women become whores, people put their faith in con artists and cults, corruption consumes the government, gangs of criminals take over the sreets. And behind it all, an elite lives in luxury while their people are impoverished and their country goes bankrupt.
Moral decay and economic injustice always go together because one is directly causative of the other. An elite that has done nothing to earn its wealth or its status feels entitled to them, and thus entitled to do whatever it wants with them. It feels no responsibility for the effects that its actions might have on society, since it stands above and apart from the rest of society. The people who are impoverished by a decadent elite are reduced to a struggle for existence, competition consuming every aspect of life and considerations of right and wrong being overridden by the grim necessity of keeping food on the table and a roof over your head no matter what it takes.
The government of a decadent state, burdened by the need to support so many impoverished people, is never able to pay its bills, because its elite will inevitably refuse to pay its share of taxes. Desperate for revenue and ways to divert public attention, these governments will turn to vice as a means of supplying either or both. The Romans staged bloodsports in arenas. The Ottomans imported sex slaves. The tsars ran a state monopoly on vodka. Our government today moves closer and closer toward legalization of gambling, prostitution, and drugs.
Decadence always begins with the elites, but it never stops with just them. It always spreads, outward and onward, from the top of society to the bottom, until it has seeped into every aspect of life. It does this because decadence is a deal the elite offers the people. Let us have all the money, and you won’t have to follow the rules either. Unlimited freedom is a tempting offer, but it is always a Faustian bargain. No amount of “freedom” will bring you happiness when your country is in shambles and the elite control all the wealth, and no amount of debauchery will let you escape your misery for long.
Decadence is doom. A country that cannot keep decadence in check will inevitably be destroyed by it. Over the last fifty years, America has been consumed by decadence, and unless we can put a stop to that, America’s days are numbered.
Modern conservatism has failed completely in the fight against decadence, because modern conservatives do not even understand how decadence works. They do not recognize the economic inequality and moral collapse are connected. By unquestioningly defending neoliberal capitalism, and the decadent elite that benefits from it, they have brought about their own defeat on every single moral and cultural issue.
They are deluded and in denial, because they are not conservatives at all. They are classical liberals, which simply makes them liberals. Liberalism is decadence. Decadence is simply liberalism plus time.
Conservatism is liberalism. Liberalism is decadence. You cannot fight decadence with decadence. The end result of that is simply more decadence. You cannot fight decadence with leftism either, or at least what passes as leftism these days, which is just hyper-liberalism.
The only way to fight American decadence is with American Populism, an ideology that recognizes both economic injustice and moral decay as inextricably linked, and demands a solution to both problems instead of just one or the other.
Decadence is the one problem that encompasses all the others, and our number one mission as populists is to fight back against it, on both the cultural and the economic fronts. There is no victory on one without victory on the other. Decadence always originates in the elites, which means they must always be our targets of attack if we hope to put a stop to it.
Rally the people against it.
Fight our decadent elites.