Of Course Most People Think Things Are Just Fine!

If a car full of partying people is heading towards a cliff, there are two possibilities:

1) The majority of the people inside recognize the danger before it is too late. In that case, the car won't go over the cliff! They will change course.

2) The majority of people inside think there is no problem, until it is too late. These are the only cars that actually go over cliffs.

When I note that "our car," i.e., Western Civilization, is heading over a cliff, I get lots of responses telling me, "Everything is just fine!"

That's how I know the car is going to continue on until it plunges off of the cliff.

15 comments:

  1. Quotes proclaiming doom of Western civilization can be found as far back as 200 years.

    Churchill did it. Oswald Spengler did it.

    Why should we pay more attention to this alarmism any more than libertarians proclaiming hyperinflation any time now?

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    1. Spengler wrote that in Germany in the 1920s. Fortunately, nothing happened after that to vindicate him.

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    2. And why do you keep calling it "alarmism"? I'm NOT saying, "Listen to me, or doom is coming!" It's way too late to sound an alarm: we've ALREADY gone off the cliff. We just haven't hit the ground yet.

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  2. And all three of them were right! Western civilisation's doom is imminent, just like Churchill and Spengler said. As Adam Smith famously observed, "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation, and we are basically all the way there, I give it maybe another 250 years or so, tops."

    p.s. I assume the hyperinflation will be a part of it. When you see the abomination of hyperinflation, flee to the mountains.

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    1. Absolutely, Greg. It is amazing to me, but not really! that Prateek could view this as separate predictions! They're not even really predictions: we are WATCHING the collapse, as were Spengler and Churchill.

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    2. On what observations was Adam Smith making that prediction?

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    3. Well, I see them as separate predictions, because they come from different agendas.

      Churchill wanted Britain to retain its colonies and for Ireland to not gain independence. Failure to do so would be the sign of fall of Western civilization.

      Spengler saw Germany humiliated after a war, and was expecting it to be the crowning power in the world. That it did not was a sign that the whole Western world was collapsing.

      Libertarians cheerfully want society to collapse so they can prove government does not work. Which is why they are the first ones to subscribe to any doomsday conspiracy theory.

      Whenever it fits your worldview and your politics, you want to think things are falling apart.

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  3. This is why systems that "fail all at once" are more dangerous than ones where "you'll know it" when you're coming close to a failure.

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    1. Do you have any particular systems in mind?

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  4. This is question begging. You are claiming that people who say that everything is fine are only saying that because they don't see that that is false, but you have not given a good argument for why that is false.

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    1. Of course, Samson, I've given TONS of good reasons. Much of this blog has been explanations of all the reasons that we can SEE (not predict!) this collapse all around us, if we wish to.

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    2. By the way, notice I wrote: "That's how I know the car is going to continue on until it plunges off of the cliff."

      That's not how I know it is HEADING for a cliff: that just requires open eyes. No, that's how I know it won't be turned around in time.

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    3. There is also the aspect to it that they see the same things (for example, changes in religiosity) and one says the car is headed off the cliff, the other says everything is fine, because they are operating on different sets of values. Of course if one side believes in objective values, it is clear that this is where the problem originates and not basic questions of material fact.

      I think one thing that is going over people's heads is a lack of understanding of (at least) Voegelin's notion of where religion 'goes wrong.' So for example, in the last thread, Prateek used the example of Iran as counter to Gene's basic thesis. But I think Voegelin would look at Iran as a perfectly clear example of what he was talking about. People use religios vs 'non-religious' (as if that could ever be 'a thing', but anyway that is how people consider atheism) as a shorthand for a much more subtle, general change (because it is clear, and is a common form the change took in the West.)

      But at least to my admittedly limited understanding, Iran shows the same symptoms in things like its Revolution, its severe governmental absolutism, and reports of weird modern religious 'accomodations', like short-term 'marriages' to accomodate the urges of young, frustrated lovers. These all smack of religious immanentism, which is the root of what Voegelin warned about, one manifestation being atheism itself. But even most Westerners remained religious throughout the enlightenment, and are still religious today. It is the flavor of religious belief that changes, not necessarily the presence or lack of it. Some people will see the change of flavor as a/the problem. Some people will only see a change of flavor, and some will see nothing at all.

      Not to mention the debilitating sanctions Iran has existed under for decades -- at the hands of enlightened Western powers. There is little the Enlightenment hasn't touched anymore.

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    4. "Of course if one side believes in objective values, it is clear that this is where the problem originates and not basic questions of material fact."

      What if both sides believe in objective values?

      "…its severe governmental absolutism…"

      That is a symptom of spiritual problems?!

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  5. Some only look in the rearview mirror.

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