When not caused by war, nations decay slowly and gradually (e.g., modern day France, Italy, Spain, Greece etc.).
Alas, now, it seems ours is no different. Its exceptionalism is dissolving into the ordinary. It’s a choice made by the people. They fore-go liberty and self subjugate themselves under ruling political and administrative classes of which they’ll never be a part. They’ll never rise to those classes because they’re taught apathy, complacency, and their place since birth. They are relieved of the burdensome onus of everyday decisions. Decisions that were proudly made by preceding generations that were not a bother or an onus at all to them. To them, it was life. Deciding what to do, how to live, and how to be was essential and culminated in traditions, virtues, and mores.
That became too onerous for the generations that followed, they blithely go about taking direction and surrendering thinking and creativity to others in the elite political classes.
In a decaying nation, the expectations of civic institutions and municipalities increase, but the quality of their results wanes and softens. Expectations that things will always skew to the poor and inadequate side of things settle in as the norm: the mail won’t be delivered quickly, efficiently, or if at all; prices will rise; salaries stagnate or decrease; when government functions, it does so sloppily and begrudgingly; economic stasis continually leads to gains in unemployment, a swelling dependency class, and a workforce uneager to do the extra bit it takes to achieve excellence, because good enough or almost-good-enough is satisfactory and acceptable, which naturally leads to the almost-good-enough degrading into a not-good-enough and eventually the unacceptable. What’s the point of sweating the extra effort if the return is diminished, and what’s left over doesn’t go to the worker but to the neighbors and strangers dependent on the worker? This decline spreads throughout the society like an oil slick gushing from an uncapped well, seeping into every societal crevice, continuously coating, sealing, and eventually suffocating the life and spirit beneath.
The unattenuatingly sad part is that the human spirit doesn’t survive well as the utilitarian functionary of a ruling class. The human spirit needs work and challenges to create pride and dignity, not coddling and condescension. And if it does not get what it needs, it desiccates into self-loathing and self-pity that’s glaring and repulsive when viewed in the sobriety of daylight. So, eventually the sobriety of daylight never rises and, instead, the delusional comfort found in inebriation at twilight finds company. Endlessly, in these circumstances, the human spirit remains languid, idle, and forlorn.
This, of course, continues only as long as the spirit is soaked in dependency, and dependency exists only as long as the funds of the worker continue to adequately provide for the dependent. Eventually, the number of workers providing the funds are overwhelmed by the number of dependents receiving the funds. Something gives, and violent instability ensues.
The miasma in which our nation is heading portends all of this. We’re at the end of the beginning of the end. I hope I’m wrong.