The Roots of Progress

The Decadent Society

How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success

Ross Douthat

“Decadent” not in the sense of “overly indulging in hedonistic sensual pleasures,” but in the sense of (quoting from the intro): “economic stagnation, institutional decay, and cultural and intellectual exhaustion at a high level of material prosperity and technological development.” Douthat says that the US has been in a period of decadence since about 1970, which seems about right and matches with observations of technological stagnation. He quotes Jacques Barzun (From Dawn to Decadence) as saying that a decadent society is “peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear lines of advance,” which I think describes the US today.

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