It’s very hard for people born and raised in a country to actually see it as it is. It is even harder for people in a country and in a culture to have a dispassionate view of their own culture and the state of it.
This is particularly hard for the US because we’re such a great big country, (as a friend said about my older son, once “larger than life in all directions.”) Our pop culture even projects outward, appealing to people who frankly don’t get most of it save for the fact that it’s “new” and “cool.” Our language is spoken — for varous values of spoken, and particularly UNDERSTOOD — the world over. We can leave our enormous country and still be home, as the people talking to us are to a great extent influenced by the image the US has created of itself in the media and everywhere else.
As for history: we are a nation of fanatics. I neither know nor care whether there is a higher incidence of aspergers in the US than in the rest of the world. There is however an almost “aspergers” culture. Part of this is that the people who came here by choice are the kind who are more likely to take principles seriously. yeah, sure, some came for the economy or someone they married, or a well boiled egg, who nows? But assimilation is hard; until recently it was required, and people who came here and STAYED had at least some interest in principles and how things were run.
One of the things we’re fanatical about is our history, but unfortunately history is very badly taught in the US. It’s a memorizing of dates and events, with no informing of what was really happening there, what the public sentiment was, etc.
The teaching of other countries’ history is even worse. I don’t know if this has been endemic since the founders. It would seem to make sense not to expose our kids, THEN to just what a purple elephant with polka dot stripes the US is. Now… Well, it would be nice to channel all those constructive impulses constructively.
Both of the above, the isolation of the culture and the complete lack of historical perspective contribute to everyone’s impression the US is in an irreversible decline or “doomed.” Both of the above, from the point of view of someone who’s been all over the world and grew up elsewhere are slightly more than fruitcakey. They’re batty.
Look, I first came here in 79, the last year of that golden age that was the Carter presidency, when everyone in the US was homeless and in soup lines. Yeah. That was what I got from media coverage in Portugal. Both that Carter was teh awesome and that the US was circling the drain. I felt a little sad I was coming here for a year in the twilight of the gods.
What I found: yeah, things were tight. My host mother had to get a job because my host dad hadn’t had a raise in a while. However, I understood for the first time my aunt’s saying (she immigrated to Venezuela. I wonder what she’d think now) which was “I’d rather the worst there than the best here.”
The US “circling the drain” was more wealthy than anywhere I even knew of in Europe. Oh, perhaps not in reserves or in factories, or in who knows what, but in the day to day living. People here lived better, easier, and had more modes of entertainment available to them than anywhere in the world. My host mom, who’d gone back to work to help with groceries, spent a little of that money and bought a little TV for the dining room. (Yep the family watched TV at dinner.)
In Portugal my parents had spent eight years saving for a TV, an effort ended when a friend gave them a TV. And also even if you wanted to get a job to supplement income, there often were no jobs.
We’re now arguably where Portugal was, re: jobs. Not really, though, because our laws are still looser on starting something small, and while it’s a problem to grow a business, by and large you can still feed yourself and your family. And we still live better than 90% of the places on Earth.
I want you to consider that and also the fact that during the regency, England, both people and the supposed government were in crisis. They had a hell of a time finding an heir with a legitimate heir. People were drinking too much, the lower classes were in crisis since those values that made the British countryside such a great place, had been replaced with those of the city slums.
Idle, hard drinking, wenching and worse was the lot of their “upper classes.”
Any Englishman would be right to give up.
England’s greatest days lay ahead. This is not isolated, but it’s the best example you will know. In similar circumstances, Portugal was absorbed by Spain for 60 years, a thing only reversed with revolution and civil war. There too its greatest days were ahead.
In all these cases both the elites and the government were in crisis and often the people were dealing with undigested immigrants and a break down in culture (weirdly in regency England, Portuguese and Spanish Immigrants. A common sentence in a letter to hire domestics was “please no portuguee. Eh.)
They recovered. Will we recover?
I don’t know. We are not in the same time, in the same place. And each episode of national decadence is its own self.
All I can tell you is what Richard Fernandez told me yesterday on face book (and keep in mind he’s depressive, as am I, so any time he’s even vaguely optimistic, even twisted and backwardly optimistic, it’s a great thing.) So. What he said was “I have no doubt they will lose. They destroy all they touch, because their principles are toxic. In the end they will lose. The question is, can we survive till then?”
I enjoin you, very strongly, to do whatever you can and more to survive till then.
Remember they worked for DECADES to take over the media, education, the writing and entertainment establishments. They dissembled and betrayed to get control and power. That’s their strength. And then someone created a way for anyone to reach the masses directly and instantly. Because that’s what builders do. They build. (Even if some of those builders mouth the platitudes of the left, but then rich people do, because it’s a positional good.) Just that is making all their gains shaky. So may it always be.
Build under, build around, build over. Have our structures ready so that when the official ones collapse, it defaults onto ours, which are ready to take the weight.
Be not afraid. In the end we win they lose.
Now go forth and build. It’s what we do.