31 December 2010

Choking on Affluence: Decline of Western Ambition

The difference in ambition can be seen clearly at airports, which now serve as the entry halls of the global economy. A traveler to John F. Kennedy Airport, Heathrow, Charles De Gualle LAX or Dulles passes through decayed remnants of fading late 20th century buildings and technology. In contrast, airports in Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore offer clean, ultra-modern facilities with often impressive design.

The West’s retreat from space exploration further underscores its metaphysical poverty. Today, Europe and the U.S., the world’s historic leader in the field, are cutting back on plans to explore the cosmos, which has included a manned operation to the moon. President Obama wants NASA to focus more on issues regarding climate change instead. In contrast, the rising countries of Asia, notably China and India, have begun plans for manned flights to the moon and beyond. _JoelKotkin

The decline of the western world has been discussed since the days of Oswald Spengler in the first half of the 20th century. Under the new left leaders of Europe and the US, the decline has accelerated to alarming speeds.
Europe, particularly the U.K., suffers acutely from metaphysical angst. Once touted as the new great power by its leaders and their American claque, the E.U. is quickly dissolving along cultural and historical lines; this is especially evident in the division between the resilient countries of the north (something like the Hansa trading states of the late Middle Ages) and the weaker countries along the periphery. For the most part, Europe no longer seems capable of doing much more than finding ways to control an unaffordable welfare state without tearing about its social net. The once cherished notion of a multi-racial “new” Europe largely has dissolved as immigration has devolved from a source of demographic and cultural salvation to a widely perceived threat to the E.U.’s economic and social health as well as security.

Such defeatism usually has less success in the United States. But America’s “progressive” left increasingly resembles its European cousins. Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, has been a long-time advocate of the idea of “de-development,” the purposeful slowing of growth in advanced countries in order to protect the environment. The critical infrastructure needed to accommodate upward of another 100 million Americans — new dams in the west, intelligent development of our vast natural gas reserves and building new cities, airports and ports – are not at the center of either party’s platforms. These could be financed largely with private sources, given the right incentives. _JoelKotkin
The imminent bankruptcy of several European nations and US cities and states reveals just a hint of early collapse of western dysfunctionality. [As usual, public sector unions play a pivotal role.]

As the Obama administration and the EU progressively starve the US and Europe of reliable energy supplies, and choke off private economic initiative via ruionous taxes, regulations, penalties, etc. the underlying foundation of the nations and regions crumble.

The trend cannot be reversed, because its source is the lack of substance and realism -- along with a lack of ambition -- of the underlying human populations of Europe and the Anglosphere. Two of the most important reasons for the decline in human substrate are dysfunctional schooling and errant childraising. It is not just the children of the very wealthy who suffer from affluenza -- the "Paris Hilton" syndrome. Compared to most children of the world, almost all American and European children are affluent, with much idle time on their hands to be filled with dysfunctional thought patterns.

The emphasis is on "de-development" and on not giving any offense to those who would like to destroy western culture altogether. The ruling ethic of the modern west is not only dysfunctional, it is actively suicidal. And since all of these nations are "democracies," the human substrate actually elected the figureheads of the ruling classes.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"notably China and India, have begun plans for manned flights to the moon and beyond"

I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, the mojo award for 2010 goes to whoever developed Stuxnet. Which was probably a group of people of European descent, working in Washington, Tel Aviv, or both.

Saturday, 01 January, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Stuxnet actually worked, so I doubt that anyone in the Obama administration had anything to do with it.

Monday, 03 January, 2011  
Blogger kurt9 said...

The issues in this posting are far more relevant than those in Bruce Charlton's blog.

If the West is failing, we need more technical innovation and economic dynamism. Charlton seems to want to reduce the level of technical and economic dynamism in our society. His "solution" would kill off what remains of the West, not save it.

Saturday, 08 January, 2011  

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