Western civilization has been in decline for at least 150 years. The western world is built on individual freedom – the freedom for the individual to choose his own success or failure. The two systems that have most facilitated these individual freedoms have been capitalism and Christianity. These systems and, through that, the individual freedoms, have been eroded over time.
Capitalism is the ability to profit from the excess in labor. This depends on division of labor, so that the producer is motivated to over-produce so that he may trade for other stuff he wants. It is unselfish in that a producer is producing for more than himself. It is selfish in that the producer will almost necessarily ask for the largest amount of compensation for that excess. Capitalism is the ability to sell your neighbor what he needs for profit.
In a capitalist society, the individual can choose how much he wants to produce. A man can be a broke writer or a wealthy banker. This depends on the individual’s skillset, profession, and how the market values the output of that work. He can live a life of stoic poverty, un-stoic poverty, or wealth and abundance of things. It depends on how much the individual produces.
Christianity tells us to treat others how we want to be treated – to be nice to people. There’s more to it – there are more specific virtues to follow and specific examples (Jesus) to follow, but for the most part Christianity is about treating others with respect while pursuing an individual’s mission. That mission can be about anything (that doesn’t negatively impact the individual or others).
Christianity is freeing because the mission of the individual is up to the individual. The individual’s mission isn’t dictated by a government but is chosen by the individual. In addition, Christianity recommends virtue, which is a way of being free from want and societal expectations – like status, simple pleasure, and prescripted employment paths.
Capitalism is declining for multiple reasons. One is the rise in the popularity of socialism in developed nations. Natural and unnatural influences (examples below) on the capitalist markets have created divisions in economic status. When these divisions appear unjust, the groups that feel slighted often blame the capitalistic system for the unjust outcomes.
Another reason for the decline is the inflationary impact of policy that has debased the global currencies. Monetary policy, handled in almost all cases by a central government, can be used to manipulate the price of goods in the market, including the currency. Monetary policy often serves to give an appearance of helping the lower classes while really only benefiting the banks and governing bodies. Whether inflationary or deflationary, monetary policy moves more value into the hands closest to the policy creation (banks, governments). This negative impact on lower classes pushes even more people towards socialism.
There’s also an impact of division of labor that extends beyond mere exchange of goods. Unlike external (to the free market) policy, advertising is a natural evolution of capitalism. That doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s good for profits. But it’s not good for people. Advertising targets people’s insecurities and makes them want more. When people want more, they need to work more which means they contribute more to the systems that create insecurities and inequalities. Markets are fueled by wants. Companies create wants. Wants keep the individual from experiencing the present.
Christianity on decline as religion becomes less popular. Religion is way down in the Western world. The increase in popularity of science has had a lot to do with this. STEM is where the jobs are, so STEM is where the education is. STEM has a public appearance of being opposed to Christianity, which is unfortunate and inefficient (another essay).
In addition to science in education, church scandals – especially in the Catholic Church, have put a negative light on Christianity. There have been tons of media coverage of the pedophilia that occurs in the Catholic Church. It’s not bad that there’s coverage, but this scandal does shape public perception through the negative press. There is very little positive in the church news.
Last, the glorification of vice is a major reason for the decline in Christianity and the decline in personal freedoms. With the decline in virtue, more people look to the outside world to bring satisfaction. Although external reward cannot bring eternal internal satisfaction, businesses are quick to exploit this search with the promise of fulfillment. New cars are promised to fill a void in status. Alcohol promises the reduced inhibition and the social grace that will come with faded nerves.
This is different from the rest of the world because the whole world doesn’t allow everyone to be free. The eastern world is full of socialist states or countries that enforce cultural rules. Others are tribal and each tribe has their own rules to follow. These strict rules suppress the meaning of freedom for individuals, let alone the positive ends that can be realized by allowing those freedoms.
These freedoms have been in decline for a long time. As Logan Allen, author of the unfinished theses, says, at least 150 years. This fall has been part political, part economical, and part the morality and values of the individuals.
Politically, the West is far less conservative than it was 150 years ago. Republicans in 2019 are going to battle over abortion being allowed until childbirth, rather than going to battle over women receiving a right to vote. Each loss for conservatives because it meant that there were more people who would be more likely to side with the collective instead of the individual.
Over the long run of history, conservatives have never one a single battle. After the women received the right to vote, gays have been allowed into churches to marry, and taxes have grown to cover – not only services that don’t benefit every individual but also, services that benefit the collective rather than the individual. At least, in theory it benefits the collective over the individual.
Socialist dogma since the beginning of time has praised the collective over the individual. But these are the dogmas the eastern world had to overcome through war and suffering. They had to learn hard lessons that cost millions of lives that it is not beneficial to value the collective over the individual.
Western civilization has been in decline for at least 150 years. Western civilization is based on the individual freedoms promised by capitalism and Christianity, which are both declining. Christianity is on the decline due to the war with the science community, scandal, and the glorification of vice. Capitalism is on the decline because of the socialization of the population due to wants instilled by free market results and politics.