Skip to comments.The Last Generation of The West and the Thin Strand of Civilization. ... VDH
Posted on 01/20/2014 1:16:57 PM PST by Rummyfan
Had the Greeks lost at Salamis, Western civilization might easily have been strangled in its adolescence. Had Hitler not invaded the Soviet Union, the European democracies would have probably remained overwhelmed. And had the Japanese just sidestepped the Philippines and Pearl Harbor, as they gobbled up the orphaned Pacific colonies of a defunct Western Europe, the Pacific World as we know it now might be a far different, far darker place.
I am not engaging in pop counterfactual history, as much as reminding us of how thin the thread of civilization sometimes hangs, both in its beginning and full maturity. Something analogous is happening currently in the 21st-century West. But the old alarmist scenarios a nuclear exchange, global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, a new lethal AIDS-like virus should not be our worry.
(Excerpt) Read more at pjmedia.com ...
I cannot see how this will NOT all collapse very soon.
Today, as the reader can note from the tone of this apocalyptic essay, civilization seemed to be losing.
I think Hanson fails to take robots and automation into account. It is a fair question to ask: what will people do when so much is automated? Even what has been outsourced will be given to the machines & software when it becomes more cost effective to do so. Even worse, the abundance that technology has produced allows people to have all kinds of fanciful notions and ignore common sense. IMHO, technology more than anything else has enabled the rise of Liberalism.
The paradox of technology is that its invention is a product of our greatness, but in many ways it also facilitates our decline.
thank you for posting Victor Davis Hanson
Agreed. We spent trillions of dollars to defeat the Soviet Union, only to shoot ourselves in the head.
On many levels, this excellent essay is very perceptive, very true, and very disturbing.
Automation maintenance and repair technician. Things need servicing and occasionally break.
See “The Marching Morons” by Cyril M. Kornbluth.
Thanks for posting another good article by VDH. It is sad, and telling, that even on Free Republic, this article garnered only a handful of comments. His two central concepts need to be forced into the public consciousness.
His “economic” message touches on something I have tried to promote less ably: the need to replace the corrupt reportage of “Unemployment Rates”, with historical and current tracking of the “Carry Ratio” (actual workers per population).
Some of the problem results from an aging population, some from high tech efficiencies and globalism. But, the bitter truth is that far too few Americans are actually capable of producing enough value to sustain their lives at a decent standard of living, or even at all. Unless someone gives them a phone, food, health care, and housing, they will embarrass us by dying in public view. Facing that problem and doing something about it is not politically feasible, so our dear leaders postpone the reckoning with theft and national debt that can never be redeemed. Since the fundamental problem is unaddressed, the inevitable collapse will destroy the productive, leaving the dependents unsustained. But we can all thrill to the end of “income inequality” as we scrounge for the commissars’ scraps and gnaw the bark from trees.
I could net a few hundred to several thousand per day on old, manual machines with products that would easily sell now. And a huge loan for the machines would be unnecessary. But where I live, in the middle of nowhere, there’s a zoning law against any and all manufacturing, regardless of how small.
Regulations against new, small, domestic competition are part of the problem. Regulations against owner-building and many other productive activities also contribute to the problem, as do the excuses of environmentalism, animal worship, etc. Global bosses don’t like competition, and neighors (especially many pensioners) don’t want to see men at work.
There’s the medical/insurance racket, laying in wait to take properties while gobbling up a large part of the economy. Even the divorce/cohabitation/feminism/drug regime has scattered families that could otherwise be productive. There are lawyers, CPAs and others who’ve lobbied for more complications and trade secrets to hamper do-it-yourself-ers.
Have fun. Enjoy the slide. It appears that a few folks setting social and political policies feel that there’s not enough room on this planet for the unstylish.
Thanks for the ping. Full communism solves the parasite problem by making people work and setting quotas.
Yes, they will never get down to zero people needed. But it will be a tiny fraction of the workforce previously employed.
People asked the same thing when millions of farmhands were put out of work by the McCormick reaper and other pieces of agricultural machinery. People and markets adapted. They did not become idle and live on the dole, which would have been unthinkable.
Yeah, those people went into manufacturing. And then when manufacturing declined, they went into the service industry. But both manufacturing and services are being automated. What then? I hope you are correct, but its not clear that anything is left. My hunch is that we will have a lot of relatively educated people with not much to do. That is not a formula for social stability.