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  #1  
Old 07-19-2008, 03:24 PM
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Declinism

Leiber, what a lovely name.

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Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set
Robert J. Lieber

Is America finished? Respected public intellectuals, think tank theorists, and members of the media elite seem to think so. The scare headline in a recent New York Times Magazine cover story by Parag Khanna titled “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony” asks, “Who Shrunk the Superpower?” Almost daily, learned authors proclaim The End of the American Era, as the title of a 2002 book by Charles Kupchan put it, and instruct us that the rise of China and India, the reawakening of Putin’s Russia, and the expansion of the European Union signal a profound shift in geopolitical power that will retire once and for all the burden of American Exceptionalism. America has become an “enfeebled” superpower, according to Fareed Zakaria in his book, The Post-American World, which concedes that, while the U.S. will not recede from the world stage anytime soon, “Just as the rest of the world is opening up, America is closing down.” With barely contained satisfaction, a French foreign minister says of America’s standing, “The magic is over . . . It will never be as it was before.”

The United States does contend with serious problems at home and abroad, but these prophecies of doom, which spread like a computer virus, hardly reflect a rational appraisal of where we stand. Moreover, it is not too difficult to see the ghosts of declinism past in the current rush to pen America’s epitaph. Gloomsayers have been with us, after all, since this country’s founding. Late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European observers, especially royalists and reactionaries, commonly disparaged and discounted the prospects of the new American enterprise. (As the French author Phillip Roger has written in his insightful history of anti-Americanism, influential Parisian authors deprecated not only the new country, but also its animals and plants.) In the 1920s and 1930s, Communist and fascist critics alike offered sweeping condemnations of the U.S. as a degenerate nation. “The last century [the 19th] was the winter of the West, the victory of materialism and skepticism, of socialism, parliamentarianism, and money,” proto-declinist Oswald Spengler famously wrote. “But in this century blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect. The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end.”

It was in the 1970s that declinism began to take on its modern features, following America’s buffeting by oil shocks and deep recessions, a humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam, victories by Soviet-backed regimes or insurgent movements in Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia, and revolution in Iran along with the seizure of the U.S. embassy there. A 1970 book by Andrew Hacker also announced The End of the American Era. At the end of the decade, Jimmy Carter seemed to give a presidential stamp of approval to Hacker’s diagnosis when he used concerns about a flagging American economy, inflation, recession, and unemployment as talking points in his famous “malaise” speech calling for diminished national expectations.

more at: http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/2008%20-%20Summer/full-Lieber.html

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Old 07-19-2008, 04:53 PM
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Walker Percy used to refer to his characters being in "a swirling vortex of malaise . . . " I thought that was an apt description for the way I have felt on ocassion. Our country does seem to me to be in one of these swirling vortexes of malaise sometimes.
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:12 PM
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When you look at the "big" picture of our history, it's more of an "ebb and flow" or "rise and fall" instead of any sort of steady decline or "declinism" as it were. You have to look at things as a whole from a decade wide perspective instead of year to year. Under that microscope events look scewed.

I think if you were to graph this, over two hundred years, you would see a normal up and down pattern. Now being no different...
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:53 PM
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I agree that America is in decline, but the EU and India/China have little to do with it. None of them have gained any international power, and don't act on the world stage.
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Old 07-19-2008, 09:39 PM
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The author's argument is that every declaration of decline has been wrong. That certainly does not imply that all declarations will always be wrong. But a reasonable person might be a bit circumspect, even skeptical, after having been told numerous times previously that the nation was in decline --- and it wasn't.

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Old 07-19-2008, 10:33 PM
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Well I think its a fashonable thing to believe in and talk about these days. For some reason Americans like to hate themselves. Maybe its because on some level we feel guilty about being so successful as we drive around in our Mercedes, drinking $5 Startbucks coffee's, while half the world starves.

It is fun proving them wrong though. Oh and the French can go F themselves. They havn't been important on the world stage since WW2.
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:02 PM
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:03 PM
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Rosanne Barr?
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:02 PM
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