New York Times writer Ross Douthat has a new book out called The Decadent Society, which explores how we’ve arrived in a period of (in the book’s terms) stagnation, repetition, sterility, and sclerosis. This post is a review of the book from Peter Thiel, who’s been talking about the problems with stagnation and lack of progress for a decade or more.
Now the old family structure has been smashed, religion is in decline, patriotism is passé, and the cultural marketplace is fragmented. Because there is no longer a healthy dominant culture, would-be rebels have nothing to resist. So they playact the battles of a previous age.
Every aspect of decadence feeds back into the others. Legal sclerosis is likely a bigger obstacle to the adoption of flying cars than any engineering problem. Poor transportation makes it more expensive to raise a family and so lowers birth rates. Aging brings risk-aversion and arrests creativity.