The Free Individual does not comment on political issues and this is no exception. This comment regards a very mistaken idea related to the latest (2020) presidential election in the USA—the almost panicked belief by those opposed to whoever gets elected that it means the, "end of America," whatever those who use such phrases mean by it.
Is America Less Civilized?
The view that American society and culture has become less free, less civilized, and less virtuous is not mistaken. It is not so much the social and cultural changes over time that have contributed to the decline of civilization in the United States—there is always change as science and technology provide new products and methods and new styles and customs fitting those changes. One major contributor to the decline has been the slow loss of values, much of which was intentionally foisted on American culture by Post Modernist and Cultural Marxist (Frankfurt School) influence.
While those uncivilizing influences dominated education and popular media, it was not those influences themselves that made the decline of American cultural and social values possible. What made that decline possible is almost totally unrecognized.
I wrote, under the, "Social Solutions," section of "The Autonomist's Notebook:"
In those rare societies that have little coercive government and little accumulated wealth, survival is dependent on each individual's own ambition, integrity, knowledge and effort. Such societies are like star bursts in history, lighting up the darkness of human existence with dazzling displays of progress and individual prosperity, which quickly fades as the advanced society makes it easier for the lazy, dishonest, ignorant, and superstitious to survive, breed, and vote.
What is happening in America is what has happened to every country in history that once enjoyed the highest levels of individual liberty, economic success, culture, and moral standards.
In the beginning, when a society and culture are first developing, there is very little wealth and every individual, if they are to survive, must work and produce all that their life requires. Even when the advantages of specialization and trade are discovered and used, each individual must produce some form of product or service, if they are to survive. The kind of life each individual enjoys is determined directly by their own productive effort. Life is tough. Only those who have the character to learn all they can, and work as hard as they can, and deal with others to their mutual benefit will survive, much less prosper.
[NOTE: One reason the United States was so, "free," in the beginning, was not, as is taught and widely believed, because of the, "kind of government," there was. The reason Americans were so free is because there was not very much wealth, most individuals had little interest in politics because they spent all their time working, producing, and improving themselves and their own lives. Government always reduces freedom. The reason Americans were so free for 200 years was because there was so little government. America's wars ended all that, and while there is still the same, "kind of government," there is less and less liberty every day.]
As the hard working, individualistic pioneers produce more wealth, develop systems of trade, and provide more and more goods and services from medicine to transportation, life becomes easier. Eventually, a society becomes prosperous, and those who would never have survived before are not only able to live, but enjoy comfortable lives they could never have earned or produced on their own. The number of real individual producers becomes less and less, and the number of those enjoying the benefit of the producers efforts without producing themselves become greater and greater.
The idea that one has a right to the good things a prosperous society provides is promoted by those who want to enjoy wealth without having to produce it. Such people are ripe for being convinced they have a claim on a good life, just because they exist, and all the principles by which those who created the wealth of that society lived and produced are repudiated by the academics and politicians, who produce nothing of value, but succeed by promoting the non-productive members of society at the expensive of the producers.
That is where the United States is today. The best of times in the United States will undoubtedly continue to erode. No one can predict the demise of a society or culture, although some, (like the recent destruction of Venezuela), are more obvious than others.
The nature of every society is determined by the nature of the individuals that are that society. It is not governments, or ideologies, or philosophies that determine what a society is, but what the individuals in a society choose to believe and do. If the individuals in a society choose to believe they have a right to the unearned and that government is the means to that end, they will choose an ideology and government they believe will provide what they want.
A society will only remain civilized so long as the majority of individuals in that society are free civilized productive decent individuals.
Civilizations do not end, they simply decay as the number of creative, productive, civilized individuals dwindles while the number of uncivilized parasites and squalid individuals increases to the point where the civilized can no long support them. Such societies cannot continue to exist, and uncivilized masses either become totally oppressed or die. Though the number of civilized individuals becomes very small, they almost never disappear completely, however.
The truly civilized always survive and always prosper whatever the state of societies. (There are millionaires living today in Venezuela.) The civilized enjoy societies when the majority of individuals in them are at least moderately civilized, and appreciate the benefit the truly civilized are to such societies, but the civilized themselves need no other society then themselves and any other of the civilized few they find who choose to associate with them.
One of the things almost everyone misses about history is the fact that there are always, in every age, in the midst of the world's least civilized periods, individuals who prosper, who learn and write and create, and carry on the propagation of accumulated knowledge. The truly civilized know it is not societies that matter, but only what they do with their own lives using what the world in their time makes possible. Sometimes societies are very useful to the individual creators, but most societies are a mixture of advantages and threats, and it is during those times the truly civilized must make the hardest choices about how much to be part of society and how much to isolate themselves from it.
Of course there are times and places when society is entirely negative and of no use to them at all, because such societies will only enslave them, or, because such societies will despise them, even kill them if they can.
Are you worried about the end of the United States? It will not end quickly. It will continue to become more oppressive, factional, and economically depressed. The government will become more powerful and clearly the enemy of individuals, except to the large numbers of them who benefit by, and therefore support the government. The truly civilized will disappear, not from the world, in many cases not even from the country, but they will become invisible to the society that hates them, and they will be despised for that too.
The free individual's life is not dependent on any society, culture, or political system. The free individual's life is only dependent on one's own choices and actions. No country or civilization will remain unchanged, not even the best so far, and it is futile and a waste of one's own resources and energy to attempt to prevent what cannot be prevented.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand what is happening in the political, economic, and cultural world in order to know what is possible and to make one's own choices and decisions.