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Rise and Fall

This is a 30 minute version of the movie I.O.U.S.A, a film about the rapidly growing national debt of the United States, the long-term ignorance of the problem and it's occurring and looming consequences.

Quite interesting in this regard is Arnold J. Toynbee's A Study of History about the rise and fall of human civilisations. According to a Wikipedia article Toynbee "argues that the breakdown of civilizations is not caused by loss of control over the environment, over the human environment, or attacks from outside. Rather, it comes from the deterioration of the 'Creative Minority,' which eventually ceases to be creative and degenerates into merely a 'Dominant Minority' (who forces the majority to obey without meriting obedience). He argues that creative minorities deteriorate due to a worship of their 'former self,' by which they become prideful, and fail to adequately address the next challenge they face."

Sounds familiar? You make up your own mind.

So if not a major shift happens it all seems that the US will just go down the drain–and with it probably a good part of the rest of the Western civilisation. But that also means looking forward to a new birth. As Joseph Campbell remarks (in admittedly more dramatic tones) in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

"As Professor Arnold J. Toynbee indicates in his six-volume study of the laws of the rise and disintegration of civilizations, schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme of return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the more realistic, hardheaded work to weld together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death–the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be–if we are to experience long survival–a continuous 'recurrence of birth' (palingenesia) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. For it is by means of our own victories, if we are not regenerated, that the work of Nemesis is wrought: doom breaks from the shell of our very virtue. Peace then is a snare; war is a snare; change is a snare; permanence is a snare. When our day is come for the victory of death, death closes in; there is nothing we can do, except be crucified–and resurrected; dismembered totally, and then reborn." (Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, pp. 16 - 17)

Read it again, don't take it so personal, and focus more on the word birth than death and it actually does not sound too bad any more.

I am not in the gloomy mood to even suggest that Western civilisation is collapsing right here and now. But there are a number of things and attitudes I would rather like to see as belongings of the past.

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