Back when our house was in one of the city neighborhoods, the local Board called a meeting. Every time it rained, part of the main drag — the rest was cul-de-sacs, not as fun as “cull the weak” — would flood at the south part of the neighborhood.
At first everyone blew it off because it really only affected four homes, and since these were some of the nicer ones in the subdivision, resentment ran high. If they had all that money, it was reasoned, surely these people could come up with a solution.
One especially nasty rainstorm however caused the flooding to creep up the street where it threatened Marylou Smithers’ front lawn which always won yard of the year. The very honor of the community was now at stake, so the bureaucratic committee lurched (slowly) into motion.
A study group was formed, which meant that at the next rain, several of the Board members trooped down to see the affected area. One of them may have made a speech, but records of this are mercifully lost to the ages. The committee found some interesting things.
First, it seemed that unbeknownst to everyone, the neighborhood sloped downward toward the south, which meant that all of the water from everywhere else was gathering down there. Second, they found boxes and brush trimming detritus had clogged the grate that covered the pipe that vented water to the bayou.
This kicked off a series of new rules. Fines were summoned for anyone leaving boxes or lawn waste outside during a rainstorm. Then all boxes were required to be manually taken to a dumpster at the other side of the neighborhood.
Much back-slapping and congratulations came to pass. A calm settled on the neighborhood as it drifted again into complacent oblivion. Then, a middling-sized rainstorm hit, the drain clogged up again, and the yard of the month got flooded.
At the next meeting, suggestions flew like demons escaping Hell. They needed an expert consultant. They could trench out the drainage grooves in the front of every yard. Perhaps they should consider some kind of pump system (this was suggested by Marylou Smithers).
While the bloviation went on across two Board meetings with much community involvement, delighting the committee members who otherwise felt as useful as cinderblocks in a glider, one of the teenage boys in the neighborhood found himself obsessed with a small footnote to the debate.
He noticed that while the grate was covered with bits of plants, they were not cut but torn off by winds, and the water seemed to be flowing through it. He got on his dirt bike and rode to the grate, then followed the depression in the ground which signified the vent pipe.
This trek took him outside the neighborhood into the nearby community which was a mixture of small businesses and homes, and then across it to where the pipe exited onto the bayou. There he found something that changed the debate entirely.
Apparently some months or years earlier, a tree had fallen behind one of the businesses, which promptly ignored it. This tree fell across the drainpipe entrance, and soon lots of other vegetation, paper cups, bags, dirt, and a dead hog got trapped there, clogging the pipe output entirely.
When mild rains fell, the pipe filled up for the hundred yards or so it ran to the bayou, and no one noticed a thing. When more rain came, the pipe overflowed but then gradually drained so that by the time people saw it, they found a mostly dry pipe with a clogged grate.
One of the neighborhood dads went to the pipe output on Saturday morning with a chainsaw and the problem was solved, only to be forgotten a decade later when another tree fell, but that is another story for another time. The point is that the locus of the problem was far from the observable problem.
We live in a time of relentless confusion. Everyone wants someone to blame, so they select scapegoats that are not within their social group, like the government, the rich, The Jews,™ the Illuminati, the Whites, capitalism, Satan, and so on. They deflect blame outward instead of tracing the problem to its source.
Democracy has a nasty habit of inspiring this type of behavior because it is the monkey on our back. We cannot see it, but it controls everything we do to enough of a degree to have a negative influence. Since we know nothing else, we are afraid to criticize it, despite it being the source of our doom.
As Plato noted, democracy starts out well but gradually drives everyone insane because it has no center. It defends minorities against the majority, gives everyone representation, and abolishes most standards, but this means that its reforms are purely negative, and positive purpose is forgotten.
If we track our decline to the source, we find that because of a multitude of threats — invasions, plagues, famines, tempests, maybe Nessie — our society fragmented and our leaders did their best to create unity by giving everyone an equal voice.
However, this means that nothing can get done because few people agree on what the issues are, so instead you get lots of special interests and the lowest common denominator wins. Thus both jingoism and bleeding-heart xenophilia, greedy mercantile expansion and anti-poverty programs, win while real issues get ignored.
The longer we have democracy, the crazier everyone becomes, and crazy really means that people are unable to perceive reality and adapt to it in the Darwinian way that species have since the dawn of time, which means that people are acting against what is realistic.
Even more, they are all busy signaling what the bourgeois ear wants to hear, which is that everything is not only fine but better than ever before, so if we just keep doing what we have been doing no one needs to wake up and fix things. We do not have to change.
Civilizations die because no one wants to change their thinking. They want to keep doing what they have been doing because they feel in control of that and they fear the risk of taking decisive action. Slow decline is seen as preferable to potential change.
Consequently, societies seem to die via similar methods, generally involving too many people, special interests, and subsidies to keep operating:
Firstly, there was a fourfold population explosion between 1700 and 1840. This resulted in reduced land per capita and caused an impoverishment of the rural populace.
Secondly, this led to increased competition for elite positions. While the number of contenders soared, the number of awarded highest academic degrees declined, reaching its nadir in 1796. Because such a degree was necessary for obtaining a position in the powerful Chinese bureaucracy, this mismatch between the number of positions and those desiring them created a large pool of disgruntled elite aspirants. The leaders of the Taiping Rebellion, perhaps the bloodiest civil war in human history, were all such failed elite-wannabes.
Thirdly, the state’s financial burden escalated due to rising costs associated with suppressing unrest, declining per capita productivity, and mounting trade deficits stemming from depleting silver reserves and opium imports.
Careerism marks a society which has become divided. People no longer care about getting things done, but about having the right jobs and therefore wealth and power to avoid the crisis that they already know. If they have a good paycheck, they can survive anything, they think.
Productivity declines because jobs are about doing what your boss tells you to do, not achieving the end goal of the company. If they say make widgets, make widgets, even if the quality is bad or you are making too many for the market that exists. That is your job, and it determines if you get paid.
With careerism, people prosper by doing what they are told, and those who can tell whether or not this is effective or not are rigorously excluded because they are a threat to the complacent order, its mutual non-aggression pact called pacifism, and the personal interests of all involved.
Jobs also create resentment. When you do what you are told, and it clashes with what needs doing, you give up on caring about the result even further. Everything is screwed, you are a victim, just take the money and run, and then drink yourself into a puddle so you can forget how much it all sucks.
The easy living of the bourgeois cities also creates a population explosion. Instead of needing to do something complicated and open-ended like run a farm or business, people just have to show up and work and go through the procedures and attend to the rules. Living is easy.
This creates a society that expands like spilled glue, filling in every crack with more neighborhoods and businesses, churning out mindless children of the job-holders, and populating its leadership with hyper-competitive people who are interested only in the system, not results in reality.
At that point, it all comes tumbling down. We are seeing this happen in every first world nation on Earth: falling productivity, low reproduction, deaths of misery, dysfunctional institutions, general apathy, lack of culture, and a defensive, revengeful mentality of obstinate, contrarian obliviousness to actual problems:
It would be complacent to ignore our own problems because other countries have it worse. The main conclusions I draw are a promise and a warning.
The promise lies in the continuing success of America’s economic model—like its counterparts everywhere, China’s communist system is failing much faster than our capitalism ever will.
But as I look at Europe, I fear that so too is the energy of our great shared civilization — overwhelmed by demographic self-destruction, atrophied by ideological revisionism, crippled by cultural self-laceration. All of it perpetrated by the elites in most of those countries—whom too many ideologues in our own would like to emulate.
Our “elites” — people who do well at education, government, or making themselves out to be victims — have fixated on ideology as a way of preserving unity and staying in power, despite knowing that nothing that they do achieves what they claim to want to achieve.
Consequently, they double down on what they have been doing because this keeps their careers safe and shoves the voters further into flamboyant denial of reality, which means that everyone is safe as long as the paychecks keep rolling in.
Like most human errors, however, this one does not announce itself with demon-horns and flame. Instead, it will seem to be succeeding up until the point that the system unravels completely, leaving behind a third world ruin.
However, the people who are canny enough to become part of the elites but have not yet given up on reality, although a minority among minorities, have started to notice the decline. Nothing works well across the board, which means that it is all falling apart.
For us to fix things at this point means admitting that what we have been doing for centuries is not working and change is required. That is not popular and presents personal risk to whoever suggests it, so it is not spoken in public.
Here however you can read about it because those who know the path ahead will find themselves ahead of the rest, since without a goal nothing can change, and whoever picks a sane goal will be a leader of the future.
For now, it will not be popular, at all. In fact, most people will exert more force in censoring, denying, ignoring, and raging against it than they will in trying to understand it. The very idea of change disturbs and offends them.
Reality consists of constant change that comes back to the same eternal truths because reality does not change. Its patterns predominate over our attempts to project and manipulate. And so, the arc of history is now bending away from democracy, even as most people insist the opposite is true.