Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Grand Cycles

My best friend Locutius and I always have the same drunken, intemperate discussion. Come to think of it, we enjoy it so much that we repeat it nearly every time we see each other. Granted, we discuss everything else in sight too,but this one is always good for mock outrage and persiflage.

The discussion is whether the course of human history moves in and upward trending line (his view) or it is cyclical (my view).

Of course he is wrong. But I guess I will try to give him some credit. Taken from the point of view of a person in America at this time, if you choose a time frame of say, less than 70 years, the point of view might be valid. But there is the rub. History considers 70 years just barely worthy of notice. You might even say that 70 years is a single data point, and as anyone is science knows very well, if you generate a theory from a single data point, you usually have a pretty bad theory.

But that attitude, when it is taken up by an entire culture, is a recipe for instability. Boomers like me have never had it rough. We have never lived through a lean time. Oh yes, all of us will give some horror story about the obstacles we have surmounted, but usually, they are personal tragedies, taken on individually, and usually self inflicted. We have never really gone through anything resembling hard times at a national or cultural level.

That lack of experience, and the short-sighted inattention to detail has got us into the mess that we currently inhabit. By never having dealt with hard times as a culture, we have become decadent. A culture of grasshoppers. No savings, no problem. There will always be enough, the government will provide.

We are due for some retrenchment. We have to consolidate and throw away a bunch of trash within our society. We just can't afford a constant rise anymore. morally, economically, as an empire, we have to do less and think more. If we don't, I doubt we will like the results. Of course, we probably won't like it if we do.


irishdutchuncle said...

a string of very good posts there. keep up the good work, prep hard.

theotherryan said...

Interesting points, I think that broadly speaking stability definitely goes in cycles while standards of living have gone up. I guess in certain ways both you and your friend are right.