December 2, 2012
Another View of the Whole Political Landscape
Beneath these policy debates, though, lie cultural forces that no legislator can really hope to change. The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion -- a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It's a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.Stagnation over innovation, and a preference for what already exists over what might be certainly sounds like it could be Rhode Island right now. So does that place RI on the leading edge of history, or as an early warning that there's still time to pull back from?
Fortunately (or maybe pollyannaishly), since I increasingly don't believe in the concept of modernity, I'm not quite as pessimistic as Douthat that we've reached some irreversible point of civilizational exhaustion. Which doesn't mean that improvement is inevitable, just that it's possible.