Aleksander Solzhenitsyn warned us in the 1970’s that Western culture was dissolving under us. Of course, we did not listen, any more than the Soviets had listened in his homeland, forcing him to refuge in the West.
A primary sign of cultural dissolution he said, was the disappearance of the arts. Comparing history’s great musical composers to what we hear today clearly illustrates his point.
Or we can examine the progression of American popular music: Bing Crosby was a unique talent; an unmatched voice, a highly successful actor, and an exemplar in his public persona of the culture he represented, often cast as a Catholic priest in movies.
He was followed by Frank Sinatra, a scion of mobsters with an ordinary voice at best, who ultimately evolved into an award-winning actor and set a social model as the leader f what was called: “The rat pack.”
Then came Elvis Presley, an exceptional voice and acceptable actor limited to rock and roll music, who died too young of drugs and poor judgment.
Finally, American popular music was reduced to the adoration of Michael Jackson, a better dancer than signer, who was seen to be too fond of drugs and young children. It seems a steadily downhill progression.
Jackson has been followed by even lesser talents presenting even more destructive personas to the applause of the multitudes. Solzhenitsyn has been prophetic.
While this descent was in process, the ‘artists’ descended from playing priests to grabbing crotches and pelvic gyrations on stage. And most salient, the accepted public behavior mirrored that on stage. American originally Christian culture degenerated into the modern equivalent of what had proceeded it in pagan lands. God and His attendant personal responsibility, has been replaced by government, with attendant dependence. And little popular music is likely to linger over generations
It seems equally notable that the Roman Catholic Church has elected (in desperation?) an historical anathema: a Jesuit Pope … and one who is an evident socialist. With this accomplished, should it be any surprise that America is contemplating a President Trump? It is after all, a time when the center has failed to hold, at least in the eyes of the populace.
It cannot surprise in the endings of major historical periods that iconoclasts arise and the status quo comes under challenge. Homo Sap. seems to respond to three imperatives: Self-preservation, conservation of energy and after those, concession to social adjustments. An enduring result of those seems in turn to be the cycles of various civilizations in human history. And one of those, the Christian Era, is ending.
American and European governments are applying technological gains toward increased, detailed control of human lives. Said humans are in contrast, applying technology toward imposing a collective public will onto government. How this will end is a guess. Some Arab Springs toppled dictators; others did not. Some only brought chaos.
As the Western political constructs have proven to be, the international financial structure is built upon sand, the result of its construction by political interests when political values are of necessity, uneconomic at best. The Soviet dissolution and the frantic Chinese economic about-face in point.
China is trying to salvage its politically-controlled economy by addressing its historic corruption, even among high Communist Party officials. The West is magnifying its historically low corruption with its abandonment of its religious values. Whether either will hold together is a bet.
2016 is shaping up as a transitional year in America as in China. America will elect a new leadership, perhaps in a rejection of what has been; China will try to pacify a people whose economic gains have been thrown into reverse.
It seems set to become an interesting year, leading into an even more interesting future.