The End of Western Civilization
International Man: The decline of Western Civilization is on a lot of people’s minds.
Let’s talk about this trend.
Doug Casey: Western Civilization has its origins in ancient Greece. It’s unique among the world’s civilizations in putting the individual—as opposed to the collective—in a central position. It enshrined logic and rational thought—as opposed to mysticism and superstition—as the way to deal with the world. It’s because of this that we have science, technology, great literature and art, capitalism, personal freedom, the concept of progress, and much, much more. In fact, almost everything worth having in the material world is due to Western Civilization.
Ayn Rand once said “East minus West equals zero.” I think she went a bit too far, as a rhetorical device, but she was essentially right. When you look at what the world’s other civilizations have brought to the party, at least over the last 2,500 years, it’s trivial.
I lived in the Orient for years. There are many things I love about it—martial arts, yoga, and the cuisine among them. But all the progress they’ve made is due to adopting the fruits of the West.
International Man: There are so many things degrading Western Civilization. Where do we begin?
Doug Casey: It’s been said, correctly, that a civilization always collapses from within. World War 1, in 1914, signaled the start of the long collapse of Western Civilization. Of course, termites were already eating away at the foundations, with the writings of people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx. It’s been on an accelerating downward path ever since, even though technology and science have been improving at a quantum pace. They are, however, like delayed action flywheels, operating on stored energy and accumulated capital. Without capital, intellectual freedom, and entrepreneurialism, science and technology will slow down. I’m optimistic we’ll make it to Kurzweil’s Singularity, but there are no guarantees.
Things also changed with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Before that, the US used gold coinage for money. “The dollar” was just a name for 1/20th of an ounce of gold. That is what the dollar was. Paper dollars were just receipts for gold on deposit in the Treasury. The income tax, enacted the same year, threw more sand in the gears of civilization. The world was much freer before the events of 1913 and 1914, which acted to put the State at the center of everything.
The Fed and the income tax are both disastrous and unnecessary things, enemies of the common man in every way. Unfortunately, people have come to believe they’re fixtures in the cosmic firmament. They’re the main reasons—there are many other reasons, though, unfortunately—why the average American’s standard of living has been dropping since the early 1970s. In fact, were it not for these things, and the immense amount of capital destroyed during the numerous wars of the last 100 years, I expect we’d have already colonized the moon and Mars. Among many other things…
But I want to re-emphasize that the science, the technology, and all the wonderful toys we have are not the essence of Western Civilization. They’re consequences of individualism, capitalism, rational thought, and personal freedom. It’s critical not to confuse cause and effect.
International Man: You mentioned that the average American’s standard of living has dropped since the early 1970s. This is directly related to the US government abandoning
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