Discourse on American decline is ubiquitous these days. Paul Krugman conjectures that GOP delay tactics in the Senate have come to resemble Poland’s liberum veto, which paralyzed that nation, leaving it vulnerable to foreign depredation, in the 18th century. Arthur Herman speculates on US susceptibility to Chinese mercantile and electronic raids. My friends Ben Domenech and Francis Cianfrocca talk demographics and economic degringolade in this absorbing podcast. A study of this collection of stark graphs will demonstrate conclusively the precipitous deterioration in the US employment picture.
For some of us, of course, the decline of America was apparent long before this recession hit. It is my view, in fact, that both the recession and much of the reaction to it proffer a vivid illustration of the technocratic mentality which is right at the heart of that decline. For many years — decades, even — Wall Street operated under the debilitating illusion that human life could be successfully captured by formula and modeling of sufficient subtlety. Now we have legislators and publicists partaking of that same illusion in their arguments for a new regulatory regime for finance. It is not that these proposed reforms are all bad — I favor many of them myself — but that behind them stands that same technocratic vision of man, which is a deeply mistaken vision, a vision arising from a decay of philosophy and loss of spiritual grounding.