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The Quintessence of Mediocrity:
Ross Douthat’s The Decadent Society

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Ross Douthat
The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success
New York: Simon & Schuster (2020)

Never-Trumper Ross Douthat is a faux-Christian, faux-conservative writer for leftist publications like The Atlantic and The New York Times. His presence at those publications is akin to that of the house Negro, that is, to provide the appearance of objectivity without ever seriously challenging the accepted Leftist narrative of events. In his latest book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, Douthat posits the entirely unoriginal thesis that the Western world has lost its élan vital and has become decadent. This decadence is characterized by technological stagnation, declining birthrates, political gridlock, and the collapse of artistic creativity.

While Douthat’s thesis may come as a shock to the readers of The Atlantic and The New York Times, it is self-evident to anyone with even a semblance of self-awareness and just a passing familiarity with the works of Oswald Spengler and Giambattista Vico. In reality, Douthat doesn’t seem to be that much bothered by the decadence he illustrates. Indeed, the book might have been more accurately given the Seinfeldian title of The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That.

It’s hard to take seriously any book in which the predictions the author makes are obsolete almost immediately after its date of publication. Douthat believes that video games and online pornography will obviate any revolutionary impulses in America and that the decline in crime in the 1990s was not due to the incarceration of criminal negroes but to the somatic effects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s all a Baudrillardian simulacrum to Douthat: “The reason that the Antifa kids favor masks is that an awful lot of them are playacting their revolution, and they don’t want to put their names and faces to something that’s fundamentally just a game” (p. 133).

You can buy The World in Flames: The Shorter Writings of Francis Parker Yockey here.

Well, as the saying goes: Antifa kids will be Antifa kids. It’s just a game. Perhaps Douthat has read too much Baudrillard, or more likely just watched The Matrix too many times on Netflix during the COVID-19 shutdown. I doubt that the dozens of people killed by Antifa or the thousands whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by BLM rioters would agree with Douthat’s pacific assessment of the intentions of the lunatic Leftists. Could it be that the reason the Antifa “kids” wear masks is to prevent them from being apprehended for rioting, arson, and murder? That possibility doesn’t seem to have crossed Ross Douthat’s mind.

But if the Antifa “kids” get a pass from Douthat, the same cannot be said for Donald Trump or anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders. It is clear throughout the book that to Douthat the worst aspect of Western decadence is that it has allowed Donald Trump to be elected to the American presidency. Almost as bad is Douthat’s opinion of Viktor Orban. According to the author, the illiberal democracy of Orban’s Fidesz Party is just a variation of modern decadence, a decadence with a little bit of paprika added to the sauce:

How is Viktor Orban’s officially democratic but one-party-dominated Hungary all that different from the de facto one-party system that prevailed in Mexico for most of the second half of the twentieth century. . . . It’s quite normal for democratic systems to produce powerful parties that bend the rules to keep themselves in power, and nobody thinks that Mexico when it was dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) represented an ideological challenge to liberal democracy. For all the sound and fury about so-called illiberal democracy under Orban or Poland’s nationalist party, Law and Justice, the same may be true of eastern Europe today. (p. 164)

For starters, the PRI made certain that Mexico, a country blessed with abundant natural resources, remains a third-world hellhole, whereas Orban’s Fidesz has led to a renaissance of Hungarian culture and an increase in the Hungarian birthrate.

One can infer from the book that the author may not be too pleased with the prospect of an increase in the number of happy, healthy little Hungarians. One gets the sense that Douthat may not be entirely comfortable in his white skin. For example, for someone who claims to be a Christian, Douthat seems to have little understanding of the faith. Douthat does not seem capable of imagining a renewal of Christianity without mass migration from Africa. This is the Cardinal Sarah deception, not unlike the Thomas Sowell deception so beloved of economists. The traditional African Catholic prelate, Robert Cardinal Sarah, is forever being paraded about by the National Review crowd as evidence in favor of unlimited African migration. Just think of all of those Negro Anglicans and Catholics who will renew the faith! Just like the natural conservatives from Mexico who will naturally vote Republican — except that they never do.

The failure of Douthat’s book, its emasculating mediocrity, is based upon the core belief that unifies all of the various facets of Western decadence: the willful refusal to make distinctions, to see differences, to acknowledge the inequalities that exist among human beings at both group and individual levels. Douthat sees no difference between Hungary and Mexico because to do so would make him unwelcome in the editorial offices of The Atlantic and The New York Times. The willful refusal to make distinctions eventually metastasizes into the inability to distinguish between good and bad or right and wrong. This is the true meaning of decadence. Ironically, the existence of Douthat’s book is the best evidence at hand that we live in a truly decadent world.

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17 Comments

  1. asdk
    Posted August 13, 2020 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    “One can infer from the book that the author may not be too pleased with the prospect of an increase in the number of happy, healthy little Hungarians. ”
    Of course, what Orban is doing is extremely anti-Christian.

    • Quintilian
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      Actually, Orban is a believing Christian, a member of the Hungarian Reformed Church. Being fruitful and multiplying is a core tenet of Christianity. Immigration is not a tenet of Christianity. It is one of the false aspects that has been foisted on many churches due to the Marxist takeover of most denominations.

      • asdk
        Posted August 13, 2020 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        The universal unification of Christ does not distinguish races, well, except one of course. That the Goyim are mestic is a very good thing, more equality more power to the crucified god and more power to the holy race of Yahweh, so it is not uncommon to see Jewish lobbyists financing the fall of Orban, or attacks from the Catholic Church towards its segregationist position. For Christ to triumph and his egalitarian church to spread across the face of the earth the whites must disappear, paradise will be brown or it will be, amen.

        • Lord Shang
          Posted August 13, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

          None of that is theologically correct. There is nothing in the Bible (and the Bible is only the “last word” for fundamentalists, a minority of Christians) that condemns patriotism, national preservation, or increasing white birthrates, nor is there anything which demands acceptance of mass migration or miscegenation. You are one of these 21st century liberal society indoctrinees who has a very superficial understanding of the Faith (probably had little exposure to correct Christianity), one based on the very real heresies of the modern (polluted) churches. Because some disgusting Lutheran church in Idaho is actively importing third world settler-colonists, you assume that they are the “true” Christians, while those of us opposing them are somehow theologically erroneous. Yet when some secular historian of America embraces mass migration, and calls it “the American Way” or some similar idiocy, you have no hesitation recognizing that this is not a scholar, but a leftist propagandist. Why don’t Christian liberals merit the same dismissal? Probably due to hostility to Christianity.

          • asdk
            Posted August 14, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

            I on what you consider theologically correct, nor the semantic turns you have to make to justify that the Sermon on the Mount is not a proto leftist discourse. By the way, the bible encourages patriotism and racial segregation, very true… but of Israel, and in case you haven’t noticed yet, we are Aryans not Jews. And as the Bible shows, Jewish nationality is obtained by blood, not by papers like the American one. As you may know America was founded on Christian principles, to attract all the scum of the earth to its new jerusalem, and when you go around selling universalism from your constitution, interbreeding is invincible, and so is brown invasion. So decide, if you are going to be a good Christian, embrace with love the brown subhuman hordes, if you are going to defend your race, burn the bible.

            • Lord Shang
              Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

              At the risky of snark, I have no idea how to start correcting all these misconceptions.

          • Ambrose Kane
            Posted August 14, 2020 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

            Well said. I have been trying to say this among my race-realist brothers for years. Most of them are grossly ignorant of historic Christianity and its foundational doctrines/theology. They are poorly versed in the Scriptures themselves. They naively think the chaos of Charismatic Christians and Dispensational Christian Zionists are representative of authentic and biblical Christianity.

            • Lord Shang
              Posted August 15, 2020 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

              The greatest coup our enemies ever made was in convincing decent honorable Christians that the only options wrt race are a) embracing other-extermination, or b) embracing diversity (auto-extermination). This is ridiculous on the face of it, and thus it is terrifying to contemplate how many of our people fall for it (and nb: 99% of the secularists are even worse on race – something which makes no sense given that there is certainly no effective intertribal/racial morality in the absence of God).

              The point wrt real Christianity is that it is neither pro- nor anti-diversity. As I have written here in the recent (and distant) past, I don’t see how one could be a Christian and a Nazi (or any other kind of aggressor against innocent others). But absent extremes (ie, ideologies which advocate behaviors that would be impermissible for individuals), Christianity allows one to support many different types of regimes. Certainly, a non-aggressive racial apartheid state, or merely exclusionary immigration laws to preserve an inherited racial-civil-social-cultural order, would be among them.

            • Varulam
              Posted August 18, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

              The Sermon of the Mount may be the most “liberal” part of the New Testament, teaching humble altruism, but that is not ALL that the NT teaches. Elsewhere the Gospels, you can find some quite “reactionary” material, especially in the Parables of Christ, that often talk about masters and servants, and by no means always taking the side of the latter.

              The Leftist historian Will Durant was intellectually honest enough to point out these un-progressive parts of the Gospel message:

              https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1295564382815113217

              “But a conservative can also quote the New Testament to his purpose. Christ made a friend of Matthew, who continued to be an agent of the Roman power; he uttered no criticism of the civil government, took no known part in the Jewish movement for national liberation, and counseled a submissive gentleness hardly smacking of political revolution. He advised the Pharisees to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”82 His story of the man who, before going on a journey, “called on his slaves, and put his property in their hands,”83 contains no complaint against interest or slavery, but takes these institutions for granted. Christ apparently approves of the slave who invested the ten minas ($600) that the master had entrusted to him, and made ten more; he disapproves of the slave who, left with one mina, held it in unproductive safekeeping against the master’s return; and he puts into the master’s mouth the hard saying that “to him who has, more will be given, and from him who has nothing, even that which he has will be taken away”84—an excellent summary of market operations, if not of world history. In another parable workers “grumbled at their employer,” who paid as much to one who had labored an hour as to those who had toiled all day; Christ makes the employer answer: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own?”85 Jesus does not seem to have thought of ending poverty; “the poor ye have always with you.” He takes for granted, like all ancients, that a slave’s duty is to serve his master well; “blessed is the slave whom his master, returning, finds performing his charge.”86”

    • Vehmgericht
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      Yes indeed! By the standards of the current Anglican and Roman Catholic Church leadership, increasing the number of indigenous European Christians is positively satanic.

    • Lord Shang
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      What Orban is doing (and imo not nearly enough!) is not remotely anti-Christian. Face it: you dislike Christianity, so you try to discredit it any way you can, accuracy be damned.

      Let me let you in on a little secret that you (and some others here) are really going to hate: In America, there will be absolutely, positively no white preservationist activism that actually translates into real legislation to advance white interests that is not in some way rooted in Christianity, or that is in any way hostile to conservative Christianity. As I have argued in other comments here, the number of possible white preservationists is huge; the number of actual and possible anti-Christian (“neo-Nietzschean”?) white preservationists is miniscule. Deal with it.

      • Ambrose Kane
        Posted August 14, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Spot on! Our atheistic or Pagan race-realist brothers and sisters don’t seem to understand how supportive the greater number of Christians would be with their understanding of racial realities if explained carefully and shown to not be in contradiction to the Scriptures. Many believers would agree with the condemnation of modernity, the porn industry, and the rampant materialism that has engulfed us which Dissident writers rail against. This is a good start.

        Yes, these Christians would have to be shown the error of Christian Zionism, but the good news is that plenty of Evangelical and Reformed writers have already done so. They would need to be exposed to such writers, although I admit it’s no guarantee that they will think differently. Hearing criticism of Christian Zionism from fellow Christians, however, would probably be more palatable to them than coming from an atheistic source. Regardless, racially-conscious Whites would be wise not to discount the role, contributions and support of huge numbers of Christians.

        Remember: most American Christians are against illegal immigration (except for jellyfish and liberal ‘Christians’) because they are believers in law and order (Romans 13), and they have a strong nationalistic spirit. This alone indicates that a huge segment of our society is potentially open to our message, and we would be foolish to not tap into it.

        • Lord Shang
          Posted August 15, 2020 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

          I’ve been arguing this for decades now. I ask anti-Christian white nationalists (including Greg Johnson) again and again, who or what is your proposed base? The answers I get are all over the place. Unless they can create a true race of supermen who can somehow conquer society by physical force, we have to garner a sizable amount of white democratic support. Whites are divided enough as it is (which is a sign of our superior character and individuality, but also a catastrophic weakness in multiracial contexts, given how much more tribalist nonwhites are). Even from a cold-blooded atheistic perspective where Christianity is seen as purely illusory, whites who are Christian and generally conservative must be accounted as possibly the biggest faction within the conservative community – that community which is most open to white preservationist appeals, both generally and, often for other reasons, specifically (because the argument that more immigration = more Democrats = more LGBTQ, more liberal Justices, etc, is correct and easily understandable; ditto for other matters, like law and order or free marketist conservatives). Certainly, no one should expect a bunch of liberals or antifa scum to suddenly become white preservationists. Diversitism is at the very heart of contemporary left-liberalism.

          Do anti-Christian prowhites think there is some huge reservoir of white non-Christians/ non-leftists just waiting for our message? I have never seen any evidence of this, in 40+ years of racial awareness. Actually, today things are much worse in terms not only of diversity on the ground, but white brainwashing. That would not be so alarming on matters of economic or foreign policy about which average people might be ignorant and require instruction. But race is visceral. Whites chanting BLM slogans *want* to believe in that propaganda. They are very willing dupes. I submit that few of such dupes will ever become awakened (as that liberal propensity is something I think is genetic, in the same way that,although I was raised in liberal environments, I was always a bitter clinger rightwinger, literally by instinct; I simply could not be a believing liberal, esp on race).

          Politics is about addition. We need to appeal to the widest number of whites while still holding fast to our core white preservationist doctrines. That might mean keeping private opinions about, say, gay rights or abortion, to oneself. It definitely means not deliberately arraying WP against Christianity, and forcing people to choose. The free marketists didn’t force Christians to choose between supporting the market economy and being Christian (if they had, any doubt as to which way the Christians would go?). Instead, they spent time wooing them, talking to them and persuading them of the compatibility between capitalism and Christianity (again and as in so much else, real Christianity is neither pro- nor anti-capitalist per se). I see no reason why we should not do the same wrt Christians, and indeed, think our numbers are so few that we must.

  2. Paprika in the Cupboard
    Posted August 13, 2020 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    As someone with a great deal of Hungarian blood flowing through my veins, though American-born, I am heartened by some of the things I hear about the country—Mr. Orban’s efforts to raise the birthrate especially warm my heart. I have often considered fleeing to Hungary should this continent return to the hostility experienced by Jamestowners, although there is always a tinge of cowardice about such designs. As a rule, however, I find the opinion of one regarding Hungarian developments is a good litmus for their greater alignments. “It is not written in the book of history that Hungarians will continue to exist,” says Orban, but perhaps the Hungarian people are preparing to take up a pen for themselves.

  3. Boštjan M. Zupančič
    Posted August 13, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    At the bottom, the whole problem, indeed, comes down to the ability to distinguish between right and wrong (good and bad). However, this ability we are not born with. We must assimilate it about age 4 to 5, in the process of Oedipalisation. This process is limited to the boys (not girls) and boys at that age must be able to identify with their father, i.e., to overcome their Oedipal complex. But given the effect of the xenoestrogens, now epigenetically accumulating from one generation to the next, the boy’s feminized brain is not in position to identify with his father. This assimilation of the distinction between good and bad, right and wrong, is no longer working, which is where the decadence is coming from. In other words, this is, among other things, a question of endocrinology.

  4. Petronius
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Cardinal Sarah is actually very critical of mass immigration.

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