December 04, 2014

Source: Shutterstock


A seasoned soldier once told me that men older than 35 are no good for combat because “€œthey think too much.”€ Order an 18-year-old to charge an enemy machine-gun nest and off he goes at a run, whooping and hollering and firing from the hip. Ask a 38-year-old to do that, he thinks about it and says: “€œWhoa, wait a minute …”€

By that standard the U.S.A. is an old country, old and impotent. We can”€™t do anything. Speaking of erections: the Empire State Building went up in a year and a half; Freedom Tower, with the advantage of a lifetime’s progress in construction technology, took ten years.

This contradicts the popular conceit of ourselves as a newish nation, full of youthful pep. In fact, as I point out in Chapter 3 of We Are Doomed, politically speaking the U.S.A. is a geezer among nations, one of the oldest.

Senile decline has come upon us fast, I”€™ll allow. A mere half-century ago we could still do things”€”at any rate, technological things like moon landings. Nowadays we Twitter and Tweet, swoon at disagreeable realities, and vest our pride not in heroic national accomplishments but in being “€œgay”€ or “€œLatina”€ or “€œundocumented.”€

Some 20th-century wit”€”probably Mencken“€”observed that the U.S.A. has been the first nation in history to go from barbarism to decadence without passing through an intermediate stage of civilization. I don”€™t know about that. The U.S.A. of 1950″€”or even, allowing for a few rough edges, of 1850″€”looks pretty civilized in retrospect.

“€œDecadence”€ is surely the right word for our current condition, though. Whatever we once were, we no longer are. Whatever vigor we once had now hangs limp and useless.

I am dreaming of a U.S.A. that can do things: deport illegals, shoot looters, win wars. It’s pure nostalgia, of course. We can”€™t do stuff like that today. We can”€™t do anything.    


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!