Monday, January 08, 2007

Look on my works, ye mighty

If you want a strong, if not quite lethal, dose of pessimism, you can't do better than John Derbyshire, who has obviously been preparing to be a miserable old man for many years now.

He sits himself down to imagine the United States collapsing (as did the USSR in 1991) within 15 years. Given his inclinations, he has no difficulty finding a lot of good reasons why this might happen. A sample from his conclusion.

We are separating out, drifting apart from each other, withdrawing into gated communities, both literal and metaphorical. Some of this is the logical end-point of our long march to pure meritocracy, the downside of which, as Michael Young pointed out half a century ago, is a ruling class freed from guilt—secure in the conviction that they deserve to rule. Some of it arises from the dashed hopes of the Civil Rights movement, the hopes that race would disappear as a significant social marker in our society. Some, like the threat of nuclear terrorism, or the demographic cratering, is just a consequence of technological advance.

Much of the damage, however, has been willfully self-inflicted. We did not have to swallow the multiculturalist suicide pill; we did not have to open our borders to the Third World flood; we did not have to delegitimize patriotism and abandon the assimilationist model of immigration.

Why did we do those foolish things? From overconfidence, I think. It has been said that a nation can survive anything but success. Success is the one true lethal disaster. The USA is a sensationally successful nation. We are also, it is not trivial to note, a very remote nation, far from anywhere else. An actual military invasion and occupation of the USA would be a very bold undertaking indeed, and I don’t think it is something we need to worry about. Our success, and our remoteness, have together made us very complacent. We can try any kind of social experiment! Nobody can harm us!

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