Saturday, October 15, 2011

Breaking Points: Recognizing The Signs Of Painful Cultural Shift

October 15, 2011
By Brandon Smith

Through the ages, nations and cultures of spectacular proportion and prominence have risen to prosperity, and fallen to chaos, on very particular and fundamental principles. In some cases, these great and terrible declines have taken centuries to culminate (as was the story of the Roman Empire), and only a few years in others (the Soviet Union comes to mind). In every example of societal destabilization, however, there were many signs of danger long before the final plunge; some unique to each particular culture, and some common to all. One of the most enduring and frightening similarities between crumbling nations is an overwhelming belief amongst the people that they have somehow “advanced” beyond the need for concern. Each self-destructing society presumed itself invincible. Each country thought itself the pinnacle of human potential, only to discover yet again that in abandoning or subverting the principles of freedom, and the bedrock pillars of conscience, reason, and wisdom, they had become merely another footnote in a long marathon of footnotes.

Ultimately, the vast and sordid history of collapse could be summarized simply as a series of breaking points; moments at which opposing ideals and forces hyperextend the prevailing mechanics of a system, changing it entirely.

Some of these events have produced surprising strides of understanding and political progress, as prevailed after the American Revolution. Others led to dark and mindless collectivist nightmares that fog men’s eyes and hearts, as that which occurred after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. The difference is one of focus. Imperialist (elitist) ideologies were deemed unacceptable in both revolutions, but the tides of each conflict leaned towards entirely separate values. Individual liberty in the West, and collective safety and sacrifice in the East. In America, the uprising was led by common men and the target was clear. In Russia, the uprising was led by elitists posing as common men, and the target was obscured. In America, much of the public assumed roles as arbiters and political engineers. In communist Russia, much of the public was oblivious to such responsibility, and only subject to engineering. Two revolutions in the name of ending tyranny with two entirely different initial outcomes…
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