So what is "decadence?
To Barzun, and to Douthat, decadence is a sense of “falling off.” It is repetition, not innovation; satisfaction, not yearning. It is the managed decline of an elite technocracy, not the striving for greatness that marks a civilization on the way to something. It is easy to see how the topic would concern the author, in this age where the American population is so divided over whether America must be made great again.My definition is; "the worship of comfort, pleasure, wealth, power and fame vs the worship of God, especially his gifts of radical ideas" -- like God becoming man, or E=MC 2
Failure to worship God is Hell ... both in this world, and the next. In this world it is boredom, meaninglessness, hopelessness and despair. In eternity? In this world, you can still imagine that suicide is a way out -- I'm sure that one of the things that makes Hell really bad is that you are constantly aware of your total lonely and eternal separation from God and anything "good" -- especially love and companionship. I believe you finally get to be the "god" of your own universe in Hell, and that universe is you -- just a hopeless, sinful, angry, judgmental, hateful, YOU! ... forever. Hell is eternal hate, Heaven is eternal love.
On that cheery note, I liked what was said in the review of our time as a meme ...
Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Now, in weekend clashes between basement-dwelling weirdos, we see it occurring a third time: as a meme. That it happens isn’t decadence, but that we pay attention to it surely is. The decline of healthy institutions and the rise of ersatz versions of the same is everywhere, and Douthat is not wrong to see that hollowing out of society as a step on a downward slope.
One of the possibilities for our future was on page 173 ...
The other possibility… is that today’s class war will come to an end when the managerial minority, with its near monopoly of wealth, political power, expertise and media influence, completely and successfully represses the numerically greater but politically weaker working-class majority. If that is the case, the future of North America and Europe may look a lot like Brazil and Mexico, with nepotistic oligarchies clustered in a few fashionable metropolitan areas but surrounded by a derelict, depopulated and despised ‘hinterland.’”
As easily read and fair assessment of our current state of affairs. I'd recommend "Why Liberalism Failed" over this one, but "Decadent" is more readable.