Society Defined – Part II: Decadence and Big Government

“I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.  Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe–‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” – Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience

In Part I of “Society Defined,” I described how the decadence of the entertainment industry is directly related to the decadence of the society it entertains.  But entertainment is only half of the equation.  The other half is government, and the size thereof.  My thesis is simple: the more decadent the entertainment industry, the more decadent the society; the bigger the government, the more corrupt and oppressive it is, thus the more decadent the society it represents becomes.  The first half of my thesis is self-explanatory, for few would argue that American society is not a product of the entertainment industry by which it is enslaved.  It’s easy to see how the rock stars and pop stars and movie stars the youth idolize directly affect the way the youth act in our society.  These “idols” set the fashion trends, sing the songs people dance to, break the rules and old taboos, lower the Bar of Morality, and free the poor, oppressed youth from the tyrannical rules established by their parents, and they are rewarded for their behavior with fame and fortune.  Society would not idolize these “stars” for merely being cool and trendy, but because they are rewarded with fame and fortune, society mimics the actions viewed as “cool” and “trendy” because of the illusion that submitting to these trends will lead to fame and fortune and material success, thus proving the direct relation between the decadence of the entertainment industry and the decadence of the society it entertains.

The second half of my thesis perhaps requires a deeper explanation.  It goes without saying that the bigger a government is, the more likely it is to be corrupt and oppressive, for in a small government, there is no room for corruption, nowhere for it to hide or masquerade as something good.  The larger the government, the more room there is for corruption to grow and hide and take on different forms.  In order for a government to grow in size, the liberties of the people must be sacrificed in exchange.  Just as the nations of Europe willingly gave up part of their national sovereignty in order to join the European Union, so it is with a Republic and the People it represents.  In a Democracy, sovereignty belongs to the People, not the Government.  The Government is elected to represent the People, but is not sovereign to them.  It is impossible for a Republic to grow in size, for in order for the government to grow, the sovereignty of the People must be sacrificed, in which case it can no longer be recognized as a Republic.  Once the Republic is lost, Democracy is quick to follow, until all sovereignty is concentrated in the hands of a central unitary government, which will quickly grow into a tyrannical plutarchratic government (plutocracy/oligarchy), which is what we have now in America.

So, how does decadence in society correspond with the growth of government?  It has to do with “mob mentality.”  People generally do not want to confront corruption and evil when they see it.  They want to ignore it and pretend that it doesn’t exist.  People want to believe that their government is good, that their society is good, that the world is good.  And even if they do see evil and corruption, they have to convince themselves that there is nothing they can do about it, for when we see evil and corruption, it is in our Nature to react to it; to fight it; to eliminate it and right all that is wrong.  But that requires action, and we have been conditioned to loathe action.  We have been conditioned by our government and the entertainment industry to be lethargic and apathetic and fatalistic; to accept what we are told as truth; to obey and not to question; to serve and not rebel; to live with evil, not to fight it.  When we see evil and corruption, we turn a blind eye to it and tell ourselves there’s nothing we can do about it because all people want is to live their lives without confrontation.  They want to go to work and do their job (no matter how much they say they hate it), they want to go on vacation, they want to watch their favorite TV shows and movies, they want to study sports statistics and root for their favorite teams, they want to read magazines, they want to go to restaurants and bars, they want to dance at nightclubs.  They just want to live the fantasy life they believe they’re entitled to live and ignore reality, for if the People truly opened their eyes to reality and confronted the evil and corruption that exists in their society, in their government, in their world, they would be forced by their Human Nature to let go of the fantasy life they long to live and embrace an inconvenient life of action.  If the People truly allowed themselves to see what is going on, they would not be able to continue working at their jobs or going on vacations or watching TV or dancing at nightclubs.  They would be forced to react.  They would be forced into action and revolution would become their occupation.

And so, when governments grow and become corrupt, the societies they represent are likewise corrupted.  When governments become oppressive, the oppressed societies naturally become more decadent.  Decadence is society’s coping mechanism.  It’s how society ignores the oppressiveness, corruption, and evil of its government and numbs itself to reality.  Just as the junky uses drugs to escape the pain of existence, so society uses decadence to escape the pain of oppression and slavery; to drift off into an intoxicated coma of fantasy that will take it far away from truth and reality where it does not have to deal with the pain, the anxiety, and the dread.  Instead, it remains comfortably numb and willfully ignorant, and comes to love its servitude.  And do not think that governments do not know this.  They know that they will meet no resistance if they decide to grow, so why wouldn’t they?  They know that their growth will produce a favorable reaction from the People they represent (that “favorable reaction” being no reaction at all).  They know that the People will ignore their corruption and in turn be corrupted, and while the Government grows in power, the People will grow in decadence, and it is this decadence that eventually brings about the fall of the empire.  Some famous examples in history include the Babylonian Empire, the Medio-Persian Empire, the Grecian Empire, and the Roman Empire, and, in modern history, Napoleon’s France, Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Lenin and Stalin’s Soviet Union.  All empires are destroyed from within before they are destroyed from without, and America is no exception.  What follows is a chronicle of how the most oppressive eras in the American government are directly related to the most decadent eras in American society.

It began with Progressive Era, which took place in the first half of the 20th Century, whose sole purpose was to grow the government as much as possible and promote government intervention in all aspects of life, in everything from business to eugenics to censorship in movies.  It began with Theodore Roosevelt, who was famous for his “trust-busting.”  Though antitrust laws make sense in theory, it is government regulation over corporations that creates an environment ripe for crony capitalism and fascism.  The People have the power to stop out-of-control businesses that intentionally squash competition by creating monopolies.  All they have to do is boycott those corporations.  There is no reason for the government to intervene and regulate.  The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine established America’s imperialistic goals for the 20th Century, which would lead to the international interventions that would get the U.S. labeled as the “world’s police.”  He expanded the Department of Justice with the corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He also passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, which laid the foundation for the quickly corrupted Food and Drug Administration.  While the Pure Food and Drug Act and the FDA were created to protect our food by keeping preservatives and additives containing harmful chemicals out of it, as I showed you my “Eugenics Agenda” essays, they did nothing of the sort and served only to grow the government and expand its power, which should come as no surprise since Theodore Roosevelt was an outspoken eugenicist.

Following Roosevelt was William Howard Taft, whose greatest crime against America was the 16th Amendment, which gave Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes on incomes,” i.e., the Income Tax.  The Income Tax was the result of the Progressives’ agenda to lower tariff rates.  By passing the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act, which lowered tariffs on goods imported into the U.S., Taft forced the burden of taxes onto the People.  Succeeding Taft was progressive Woodrow Wilson, who greatly regretted his presidency.  He admitted to having unwittingly ruined his country with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act, which created a central bank of the United States, and marked the beginning of the end of our nation.  He also increased regulations on businesses by creating the Federal Trade Commission, enacted the first draft since the Civil War, fueled anti-German sentiment, and suppressed anti-war movements.  He also passed the Revenue Act of 1913, which lowered basic tariff rates from 40% to 25% and re-imposed the federal income tax in order to compensate for the anticipated loss of revenue that would result from the lowered tariff rates.  He passed the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act, which grew the government and stripped the People of their liberties, the first steps towards the modern police state.  The government grew even more under his watch with the passing of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, i.e. Prohibition, which led to the birth of organized crime in the United States.  To his credit, Wilson vetoed the bill.  And to top it all off, Wilson introduced the idea of the League of Nations, the world’s first step toward globalization.

In 1921, Warren G. Harding became president and brought Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations to life.  His presidency was stained by numerous scandals of financial and political corruption, which coincides with the birth of the decadent Roaring Twenties.  After the sudden death of Harding in 1923, Calvin Coolidge became president.  He signed into law the Immigration Act of 1924, which was one of the fundamental pieces of eugenics legislation; a bill written by eugenicists, for eugenicists (Congressman Albert Johnson, one of two architects of the bill, was the head of the Eugenics Research Association).  Under his watch, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Buck v. Bell case in 1927, which allowed the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions.  Herbert Hoover, avid promoter of partnerships between government and businesses, became president in 1929, expanded the Justice Department to include an antitrust division and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and oversaw the Stock Market Crash of ’29 seven months into his presidency.

The oppressiveness of the Progressive Era and the decadence of the Roaring Twenties culminated in the Great Depression and the twelve-year fascist dictatorship of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came into power in 1933.  In the first 100 days of his presidency, FDR  tightened regulations and relationships with banks and businesses.  He signed two unconstitutional bills: the Agricultural Adjustment Act (which essentially turned farmers into serfs) and the National Industrial Recovery Act (which permitted cartels and monopolies, pushing the nation towards fascism with the National Recovery Administration).  He passed an executive order and the Gold Reserve Act, which required all privately held gold to be sold to the U.S. Treasury, making it a criminal offense to own gold and suspending the gold standard.  The Second New Deal oversaw the Social Security Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Works Progress Administration, the National Housing Act and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), expanding the size of the federal government immensely and allowing it to regulate business more than ever before.  In his unprecedented third term, FDR showed his teeth as a warmonger as he did everything he could to get America into WWII,  and as a dictator when he called for the FBI and the IRS to investigate his critics and passed Executive Order 9066 (one of 3,466 executive orders he passed; by far more than any president before or since), which allowed for the indefinite internment of American citizens on American soil.  At the end of his third term and the beginning of his fourth term, FDR showed his teeth as a globalist bent on creating a one-world government when he became an instrumental figure in creating the United Nations, a name which he coined.

Following FDR’s dictatorship, Harry Truman became president and proved to be an even greater Wilsonian internationalist than his predecessor.  After making the decision to drop two nuclear bombs on Japan, Truman saw to the establishment of the United Nations, bringing FDR’s vision to life.  He was also instrumental in the creation of NATO.  During the Cold War, Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which established the CIA and the National Security Council.  Domestically, he created the Fair Deal (a continuation of FDR’s New Deal), and presided over McCarthyism and the U.S. Public Health Service’s move to fluoridate the water supply.  After Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower worked hard to further the American imperialistic agenda and exemplified America’s lust for dominance over the world.  He used the CIA to execute numerous coups and assassinations all over the world, and he used Cold War paranoia to pass the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1958.  During these two oppressive administrations, America saw the birth of the decadent Beat Generation, which was an art movement fueled by hedonistic, promiscuous lifestyles and drug use, and became the precursor to the Counterculture of the Sixties.  Alcoholic novelist, Jack Kerouac, amphetamine-addicted bisexual muse, Neal Cassidy, and gay, acid-tripping poet, Allen Ginsberg, were the founders of this movement and were idolized by the youth of their generation.

The administrations of Truman and Eisenhower led to the wave of evil that was the presidencies of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.  LBJ greatly expanded the reach of government with his “Great Society” programs (e.g. Social Security Act of 1965, the Economic Opportunity Act, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), which was an updated, farther reaching version of FDR’s New Deal.  But LBJ’s domestic power grabs were overshadowed by his international ones.  In 1964, he passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the president the power to go to war without permission from congress, setting a dictatorial precedent for the presidents to come.  By the end of the year there were 23,000 military personnel in Vietnam, and America was thrown into a war under false pretexts.  He enacted the draft and by 1968, over half a million American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam, dying at a rate of over 1,000 per month.  Richard Nixon escalated the war when he took office.  He expanded upon LBJ’s Great Society, created the Environmental Protection Agency, and used the FBI, CIA, and IRS to harass activist groups and political opponents.  His presidency ended with the Watergate Scandal, sealing his fate as one of the most corrupt presidents in history.  The oppressive, corrupt administrations of LBJ and Nixon were paralleled by a period in American society during which the youth were experimenting with psychedelic drugs, engaging in a sexual revolution, re-evaluating their morals, listening to rock ‘n’ roll, and exploring Eastern/New Age philosophies.  While the federal government grew rapidly and oppressed the American people more than ever before, the youth ignored this injustice and instead attacked the government’s foreign policy and blood-thirst and imperialistic disposition, and rightly so.  However, this served only as a distraction from the government’s oppressive domestic agenda, and the misguided youth eventually decided that their hedonistic interest in rock ‘n’ roll, recreational drugs, Eastern philosophy, and “free love,” far outweighed their interest in the United States’ foreign policy or imperialism.

The Hippie movement grew even more decadent in the 70s, especially towards the end of the decade under the administration of Jimmy Carter.  During his presidency, Carter created FEMA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Education, the latter of which was more than a mere a federal power grab, but it established an agenda to brainwash and dumb-down the American youth in preparation for a collectivist society, as exposed by Charlotte Iserbyt who worked in the Department of Education under Ronald Reagan.  Carter, under direction of the Club of Rome, commissioned his Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, to draft “The Global 2000 Report to the President,” which laid out a plan for population control.  During this time, American society saw an explosion in the popularity of cocaine and the rise of the nightclub scene with discotheques like Studio 54 and Xenon, which birthed the decadent Age of Disco.  The 70s gave way to the cultural collapse of the 80s, America’s most superficial and self-indulgent decade in art and entertainment yet.  This decade was dominated by the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose escalation of the Cold War with the Reagan Doctrine, nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union, and War on Drugs created a paranoid, anxious environment ripe for a police state; a fearful society willing to give up liberty for security, who medicated their anxiety with cocaine and a decadent night life.

The next age of great decadence began at the turn of the century, at the end of Bill Clinton’s scandal-ridden presidency.  Only in the most decadent of societies could a president impeached for his immorality while in office, and his subsequent lies about it, end his presidency with the highest end-of-office approval ratings of any president since WWII.  Clinton’s presidency was followed by the most oppressive administration since FDR:  George W. Bush.  The 9/11 attacks, and the subsequent War on Terror, created a culture of fear that allowed Bush to create a police state with “big brother” legislation like the President’s Surveillance Program, which allowed warrantless surveillance by the NSA, the Homeland Security Act, which created the Department of Homeland Security (containing 22 departments and the largest federal government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947), and absorbed FEMA into the DHS.  To grow the government even more, he implemented the No Child Left Behind Policy, Medicare reforms, and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act/TARP.  Then, of course, there’s the USA PATRIOT Act, which expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, greatly reducing restrictions on law enforcement agencies’ ability to search telephone and email communications, as well as medical, financial, and other records.  It eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the U.S.  It expanded the Secretary of Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions.  It established “sneak and peek” warrants (delayed notification of the execution of search warrants), roving wiretaps, and the ability of the FBI to gain access to documents that reveal the patterns of U.S. citizens.  And that’s barely a fraction of what’s in the PATRIOT Act.  Bush’s police state continued under Barack Obama, who signed a four-year extension on three key provisions of the PATRIOT Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and surveillance of potential “lone wolf” terrorists.  Along with growing the government exponentially with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, congress is currently voting on a bill (National Defense Authorization Act) drafted by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, Section 1031 of which would define the United States homeland as part of the battleground of the War on Terror, allowing the military to arrest American citizens on American soil and detain them indefinitely without trial, essentially repealing the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which forbids the U.S. military from performing law enforcement functions on American soil.  Obama has also been involved in some of the biggest scandals since Watergate during his presidency with Operation Fast & Furious and the Solyndra bankruptcy, setting up his administration to be one of the most oppressive and corrupt in recent history.

In the 21st Century, under the administrations of Bush and Obama, American society has grown more decadent than any other period in our nation’s history, including the Roaring Twenties and the Sixties.  Under the influence of cultural idols like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Ke$ha, etc., who have sexualized our culture and spawned a narcissistic generation of materialistic, apathetic nihilists, American society has degenerated into an apocalyptic hedonism; a society that only wants to party like the world is about to end.  The entertainment industry has completely taken over American society with its “apocalyptic pop,” reality TV, and celebrity obsession, and the reason we have fallen this far, sunken this low, is because we do not want to look at what is going on in our government.  We are distracting ourselves because we are afraid to face the truth.  Entertainment has become our only relief from the anxiety caused the by ever-growing police state around us; the only way to numb the pain and dull the senses, so that we can ignore reality as we live in a fantasy.  A large government–a growing government–is by nature oppressive.  When a society becomes oppressed, it does not revolt… at first, for it would much prefer to ignore such an awful, unbelievable reality, thus the society falls into decadence–into alcoholism and drug abuse.  It distracts itself with art and entertainment, and it becomes more liberal in its sexuality.  In other words, instead of revolting against governmental oppressions, it begins to revolt against societal oppressions.  It is the Subconscious Revolution.  Since the society is afraid to wake up to the reality of its oppressive government and thus revolt against it, it distracts itself by starting sexual revolutions and art movements to challenge the morals of their society, and give the people freedom from the established morals and values rather than from the government establishment.  This allows them to feel like they’re accomplishing something, like they’re overcoming the oppression.  But as long as their government remains unchallenged in its growth, the society will fall further and further into decadence, as it continues to revolt against its own values.

But if America was most decadent under the oppressive administrations of Woodrow Wilson, William Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover in the Roaring Twenties, or under Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, and Nixon with the Beatniks and the Hippies, or in the 21st Century, under Bush and Obama with the Millennial Hipsters, when was American society least decadent?  When was America least oppressed?  I’d say her most most creative, intellectual, and morally sound age–her Golden Age–occurred in the relatively unobtrusive political years dominated by Jacksonian Democracy, from about 1830 to 1845, under the administrations of Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and John Tyler, during which period American society was defined by the birth of American philosophy and Transcendentalism, or, as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. called it, America’s “intellectual declaration of independence,” established by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, William Ellery Channing, and Walt Whitman, thus showing that a less intrusive, less oppressive, small government breeds a morally respectable, creative, and intellectual society.

One Response to “Society Defined – Part II: Decadence and Big Government”
  1. lphill0955 says:

    Great job with the research. And you are right, I don’t want to believe it, but it is hard to refute.

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