by Brandon Smith, Alt Market:
When historians and analysts look at the factors surrounding the collapse of a society, they often focus on the larger events and indicators — the moments of infamy. However, I think it’s important to consider the reality that large scale societal decline is built upon a mixture of elements, prominent as well as small. Collapse is a process, not a singular event. It happens over time, not overnight. It is a spectrum of moments and terrible choices, set in motion in most cases by people in positions of power, but helped along by useful idiots among the masses. The decline of a nation or civilization requires the complicity of a host of saboteurs.
So, instead of focusing on the top down approach, which is rather common, let’s start from the foundations of our culture to better understand why there is clear and definable destabilization.
Declining Moral Compass
There is always a conflict between personal gain and personal conscience — this is the nature of being human. But in a stable society, these two things tend to balance out. Not so during societal decline, as personal gain (and even personal comfort and gratification) tends to greatly outweigh the checks and balances of moral principles.
People often mistake the term “morality” to be a religious creation, but this is not what I am necessarily referring to. The concepts of “good” and “evil” are archetypal — that is to say they are psychologically inherent in most human beings from the moment of birth. This is not a matter of faith, but a matter of fact, observed by those in the field of psychology and anthropology over the course of a century of study. How we relate to these concepts can be affected by our environment and upbringing, but for the most part, our moral compass is psychologically ingrained. It is up to us to either follow it or not follow it.
Watching how people handle this choice is a bit of hobby of mine, and I do take notes. You can learn a lot about the state of your environment by observing what people around you tend to do when faced with the conflict of personal gain versus personal conscience. It is saddening to admit that even though I live in rural America, where you are more likely to find self-reliance and cultural stability, I can still see a faltering nation bleeding through.
I have seen supposedly good people act dishonestly in business agreements. I have seen local institutions scam hardworking citizens. I have seen a court system rife with bias and a “good old boy” attitude of favoritism. I have seen local companies pretend to be benevolent contributors to the community while at the same time running constant frauds and rackets. I have even seen a few people within the liberty movement itself put the movement at risk with their own avarice, gluttony, narcissism and sociopathy.
Again, it is important to make a note of such people and institutions, for as the system continues its downward spiral it is these people that will present the greatest threat to the innocent.
As Carl Jung notes in his book The Undiscovered Self, there is always a contingent of latent sociopaths and psychopaths within any culture; usually about 10% of the population. In normal times, they, at least most of them, are forced into moral acclimation by the rest of the populace. But in times of decline, they seem to leak out of the woodwork like a slimy fungus. During heightened collapse, they no longer have to pretend to be upstanding and they show their true colors.
Most dangerous is when latent sociopaths or full blown sociopaths assume roles of leadership or power during the worst of times. With everyone distracted by their own plight, these people can become a cancer, infecting everything with their narcissistic pursuits and causing destruction in their wake.
Disinterest In Rewarding Conscience
During wider cultural collapse, it can become “fashionable” to see acts of principle as something to be scoffed at or ridiculed or to even see them as threats to the status quo. The concept of “going along to get along” takes precedence over doing what is right even when it is hard; this attitude is not relegated to the less honest people within society.
As a system collapses, a fog of apathy can result. Good people can become passive, scrambling to their individual corner of the world and hoping evil times will simply pass them by. The phrase “I just want to put all this behind me” is spoken regularly; but as we ignore the trespasses of terrible men and women, we also enable them. How? Because by doing nothing we allow them to continue their criminality, and we subject future persons and generations to victimization.
When doing the right thing is treated as laughable or “crazy” by what seems like a majority in the midst of widespread corruption, you are truly in the middle of a great decline.
In Christian circles, the idea of “the remnant” is sometimes spoken of. In Christian terms, this usually represents a minority of true believers surviving a tumultuous and immoral era. I see “the remnant” not so much as a contingent of Christians alone, but as a contingent of people that continue to maintain their principles and conscience when faced with unprecedented adversity. In the worst of times, these people remain stalwart, even if they are ridiculed for it.
Disinterest In Independent Effort
It is said that in this world there are two kinds of people — leaders and followers. I’m not so sure about that, but I can see why this philosophy is promoted; it helps evil people in power stay in power by encouraging passive acceptance.