I continue my recent Niall Ferguson fascination with an article he wrote in Vanity Fair in 2006, entitled Empire Falls. Ferguson uses Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as a benchmark against which he measures current western civilization.
I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here is his conclusion:
"Gibbon called the decline and fall of the Roman Empire "the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the history of mankind." Could a still more awful scene be unfolding in the form of the West's decline and fall? For Gibbon, Rome's decline was the result of military overstretch, inner decadence, religious conversion, and barbarian invasion. To my mind, all of these are operating today to undermine what remains of Western dominance in the world. If the United States suffers mainly from the first and second, the European Union seems even more afflicted by the third and fourth."
As I wroteto in my post The Soft Generation, "have taken for granted that modern capitalism and western democratic values have made the world a stable, idyllic place." The idea of a decline of western civilization in decline, has been an absurd position held by cranks like Pat Buchanan. Sure, we have been able to observe real problems, but we of the soft generation must realize that empires and nations come and go--and always have. How can we presume that America, and the west in general can survive the massive decline that we are witnessing? The world is changing and the future belongs to the east--India, China, and Muslim Eurasia.