Friday, August 21, 2009

Signs of Decline

"For as the proletariat in Western societies has become affluent, so the middle and upper classes have become proletarianized. Their attitudes toward time, work, and leisure have come to exhibit characteristics of the lower classes."

"...Toynbee endorsed Christopher Dawson's observation that the mark of a culture's last stage is not decay but syncretism. The advance into the established culture of the West of pagan and primitive modes of music and art should therefore not be regarded, as it so often is, as progress, but rather as a sign of decline. What is sometimes interpreted as the conversion of the whole world to the ways of the West is, on this showing, something quite different. It is, in Toynbee's words, a mass conscription "into the Western society's swollen internal proletariat.

As the dominant society continues its breakdown, the once-admiring external proletariat not only turn away their mimetic activity and admiration but also become hostile to the metropolitan center. At the same time, the disintegrating civilization turns against its own traditions and in its admiration of the more primitive society, burns in self-hatred. In the past this process has often been accompanied by a Voekerwanderung, the physical entry into the declining civilization o the peoples of the external proletariat. It may be a modern manifestation of this that we see in the migration of people from the Third World to the West." Idols For Destruction pages 269-270

3 comments:

Pilgrim said...

Truckloads of truth there, but should we grant the faulty premises of a class-based society? "Proletariat" should have no meaning whatsoever in the American political and economic spheres. "Liberty and justice for all" is the political application of "In Christ, there is no slave nor free...".

Nevertheless, I'm convicted of my own growing laziness and tendency to expect something for nothing.

John said...

I take your point, but I do believe it is a useful category, as his point would be much more difficult to make without the distinction.

Because it exists, it must be named, but you are right in asserting that it doesn't mean it is 'right.'

Dictionary.com's first definition of "proletariat" is such:

1. the class of wage earners, esp. those who earn their living by manual labor or who are dependent for support on daily or casual employment; the working class.

This is an acceptable definition, is it not?

Pilgrim said...

Does it exist?

Not legally, not Constitutionally.

Does "everybody know" it exists? With sadness, yes. Why does it exist? Covetousness.

Even aside from the assumption of class, I still bristle at the term "the working class," as though there is a class that does not work.

Again, legally, Constitutionally, there should be nobody who does not work.

Again, "everybody knows" there are people who do not work. But it ain't the rich (save trust-fund brats, Bushes, Kennedys, and movie stars).