Does the decline of Western Civilization mirror the "Fall" of Ancient Rome?
In a 1993 journalarticle titled “Defining Deviancy Down,” the late senator Daniel PatrickMoynihan (D-NY) argued that when deviant behavior grows beyond the amount that society can “afford to recognize,” society will cope by narrowing its definition of deviancy. In this article,he asserts that the amount of deviant behavior in American society has increased beyond levels the community can afford to recognize and that society has been redefining deviancy to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized and accepting as normal behavior that which was considered abnormal by earlier standards.
Simply put, once we lower our level of outrage to behavior that would have previously shocked us, it sets us up to accept the next level down, in a never-ending spiral of moral compromise, until we’ve reached the point of “anything goes”.
Like many Americans I feel, that I’m becoming so jaded that nothing shocks me anymore. Just when I thought I’ve read some news account of some crime horrific, beyond human comprehension, something even more abhorrent comes along to exceed it. Often, it's all I can do to stifle a yawn.
This bodes ill for American society and I can see some parallels between America’s moral decline and the fall of Ancient Rome.
Scholars are generally consistent in noting that one of the factors in the “Fall”
of Rome was the Roman obsession with entertainment and consequent loss of civic duty. (“bread and circuses”) In many modern books written about Ancient
Rome and her people, the ancient Romans are often portrayed as people who
enjoyed violence and thought it amusing to see people being injured and killed
to the point of obsession. It is now common knowledge that, in Ancient Rome,
people often attended (and enjoyed) gladiatorial fights to the death (sounds like UFC), wildbeast hunts, naval battles and chariot racing (NASCAR?). Some public thinkers today have suggested that “entertainment” today, as it was in ancient times of Rome, reflects the decline of culture, into a plethora of lust, greed, violence, selfish individualism and bad behavior (Jersey Shore?).
Some scholars suggest that history is repeating itself and we are now in a
reoccurring cycle of moral decay and social breakdown. From the excessive
amount of glorified violence in Hollywood movies, video games, music and on the
internet, one can easily see the downward spiral of decency.
I'm curious to know how fellow Sodaheads feel about this.
See Votes by State