by Chris Burn
The five marks of a decaying culture: Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth; Obsession with sex and perversions of sex; Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original; Widening disparity between very rich and very poor; Increased demand to live off the state.
Words written not yesterday but some 250 years ago by historian Edward Gibbon, concerning the end of the Roman Empire.
It is difficult right now not to view the United States of America, and consequently most of the Western world, as being in decline. Very recent events do little to change that opinion.
Most White House hopefuls at some time state their fervent aspiration to ‘make America great again’ – Mr Trump has certainly been one to say this. Very few have succeeded.
It is the nature of empires that they become overweening and unrealistic; many in this country grew up taking for granted a British Empire upon which ‘the sun never set’. Today we are down to a handful of tiny islands and dependencies. Quite soon, it may be just England and Wales (and that’s being optimistic). One day, American power and influence will be minimal too.
Should we be worried? Yes and no. Dependency on America has been the norm since World War Two and by and large, it has worked well for Europe, specially for Britain. But it does not have to be always so. Perhaps it is time to find out for ourselves. Dependency is a sign of immaturity and now we are being forced into a growing up process. And growing up, as we know, is painful.
Mr Trump may be repugnant to many people and he may have unpleasant personal attitudes but that does not mean for sure that he will be a bad president or that he will wreck the world. A great deal of harm can be and has been done by good people with excellent intentions and equally, a great deal of good has been done by people who were not personally pleasant or likeable.
Mr Trump does not pretend to be something that he is not, he shows himself as he is. There is honesty in that. He is a family man. He has energy and charisma. He has management skills and negotiating skills in abundance. And he is lucky.
The people of the United States have spoken and they appear to have picked a leader, one who, judging by his election campaign, can make a triumph out of a lost cause. They think that he just might be able to make America great again.
The rest of us in the Western world must wait and see. I for one would be more than happy if he could just manage America’s decline in an orderly fashion. America’s fall is still unthinkable.