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Cycles and Golden Ages: the left often says to the right, “People have always moaned, like you do, about decline”—perhaps they’ll quote Hesiod to the effect that “the youths are indolent and disrespect their elders, the women are whorish, the vines are withered—never have times been so low, truly the Dark Age is upon us.” It’s not relevant, because Hesiod may well have been in a Dark Age himself, since his society has nothing to do with ours—or perhaps he referred to a global Dark Age that has deepened since then.


Besides, I can point to an English Golden Age from which we have declined, I can point to a time when I have no basic complaints about English society: it’s the time from Elizabeth to Charles II—that is the English Golden Age. It’s summed up by three names: Newton, Shakespeare, Drake-Raleigh. It’s science, art, and war (discovery). I include Drake and Raleigh as a single name because they are rough equivalents and have about equal importance. Anyway, this was the time when England was in her Golden Age: top quality art, top quality science, top quality war.


At the time, the Spanish Empire was the world empire—and we predated on her shipping, on the Spanish Main, just as the Americans predated upon our empire in WWII. Yet, though England was not the most significant power at the time, she was the most vital power—she was the coming nation. The three names above laid the basis for her success: Newton meant the scientific revolution, but, with calculus, he also meant advanced gunnery—key to win wars. Drake-Raleigh set the scene for England’s military backbone, the navy—England was a sea empire first and foremost, it’s all about seamanship with the English.


Finally, Shakespeare provided the archetypal context in which Englishness took place, provided much of the idiom with which the English would convey ideas, and formed a national mythology (secondary to his work, the King James Bible was produced at about the same time).


So it was all set up in that Golden Age, a time when England’s population was about 5M and still mostly rural. That was England at her most vital—she started to wind down in the 1770s and began to enter decadence in the 1830s. I have myself never liked the Victorian period—I prefer the Civil War era, Roundheads and Cavaliers, or the Georgian period (Dick Turpin etc).


After Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman was published, everything went downhill—England was at her best with Swift, Pepys, and Defoe. I prefer Moll Flanders emptying a chamber pot on her clients to Victorian prissiness—I also think there’s more mystery in the 1700s, more Cornish smugglers and assignations on heaths.


America’s Golden Age was probably in the late 1770s, about the time she had her revolution. We could post similar names: Ben Franklin, Washington Irving, and Davy Crockett. With Crockett, you have the desire to open the frontier—a key to American success in the way the sea was key to British success.


In Franklin you see the nature of American science, which is not speculative like Newton’s science but rather a highly practical activity devoted to applied invention—hence America is the great mechanical society, where you can put a cup under an alcove in your fridge and get a cascade of ice cubes (patent pending).


Finally, Washington Irving is the equivalent to Shakespeare—Americans talk about “the great American novel” or look for an American Shakespeare, but that figure is provided by Irving. His stories, notably Sleepy Hollow, are the quintessence of America in the way Shakespeare is the quintessence of England—they provide the national archetypes (“sincerely, Harold Knickerbocker, III; NY, NY”).


So nations go through cyclical rises and falls—then should we just endure the decline and fall as a natural event and do nothing? I noticed the YouTuber Edward Dutton said he was not a eugenicist because he thinks there’s a cycle of rise and fall in intelligence and we should let nature take its course.


So should we apply no eugenics to a situation and just let countries fade away? I say “no”, because man is nature knowing itself—hence it would be irresponsible, if we notice a cycle in nature, not to take whatever action we can to ameliorate the negative aspect to that cycle. Hence, when in a country or empire in decline, we should aim to guide it to the softest landing possible and put it in such a situation that it can recover itself as quickly as possible.


So just because you live in a declining society doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to soften the decline and prepare conditions for a rise which might not be exactly the same, in cultural terms, but which will use what capital can be preserved as that society goes down. Otherwise you’re like a shepherd who notices a pattern in the weather but refuses to move his flock based on his “red sky at night” knowledge because “it’s nature’s will” for the flock to be exposed to whatever weather comes along.


So, even in a negative situation, all is not lost—further, it is not true that the right has “always moaned and declines aren’t real”. Declines are real, as are Golden Ages, but the decline in vitality is concealed by luxury—which makes everything seem pleasant, even if some very perverse things are going on at the same time (Ancient Rome, the classic example).


The vital period will always be more rural, crude, and rude, and in many ways more brutal than the civilised or the decadent period—animals will be baited, children will do work at a young age, women will be treated as chattel, rival groups will be massacred or enslaved. However, the great relief, if you travelled back to these times, would be that the general outlook would be unsentimental and realistic.

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