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Is our society dying?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Biker, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    A couple of threads elsewhere on this site has caused me to remember a few passages from Heinlein's "Friday".

    In many ways, I think old Kettle Belly Baldwin was correct and with what we're seeing in society today, it may very will be the symptoms of a dying society. What say you?
  2. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I am a great Heinlein fan. From looking at the title of this thread I first thought lack of respect for each other and a lack of responsibility by the citizenry. I think that fits in with Heinlein's more scientific approach.
  3. valgore

    valgore Veteran Member

    very interesting. I wouldn't have thought of the lack of politness being a sign of a dying society but now that I have I would have to agree. I agree that it is a symptom but I am not so sure our society has this symptom. yeah, people can be pretty rude sometimes but I also see a lot politness and acts of consideration out there. I have seen it many times right here on this site, so I think the jury is still out on this one.
  4. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    It does seem descriptive, but Heinlein published <i>Friday</i> twenty years ago. He had characters making essentially the same observations (with the same predictions) in <i>Stranger in a Strange Land</I> (1961), and even as early as <i>Beyond this Horizon</i> (1948). The culture's been "dying" for over fifty years. Heinlein was a big proponent of these themes, and as he became older, and sicker they became more pressing for him.
    He saw (as many do) a deterioration from the wonderful days of his youth (see <i>To Sail Beyond the Sunset</i>).

    I'm a big Heinlein fan, too. I have been since I first read <i>Red Planet</i> in third grade. And philosophically, if not always politically, I can agree with much of his commentary on his times (SF is <b>always</b> about the writer's present, not the future). His psychological issues, however, could be the subject of a whole book, which remains to be written. Even Panshin, his harshest--and least interesting or accurate--critic, neglects this area of criticism.

    But as to your real (and fascinating) question, Biker, I don't think we're in a dying culture at all. I think the culture is growing, expanding, transforming in ways that no one expected. It's not always good, but it's far from moribund. Heinlein was indulging in a bit of wishful thinking. (Of course, the society he depicts in <i>Friday</i> is not at all desirable, either--so his point is probably more complex than I'm seeing. It usually was.)
  5. Domh

    Domh Full Member

    Our society is, in essence, little over a hundred years old.

    In comparison to societies that have thousands of years of development - asian countries for example - our society is growing, not dying - its very young yet.

    I think its growing in a troublesome fashion.

    If it were a child, Id be rather concerned it was severely retarded.

  6. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    Is our society so young? Granted, our government and our modern culture are young. Yet, are we not a nation of immigrants? Isn't this country founded upon the backs of native peoples, of immigrants from countries with centuries, or millenia, of history? For us to deny that ancestry is to deny the very essence of our culture: the melting pot, the stew pot, the potpourri of humanity that we are.

    Our melded culture is something entirely different from those extant in the rest of the world. Perhaps that difference is one reason why we are often feared, reviled, hated, or worse. But in that difference lies the kernels of each individual contributing culture. People from all over the world can come to America and recognize something of their lands, their languages, their religions, their peoples, reflected in the images, faces, and practices of our modern culture.

    Different, but not separated. Young in its synthesis, old in its origins. Powerful in its influences.

    America is not moribund; yet, a strong case can be made for its terminal lifestyle. Ever the trend leader, perhaps there is something in American society to be feared. Perhaps the rest of the world senses the clogging of our arteries, the dying of our brain cells, the traitorous treachery of our bones and muscles.

    The symptoms Heinlein wrote of exist, today. Right now, they are here. The death of America will not come today, nor tomorrow, nor in our lifetimes, just as it didn't come in Heinlein's lifetime. Empires and giants live long. But in their descent into senescence, they are capable of much damage as the symptoms worsen.

    When the giant falls, woe to the villagers standing nearby.
  7. wapu

    wapu Veteran Member

    I am OK with living in a retarded society. Not sure why, but this line freaking cracked me up! I would hope a retarded society would have many of the same characteristics of a retarded child, namely honesty and freedom of expression. Society is retarded and television is our Prozac.

    I am still laughing.:)

  8. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    An interesting look at the history of manners, with some nasty comments about over-refinement.

    Manners and Civil Society

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