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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Nyquist Insights on America and Decadence

I'm slowly working through J.R. Nyquist's "Origins of the Fourth Wold War" again. Chapter one is titled Decadence, and it consists of a series of separate notes that reflect his view of where America is today (actually the book was published in 1999, but they certainly still ring true).

Here and perhaps in my next post or two, I intend to provide some interesting, selected quotes from that first chapter in a fascinating book, in which he sets the stage, providing context for what is in the wings.

  • "Patriotism and paranoia are two words that have been creeping, ever so slowly, even mysteriously, toward one another. We ought to wonder why these two words are becoming one single and discreditable whole. Perhaps this shows more than anything, the indirect effects of an intellectual culture that is hostile to patriotism, and a patriotism that feels an encirclement progressing against it. It may also be something orchestrated, something induced, by play-acting paranoids rendering suspicion as a form of illness."

  • "What we need is an honest critique of Utilitarian Civilization; in other words: a critique of the rationalizing, liberal-democratic type of social order in all its aspects; especially with regard to its decadence of form, its declining standards, its contempt for traditions; and today's ultimate tendency towards a breakdown of order altogether. We must come to terms with our general and increasing rudeness, our predilection for anti-aesthetic judgments, our ignorance of history, our inability to introspect, our 'education to make stupid,' our pacifism with which to bring about our greatest wars, our careerism, our obliviousness; and last but not least, our shallow and feeble optimism."

  • "The illiberal supports of liberalism are gone. The foundations of the capitalist order have been weakened or destroyed by capitalist prosperity. Only one thing can save us from utter degradation, and that is--utter catastrophe."

  • "We live as if in a dream. Our sense of self-preservation has nearly left us. All moral limits are gone. Work and play absorb our every moment. Silent time is impossible to bear, while the music remains very loud. The new sin, of course, (besides self-restraint) is thinking. For the first time in history it is possible the 'think too much,' because thinking, if taken too far, leads to uncomfortableness; and above all, we are the Comfortable Ones."

  • "Necessity was once the backdrop of human politics. Today, a new condition has come about: sensual pleasure as backdrop. No longer do we have a government fearful of bread riots, but a government concerned with smoking, drunk driving, and drug addiction; a government involved in problems of malconsumption and over-consumption. Because of this, another ethic rises to dominance--non-fat, non-smoking, and caffeine-free ..."

More next time.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff, JC. Nyquist's work bears rereading from time to time. All sorts of stuff tends to jump out at you each time you read it.


Anonymous said...

nice, comfy place you got here :)..