Wokeness: the far right’s last scapegoat

Painting of barbarians at gates of Rome
“Why did the world end, Daddy?” “Too much compassion, son.”

1. What do they mean by decadence exactly? What form is this terrifying descent into depravity supposed to be taking, and how is it unfolding?

Decadence comes from the same root as the word decay, and as I used to understand it, means something not dissimilar: a marked deterioration in standards, of art, for example, or of the values of a nation.

2. If western citizens are misdirecting their energies, what should they be doing instead?

Because if re-examining history, or hanging banners from Marble Arch imploring people to use less fossil fuel, constitutes “dangerous decadence”, if conversations about pronouns are a waste of time, then the implication is that individuals thus occupied should be channelling their efforts into more productive endeavours. Exactly what endeavours, our friends on the right are again reluctant to spell out (unless they’re seriously suggesting we should be spending our days planning multi-trillion-dollar global infrastructure projects and invading France).

3. What’s really going on?

The irony here is that the narrative these prophets are trying to foist on us comes within shouting distance of the truth. Because there is some consensus among historians that decadence was indeed a factor in the erosion or implosion of many of Earth’s great empires (most of the commentators seem to have at least skim-read the Wikipedia entry on Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire).



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