The Collapse of Western Civilization, Part III

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Robert Ringer


Once the moral revolution in the Western world picked up steam, it was but a small step to the next plateau of the revolution — the “anything‑goes society.”  What is an anything‑goes society and how does it work?

To answer these questions, it is instructive to recognize that man is a creature of infinite desires, all of which he wishes to be fulfilled.  However, he is smart enough to realize that merely saying he wants something is not likely to get it for him, especially if he’s dependent upon someone else to provide it.

How much better to simply proclaim that the thing he desires is something he truly “needs.”  Need is perhaps the cleverest word ever appropriated by thieves and power mongers.  It is, in fact, the key to an anything‑goes society.  Through the use of this seemingly innocuous four-letter word, all acts of aggression can be morally justified.

The big question, of course, is who has the wisdom, the omniscience, and moral authority to determine who is in need?  The progressive’s answer is “the majority.”

What is conveniently ignored is that the majority’s decision is nothing more than an opinion, because there is no such thing as an absolute need.  I may think I need a Rolls Royce; you may think I need a bicycle.  Neither of us is right or wrong.  It’s just a difference of opinion.

But my desire for a Rolls Royce is another matter altogether.  There is no opinion involved in desire.  If I desire a Rolls Royce, that’s my business.  It only becomes your business if I arbitrarily decide that you have an obligation to purchase it for me on the grounds that it is a “need” and that I am therefore entitled to it.

The fact that I refer to my desire for a Rolls Royce as a need is, of course, sheer poppycock.  I may just as well call it a wart.  No matter what word I assign to it, I still have no moral right to force you to help me acquire it just because I happen to want it.

Unfortunately, that is not how a majority of people now view the matter.  Through the gradual evolution of lynch‑mob rule, fueled by the titanic forces of media‑induced guilt and envy, the word need has successfully emerged as a camouflage for desire.

This camouflage, however, is not the final step in the evolutionary process.  The final stage of an anything‑goes society comes about through the further elevation of needs to rights.

Today, we are a society whose people believe that every individual has a right to a “free” education, a right to a “minimum” wage, a right to “free” medical care, a right to “decent” housing — a right to virtually anything he can establish as society’s obligation to him.  By contrast, we were once a society whose people believed that no one had a right to anything except his life, his liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness.

As alien as it may now seem, most of our grandparents, and even many of our parents, actually believed, before the moral revolution was won, that every individual had a right to keep everything he earned, and, even more important, the right to be left alone.  Not coincidentally, they believed in charity, but charity was recognized as a matter of personal morality, to be decided by each individual rather than by government force.

Today, by contrast, talk of individualism is dismissed as impractical or unrealistic in a “complex world.”  This is the ultimate triumph of gradualism — that our culture has reached the stage where freedom is actually considered to be unrealistic.

Sadly, our civilization has devolved to the point where the use of force and fraud can be justified on the grounds that such measures are necessary to make certain that people’s rights are not violated (i.e., that their individual desires be fulfilled).  And that is the bottom line of an anything‑goes society — the acceptance of the use of any means necessary to satisfy individual desires.

There is, quite obviously, one glaring problem with this otherwise beautiful piece of nonsense:  In order to fulfill the self-proclaimed rights of one person, someone else’s rights must be violated, because any product or service that an individual may desire must be produced by someone else.

And if the product or service, or the money to purchase it, is taken from a productive member of society against his will, then his rights are sacrificed to the desires of the person who receives the largess.

Thus, through the not‑so‑discreet use of majority rule, individual rights can be ignored and government becomes a legal mechanism for implementing force and fraud.  In effect, government takes on the role of a hired gun for the plunderers.  And who are the plunderers?  Frederic Bastiat gave us some insight into this question:

When plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter — by peaceful or revolutionary means — into the making of laws.  According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power:  Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.

The problem, of course, is that the majority of people are not at all enlightened, thus they choose to share in the plunder.  Further, the typical false‑prosperity addict does not want to be enlightened.  He’s too busy enjoying his $15,000 home (for which he paid $200,000), his two state-of-the-art, flat-screen TVs (which he is paying off over three years at the legal‑limit interest rate), and his new 10-by-20-foot swimming pool (financed by a second mortgage on his already drastically overpriced home).

All this leads me to believe that someday historians will look back and note with curiosity that as Western Civilization slipped quietly down the moral drain, no one particularly noticed. People simply were not enlightened enough to understand that to take part in the plunder rather than put an end to it was only in their short‑term best interest.

They were not able to comprehend that in the long term, as a result of the crumbling of their political democracy, even the cleverest of the plunderers would lose.  Thus, they coalesced into a massive voting class whose objective was to gain control of the lynching mechanism.

As a result, everyone now claims to qualify in some way as truly needy, a term that is conveniently undefinable but both intoxicating and intimidating.  After all, who but a cold and heartless person could possibly deny the truly needy their rights?

Today, the mass thefts in our desires‑to‑rights society are carried out under such euphemistic labels as “humanitarianism,” “social justice,” or just plain “reform.”  This immoral madness has now escalated into an avalanche of government social programs that not even the most ardent socialist could have hoped for fifty years ago — food stamps, school lunch programs, Medicaid and Medicare, federal employee retirement benefits … the list goes on … and on … and on.

The unenlightened masses have, indeed, chosen to plunder, and in Part IV of this article I will examine the mechanisms used to accommodate the plunderers’ insatiable thirst for free stuff.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

77 responses to “The Collapse of Western Civilization, Part III”

  1. Miguel Miguel says:

    Mr. Ringer,

    If you were in Portugal or Europe, and if you were just starting out now, what type of business you would start?

    Best Regards,

    From Portugal.

  2. Muthuswamy N says:

    A lovely, logically impregnable analysis of what is happening but what is the way out?

    • Rocketman says:

      The way out is to recognize the problem in your country for one citizen is unsolvable and then move somewhere to where those conditions don't exist. I personally am learning Spanish and have plans to move to a South American country where the taxes are low and the government is minimal. I have at least 3 business plans and once I get down there and decide which one is the best for the situation there I plan to implement one. I recognize that the longer I stay in the United States the worse it's going to get for someone who believes in things like personal responsibility and individual liberty and I don't desire to be made an "example" by a government who doesn't respect me.

      • Jim Hallett says:

        Good for you! I have a similar plan, and would highly recommend both Chile and Colombia. There are other places where you can create personal freedom in a much lower cost country. In addition, thse other places do not squander billions on warfare and policing the world. IL Magazine is a good resource and they also publish individual country reports. One can avoid the chaos and political garbage that oozes out of everything in Amerika. Best wishes in your pursuits!

      • Phil says:

        Funny, i am learning Spanish as well for a similar reason, but aside from Chile which nation qualifies down south?

        • Jim Hallett says:

          Despite all the negative media nonsense about it, Colombia has some of the very best opportunities of any place in the world. Now that Pablo Escobar is out of the picture and the FARC has come to a settlement with the govt., it is a great place. Medellin, in particular, is a great place. Has a wonderful, eternal spring climate, about 1 million residents, great public transpo, and real estate is a fraction of U.S. prices. Uruguay is also a good country, but not as good a deal, price-wise, though still cheaper than the USA. It is more off the radar, save for Punta del Este in Jan/Feb for the glamour set, and you are close for a visit to one of the world's greatest cities, Buenos Aires, Argentina, without all the instability and corruption of that country. It also has NO military, so is not sticking its nose in every other country's business like the U.S.

      • lee says:

        Bueno bye! Adios! Like fidel castro used to say if they don't want to be part of our revolution. No los nesecitamos on los queremos.

  3. Sam says:

    The way out takes enormous guts and appears on its face impossible but in reality it is simpler than one would think. Think, that's it we must change our thinking on an individual basis. The question, "will there ever be peace in the middle east (or anywhere else) comes into full view. History is replete with all sorts of "collective" religious, political and cultural groups that have added up to no more or less than a "group grope."

  4. notpropagandized says:

    Substituting and seeking "Comfort and pleasure" INSTEAD of "productivity and security" are the bane of Western Civilization run amok. It softens and ruins the envy addict and not one of us is immune. The trick is resisting idle want, envy and yes, resisting comfort and pleasure beyond the moment. But politicians manipulate voters into seeking comfort and pleasure 24/7/365.

  5. kauai_mike says:

    You can't escape and don't have to. Every individual has options to minimize the boot at their throat.

  6. Rick G. says:

    This is absolutely unbelievably unreal as to what is going on in our country. We truly has literally lost our minds. Just give me what I want, which is what I "need", and I'll be fine…….and to Hell with everyone else! Western civilation is collapsing? Nonsense! The society and country have problems? What "problems?" So what! Big deal! Let the good times roll! It will all work out somehow someday. This is the prevailing attitude of the majority of people nowadays. And the frightening thing is, the Tortoise's book, "How You Can Find Happiness During the Collapse of Western Civilization", was released back in 1983 and this mindset has gotten so out of control amplified today to where presidential candidates are now openingly advocating single payer "free" health care, "free" college education, "free" EBT food stamps, "free" government housing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera….. And the real clincher is, who is going to pay for all these "free" goodies, which are my wants and "needs"???

    • Rocketman says:

      If your a Joe Sixpack average citizen, then that would be you Rick.

      • Jim Hallett says:

        Yeah, listening to idiots like Commie Bernie and all his FREE stuff dumbs down the mind. If the entire 1% he is always referring to (though it includes HIM!), were taxed @@100%, it would not even fund his plan for 1 month, but his devoted and stupid followers clap loudly for more immoral plunder from the productive class.

        • Rick G. says:

          That's right, Jim.

        • Rick G. says:

          And a hypocrite he really is. That goof recently bought another home, $600,000, which overlooks a beautiful lake. That makes his THIRD home. And he goes to make a public appearance in none other than a $700 dollar winter jacket, which even the other Dirty Dems called him out on! And his dumbass supporters don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of! I have a 120,000 home, just one, I'm still struggling to pay off and wear a $60 Carhartt duck jacket.

          • Jean says:

            I thought it would be a hoot to create a mailing list of Antifa and Occupy Wall Street members and then mail out housewarming invitations to Bernie's new digs. Can you imagine Comrade Sanders' private property being overrun by his supporters?

      • Rick G. says:

        I'm not though. No thank you!

  7. Scott theczech says:

    I would like to reject my social security payments coming to me in a few years, but gol darnit, the professional plunderers forced me to make it a part of my retirement plan! I at least want my contribution back. ..I'll even settle for "return of premium" with no interest.

    The threat of force and the fraud exerted on us liberty loving individuals is nothing short of criminal. My contemporaries and I built the other parts of our retirement & legacy just fine without FICA and FUTA, but the 15% +/- confiscated from our wages forced us to make that the third leg of our passive income stool.

    • Scott theczech says:

      …I often wonder how many sound businesses in this country have gone bankrupt due to the 7.5% Social Security and Medicare forced contribution. The difference between thriving, surviving, and dieing in business are just a few percentage points to the bottom line.

      • Rick G. says:

        Probably more than you can imagine.

      • Jean says:

        For those of us who freelance, the 15 percent hit (called a "self employment tax") is rough indeed! For the two years that I worked strictly as a freelancer, I made just above poverty level, was NOT eligible for any government bennies (other than Medicaid, which was forced on me thanks to the Obamacare law) but still paid my "fair share" in federal taxes. I literally was forced back into corporate employment due to taxation. I still earn a significant amount of income through freelance work, but I now throw as much as I can legally into my IRA account just to avoid having it taxed away.

  8. justGrady says:

    Great summary, right on target overall. And yes, Medicaid belongs in your list. BUT, why in the World do you lump Medicare, which I had no choice but to pay for, into your list?

  9. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    My deceased parents, born 06 and 1911 used to sneer whenever saying someone "is on Welfare"! They would work hard and make do before ever lowering themselves in such a way! That's the prevailing attitude I grew up with!

    • Rick G. says:

      My parents were that way too.

    • Rick G. says:

      You had good parents.

    • sam239 says:

      my Bengali friend asked me while we were driving through a housing project, "Why does the gov't pay these people to sit around, barbeque, and smoke weed?" I burst out laughing – funny how foreigners can sometimes see the BS better than we can. I thought, I would much much rather work a fast food job (or better, outside sales) for a living than become dependent in that kind of life. Maybe it sounds nice but deep down impossible to have dignity living like that.

      • Richard Lee Van Der says:

        1994-04 I created a local advertiser in my old home area in Michigan. It was VERY $ucce$$ful! But now the Govt forces one to do a DBA, doing business as, and grabs tax money! That then forces one's prices up making it more difficult to compete and still make out! Must be the Govt has henchmen lying awake at night thinking up ways to grab for ANY AND ALL entrepreneurs! Lucky I was able to finish after ten years and move to another country where I could afford to live during my old age. Here with MANY other Americans who go tired of the Govt Grab in the States, the the high(er) prices of everything else! Here the natives SMILE unlike Americans in America. Hard to smile when you keep yourself in constant debt! I stopped using Charge Cards after I saw through that one way back in the 1960s. And, I resisted making payments of a new car. but always drove a good car (except for two short term ones! LOL)FREEDOM INHERES IN SIMPLICITY but too many people don't get that! But, to each her own!

        • sam239 says:

          Great – you're not a local but certainly the Phillipines has their own entrepreneur-taxers as well. Seems like thuggery but ideally it pays for security/infrastructure/freedom-to-be-left-alone. Is China impossible for expats? I'd rather live somewhere in southern, tropical China than in Phillipines or Thailand – China is more organized and better-run.

          • Phil says:

            Chinese have a great work ethic…adopted my daughter from there…but govt is pretty bad. Very hard to acclimate. I am fluent in mandarin, and it still was challenging to be there for just a month. But well worth the visit. Taiwan may be easier. Vietnam. Etc.

    • Jean says:

      My grandparents and parents both shared that sentiment. During the depression, my father (age 13), six of his siblings and my grandmother went to work so the family could stay off "relief." My grandfather had been a skilled woodworker with Herman Miller Furniture, but took on handyman jobs after being laid off. And not once did he ever think of taking a WPA "make work" job.

    • MMD says:

      My parents, born in 45 and 46, were that way too, and so am I (born in 79). I've been broke as a joke and the thought of trying to get government benefits never even crossed my mind. I'd have slept in my car first.

  10. larajf says:

    It does bother me that people make such deep judgments as to other people's choices. If a person has earned the money, they've earned the right to do with it as they see fit.
    But that deep resentment from the Looters who do no useful work keeps burning bright.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      It is part of the equality nonsense. People are NOT equal, and what they want to do is THEIR right, and the silly envy of others has NO place in our culture.

  11. taejonwill says:

    People care more about property rights than human rights: and this benefits the fortunate more than the less fortunate.

    • sam239 says:

      But aren't property rights a subset of human rights? If I work hard and earn money or other valuables as a fruit of my labor, is it my right to own the results of my labor?

  12. rojimowi says:

    ''Gimmee gimmee, have you got, can I take?''. Somewhat common phrase in the 1930s

  13. rojimowi says:

    "Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee, have you got, can I take?'' I left out a gimmee.

  14. Jurgy says:

    now that we're here – there's no going back …

  15. RealitySeeker says:

    "People simply were not enlightened enough to understand that to take part in the plunder rather than put an end to it was only in their short‑term best interest."

    Yeah, it's all about grab as much of and whatever "plunder" you can while you can…. In fact, borrow as much money as you can and let the future generations worry about who shall pay it back… Any "short-term" gratification is chosen over "long-term" benefits…. "Get mine now" is the predominant way of thinking.

    The result? The ignorant masses will be reduced to living from hand to mouth. Already, most live from paycheck to paycheck and/or welfare check to welfare check thanks to collectivist thinking.

    Trump check: my latest thinking on The Donald is that I still support him only because he's so much better than somebody like an Oprah…. I knew Trump would add Trillions to the National Debt, and I wrote that in the comments over and over again on this very blog.. Trump is forced to either keep making "short-term" fixes or end the borrow-and-spend party that's been going on since Reagan made the same spending deal with Tip o'Neill that Trump just made with Chuck Schumer….

    I expect the government spending party ( now lead by DT) to continue until it doesn't… Then I expect the consequences of reality to punish hundreds of millions. The ignorant masses ( and/ or their children) are going to pay dearly for government expediency …. Those who live on government plunder will also die and be plundered by government.

    Finally, the only "gun reform" we need already happened in 1776 and the subsequent codified Second Amendment. In other words, the Second Amendment is the only gun reform we'll ever need. All else is abridgement. Period. So don't be fooled by unenlightened little Marxists boys and girls who "March for Lies" and demand that the adults disarm..

    Only a damn fool would disarm at this point in history….

  16. Ernie Zelinski says:

    When it comes to needs, in fact, "your needs have always been provided — otherwise you would be dead."

    Here are few passages from my new book "Life's Secret Handbook (Reminders for Adventurous Souls Who Want to Make a Big Difference in This World)" that kinda relate:

    "Being a victim can become a full-time occupation if you are not careful.
    That’s a horrible way to spend a month or two of your life — not to mention a whole lifetime.
    Unfortunately, if you intently and persistently focus on what annoys you, that’s what you will get — forever."
    — from "Life's Secret Handbook"

    "Making a big difference in this world is not dependent on the conditions in your life.
    This is solely dependent on the temperament of your soul."
    — from "Life's Secret Handbook"

    "If your life is not working, take a hard look at your beliefs and our behaviors."
    The problem is there somewhere."
    — from "Life's Secret Handbook"

    "Way too many people are looking for an easy way to achievement, success, and riches.
    There is no easy way for them.
    None for you either."
    — from "Life's Secret Handbook"

    "Mendacity is the fine art of our lying to ourselves and to those around us.
    If we get very good at this, we will be able to justify deceit, fraud, false victimhood, freeloading, undeserved income, and a host of other wrongs.
    At the extreme, we will even claim these as spiritual pursuits as some people do.
    This is not only a form of self-sabotage and a hindrance to our prosperity — but also an insult to the health, well-being, and integrity of the rest of humanity."
    — from "Life's Secret Handbook"

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