“Lower standards” has been a common complaint in society for decades. Indeed things have been going downhill for many European commentators for most of the past century
The 20th century began so hopefully but the first world war – and its aftermath - destroyed these hopes and led to the ideological struggles which ended only 25 years ago.
Jose Ortega y Gasset's 1930 The Revolt of the Masses blamed in 1930 the "political domination of the masses" for the decline in standards. Ortega believed that the rise of the masses threatened democracy by undermining the ideals of civic virtue that characterized the old ruling elites.
Loss of religious authority is often regretted as having created a moral vacuum leading irresistibly to the present-day culture of instant gratification
Television; parental laxness; the language of entitlement; political correctness; and multiculturalism are variously identified as the main culprits…..
If we can agree that the balance between freedom and authority has gone too far, how do societies pull back?
Most people assume that some sort of behavioural change is needed – along the lines perhaps of Ametai Etzioni’s Communitarianism which sets out ways in which the ethic of social responsibility can be brought back into our schools and workplaces.
But a growing number of people see that as impossible to achieve against the power of consumerism and commodification which advertisers thrust on us every minute of the day - and are simply choosing to opt out of the materialist society.
Of course, that in itself is a highly individual choice and fragments us socially even more……
This is part of a series of thoughts sparked off by my use of the word "amoralism" to describe contemporary Romania......