In February of 2020, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat published his fifth book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success, which argues that America has fallen into a state of intellectual and spiritual exhaustion. Americans are used to worrying that one force or another could doom the American experiment, but, for Douthat, our real enemy is malaise rather than collapse. Decadence is what happens when successful societies stop moving forward, and its effects can be felt throughout American society, from gridlock in Congress, to political revolutions that play out only on Twitter, to the new digital businesses that change how life feels but not how it is lived.
In the year since, however, the world has undergone its first global pandemic in a century, America endured its largest wave of street protests since the 1960s, and our political conflicts reached a fever pitch. Has American decadence survived this turbulent and disorienting year? Join us as Ross Douthat sits down with former co-author and MI president Reihan Salam to discuss The Decadent Society and America's future.