John C. Wright explains the process of civilization decline, and in doing so demonstrates how far along the West has traveled down that dark path:
The first thing that can start the dissolution of civilization, and place our foot on the long, blood-soaked, sad path toward that aboriginal tribe that has forgotten how to make needles or sew, is the treason of the clerks.
One the king is convinced (or in these more degenerate and democratic times, the parliaments and congresscreatures who have kingly duties but no sense of a higher power to whom they are obligated) that he has authority to overrule the laws of civilization, perhaps to make the pathway clear to the alleged utopia that the priests said surely will arise once anarchy is unleashed, then the legitimacy of his state is gone, and he is merely a raving beast like a mad man-eating lion.
The first thing the lion eats is the sense of honor that keeps his fighting men in check. His fighting men includes what in the modern day is both the military and the police. The police are made more and more militaristic; they are cast as the enemy of the people; and the military is degenerated from its ancient precepts of honor and courage, and instead becomes sensitive and friendly to womenfolk or sodomites.
Now, to be clear, in a modern bureaucratic state, any one who has the power to enforce the law and harass the people is, for all practical purposes, a policeman, a soldier, a fighting man of the king. We would call these bureaucrats, everyone from the tax man to the clerk on a planning and zoning board enforcing an irrational eco-nutbag regulation.
The sense of honor needed to keep soldiers and civil servants in check evaporates as the lawlessness of the anarchic King spreads down the wall to the next row, and the soldiers, police, and civil servants become young lions, red in tooth and claw.
Once the fighting men are corrupted, next oldest support of civilization vanishes: the burghers, the townsmen, the bourgeoisie, the merchants, the shopkeeper and tradesman, and middle class. Their corruption is far easier and far quicker, because trade and possession depends on a faith in objective law and evenhanded enforcement of contracts, not to mention the soundness of coin or currency. The middle class can be taxed out of existence, as they were in ancient Rome, which collapsed the Western Empire in one generation, and kept the Eastern Empire in a state of servitude and poverty for the remainder of its millennium.
The merchants who turn to the King to make a sweetheart deal create crony capitalism, which is also, more correctly, called fascism. The industries, such as are left, become organs of the state and are protected by increasingly one-sided and nakedly unfair taxations and regulations.
The important point to note is that the treason of the merchants undermines the unspoken social contract which allows trade and manufacture, or even guilds and small shops, to exist: that is, namely, the unspoken social contract provides that spoken contracts shall be upheld, and trade be fair and free. This idea is laughed into nonexistence, and the merchants are no longer merchants, but become jackals slinking and slouching in the shadows of the lions consuming the people, greedy for scraps.
But no civilization of this is possible without the brotherhood of family and clan. And that is not possible without marriage and an institution of paternity.
So the final course of stones to go is the social contract, the bargain, between fathers and mothers, between male and female. The deal is that, in return for the bearing the burden of bearing children, the womanfolk will be protected and cherished. When the barbarians attack, the women and children go first to the stronghold, and the men man the walls; the iceberg strikes, the women and children go into the lifeboats, and the men go to death in the icy water. In return, the women preserve and reproduce the race.
To defend civilization, it is necessary for men and women to take the risks that modern society places upon us. Yes, there is risk of divorce. Yes, there is risk of missing out on something, whatever that something might be. But in the end, if even those who are civilizationists give in to the temptations and whispered promises of safety offered by modern society, civilization will fall.
It will most likely fall anyhow. But the important thing is to provide, like the monks of an earlier civilizational decline, a means of preserving that which will permit civilization to rise again.
The risk is worth it, because there is more to life than maximizing your number of sexual encounters and your bank account. So take the risk. Marry. Have children. Teach them right from wrong. And raise up a new generation that is not only civilized, but capable of defending the remnants of civilization.