Social decline? Social decay? Social breakdown? We wondered which of these
phrases, none of them “scientific” in nature, would best apply to the current situation in the United States. Social decline—too mild. Social decay—that suggests a process too slow. Social breakdown—perhaps that’s too strong, though each passing day makes it seem an appropriate term. Or, let’s say, a handy approximation. In the pages that follow there is a sufficient accumulation of evidence that, even as American power in the world may be increasing, something like domestic social breakdown is becoming a reality. Not the total reality, but a significant part, and of course it hasn’t gone nearly so far as in the Soviet Union. Nor do we pretend to be advancing a comprehensive theory of social breakdown. Let’s just go step by step.
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