How to recognize a society in terminal decline: read what Juergen Habermas says in his call for renewal. According to the philosopher, whom many consider the leading German public intellectual, the renewal would be based on
“five attributes … Europeans share: the neutrality of authority, embodied in the separation of church and state, trust in politics rather than the capitalist market, an ethos of solidarity in the fight for social justice, high esteem for international law and the rights of the individual and support for the organizational and leading role of the state.”
Sounds good! Note, though, that since authority has to be neutral, and Europeans are defined by their support for the leading role of the state, “politics” and “solidarity” have to mean popular support—genuine or imputed—for rule by bureaucratic experts. Otherwise, how could everything be certified neutral? How could the rational equality of social justice, the mutual personal independence of individual rights, and the universality of international law be attained? It’s obvious you can’t have Tom, Dick and Harry defining those things on their own, let alone rejecting them!
The ultimate intended purpose of the rule by experts and bureaucrats that academic functionaries like Habermas favor is no doubt the advancement of social justice and individual rights. Its immediate effect, though, is to do away with the ability of individuals, private institutions and social customs to interfere with those lofty goals—in other words, to do away with the influence and autonomy of anything but the state. So if absolute statism is your idea of the key to renewal, Juergen’s your man. He and his friends will be in charge, so you know it will all turn out OK!