COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses across all aspects of society. What can it tell us about the reality of Western civilization?
The death of David Bowie in January 2016 was a bad start to a year that got a lot worse: war in Syria, the Zika virus, terrorist attacks in Brussels and Nice, the Brexit vote—and the election of Donald Trump. The end-of-year wraps declared 2016 “the worst … ever.” Four even more troubling years later, the question of our apocalypse had devolved into a tired social media cliché. But when COVID-19 hit, journalist and professor of public policy Andrew Potter started to wonder: what if The End isn’t one big event, but a long series of smaller ones?
In On Decline, Potter surveys the current problems and likely future of Western civilization (spoiler: it’s not great). Economic stagnation and the slowing of scientific innovation. Falling birth rates and environmental degradation. The devastating effects of cultural nostalgia and the havoc wreaked by social media on public discourse. Most acutely, the various failures of Western governments in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the legacy of the Enlightenment and its virtues—reason, logic, science, evidence—has run its course, how and why has it happened? And where do we go from here?
Praise for Andrew Potter’s The Authenticity Hoax
“Potter’s broad-ranging survey makes a good case that the authenticist fantasy is deeply embedded in the culture.”—Wall Street Journal
“[Andrew Potter] offers a shrewd and lively discussion peppered with pop culture references and a stimulating reappraisal of the romantic strain in modern life.”—Publishers Weekly
“Potter weaves elements of history, philosophy and pop culture together in a book that will leave an impression even if it doesn’t necessarily show us the path. Is Andrew Potter one of the great thinkers of our age? He may well be: this is great stuff.”—January Magazine
About Field Notes
Twenty-volume folios will never make a revolution. It’s the little pocket pamphlets that are to be feared.—Voltaire
Popularized during the Restoration, the tradition of pamphleteering—the publication of inexpensive booklets grappling with issues of current interest—has shaped the world in innumerable ways. From Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, to Voltaire’s Treatise on Tolerance, to Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, pamphlets have functioned as vehicles for writers and thinkers to address the pressing questions of their eras. In this spirit, Biblioasis is proud to present Field Notes, a new series of nonfiction titles exploring timely issues of public interest and featuring writers and thinkers from a range of disciplines: philosophy, public policy, history, economics, cultural criticism, and more.