Many have already noticed: The U.S. really, really doesn’t feel like the world leader, or even as a ‘first world country’. Of course, I write that sarcastically, as I detest expressions like ‘first world’, and the ‘third world’. But readers know what I mean.
Bridges, subways, inner cities, everything is crumbling, falling apart. When I used to live in New York City, more than two decades ago, returning from Japan was shocking: the US felt like a poor, deprived country, full of problems, misery, of confused and depressed people, homeless individuals; in short – desperados. Now, I feel the same when I land in the US after spending some time in China.
And it gets much worse. What the West used to accuse the Soviet Union of, is now actually clearly detectable in the United States and the United Kingdom themselves: surveillance is at every step, these days; in New York, London, Sydney, and even in the countryside. Every move a person makes, every purchase, every computer click, is registered; somewhere, somehow. And this monitoring is, mostly, not even illegal.
Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one ‘mistake’ and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets.
In such conditions, humor cannot thrive, and satire dies. It is not unlike religious fundamentalism: you get destroyed if you ‘offend’. In such circumstances, writers cannot write ground-breaking novels, because true novels offend by definition, and always push the boundaries. As a result, almost nobody reads novels, anymore.
Only toothless, ‘controlled humor’ is permitted. No punches can be administered intuitively. Everything has to be calculated in advance. No ‘outrageous’ political fiction can pass the ‘invisible censorship’ in the West (and so, novels as a form have almost died). Those who read in Russian or Chinese languages know perfectly well, that the fiction in Russia and China, is much more provocative and avant-garde.
In the West, poetry has died, too. And so has philosophy, which has been reduced to a boring, stale and indigestible academic discipline.
While Hollywood and the mass media keep producing,