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The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success

Tuesday March 2020


Ross Douthat Columnist, New York Times
Peter Thiel Entrepreneur and Investor
Reihan Salam President @reihan

In his new book, The Decadent Society, Ross Douthat explains what happens when a rich and powerful society ceases advancing—how the combination of wealth and technological profi ciency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of “sustainable decadence,” a civilizational malaise that could endure for longer than we think. Ranging from the chaos of Trump-era Washington to the gridlock of the European Union; from our empty cradles to our lonely pathways through middle and old age; from the lost promise of the Space Age and early internet to today’s earthbound surveillance state; from the recycling of baby boomer pop culture to the Brave New World we’re making with drugs and virtual reality escapes, Douthat provides an enlightening diagnosis of the modern condition—how we got here, how long our malaise might last, and how, whether in renaissance or catastrophe, our decadence might ultimately end.

Ross Douthat is a columnist for the New York Times op-ed page and writer-in-residence at the Elm Institute. He is the author of To Change the ChurchBad Religion, and Privilegeand coauthor with Reihan Salam of Grand New Party. Before joining the New York Timeshe was a senior editor for The Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he cohosts the New York Times’s weekly op-ed podcast, The Argument. He lives in New Haven with his wife and three children.

Peter Thiel is a technology entrepreneur and investor. He co-founded PayPal and Palantir, made the fi rst outside investment in Facebook, and has funded companies like LinkedIn and Yelp. Peter also started the Thiel Foundation, which works to advance technological progress and long-term thinking.

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute. Previously, Salam served as the executive editor of National Review and as a National Review Institute Policy Fellow; in 2017, he was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. Salam is a contributing editor at The AtlanticNational Affairs, and National Review. Mr. Salam is the author of Melting Pot or Civil War? and the coauthor, with Ross Douthat, of Grand New Party.