The present convergence of crises––in money, energy, education, health, water, soil, climate, politics, the environment, and more––is a birth crisis, expelling us from the old world into a new.
Let me return from history and draw my conclusion. What all this means to us at the present time is this: Our system has already passed its flowering. Some time ago it reached that summit of blessedness which the mysterious game of world history sometimes allows to things beautiful and desirable in themselves. We are on the downward slope. Our course may possible stretch out for a very long time, but in any case nothing finer, ore beautiful, and more desirable than what we have already had can henceforth be expected. The road leads downhill. Historically we are, I believe, ripe for dismantling. And there is no doubt that such will be our fate, not today or tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow. I do not draw this conclusion from any excessively moralistic estimate of our accomplishments and our abilities: I draw it far more from the movements which I see already on the way in the outside world. Critical times are approaching; the omens can be sensed everywhere; the world is once again about to shift its center of gravity. Displacements of power are in the offing. They will not take place without war and violence. From the Far East comes a threat not only to peace, but to life and liberty. Even if our country remains politically neutral, even if our whole nation unanimously abides by tradition (which is not the case) and attempts to remain faithful to Castalian ideals, that will be in vain. Some of our representatives in Parliament are already saying that Castalia is a rather expensive luxury for our country. The country may very soon be forced into a serious rearmament - armaments for defensive purposes only, of course - and great economies will be necessary. In spite of the government's benevolent disposition towards us, much of the economizing will strike us directly. We are proud that our Order and the cultural continuity it provides have cost the country as little as they have. In comparison with other ages, especially the early period of the Feuilletonistic Age with its lavishly endowed universities, its innumerable consultants and opulent institutes, this toll is really not large. It is infinitesimal compared with the sums consumed for war and armaments during the Century of Wars. But before too long this kind of armament may once again be the supreme necessity; the generals will again dominate Parliament; and if the people are confronted with the choice of sacrificing Castalia or exposing themselves to the danger of war and destruction, we know how they will choose. Undoubtedly a bellicose ideology will burgeon. The rash of propaganda will affect youth in particular. Then scholars and scholarship, Latin and mathematics, education and culture, will be considered worth their salt only to the extent that they can serve the ends of war.