I came across this article about how the modern (western) world is decadent. I am not necessarily convinced by the arguments that it puts forward, but I was wondering if there is an objective measure of 'decadence' that historians can employ in order to compare different cultures or epochs? Something like the Corruption Perceptions Index perhaps, but covering behaviours that are considered decadent. It is often claimed that ancient Rome became decadent and that this led to its downfall. It would be instructive to have a quantifiable measure of decadence to be able to evaluate this claim.
The only way to mesure decadence is fail. However a non-decadent society, so the two parameters are not entirely linked.
No, because a decadent society is not well defined: it consists in two things:
- A society getting less focused on the initial values that it followed earlier
- A society that gets more and more problem (eg: corruption, etc...)
So a decadent society is a variety of criteria, and those criteria are not objective: having numerous feasts is usually considered as a sign of decadence for Roma. But is it really "bad" to have feast? Does feasts destroy societies?
Most of the time in history, a society is said to be "decadent" by historians that know that this society later failed and was destroyed or suppressed (war, pandemic, revolution...). But this is not a scientific approach of the phenomenon.