From a comment at UFO Breakfast Recipients:
I have hard time differentiating between [dying cultures and dying empires], at least in the US. There is no culture here on a national level, not outside the mid-Atlantic accented, corporate packaged $25,000 smile, the b-mod routines of the workplaces. The haughty affectations of the faculty lounge are not qualitatively different from the banal glurge wisdom mouthed in sports bars. The vampiric logic is the same in both places. They all do that thing with the eyes, where they cock their head a little on the side to catch the glint from the overhead lights. You are wrong by virtue of disagreeing with them, but therapy can help you. You must accept the common ground or suffer.
If such a thing can be quantified, the degree to which conformity, and not competence, guarantees an individual's success is probably an excellent index of the objective decay of an organization or culture. The disquieting point raised here is the extent to which oppositional culture, simply because it is embedded in a larger decaying system, replicates this fault. Adorno makes a similar point in the closing sentences of “The Health Unto Death” in Minima Moralia.
Nixon is supposed to have said, “we are all Keynesians now,” and that may have marked the beginning of the decline of Keynesianism in the US. Maybe, despite our best efforts not to be such, American intellectuals, salaried or not, are all Straussians now. The distance between the exoteric meaning Straussians proper use to hide their intentions and Lakoffian frames isn't as great as either party would care to admit. And in a time of objective decay, nothing is more banal than an attempt to be individual by penning a feuilleton decrying the ubiquity of conformity.