History shows that since the inception of civilization societies have evolved, stagnated, devolved and decayed. Not necessarily in that order. Western European society was, up until the Renaissance like any other society - barbaric. A tiny bit of reason, originating in Athens, then promoted by late Roman culture, existed, but was unfortunately not dominant. Something very strange occurred in western civilization. It started with the Renaissance which grew into the enlightenment, but only the creation of a government based on enlightenment philosophy truely launched the world into the modern era. I found a quote in wikipedia that I believe best explains how and why the Renaissance started and why it continued to grow: "Some historians have postulated that Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance as a result of luck, i.e. because "Great Men" were born there by chance. Da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo were all born in Tuscany. Arguing that such chance seems improbable, other historians have contended that these "Great Men" were only able to rise to prominence because of the prevailing cultural conditions at the time." In other words, periods of social evolution occur when a society respects and rewards high intelligence. It therefore makes sense that periods of social stagnation, devolution and decay occur when society promotes anti-intellects. It's my contention that since the era of Ronald Reagan, American society has promoted anti-intellectuals and faux intellectuals. An anti-renaissance. Not just in government, but throughout society. Roanld Reagan - the man the popularized stupid. 30 years of disassociation of the finance, credit, and banking industries with the realities of economic production. 30 years of economics measured by ownership and currency control instead of productivity, and 30 years of credit in leiu of pay increases. For 30 years the great American economy has been slowly dismembered by the anti-intellectual conservatives. Industrial & business regulation removed. American industry destroyed by merging dissimilar economies thru 'free' trade agreements. Balanced wealth distribution ended by disempowering unions and tax cuts for the wealthy. America's current problem are not because of TARP or the GM bailout or the government deficit. It has been caused by ever increasely uncontroled, mindless capitalism. Pure Capitalism has become more than an ideology, but a religion for many Americans - it defies all reality and supercedes all principals upon which this nation is based. They will believe in pure capitalism even as the communist Chinese become the world dominant economic power. Blinded by greed, selfishness and all that is unholy to rational thought, ultimately they consolidate all power and wealth into the hands of a tiny minority, recreating a world of absolute totalitarian class division, enforced by professional armies and police forces. An anti-renaissance that, if they continue to have their way, will result in massive depopulation and a new eon of world wide Chinese dominated medievalism.