According to wikipiedia
‘The word decadence, which at first meant simply “decline” in an abstract sense, is now most often used to refer to a perceived decay in standards, morals, dignity, religious faith, or skill at governing among the members of the elite of a very large social structure, such as an empire or nation state. By extension, it may refer to a decline in art, literature, science, technology, and work ethics, or (very loosely) to self-indulgent behavior’
The difficulty with words such as decadence is that they mean different things depending on who uses them. The term generally has negative connotations and is often used by those in power within society to dismiss cultural achievements of the counter culture. To them Occupy movement was a bunch of dirty hippies partying on a street. In reality it was a tremendous effort and a lot of good hard work. Sure, some people joined just to smoke a splif and look cool but they didn’t organize it, they didn’t create it. They just followed the crowd. At least they turned up! Many equate self awareness and inner growth with self indulgence and decadence. It’s bullshit. If your drug and sex loving community creates events, art, literate, technology, science etc it is by definition not decadent no matter what some suited twat on downing/wall street might say about it.
In reality the people in power indulge in decadence more than your or my friends ever possibly could. Many of the financial elites take cocaine daily, do regular orgies, get involved in kink (fuck dead pigs head variety apparently) etc. The conservative image often is just that, an image. The difference is that they generally are not held accountable for any of it, They do not land in prison for having unlawful sex or taking illegal drugs. Mostly because they can afford a good lawyer and large private properties away from peering eyes of the public. The decadence that is destroying modern society has very little to do with a bunch of hippies throwing raves and house parties. It has much more to do with those with too much power not knowing when to stop and more importantly, feeling that they deserve all the fun at our expense. They are blinded with pleasure and power and want it at all cost.
That said, a child collecting trash in a dump to feed their starving siblings might not see the difference between your house party and the one of a banker since both happen at this child’s expense and both do equally nothing to address the problem of global poverty which is not even on the kids mind because they are too hungry to think of anything else than food. I guess it’s a matter of scale, how much privilege you have.
In the western world we are the people who feel and experience the results of our elites decadence everyday. We see how a greedy few destroys our future for few more snorts or whatever makes them temporarily happy and few more fucks they can afford any time they want. They tell us that we all should be like them and seek what they have. That’s the carrot: better sex, better drugs and more of them! They call us decadent because we remind them too much of themselves and their epic failure at running the world. We are the shadow of their negligence and ignorance. Our own attempts at ‘having a good time’ are constantly overshadowed by fear of legal repercussions, by financial issues, ability to keep our jobs, pay our rents and survive from day to day. Our fun is severely limited and restricted by our circumstance. There is much less freedom in it than it might seem to a drugged mind of one who enjoys it. It is called begin rebellious, perverted, decadent, criminal, sinful etc.We can wear those insults as proud labels if we wish. We all internalized this false dehumanizing narratives imposed on us from top down and sometimes turning the insult into affirmation can be a powerful defense. At the same time we need to be careful not to glorify an attitude based on exploitation.
If drugs/sex/pleasure make you into a selfish dick or if it stops you from growing, becoming more self aware and do what you truly want to do with your life and being there for others then ditch that shit. If it is the only thing that keeps you from killing yourself or allows you to get by from day to day then by all means carry on. Self medicating is not decadence, it is a coping mechanism. The two are words apart. One allows you to cope, while the other stops you from coping. One means running away from your pain while the other learning how to live with it. If sex and drugs or another form of pleasure inspires you to do things, to create, to engage with people around you and grow spiritually then there is nothing decadent about it.
The magicians who ‘abused drugs’ were magicians not because they were drunks and junkies but despite of it. Their habit/addiction didn’t stop them from creating a legacy we all benefited from. In some cases they consciously used mind altering substances to heal and to explore their inner worlds and shared the knowledge with us. That’s not decadence either. I can not say the same about a kid of a wealthy banker who spends days fucking trafficked sex workers because its Tuesday. If I could deprive them of their fix so they could feel the pain and face themselves, I would. Some people need pain to wake up and if we steadily serve them their next dose of painkillers they will carry on wasting our future. I am tired of apathy and ignorance of our modern decadent society where true hard work isn’t valued any more because someone else is doing it for you in a sweat shop millions miles away. Decadence is not a behavior of the oppressed. It’s a privilege. You have to be able to afford it in the first place. There is absolutely nothing subversive about it. It’s the status quo of capitalism.
If your pleasure is at my expense then I will judge you for it every time. Similarly I do not expect the proverbial starving kid to understand that I prefer to buy dope for my next weekend holiday than to buy their family a survival rations or fund an initiative that could end poverty. What would I tell the kid? That my life hurts too much and I can’t cope with that much pain so they shouldn’t judge me? Or that my spiritual growth is more important than their life? I hope the child would understand and forgive me and we could hug and go and get a lunch together, I could share some joints or something and work out how to best help them, because ‘we are all humans’. If instead they slammed me across the face and told me to fuck off I’d like to think that I would thank them.
It’s our responsibility to cut off the drug supply feeding the elites who exploit us. We need to be the wake up call, the fist that hits them with so much force that no money can stop them from feeling it. No painkillers, no mercy, just the reality raw and true. If they can’t take it fuck them because millions of human begins have to take it everyday, completely sober and they do. We are the oppressor and we are the oppressed. We have to be able to handle both truths. Which one is harder to live with? When we deliver the blow some of it will hit us because we all enable the injustice. We can not move forwards without facing our own shadow and facing it hurts. It must and it will. When you run, it follows and makes you face them on their own terms, in the midst of a trip gone really bad, in a dream that you are forced to relive. It gets all of us eventually. We have to find the way out before we kill ourselves trying to avoid it. In the end death and non being are suppose to be the ultimate bliss.