Decadence: Decline of the Western World

This past week I attended the premier of Pria Viswalingam’s latest documentary Decadence: Decline of the Western World. I wasn’t disappointed. Although I’m broadly familiar with Pria’s basic thesis on the decline of the western world and share most of his views, I was still surprised by this extraordinary treatment.

Pria explores and lays bare much that a thoughtful observer would undeniably find cause for concern about a system that has passed it peak achievements. His critique, while damming in parts, is not a demolition of the Western way of life, rather it’s a call for attention to an approach that is slowly losing it’s democratic base; becoming numbed by secularism; streaming its educational approaches conferring the best on a few; mismanaging its financial systems; generating alarming inequities in the distribution of income; and creating an impulsive commodified cultural response that leaves its citizens stranded in consummerism.

Making a feature film length documentary is a challenging and daring task and Pria has clearly succeeded. He brings us a powerful work that easily holds an audience for the entire duration. His brilliant writing and beautiful imagery are the keys. They held my attention even when I realised that I’d heard some of it before, in one or more of our many discussions over the years. For the converted such as me there was still much to learn. For a younger generation of Westerners I’m hoping that this will be a major wake-up call.

The pre-publicity succinctly captures the approach when it informs us that Decadence recalls what we now take for granted – values that made the West the world’s pre-eminent civilisation for more than 300 years. But throughout history all civilisations rise and fall. Many a pundit has predicted the West’s demise but now we appear to have the evidence. Decadence asks whether it realises what it’s losing. It may even be a call to arms . . .

Decadence opened at the Roseville Cinema on 1 December, and will open at the Nova Carlton Cinemas on 8 december. Check for times and DON’T MISS IT.

4 thoughts on “Decadence: Decline of the Western World

  1. To be honest Russell, I thought the trailer was pretty superficial. It all seemed like pretty simplistic stuff to me. All the moralising about ‘decline’ seems to ignore that debauchery has always been a human constant, along with philosophy and art, often, all have been intertwined. ‘The West’ will reform, in the same way China is making progress. All of us will need to put the environment to the top of our ‘to do now’ lists.


    1. Darcy, I don’t think we’re the audience, necessarily. Yes, much of it might seem simplistic to us but perhaps we’ve already assimilated a great deal of what Pria is drawing to the attention of a wider and younger audience.

      I couldn’t agree more about the need to place the environment at the top of the list. Perhaps our patterns of production and consumption, driven by our ‘throw-away society’ need to be thoroughly examined as well.

      Thanks for the comment.


  2. Oki Niiskuni: (Traditional Niitsitapi Greeting)
    I hope in these dark days that this reply finds you in Good Health and GREAT SPIRITS.
    My Piikani name given to me by my grandfather is Maistoo’awaasaan “Crow Flag”, I am 2Spirit, I am from the Piikani Niitsitapi, Turtle island. I come from a long line of Chiefs, Leaders, Medicine Women & Men. Taught the values that have been handed down through many many eons of teachings. Values being: Humility, Respect, Honesty, Truth, Wisdom, Courage and RESPECT. I am 52 years of age this year. My own family background is that of public service (Father – Politician Mother – Child Welfare)
    Six years ago I started university here at the University of British Columbia. My program is “Gender, race,, Sexuality and Social Justice”, with Major: Anthropology (to find out where we have been) & Minor: Poli Sci (to work on becoming one).
    I feel i can offer a perspective unlike any at UBC drawing from my own experience as a survivor of policies of Genocide and life itself (Homeless, addiction issues, 28 yrs HIV+ & 8 yrs HepC). Eleven years ago i was almost taken by Apastoke (Creator), but I remain for a reason – not sure yet, but will find out soon I hope.
    I As a First Nations we are taught that the 7 Sacred teachings are to be used in our daily life when dealing with people, animals, elements and Mother Earth. When I look at the world today I am saddened by what i see.
    I saw Mr. Viswalingam’s presentation, I must say that i saw so much that was on screen in my own life. I understood what he and his guests were saying. I also would love to hear how he feels about the world today, About the role of First nations (Indigenous) People, How the 7 Sacred Teachings can help society etc…

    To be honest I downloaded it, but felt guilty that i did so i deleted it. I have used his teaching in many discussions at University. I want to continue to share with what i have learned in my yeras, and Mr, Viswalingham’s feature is one that I would love to purchase.

    I cannot find it anywhere in Canada, do you know where I oculd find it?
    I would be honored to share it with family and friends and university colleagues.

    If you can contact me, i would be forever in your debt.

    Thank you
    Maistoo’awaastaan ‘Crow Flag’
    (Rodney Little Mustache)


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