PositiveThe American ConservativeDouthat’s message is that we are indeed in an era of stagnation and paralysis on many fronts, but that does not mean that we are facing collapse ... reading The Decadent Society, I kept thinking that this conclusion, while not particularly exciting, likely has the virtue of being true ... The most interesting insight here is Douthat’s identifying individualism as \'the seedbed of stagnation\' ... I wish Douthat had devoted more space to discussing the point that the outcast Savage makes in Brave New World: that the things that make existence sublime—art, poetry, religion, and so forth—are inextricably linked to suffering. That’s the only flaw I find in this otherwise excellent book. Some readers may not like Douthat’s refusal to predict the future with any confidence ... more discerning readers will find themselves pleasantly surprised to encounter a book so rich, intelligent, and shrewd, one that doesn’t seek to confirm their prejudices, but rather compels the kind of hard creative thinking that we’re going to have to do to find our way out of this dark wood ... this provocative book is evidence that no contemporary journalist has been thinking...as deeply or as fruitfully as [Douthat] has.