Rene Girard has thrown a great deal of light on the problem of cultural meltdown. Societies in the throes of a collapse undergo what Girard calls "the crisis of distinctions," making the detection and diagnosis of the crisis all the more perplexing. The differences begin to break down, beginning with the most "socially constructed" of differences, but eventually eroding even the most irreducible of differences, the difference, for instance, between sex and violence, or between men and women, or between beauty and ugliness (visit your local museum of modern art).
So . . . the tried and true labels for getting some grip on the overall crisis begin to lose their usefulness. Here is an example: A story from Germany -- a society, like Britain and many other European societies -- in a far deeper crisis than its political and reportorial classes would like to acknowledge. It is just one little example of a very large and very alarming international trend.