Consider what it means to degenerate. Degeneration is the decline or loss of capacity. It is used to describe the condition of machines and of societies. It is sometimes used to describe men and women too. Machines can definitely degenerate, so can buildings. Ecologies can also degenerate, as can animals, including men and women. But, though people may degenerate, they are not themselves degenerate. Noun and verb. A degenerate condition is not a person. An action or group encouraging an action can be degenerate, because they encourage a degenerate condition.
A persons actions though may cause degeneration in themselves, or in society as a whole. This happens when the actions of a group or an individual do not support the continuation of society. To find out when this occurs, let us look at what a society needs to exist and continue.
A society is a group of people who behave in a certain way, with expectation of others also behaving in certain ways. To continue, the society must have a common bond, must have common standards, and must have over time some mechanism to draw in new people, because it is certain that over time, the current members of the society will die.
Examples of societies could include the Elks Lodge, members of a Christian Church, Accountants, or any other relatively cohesive group.
For a larger society, such as say Western Civilization, the common code is the Judo-Christian ethic. The assumption that there are certain things that are right and others that are wrong. There are common laws, and punishments for breaking the law. Renewal of Western Civilization is done by raising children, and educating them in the fundamentals of Western Civilization. This includes things like reading, writing, mathematics and the Scientific Method. It also includes religion and a respect for god and other men and women.
Any action which causes these values not to be passed on to the next generation, or which acts to reduce or damage the next generation will thus be degenerate acts, as they will not allow the proper continuation of Western Civilization. The same things could be said about other societies, such as the Chinese, the Eskimos, or Islam. What the society values may change, but the basics are still a common set of rules, and training of children to take the place of the adults in the future.
Look at the actions of groups that are commonly considered “degenerate”.
Drug users, recreational drug users, that is, are a group that are engaged in unhealthy behavior. They commonly suffer from shorter life spans, and damage to surrounding communities due to crime to find the money for this very expensive habit. New drug users are recruited by giving foolish or ignorant people drugs, and to then encourage the behavior. New drug users are mainly recruited. So, drug addiction can be considered as a degenerate behavior.
Homosexuals are another group. Exclusive homosexuals will not have children. Homosexuality is propagated by recruitment from the surrounding communities. Because of the reduced rate of child bearing and child rearing means that the society that contains homosexuals is damaged by the presence of a homosexual community. Thus, homosexuality can be considered a degenerate behavior.
Divorce results in broken homes. Children of divorced homes have been found to not do as well in school, and to have lower self esteem and problems in relationships. This is further compounded when one parent has custody of the children, and the other parent no longer contributes to the maintenance of the children. This leaves the children in relative poverty. Poverty results in other damage to the potential of the children, thus, a society that encourages divorce is degenerate. Serial marriage/divorce prone people are thus degenerate.
Couples who chose to not have children are not contributing to the next generation of society, thus movements which discourage children are thus also degenerate.
There are other behaviors that result in degenerate actions and damage society.
Degenerate behavior does not mean that a person is not a person, but it does mean that society is being damaged. Repair of the society requires either the elimination or the control of the degenerate behavior. In Ancient Rome, for example, young men were encouraged to have homosexual experiences up until they were of marriageable age. This was done to reduce the incidence of pregnancy in young unmarried girls. The Romans got this custom from the Greeks.
After marriage, young men would be ridiculed if they continued homosexual behavior. Julius Cesar was one who was ridiculed for a time after his marriage. But, he did come around to being a doting father. He had one daughter in Rome, his wife died in childbirth. He also fathered a son by Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Cesar’s daughter kept the peace between Cesar and Pompey, until she died.
In Arab countries today, the common binding is Sharia law, and a declaration of reverence for the Koran and its reputed author Mohammed. This system has had to be bent considerably to compete with modern technical societies, such as France and Great Britain. Countries that have tried to go back to pure Sharia law, such as Afghanistan, and Sudan have slipped back to technology levels of several hundred years ago. But, they do manage to maintain the culture. Others, such as Egypt, Syria and Libya have constant tension between the Religious authorities and the people who want the things technology brings. This is being played out in various stages throughout the Islamic world. Only time will tell if Islam will be able to change, or if Islam and technology are forever incompatible. Certainly, there are Muslims who are technically very able, and are able to reconcile the two. But, can the culture do so? And, if they do so, can they live in peace with their neighbors? In the past, Muslims have made very poor neighbors, just ask the Christians of Syria, Turkey, Egypt, and the Sudan. The Crusades were not held to thank Islam for being so good. In a world with Nuclear weapons, biological and chemical munitions, it doesn’t work for one group to want to destroy all it’s neighbors. But, Sharia law demands it.
So, we are left with a series of difficult situations. If society is to continue, then many popular practices must be left behind. People do not agree on what to continue and what to leave behind. Homosexuals, Athiests and Humanists want to leave behind the religions that have inculcated the moral codes that make society possible. To date, no other mechanism for imbuing people with a moral code has emerged. Some Religions want to leave behind the science and technology that make modern life with the high population levels we see today possible. To abandon those would doom billions to death by starvation and violence. Some Religions are not compatible with modern society, and are demonstrably false, or contain conflicting paradoxes for those who espouse them.
A resolution is needed for all of these and more. For the future, the degenerate behaviors that are so prevalent will need to be reduced and controlled. Meanwhile, we should remember that the people who practice degenerate behaviors are still people. They just need help and understanding to control their behavior.
If not, then we all have no future.