digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















For other uses, see Decadence (disambiguation).
An orgy in Imperial Rome, by Henryk Siemiradzki

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 or literature, or (very loosely) to self-indulgent behaviour. Usage of the term frequently implies moral censure, or an acceptance of the idea, met with throughout the world since ancient times, that such declines are objectively observable and that they inevitably precede the destruction of the society in question; for this reason, modern historians use it with caution. The word originated in Medieval Latin (dēcadentia), appeared in 16th-century French, and entered English soon afterwards. It bore the neutral meaning of decay, decrease, or decline until the late 19th century, when the influence of new theories of social degeneration contributed to its modern meaning.

In literature, the Decadent movement—late nineteenth century fin de siècle writers who were associated with Symbolism or the Aesthetic movement—was first given its name by hostile critics. Later it was triumphantly adopted by some of the writers themselves. The Decadents praised artifice over nature and sophistication over simplicity, defying contemporary discourses of decline by embracing subjects and styles that their critics considered morbid and over-refined. Some of these writers were influenced by the tradition of the Gothic novel and by the poetry and fiction of Edgar Allan Poe.


Decadent movement[edit]

Main article: Decadent movement
Pornocrates by Félicien Rops. Etching and aquatint

Decadence was the name given, originally by Ron Wiggins, to a number of late nineteenth-century writers who valued artifice over the earlier Romantics' naïve view of nature. Some of them triumphantly adopted the name, referring to themselves as Decadents. For the most part, they were influenced by the tradition of the Gothic novel and by the poetry and fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, and were associated with Symbolism and/or Aestheticism.

This concept of decadence dates from the eighteenth century, especially from Montesquieu, and was taken up by critics as a term of abuse after Désiré Nisard used it against Victor Hugo and Romanticism in general. A later generation of Romantics, such as Théophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire took the word as a badge of pride, as a sign of their rejection of what they saw as banal "progress." In the 1880s a group of French writers referred to themselves as Decadents. The classic novel from this group is Joris-Karl Huysmans' Against Nature, often seen as the first great decadent work, though others attribute this honor to Baudelaire's works.

In Britain and Ireland the leading figure associated with the Decadent movement was Irish writer, Oscar Wilde.

The Symbolist movement has frequently been confused with the Decadent movement. Several young writers were derisively referred to in the press as "decadent" in the mid-1880s. Jean Moréas' manifesto was largely a response to this polemic. A few of these writers embraced the term while most avoided it. Although the aesthetics of Symbolism and Decadence can be seen as overlapping in some areas, the two remain distinct.

1920s Berlin[edit]

Main article: 1920s Berlin

This "fertile culture" of Berlin extended onwards until Adolf Hitler rose to power in early 1933 and stamped out any and all resistance to the Nazi Party. Likewise, the Nazis decried Berlin as a haven of vice.[clarification needed] A new culture developed in and around Berlin, including architecture and design (Bauhaus, 1919–33), a variety of literature (Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz, 1929), film (Lang, Metropolis, 1927, Dietrich, Der blaue Engel, 1930), painting (Grosz), and music (Brecht and Weill, The Threepenny Opera, 1928), criticism (Benjamin), philosophy/psychology (Jung), and fashion.[citation needed] This culture was often considered to be decadent, and socially, morally, destructive.[1]

Film was making huge technical and artistic strides during this period of time in Berlin, and gave rise to the influential movement called German Expressionism. "Talkies", the Sound films, were also becoming more popular with the general public across Europe, and Berlin was producing very many of them.

The so-called mystical arts also experienced a revival during this time-period in Berlin, with astrology, the occult, and esoteric religions and off-beat religious practices becoming more mainstream and acceptable to the masses as they entered popular culture.

Berlin in the 20s also proved to be a haven for English writers such as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood, who wrote a series of 'Berlin novels', inspiring the play I Am a Camera, which was later adapted into a musical, Cabaret, and an Academy Award winning film of the same name. Spender's semi-autobiographical novel The Temple evokes the attitude and atmosphere of the place at the time.

Use in Marxism[edit]


Vladimir Lenin continued and extended the use of the word "decadence" in his theory of imperialism to refer to economic matters underlying political manifestations. According to Lenin, capitalism had reached its highest stage and could no longer provide for the general development of society. He expected reduced vigor in economic activity and a growth in unhealthy economic phenomena, reflecting capitalism's gradually decreasing capacity to provide for social needs and preparing the ground for socialist revolution in the West. Politically, World War I proved the decadent nature of the advanced capitalist countries to Lenin, that capitalism had reached the stage where it would destroy its own prior achievements more than it would advance.[2]

One who directly opposed the idea of decadence as expressed by Lenin was José Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses (1930). He argued that the "mass man" had the notion of material progress and scientific advance deeply inculcated to the extent that it was an expectation. He also argued that contemporary progress was opposite the true decadence of the Roman Empire.[3]

Left communism[edit]

Decadence is an important aspect of contemporary left communist theory. Similar to Lenin's use of it, left communists, coming from the Communist International themselves started in fact with a theory of decadence in the first place, yet the communist left sees the theory of decadence at the heart of Marx's method as well, expressed in famous works such as The Communist Manifesto, Grundrisse, Das Kapital but most significantly in Preface to the Critique of Political Economy.[4]

Contemporary left communist theory defends that Lenin was mistaken on his definition of imperialism (although how grave his mistake was and how much of his work on imperialism is valid varies from groups to groups) and Rosa Luxemburg to be basically correct on this question, thus accepting capitalism as a world epoch similarly to Lenin, but a world epoch from which no capitalist state can oppose or avoid being a part of. On the other hand, the theoretical framework of capitalism's decadence varies between different groups while left communist organizations like the International Communist Current hold a basically Luxemburgist analysis that makes an emphasis on the world market and its expansion, others hold views more in line with those of Vladimir Lenin, Nikolai Bukharin and most importantly Henryk Grossman and Paul Mattick with an emphasis on monopolies and the falling rate of profit.


  1. ^ Kirkus UK review of Laqueur, Walter Weimar: A cultural history, 1918-1933
  2. ^ Decadence: The Theory of Decline or the Decline of Theory? (Part I). Aufheben. Summer 1993.
  3. ^ Mora, José Ferrater (1956). Ortega y Gasset: an outline of his philosophy. Bowes & Bowes. p. 18.
  4. ^ Marx, Karl (1859). A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Progress Publishers.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decadence — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
245531 videos foundNext > 

Disturbed - Decadence

On the alben '10 Thousand Fists': )

Disturbed - Decadence - Lyrics

Hey! This lyrics, some people asked me. So here it is xD I did a hard work on it! cuz is it on the PhotoShop. I hope u guys will enjoy it. and comment it. We...

Disturbed- Decadence

Decadence - Meaninglessness of modern life - Episode 2 - Sex

An excellent six part series which examines modern life and considers the impact of our relentlessly changing world upon key values that used to make western...

Decadence 2013 After Movie

On December 30th and 31st 2013, we entered a playground most decadent to celebrate another year of life and dancing as Decadence expanded to two nights of ma...

Disturbed - Decadence

Say, yes they know that you fought yourself another time Don't they know that you're full of pain already? Yes they know that you've hurt yourself another ti...

Decadence - Corrosion

Letra: Chained to a rusty illusion Lost senses, no reality I am to take the motors off track The spirit back from the machinery Corrosion, slowly degrading C...

Decadence - Episode 1 (Money)

Episode One—Money:- Part one examines the growing greed of society and the 80's ideal that greed is good. It also looks at the growing disparity between rich...

Heavenstamp - "Decadence" music clip

Heavenstamp oneman tour 2012"マジカル・ミスサリー・ツアー"開催!! 9/23(日)札幌 COLONY 9/29(土)仙台 enn 2nd 10/6(土)福岡DRUM SON 10/12(金)名古屋CLUB QUATTRO 10/13(土)梅田CLUB QUATTRO 10/24(水)...

(AMV) DBZ - Magin Buu Saga - Disturbed Decadence

AMV dragon ball Z para que disfruten todos!!! ademas con lo mejor de la musica DISTURBED!!!

245531 videos foundNext > 

3329 news items

WWL First News

WWL First News
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:44:09 -0700

Do you welcome Decadence Fest to New Orleans? Some people will condemn the city for hosting a festival that attracts gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender visitors because they disapprove of their lifestyles. But shouldn't we welcome all visitors?

WWL First News

The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:26:15 -0700

10 things to do in New Orleans Labor Day weekend Southern Decadence, colloquially known as Gay Mardi Gras, brings parades, costumes, and lots of dancing to the French Quarter over Labor Day weekend in New Orleans. The Dinerral Shavers ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen — Southern Decadence, the super-heated Labor Day weekend festival celebrating gay life, music and culture, rolls into the French Quarter this weekend with spectacular parties and parades. This year's theme is "Under ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:07:30 -0700

Southern Decadence, colloquially known as Gay Mardi Gras, brings parades, costumes, and lots of dancing to the French Quarter over Labor Day weekend in New Orleans. Watch the video for my suggestions of 10 cool things to do this weekend. Explore ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:26:15 -0700

10 things to do in New Orleans Labor Day weekend Southern Decadence, colloquially known as Gay Mardi Gras, brings parades, costumes, and lots of dancing to the French Quarter over Labor Day weekend in New Orleans. Crescent Pie and Sausage ...

bestofneworleans.com (blog)

bestofneworleans.com (blog)
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 09:04:42 -0700

Southern Decadence began as a small party and parade among friends in 1972. Next weekend, the annual event will celebrate its 43rd anniversary, complete with multiple street parties, parades, drag shows and fundraisers — all to the tune of this year's ...
The Times-Picayune - NOLA.com
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:48:45 -0700

There's the historical and recently renovated Cafe Lafitte in Exile, the dueling dance clubs of Oz and Bourbon Pub and Parade, and the awesome dives, such as the Golden Lantern (launch site of the Southern Decadence parade), the Double Play, the Corner ...

NOLA Defender

NOLA Defender
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:03:41 -0700

The 43rd Southern Decadence is themed "Under The Big Top: Welcome to the Gayest Show on Earth." Colors are canary yellow, turquoise blue and pearl white. The official charity is PFLAG-New Orleans, and the song is "Work Bitch" by Britney Spears.

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Decadence

You can talk about Decadence with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!