Decline is defined as the process of becoming “worse in quality”. To judge whether Western civilization is in decline, the source of its “quality”, or greatness, must be identified. Western civilization’s greatness stems from its political grounding in Enlightenment thought, and more specifically, from the natural rights it grants to all people and the institutional protection of these which has developed in its political systems.
The West’s economic, political, and cultural greatness has come, primarily, from a political system and, more broadly, a culture which views the individual as sovereign, and respects individual liberty. This idea is a fundamentally Judeo-Christian notion, based in religious scripture, but one that has also formed the foundation of liberal Enlightenment thought, which influenced the development of Western governments. Therefore, Western societies and governments have firmly defended a culture of civil, rational discourse and political freedom as the bedrock of their systems.