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it is fashionable again to speak of America’s fall and the rise of others,
Declinism performs a useful historical function," Huntington has observed. "It provides a warning and a goad to action in order to head off and reverse the decline that it says is taking place."16 At its best, then, it is an expression of the American tendency toward self-criticism and continual improvement. This is a restless nation. Its capacity for change, its desire for change, its willingness to reevaluate and reassess itself make it easy to extrapolate periodic corrections or momentary uncertainties into downward trends -- declinism at its worst. Perhaps this is why its practitioners find themselves forced to revise and defer their predictions again and again.