Western societies divided into competing factions, leading to progressive improvements.
THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION
Breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology.
THE RULE OF LAW
Representative government based on private-property rights and democratic elections.
19th- and 20th-century advances in germ theory, antibiotics, and anesthesia.
THE CONSUMER SOCIETY
Leaps in productivity combined with widespread demand for more, better, and cheaper goods.
THE WORK ETHIC
Combination of intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.
We no longer have competition that grows us, ours divides us. Competition towards growth has been stifled by the very "capitalist system" we espouse. We no longer lead the world in scientific breakthroughs, altho this is less true in Europe than it is here. Law in America is a joke, as it can be bought and malleated by corporate money. Medicine, we may still lead the way in terms of quality of care, but that care is all but unaffordable and our research labs are dry as a bone for medical advances, having lost most of our good doctors back to the nations they came from (China, Korea, India.)
Consumer society speaks for itself. We've borrowed ourselves, at the behest of our corporate overlords, into bankruptcy.
And the work ethic is a sham. Americans work longer hours and are more productive not because they want to be competitive. They do that just to keep up the standard of living they've had for the past thirty years-- in other words, paying off that massive debt. They aren't earning more money for their efforts and there's no incentive to work any harder or more efficiently beyond that.
This, too, will impact the Republican party, the one most visibly tied to the failed capitalist system that we claim to espouse, the party with the closest ties to the corporatocracy that has killed America.