Hedonism, liberalism, and casinos

I read an interesting article about the rise of Hamas to power and the dim prospects for the once-booming Jericho casino, and thought about writing an extended piece for the LVBP considering the idea that casinos need liberal democracy to survive (that’s a small “l” and small “d”–I don’t want this to degenerate into partisan sniping). I’m not totally convinced, since many authoritiarian regimes throughout history have at least tolerated casinos, and today even North Korea has a casino.

So it was with a bit of interest that I fell across the following paragraph in Sergei Kapitsa’s discussion of liberalism (again, small “l”) and Russia’s declining population:

Solzhenitsyn’s suggestion is crude, but right in a fundamental sense. Our public thought is fragmented, and the country’s intelligentsia, who are partly responsible for tending to society’s values and goals, are behaving in often-destructive ways. The live-for-the-moment mentality of hedonism and greed that they have encouraged is embodied in Moscow’s casinos, of which there are more than in the rest of Europe or, for that matter, Las Vegas.

Russia’s Population Implosion

So do political and cultural freedoms lead inexorably to people spending their time in casinos instead of procreating to perpetuate the motherland (or homeland)? I’m painting with a broad brush here, but it’s a question that deserves some thought. Is the growth of casinos here in the United States a symptom of some underlying societal dysfunction, or just people being more honest about how they like to spend their free time? Cultural pathology or just changing tastes?

If I had the funding, I would seriously consider hosting a debate on this topic at the Center for Gaming Research.

Spread the love