When we think about civilizations advancing or declining, we tend to imagine that all aspects of the civilization are moving in the same direction at the same time. But what I'm seeing is that, in our case, our technological capabilities are still racing ahead** but our social institutions for directing that technology are in decay. This is of course not a new combination (think Germany in the 20's and 30's for an obvious example) but it certainly doesn't seem like a good combination either.
* they've always been crazy over at the NP, but it's been a while since I looked in over there and they've really gone completely looney-tunes)
** except for anything that requires a lot of energy - the provision of which being something we can't seem to figure out despite decades of trying. No flying cars any time soon.