Our society has become decadent: innovation has stalled, we're not striving for greatness, our art is stagnating, and things are becoming more and more mediocre. This is the pessimistic thesis — if The Beginning of Infinity makes you excited about what's possible, Douthat makes you... gloomy? To the end of highlighting how we're stagating, the book is successful. However, it largely has no thesis of change. It's a think piece that highlights a need for change, without offering any possibilities.
The writing is good, the message resonated, but overall it made me feeling depressed.