In more than one aspect of life, a multidimensional collapse is taking place in Western civilization.
On the chessboard of world power, the United States of America – seen for seven decades as the leader of the free world – is now openly challenged by China while other countries have nothing to say. China is ready to occupy the vacuum of leadership in the West.
The pandemic challenge to public health is the tip of the iceberg.
According to esoteric philosophy, the outward circumstances of a civilization are but a consequence of the moral strength possessed by its population, and especially its religious and philosophical movements.
In other words, it is the plurality of systems of spiritual teaching and moral elevation that sustains a society and keeps it together.
Common values and shared spiritual goals preserve the inner life of communities. There is no civilization in the absence of ethics. Those who have common sense stimulate higher levels of perception, on which moral values are recognized as central to life. Students of philosophy must be aware of their direct responsibility in the long run.
During the 1880s there was a crisis in the esoteric movement due to a fraudulent attack against it, made by Christian Churches. An Eastern Mahatma then wrote to the British theosophists regarding the inner side of the movement’s mission. The teacher clarified that the task of truth-seekers includes fighting fraud and falsehood. One of the priorities must be promoting the practice of truthfulness through personal example and sacrifice.
The master said:
“I regret deeply my inability to satisfy the honest, sincere aspirations of a few chosen ones among your group – not at least, for the present. Could but your [London Lodge] understand, or so much as suspect, that the present crisis that is shaking [the Theosophical Movement] to its foundations is a question of perdition or salvation to thousands; a question of the progress of the human race or its retrogression, of its glory or dishonour, and for the majority of this [human] race – of being or not being, of annihilation, in fact – perchance many of you would look into the very root of evil, and instead of being guided by false appearances and scientific decisions, you would set to work and save the situation by disclosing the dishonourable doings of your missionary [Christian Clergy] world.” 
A question of being or not being, of annihilation, according to the Eastern teacher.
The moral defeats of mystical movements help provoke the sociological failures of civilizations, for these movements act on the plane of Causes.
Thought precedes action. Ideas inspire constructive (or destructive) practices. The condition of the mind and soul inspires the practice of mutual help or the politics of hate. And this determines the fate of a society.
In terms of the Jewish tradition, one would repeat the classical saying, “by three things does the world endure: by truth, justice, and peace”.
The implication is that a few just men can invisibly preserve society by the power of their integrity, as Genesis, chapters eighteen and nineteen, explains. Yet these Few must be wise and strong in rejecting falsehood. In other words, when truthfulness and justice lose strength, moral decay spreads, and the communities tend to disintegrate.
Helena Blavatsky also refers to the Few as making the difference in the spiritual evolution of mankind. Every country must have its own reservoir of moral strength in order to confront and remove the obstacles to life in times of trouble. The same rule applies to the global community, to families and individuals. In the present planetary transition, all areas of human existence interact among them.
Every nation deserves respect. Each community lives by preserving loyalty to its own highest sources of guidance and inspiration. In strategic thinking, classic Chinese author Sun Tzu makes it clear that an army can only face a battle if it has moral strength enough, and as long as its leaders are fully respected. A brave soldier, an honest citizen, good parents and efficient political leaders all depend on their moral strength, which needs to be built and valued.
Welcome to Marxist China
What is then the spiritual meaning of the new worldwide dominance of China, a country presently inspired by a materialistic philosophy which denies the existence of spiritual souls? Chinese leaders have no known ethical system based on universal principles. They study no metaphysical literature and ignore the ancient wisdom of their own country, paying little attention to Taoism, Confucianism and Chan Buddhism.
It is worthwhile examining Marxist China’s quiet expansion throughout the world and its commercial and cultural (asymmetrical) war against the West. In 2020, a remarkable feeling of imperial optimism emerged in some Chinese circles of political thought.
In October, the distinguished Chinese Sociologist Dr. Li Yi made revealing assertions. According to him, the USA as we know it would cease to exist by 2027, and China was in 2020 “ahead of schedule” in defeating North America.
This should not worry mystics and philosophers too much. Theosophists are scarcely concerned with outward politics as long as there is liberty of thought and human rights are respected. “If human beings improve themselves”, wise men have said in every nation and century, “society will soon get better”.
If a Chinese representative in Hong Kong should be appointed by Beijing to serve as the next president of the United States, or to become the prime minister of Australia, what does a student of Eastern philosophy need to say about that? If a city-councillor of Shanghai or any other Chinese city should be put in charge of the European Central Bank or the presidency of France, what does a mystic have to do with such a fact? George Orwell’s nightmare, described in the novel “1984”, might become true – but wouldn’t last long.
The esoteric movement rarely has anything to say about short-term social and political facts, except for their moral causes and their moral consequences. But the masters of Oriental wisdom teach the same universal principle stated in Genesis, eighteen and nineteen. Theosophy says that there is a fundamental causal link between the state of the mystical movements and the destiny of civilizations.
Joseph Buchanan wrote in a book on moral education:
“That the ethical power is the essential element of eternal life is absolutely certain, and that in proportion as that element declines the debasement tends toward extinction or death is clear to all comprehensive thinkers. It is a natural and truthful inference that the ethical is the true vitalizing and antiseptic element (…).” 
Everything is interconnected. A teacher of the Eastern esoteric wisdom wrote about the one law of impersonal justice that applies to both the elites and common citizens:
“…In our sight an honest boot-black [is] as good as an honest king, and an immoral sweeper far higher and more excusable than an immoral Emperor.”
What about the future of societies that ignore ethics?
Civilizations exist for the growth and the learning of the soul. Whenever they become disloyal to the elevated world of ideals, they cease to exist. There is therefore a direct relation between the present crisis in the Western World and the moral collapse of truthfulness and ethics in most of its religious movements, which has contaminated social and political life and even family relations.
The material challenges and dilemmas now facing the Western world are but vehicles of ethical lessons that need to be learned again.
Soulless political projects have no future. The blind worship of financial money leads nowhere, and so does materialistic socialism. The future of mankind is luminous, but ritualistic religiosity based on mere blind obedience has become devoid of meaning. The ancient wisdom is very much alive. In the East as in the West, ignorance is a passing phenomenon that comes and goes, while divine knowledge is eternal.
 “Ethics from Sinai”, an eclectic, wide-ranging commentary on Pirke Avoth, by Irving M. Bunim, 3-volume edition, Philipp Feldheim, Inc., New York, copyright 1964, see volume I, Perek I, Mishnah 18, p. 106.