Perhaps “decadence” is the wrong word.  “Weakness” may be better.  Or “frivolity”.  But you know what I mean.  Plenty of examples have been given.

“Hours before the Russian invasion came reports that spies and cyber warriors at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ in Cheltenham – now at the forefront of the country’s defence – have been encouraged to check their white privilege and avoid gendered language such as ‘manpower’, our columnist Sarah Ingham wrote on this site last week.

Other cited evidence includes Richard Moore, the head of MI6, tweeting about “LGBT+ rights“. Plus gender-neutral toilets, and just about everything from toppling statues of former slavers through micro-aggressions to worrying about carbon neutrality.

And that’s before we get to America’s recent exit from Afghanistan, Gerhard Schroeder’s Russian energy directorships and, inevitably, the bureaucratic haplessness of the Government over oligarchs and refugees.

What should we make of all this?  Right at the start, it’s worth recalling that some of these charges are talking-points from the master of macro-aggression, Vladimir Putin himself.  Not so long ago, he told the Financial Times “that “the liberal idea” had “outlived its purpose” as the public turned against immigration, open borders and multiculturalism”.

Elsewhere, he has said that Russia should cling to its “spiritual values and historical traditions,” while steering clear of “sociocultural disturbances” in the West, such as teaching that “a boy can become a girl and vice versa”.

Now a point is not automatically invalidated because Putin has made it, and it should be conceded that his criticism of open borders is far from unique.  It would be shared by a plurality of Britain’s own voters.  What about his other takes and those of other people?

It depends.  Few would dispute that Schroeder’s conduct is truly decadent or that our action against oligarchs has been slow.

There is a dismal record of British state failure and German economic appeasement.  For the former, consider the current visa shambles in Poland or last summer’s over Afghanistan. For the latter, remember Angela Merkel’s praise of Putin or Germany’s failure to meet the NATO target.

But it may be also be that America, like Russia before it, was incapable of holding down Afghanistan.  And that its exit, negotiated by Donald Trump and implemented by Joe Biden, was always going to be bloody.

If you listen carefully to Putin’s cultural commentary, you will also hear the thump of babies being thrown out with bathwater.  It doesn’t follow that we have one of the most anti-family tax systems in Europe, for example, because same-sex marriage is legal and trans people are protected under law from discrimination.

It’s true that modern Brits are more self-absorbed than previous generations, at least if the measure is the absence of war, consumer choice, and the way we live: consider the way in which technology has blurred the line between work and leisure.

No wonder our culture has its weaknesses.  Diversity of sex or ethnicity doesn’t mean diversity of viewpoint and opinion.  Inclusivity can be exclusivist, hence our cancel culture: if in doubt, ask J.K Rowling or Kathleen Stock.

As for equality, look at the university admission stats for white working class boys.  The bottom line is that a country without confidence in itself and its own story will collapse into Ozymandian ruins.  Volodymyr Zelensky’s courage springs from his unembarrassed patriotism.  We can learn from him.

Mention of Ukraine’s president returns us to Russia’s tyrant, the proper response to whose critique of the West is roughly as follows.  “Sure, our culture has its weaknesses.  But why are you raising them?  To distract from those of your own, and your crimes against humanity.”

At which point, one could denounce the barrell bombs that targeted civilians in Syria, the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, the Novichok act of chemical warfare in Salisbury, Putin’s own stolen millions

…Or simply quote Freedom House, which reports “a subservient judiciary, a controlled media environment, and a legislature consisting of a ruling party and pliable opposition factions…rampant corruption facilitates shifting links among bureaucrats and organized crime groups.

But this would merely invite Putin and his stooges to hurl abuse and perhaps lawsuits back at you.  So let’s look at the claims of western weakness and Russian strength in from another angle.

What has he and his macho culture – with its gloating at attempted murder in Salisbury, its paranoia, its twisting of Orthodox Christianity into Slavic triumphalism, and its conscription – achieved through its invasion of Ukraine? And how has the West responded?

Russia may yet be able to take Kyiv and conquer the whole country.  But what will Putin do then?  How would he be able to hold down a land mass measuring 233,031 square miles with 200,000 troops?  Perhaps he could seek instead simply to hold Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.

But even were the West to recognise them, ease sanctions and stop the flow of Stingers, fighters and Javelins into Ukraine, Putin would be left to contemplate the following.

Massive private sector disinvestment in Russia which, as Ryan Bourne suggests on ConservativeHome this morning, will not easily be reversed now it’s being made, with all the distrust of the country that the Ukraine invasion has engendered.

Finland and Sweden mulling NATO membership.  Reinforcement of western troops in Poland and the Baltic states.  A rearming Germany – with the war having had precisely the opposite effect on it that Putin will have wanted.

And all this presumes a quick end to the conflict.  What if there isn’t one?  Even accounting for disinformation and propaganda, the swift win he will have wanted simply hasn’t happened.  The invasion has highlighted Russian military weakness: out of date food, poorly maintained vehicle tyres, a lack of spare parts.

Read reports from our own Defence or Public Accounts select committees, or indeed our own proprietor’s White Flag, and you will find accounts of our own military weaknesses.

But that’s the difference between a democratic culture and an authoritarian one.  If we disagree with our neighbours in the European Union, we leave it: we don’t invade them – thereby empowering America to arm our opponents, ensuring the sanctioning of the Bank of England, condemning us to autarchy, and turning us into an outpost of China.

Nigel Farage once named Putin as the world leader he most admires: “as an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin,” he said.

The former UKIP leader has made some shrewd calls in his time, but how does this one look in the light of the Ukraine invasion?  Is there an itch in some parts of the body politic, as there was in the 1930s at the time of Hitler and Mussolini, for a strong man: a Bismarckian figure, or worse, to purge our triviality and irresolution?

No, give me Zelensky any day – or, if we can’t have a professional comedian, give me our amateur one: Boris Johnson, and Britain, with all its flaws and failings.

Give me Kate Bingham’s vaccine task force and Johnson’s arming of Ukraine as well as our oligarch-friendly libel laws, gold-plating civil service and risk-averse Ministers.  Give me our homosexuality and #LGBTHM2022 hashtags and gender-neutral toilets and even our cancel culture, if I have to make a choice.

I don’t, of course.  But that’s not the point.  Rather, it’s that Putin’s aggression is bringing about the opposite of its intentions.  The West is showing unexpected resolution. If that’s decadence, I want more.