Saturday, February 12

Answer: Imperial Collapse

Whether or not you agree with the idea of America serving as an Empire (the evidence is strong, including territorial expansion, colonial development and the spread of influence via economics, culture, and religion), the question of collapse is a lot different. The historic vignettes of Imperial Collapse tell the same story over and over again: a society reaches the breaking point, and hovers on the edge, for decades or even centuries. Occasionally, this means moral issues, sometimes it involves health problems or climate change, but it almost invariably involves economics, including debt, over dependence on slave or low wage labor, import/export issues, and corruption.

Once a nation begins hovering on that brink, there is no turning back. The question isn't whether the society will collapse, but when. At this point, the single most common vignette occurs as follows:

The nation suffers unbearable problems. A great leader realizes the problems exist, gets into a position of power, and begins taking the reformative steps necessary to change the path of the nation. The populace is virtually unaffected, but the nobility suffers without the income from the graft and corruption, so they stir up the people in anger against the leader. Riots, wars, strikes, or simple assassination lead to the elimination of the great leader from power, usually by way of death. Once he is removed and things return to "normal," the people realize they have been fooled, and they react. Violently. From here things like cities being burned to the ground, noble estates being destroyed and neighboring kingdoms invading typically ensue, and the society suffers blow after blow far past the point of no return.

Can anyone else see the potential for this particular piece of the past to play itself out in the near future?

1 comment:

  1. Not so much on the "doomish fall" in our lifetime, or even this century. I mean, we'd all like to think that Americans have the same nerve as say, Egyptians or even Greeks, but we don't. We got jobs, mortgages, foreign backup plans, and no interest in revolution.
    I still see the similarities to Rome here- Rome didn't fall in a day, or a year, or even a century. Rome experienced wild inflation and wild disillusionment. What was the result? A flight to rural lifestyles, abandonment of cities and trade, an inordinate faith in some sort of God, and forgetting how to read or set up indoor plumbing. We're a western country, and will fall much like every other western country. We'll lose our pittance colonies, our international clout, and become a backwater over time. And someday, someone will take out our dictator and call it "liberation"
    I'm just not seeing the fire and brimstone ending.
    Unless everyone pulls their head out of their lives and into some 'bigger picture' overnight, I think the slow deterioration is going to be the way to go.