I have recently written that we live according to the Law Of Civilization And Decay, which can be succinctly summarized: what goes up must come down. Just like balls thrown up into the air, civilizations ascend and then fall as though there were some kind of "historical gravity" at work. America is not (and will not be) an exception.
But how will our Decline & Fall proceed? I first explored this topic in Is The Empire's Collapse Gradual Or Sudden? I'd like to revisit that subject today because of some recent articles I've seen. It is gratifying to see others exploring this question in so far as almost all Americans would object strenuously to the idea that the United States is an Empire, let alone a waning one. (People easily adapt to gradual deterioration over decades.)
David Redick of Activist Post lays out a long, overly-specified view of the historical stages empires pass through in The Phases Of Empire—
The analysis below explains why all empires and "Imperial Style" governments have failed throughout history, and why our Empire-USA faces the same fate. The only question is whether the people and government of the USA have the wisdom and will to engage in a "Managed Decline" by terminating the empire and imperial conduct on their own schedule, rather than by chaotic crash of the US Dollar, economy, and lifestyle. Take notice of the "Solutions" section in Part C below.
Of the two ways to end the inevitable Phase 3 of an Empire (Decline or Failure), it is far less painful to engage in a "managed decline," or "nation restoration," compared to a massive depression. England and France are examples. A managed process would entail prompt action to:
- A. Terminating Empire-USA, and its role as policeman and bully of the world, and focus on homeland defense. B. Reducing spending and conflict by closing most, or all, overseas bases, and keeping only a minimal standing army (primarily State-controlled National Guard). C. Stop meddling in the affairs of other nations by force, sanctions, or bribery (no preemptive wars or occupations). D. Promote free trade.
- Invoke a similar change in domestic policy where: A. Federal spending is reduced by 50% or more. B. Creation of new fake money is ended. C. Sound money is introduced (paper is convertible to precious metal), and the Federal Reserve System is abolished. D. The Constitution and law are adhered to (with repeal of recent bad laws). E. Market intervention (favors to firms, unions, people) is ended, and free enterprise capitalism is used.
These steps would help bring the government back to its proper role to, "Protect the personal and property rights of citizens, as individuals, from threat or violation by others." With this approach, the USA and its citizens would enjoy a future of peace, prosperity, justice and good ethics. It always works!
It always works! People can not live without Hope, I suppose, even though that warm, fuzzy feeling is completely delusional. We can say without fear of contradiction that there will be no managed decline, which is to say that there are no solutions. A managed decline entails that those running the Empire, and who greatly benefit from doing so, will simply dismantle the corrupt Imperial edifice they have erected.
They would thus forfeit the pleasures afforded them by great power, wealth and prestige so the rest of us can enjoy the much-hoped-for "future of peace, prosperity, justice and good ethics," a Utopian condition which has never existed in any Human Society anywhere on Earth. One could call such hope the naivete of expected altruism. That's not how Human Nature works.
And the very notion that America is an Empire in Decline precludes the possibility of Redick's managed decline — that's what the word decline means! Corrupt, ineffective policies are a natural outcome of where we stand. Or put another way, decline means never having to say you're sorry.
Chalmers Johnson, a long-time political analyst, has written a new book called Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope. His essay The Guns of August: Lowering the Flag on the American Century summarizes his latest thinking—
... [if we dismantled the Empire] would 9/11-type attacks accelerate? It seems far likelier to me that, as our overseas profile shrank, the possibility of such attacks would shrink with it...
In other words, the main fears you might hear in Washington — if anyone even bothered to wonder what would happen, should we begin to dismantle our empire — would prove but chimeras. They would, in fact, be remarkably similar to Washington's dire predictions in the 1970s about states all over Asia, then Africa, and beyond falling, like so many dominoes, to communist domination if we did not win the war in Vietnam.
In other words, the rationalizations for Empire one hears Inside The Beltway would fold up like a waterlogged tent if they were actually put to the test. And this is exactly what we would expect. But Chalmers is no activist, as he takes pains to point out. As a former CIA analyst, Johnson is forced to come to grips with reality—
Thirty-five years from now, America's official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now...
If, however, we were to dismantle our empire of military bases and redirect our economy toward productive, instead of destructive, industries; if we maintained our volunteer armed forces primarily to defend our own shores (and perhaps to be used at the behest of the United Nations); if we began to invest in our infrastructure, education, health care, and savings, then we might have a chance to reinvent ourselves as a productive, normal nation. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. Peering into that foggy future, I simply can't imagine the U.S. dismantling its empire voluntarily, which doesn't mean that, like all sets of imperial garrisons, our bases won't go someday.
Instead, I foresee the U.S. drifting along, much as the Obama administration seems to be drifting along in the war in Afghanistan. The common talk among economists today is that high unemployment may linger for another decade. Add in low investment and depressed spending (except perhaps by the government) and I fear T.S. Eliot had it right when he wrote:
This is the way the world ends,
not with a bang but a whimper
Happily, Chalmers and I are in complete agreement: the Imperialists will not voluntarily dismantle the Empire they are so pleased to run. Johnson foresees a longish period of "drifting along" in which things slowly but surely get worse. This is not the position of the activist David Redick, who gives us two and only two choices: 1) a managed decline, or Johnson's dismantling, which we've already ruled out, or 2) the chaotic crash of the U.S. Dollar, economy, and lifestyle.
Although I think that the world ends with a whimper, not a bang, I am still open to the idea that a catastrophic collapse is possible within the next decade, or even within the next few years, as Gerald Celente believes. I entertain this tragic possibility mostly because America's economy is going downhill fast. This fall's midyear elections will bring government oversight of the economy to a halt for some years to come, which many would consider a Good Thing.
There is nothing on the political or economic horizon that will restore our economic health. There is nothing on the horizon that will prevent our condition from deteriorating further. We'll have high underemployment over most of the next decade even under the "best" of circumstances. We're in serious trouble, folks. So it may be wishful thinking on my (and Johnson's) part that we'll drift along for many years to come. Only time will tell, and we may have the answer soon.