« Remedy du Jour -- August 21, 2010 | Main | The Household Debt Mountain »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Edward  Boyle

I can't add anything to that as the post is so good and complete, only to say that I am glad I live abroad, but others would say Europe could be in worse shape. At least we aren't putting as much into military here, lots of other problems though.


Your US analysis is spot on, and I can't fault you from writing from a US perspective as that is where you live. But, as you have pointed out in your posts on peak oil and death of the ocean and climate change, collapse will be global.

Even the best managed peaceful, educated, productive states like Singapore and Germany are going to collapse. Even New Zealand with a low population density and high food production is going to collapse. The whole world system is too interlinked.

My point being (and I do have one) is that there was an opportunity (in theory) for the US empire to devolve to being a normal country back in the 1970s. But, the imperial power structure wouldn't allow that. Now in 2010, there is no point in dismantling the empire, it is too late for that.

It would take a generation for the US to restructure itself as a giant Germany, and business as usual will be over long before then. The US has to play with the cards it has. Believe it or not, keeping on with being a rogue nuclear armed terror state and using extortion to force trading partners to continue to accept US fiat currency is the only available option.

This behavior is beneficial to even the downtrodden US masses. Hard to stomach, but think about it. Who is better off, a Walmart greeter driving a clunker car living in a trailer in Arkansas or a Chinese factory worker living in barracks in the factory that makes crap for Walmart and breathing yellow air? Imperialism all the way down is the only rational choice for Americans.


I pretty much agree with Joy, -collapse is, and will continue to be universal- but think that it was already far too late (by a good 20-30 years) for a US "course correction" even by the '70's.


The economy is dependent upon the ecosystem, and the ecosystem is in a state of freefall collapse. To take only one example, most forms of life in the ocean are doomed because of acidification, never mind overfishing. That's a simple, verifiable fact. Aside from feeding a goodly portion of people on earth, and providing employment for them, life in the ocean produces most of the oxygen we breathe.

Paul C.

I agree that there is no going back nor gradual restructuring. Perhaps it is good we have a large military since I believe the only human controlled force capable of changing the course we're on is war. As the corpse of our failed culture rots there will be a fight amoung the scavengers to eat what little is left.


We have been in a slow to moderate decline for some time. The question is, can it continue. The less well off seem to be declining much faster than the wealthy, which are clinging on to slow growth. This alone is enough to lead to a breaking point of quicker decline. There are then outside stressers that will quicken the decline such as climate change, peak oil, etc. Think of the political unstability that was Pakistan, now add climate change induced floods to the mix, and it's a recipe for disaster.



Isn't the key to all this energy? Imperial USA has simply been run by oil companies and banks for about a century, and has placated the population with material goodies and propaganda to keep it all going. There was no dissent when it was all going well, so its fundamentally a collective issue of what does the USA do now its unable to acquire the cheap resources it needs to maintain its current energy usage. If the crude isnt available, then you need a replacement, end of story. There is no negotiation on this.

If i look at the 'root' cause of this (no pun intended) i see that industrial hemp was suppressed as a potential fuel, food and industrial material for mass consumption. You can produce fuel from hemp, its just such a suppressed fact that all people think of when they hear 'Hemp' is 'Drugs'. Never mind the power of this plant to heal the body and repair soil, it is an efficient solar collector, and is ultra cheap to implement.

The breaking of americas relationship with Hemp has left the USA on the edge of a cliff, and if there isn't a sane policy to get Hemp back on the menu, fast, i dont think there is any other solution other than a messy disassembling of the nation.

A classic lesson of not putting all your eggs in one basket


I had to make another comment.

The 'problem' is that we see nature as something to be exploited. Its more like a partnership system. If we love it, it loves us back. How could egypt last 5 thousand years and china around the same without a major population reduction? They must have looked after the land.

America, along with western europe, has the land area to grow more than enough hemp for all the populations needs. I cannot find anything else that anyone can implement quickly and cheaply, and benefit greatly from. If every unemployed person in the USA grew hemp from today onwards, by next year, there would be a new resource base to use as food or to convert to fuel. Start local and rapid progress can be made.

the top-down structure we have is fine for the good times because there is no pressure, but in times like this, the bottom of the pyramid needs to take care of itself.

If millions of people demanded hemp were to be legalised NOW, or that licences be granted to anyone who wants one, people will take care of the rest.

Its complacency, and it can kill if left untreated. You dont dig a well when you get thirsty.

step back

What I find most interesting about the American "Century" (1945-2045, or more probably, -2015) is our illusion of being the "Good Guy" Emperor and how that illusion guarantees early collapse of our war-gained Empire.

As everyone understands, at least on a subconscious level, 1945 marked the year that we (America) had successfully bombed back into the Stone Age our two major industrial competitors, Germany and Japan.

With no real competitor on the playing field, we could easily crow about what wonderful of a game this free market competition was and how, thanks to the ideology of American "exceptionalism", we (America) would from then (1945) and forever on be kings of the free market hill.

Flash forward to 2010 and the cold water fact that Germany and Japan had re-built themselves. All of a sudden the Detroit 4, 3, 2, 1 (,0?) (Chrysler, Ford, GM) are no longer winning the game wonderful of "free market" competition and the "exceptionalism" ideology seems to have been a hollow deceit from its very begining. Now it dawns on us that we are no more exceptional than all other exceptional Empires that came before us. We just don't yet get it why God is not blessing America in the same way he used to after we had bombed Europe and Japan to the ground.

The real question is, will the Texas Commission on Historical Accuracy permit that little factoid to make its way into our history books?

Greg Pinelli

It's interesting that Dave is now..finally...trumpeting a set of conclusions Libertarians have been talking about for decades. The end of Empire..whatever that means...won't come in a nice tidy package as pictured by some above..that's far too linear and easy. It's far more likely to come from within...people so disgusted with the status quo that they simply stop obeying the rules of the road.

Just a small historical fact for "step back..." After we "bombed Japan and Germany into the stone age.." Americans helped rebuild and re-industrialize both countries. It would have been easy for the US to make both of them vassal state..as the Soviets did to East Germany...but we didn't. I know this doesn't fit in well with the generally negative bias of this site..but those are the facts.

step back

"...but those are the facts"

Yeah right.

We're the selfless good guys.
We're wearing our white hats and riding our ponies into the sunset right behind John Wayne and Old Gipper Reagan.

We rebuilt and re-industrialized those countries, not them and their countrymen. And just to prove the point, "we" are now rebuilding and re-industrializing Iraq, Afghanistan and China. ..but those are the facts.


The usual response to problems is to find a single Purpose to follow that will Solve the Failure. As illustrated by the idea that metal coin is better than paper money, or as one commenter favors Hemp as a Solution to our energy problems.
We don't have an energy crisis or political crisis. We have a consumption crisis. The same applies to the military bases, the deficits, the joblessness, and the status of our disreputable money. We get the government we purchase. Every empire has done something similiar: deceive themselves about the value of things so that the public will be sated (let them eat cake, bread and circuses, "Monsanto feeds the world", etc.). Those on the apex (on top of the piles of dead bodies) know that they only have to stay on top of the pile. They don't care what it does to the world, because their world is only the Pile. Those at the bottom of the pile of bodies are dead or dying, and they only know hunger or oppression: not Life or Law. This is the Predicament of Empires: that lack of moderation of the value of people (sometimes represented by coins or paper)which leads to some group creating a System of systems which exploits resources (including people) by controlling the perception of all value. In most empires, value is Inspired by an elite, religiously favored class (Capitalism is the worship of money, so those with all of the money are the 'gods')established by Perpetual Growth, and anything or anyone who defies that perception is marginalized. The System of systems is focused on its ever-expanding pile (GDP), not on any reason for the pile, nor any concerns with the future of the world that provides the resources for the pile. Only collapse of the pile will reveal that it is rotten and hollow. Even that revelation only works if the population wants to see the corruption. 9/11 blew a great big hole in the perceptions of the White Hat America, but the public didn't see the hole, and the media managed to cover it up rather quickly with lots of flags and flat screen TVs.

The comments to this entry are closed.