Thursday, October 15, 2020

"The Day After Tomorrow"

"The Day After Tomorrow"
by The Zman

"The general consensus regarding the future of the American Empire is that it is headed for demise like all empires. The rapidly declining quality of the ruling elite in general and the political class in particular is the biggest sign. Then there is the changing demographics, which will reach a point where the human capital of the empire can no longer support empire. Then there is the life cycle of all empires. This one, while short lived, seems to be in the late phase of that cycle.

Most people focus on the question of when the empire will collapse, as that provides the most thrilling scenarios. The truth is though, empires collapse in slow motion, rather than in a bang. It is like a fall down a long flight of stairs, in which the empire hits some long landings where it seems to right itself for a period. Then it is another tumble down the stairs until it hits another landing. It is only in the fullness of time that the decline and fall of the empire looks like the familiar arc.

A different question worth pondering is what will the decline and fall look like for the average person living in the empire? For the people living in the provinces, it will look like the past, in that Europe and Asia will simply gain their independence. France may become a vassal of Germany or Russia, but that is just the same condition with a different management team at the top. Europe will get poorer and more violent, but that will mostly be due to massive migration from Africa.

In North America, we have some hints as to what post-empire America will look like for the typical person. This post on American Greatness goes into the third world nature of large swaths of current year America. California now looks more like Sinaloa Mexico than the old America of the young empire. There are nice modern parts for sure, but there are backward primitive parts, as well. Just like the Roman Empire, it is the infrastructure that is the leading edge of decline.

Empires that can no longer maintain their borders tend to attract large peasant classes, because long after the empire’s peak, it remains a better place to be poor than outside the empire. America lost control of its borders a generation ago, so something like fifty million people have relocated to America. There may be that many more operating inside the country illegally. The fact that no one knows or cares about the illegal population is one of those signs of collapse.

Another vision for post-empire America, is post-empire Spain. One of the interesting aspects of that period is how power devolved to local power centers. The Visigothic Kingdom ruled over what is now Spain. They were central Europeans who had moved west from the Danube Valley, first under the protection of the Western Roman Empire, but then by conquest after the fall of Rome. The kingdom maintained independence for about three centuries.

The thing is though, the kingdom was a polite fiction in many ways as the Gothic rulers had limited control of their territory. They were dependent on those local power centers that evolved in the late Roman empire. The emerging Catholic Church was one power center, but so were local ruling elites located in cities like Seville and Toledo. This is the root of antisemitism, by the way. Jews were powerful players in Gothic politics, a rival to the Church for influence over the secular authorities.

That’s probably the future of North America. The federal government will carry on long after it can exert control over the whole of the country. We see that today with the inability of the political class to do the obvious with the tech oligarchs. Today, global enterprise, finance and technology are outside the scope of government authority and often the whip hand in the relationship. We’re seeing states and cities in open revolt now, refusing to abide by federal laws.

One question no one in power thinks about is whether or not these new oligarchs can survive without the national government. The oligarchs that emerged from the Soviet empire were rooted in practical things like oil and gas. American oligarchs have power over abstract concepts that exist only because the state protects them. Both finance and technology are able to siphon off the wealth of the middle-class, because the middle-class supports the state, which protects this racket.

Put another way, Bolshevism made the Soviet empire artificially poorer, as it compelled inefficiency in the economy. It also proved to be a costly form of rule. Collapse freed the economy of the empire, allowing the new oligarchs to emerge. Liberal democracy makes the empire artificially richer, as it relies upon financial legerdemain to pull forward the proceeds of labor and capital. The cost of rule is subsidized by the social capital it consumes to perpetuate itself.

Is it possible for local power centers to emerge in North America, when the regions no longer have an identity of their own? Is it possible for local rule, when the local elites are just as inept and corrupt as the national elites? It is hard to imagine California lasting very long as an independent state. Its ruling class is clownish and stupid, a collection of petulant children. How hard would it be for the drug cartels to push them aside and turn the state into another narco-state?

The Soviet system rewarded cleverness and intrigue but it was founded on force, so there was always a role for those willing to act. The American system rewards guile, but increasingly has no role for assertiveness and force. It is why America has become so bad at waging war. It is possible that we now lack the required lions to push aside the foxes, even when the foxes die. It means a long period of chaos in which a new generation of lions can emerge to seize control."

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