No empire lasts forever.
It is our terror in this Trumpian age, where insanity and governance has mightily converged - the heat from the Mueller investigation, the political showdown in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and the battles between the red states and blue states - that the sun is setting on our beloved empire.
However, the idea that this adolescent nation called America is going to be the world’s superpower forever and forever amen, is ludicrous.
Every great civilization begins with some sort of commonality between peoples, and operate out of a sense of duty ethics, which essentially means that one should act universally. Therefore, for example, if one person steals, then everyone should be allowed to steal. So, we should all refrain from stealing.
Then those who come into state power begin to distance themselves from this sense of duty ethics, begin to take on the practice of ethical egoism – operating in one’s self-interest. This within itself is not bad. We all put our own interests first, otherwise we could not survive. How can I help anyone else if I don’t help myself first?
However, as power accumulates, this principle amplifies, becomes more voluminous, to the degree to which it replaces all other practice of ethics. Those in power exhibiting such behavior can completely justify it not only by their narrative of intentionality, but the outcomes are spun like media hyper drugs.
History has demonstrated that as civilizations grow, the gulf of ethics widens to dynamic proportions, much like we have now. Campaign finance reform results in more money in politics. A war on drugs results in a higher flow of drugs, and more devastation to communities. Progress means more of the same: more clearing of land for development; more privitization of natural resources; more production of goods made at sweat shops; and more advanced technology, the byproduct of which is more division, silos, and isolation.
It is natural for all great nations, all great superpowers, to grow to the point of massive strength and might, all for it to eventually implode, and the ensuing society being shrunk down to a much more manageable and humble size. Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, England, France, Spain, Portugal, are all examples of this.
What makes us believe that we are exempt from such an implosion? Our lacking in a sense of history, geographical isolation, the enormous magnitude of our power, and the stark reality that there has never been, and will never be a nation like us.
We have no crystal ball, so we don’t know how many more empires will rise and fall in the future. We have all the signs of ours coming to an end, though. We are closing our trade, we are polarizing each other, we spend an extraordinary amount on policing the world while our infrastructure is crumbling, and our sports are becoming more brutal.
Many people are terrified by this administration, and what may come in the next few years. Some believe it is a long line of dominoes that has been falling for the last few generations. I believe what scares several citizens the most is the possibility that we will eventually not be perceived as being numero uno (we already detest bilingual signs). To them it would be like an invasion of extraterrestrials, forcing us to succumb to their will, to be experimented on and disposed as we become extinct.
Of course some speculate that the Russians and/or the Chinese will take us over, and we will be forced to speak Russian and/or Mandarin, and our entire way of life will be destroyed, as we march single file in front of a dictator with images of iron fists screen printed on red flags draped across state buildings.
The range of conspiracy theories notwithstanding, the dystopia that we believe we are experiencing is a product of human history. No matter how sophisticated we believe we have become over the last hundreds of thousands of years, we will always play King of the Hill.
We believed that W. was the worst president in our history, and then came Trump. Just like in 2000, we believed 2016 was the beginning of the end of our civilization. Since we are still finite beings, and we have no tools to predict the future, what we can do is work to make the present the best it can be, and let the future worry about itself.
And not just feel a sense of duty ethics toward each other, but practice it.