On the Inevitable Decline of the American Empire

Before we can talk about the current state and trajectory of the existing empire, we need to ask basic questions about what empires are and why they exist…

SOCIETY STRUCTURE

Human society has its original basis in small Paleolithic hunter-gatherer tribes. Then, with the Neolithic, tribes settled down and formed towns, which grew into countries. So if you think about it, empires are just the next level of organization — coordination of countries by centralized control.

But there’s a significant difference with relationships in an empire — while a town’s and country’s government is made up of their own genetic peoples and culture, an empire is managed by foreigners. No other human organizational unit works this way. There are obvious problems associated with that.

There’s also a conflict with our core nature. An empire provides a semi-global level of organization, but homogenization into one tribe goes against the nature of human tribalism. There must always be separate tribes working on different ideas; that’s the risk management our species evolved — it’s called hedging.

So empires are natural temporal things that come about to coordinate the nation tribes thru various developmental phases, but it’s unnatural for them to ever maintain long-term, or hold complete hegemony. ‘Merika didn’t get this memo.

PAST & CURRENT EMPIRES

Past: With Roman, British, Nazi (failed attempt), and now American — there’s no denying the evangelical/imperialist nature to the West (though the West will of course deny). The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — America broke free from the British Empire, only to neocolonize the planet under the name of “freedom.” There is a thought-lineage here, imbedded in philosophy (exceptionalism) and religion (evangelism) which wants to convert people to their way.

Current: as far as understanding the new form we just have to understand that times change, but human nature and deeply imbedded philosophies/religions not so much. America is perhaps the world’s first “financial empire.” It uses the tools of its age — law, finance, corporations including media — to infiltrate societies, indoctrinate them, and extract profits back to the mainland. This is backed by the largest military that has ever existed, which occupies 150 countries. Where we are now in history, I estimate, is peak corporate/military expansionism of this American Empire.

WHY EMPIRES PEAK

The nature of “peak empire” seems to be that expansionism involves over-spending and swallowing up weak/absorbable societies first. But as the empire ages financial exhaustion plagues it and its neglected homeland rots, while the remaining societies which are the toughest and least-integratable hold out.

Yet economically, the empire must expand or it collapses back in on itself. Thus this is the high-risk phase; two immovable objects; and if the empire desperately tries to do anything to survive, it gets ugly (see current state).

But eventually it ends, as all things do, by a combination of 1) old age slow death, 2) foreign attack or outcompetition, and 3) domestic revolution.

INSIGHTS INTO THE CURRENT DECLINE

After understanding all this, I think the most important thing to realize is that an empire must at minimum be 1) functional, and 2) provide some net benefit to the vassals. Otherwise it serves no purpose, and nature does away with it soon enough.

Well, by the nature of having become an empire in the first place, all empires originally meet this qualification if you think about it callously — they came up with some way of doing things which (at least in the short-term) worked, and its success allowed it to amass the power and resources to expand. And so, that “successful” model was exported to surrounding areas. But then came overconfidence, laziness, debt, unforeseen costs, absolute power turns to tyranny, etc. When the bad overwhelms the “good” (which is always questionable anyhow as it’s usually forced on the vassals), then the empire isn’t long to last.

By the way, China has thousands of years of history and wisdom on this process (天命) and knows exactly what is happening. But Americans don’t study “Chinese history” and only have 244 years of history themselves. To them it’s the first time.

These days America finds itself holding back progress—policing the planet, trying to destabilize and stop any development it can’t control (e.g. 5G, China’s successful new political/economic model, on and on the micromanagement list goes). This is desperate and won’t work. For better or worse, humans keep thinking of new things and “progressing,” and nobody has ever been able to stop this chaotic change. And so, is the empire still providing a net benefit, and is this system functional anymore? Does its advice on how to do things actually work?

WHAT COMES NEXT

Sure, America started out with interesting new ideas, and those ran their course. But realistically final form appears to be the socioeconomic bastardization which is ‘corporate liberalism’ (i.e. “neoliberalism”), which is dog shit. We all know this isn’t working; just look at the growing uprising from the left/right inside the American homeland itself. Globally, billions of people hate this system. And America ain’t going to fix it, because it can’t. The changes have to come from other societies, with new ideas.

So fresh ideas will keep coming about from other tribes, and get tested, while the empire’s original ideas become old and fail. Tribes who got ignored or screwed by the empire will want to try a different way. Even tribes that did okay under the old structure, will know they need to hedge their bets or fall behind. The ancient societies (not the Americas) know all about this, it’s the way it goes.

Looking macro—I wonder if a thousand years from now this entire period is seen more clearly as “white supremacy era 1850–2050.” It’s a relatively small period of UK/US GDP dominated history, with the entire West being less than 10% of the global population. A reversion to the mean would be Asia playing its historically normal level of importance.

Time keeps moving, things keep changing. But the more things change, the more they stay the same!

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Sol 太阳 쏠

Sino-philosophy: Confucianism, Dao De Jing, and Legalism. Comparative philosophy: Anglo vs Sino thought-lineages—we can use both!