The Decline of the AMERICAN EMPIRE

Discussion in 'Americas' started by LEGENDARY WARRIOR, Jan 25, 2012.

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  1. LEGENDARY WARRIOR
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    LEGENDARY WARRIOR FULL MEMBER

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    At Last, Someone Who Understands That America Has Failed

    The Decline of the American Empire


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    by KIRKPATRICK SALE

    Why America Failed, which this book is not about, is nonetheless a devastating and eviscerating critique proving convincingly that America has failed, and abominably, even tragically. That makes it a very important book that I hope will find an attentive audience, particularly among those of the media and intelligentsia who need to understand its truths and rid themselves of the increasingly common idea that there is some kind of palliative that will reform and restore American government to some imagined efficient and democratic past.

    I cannot overemphasize how essential this wisdom is to any comprehension of America today, or tomorrow, or how powerfully Morris Berman (an academic historian who has emigrated to Mexico) makes his case. It is not a long book (196 pages, plus backmatter), but it is replete with overwhelming evidence to support the thesis, as he puts it on his first page:

    The principal goal of North American civilization, and of its inhabitants, is and always has been an ever-expanding economy— affluence—and endless technological innovation—“progress.” A nation of hustlers, writes [Walter] McDougall, a people relentlessly on the make.

    From the very start, from the Puritans’ shining “city on a hill” and the Jamestown settlement’s conquest and exploitation of Indian lands, this country has been about making and taking, a business culture with a commercial orientation, devoted to growth and power, wealth and property, private advancement and profit, militarism and materialism, expansion and empire. John Adams saw it at the beginning: the U.S. was “more Avaricious than any other Nation that ever existed.” Or as de Tocqueville was to say later: “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”

    Let it be acknowledged that, given this as its goal and ideal, this nation has done pretty well. It is in most terms rich and powerful (let us discount the fact that we are $16 trillion in debt and wiped out $14 trillion in household wealth in the last crash), full of comforts and conveniences, food and shelter and plumbing and heat for most, high-tech gadgetry and systems, a developed (if crumbling) infrastructure coast to coast, the largest military in the world, the world’s fall-back currency, an unmatched service industry, and all the rest of what makes up a modern industrial capitalist nation.

    But what Berman shows, in fascinating detail, is that with all that concentration on hustling, which makes up our entire lives for our lives, is that we have lost a sense of the public good in the face of private interest, an understanding of community in the face of aggravated individualism, a sense of spiritual well-being in the face of material pressure and stress, an appreciation of the simple life in the face of technological complexity, even a true sense of republicanism and the political commonwealth in the face of manipulative and intrusive oligarchy and political individual wealth. Much of what we still think of as in some way valuable—stability rather than progress, face-to-face instead of on-line, family and friends instead of networks and “friends,” craftsmanship instead of mass production, virtue and tradition and honor and simplicity rather than egotism and modernity and self-interest and multi-tasking, gemeinschaft instead of gesellshaft—much of that has been quite lost in the dominant hustling culture.

    Not only that, but we have acquired a host of evils and sorrows along with material prosperity. Berman compiles a whole raft of rather depressing facts that show what the downside of the technocommerial society is: mass unemployment, foreclosures, increasing poverty for the many (with corporate bailouts and bonuses for the egregious few); a criminal culture with the highest rate of homicide in the world and a corrections system that contains 25 per cent of all the world’s prisoners; a high incidence of violence throughout the culture, including crime, domestic violence, and warfare, along with movies, TV, and video games; a social numbness and clinically diagnosed “empathy deficit disorders”; consumption of two-thirds of the global market in antidepressants with at least 164 million users; a rank on the worldwide Happy Planet Index in 2009 of 150th; fully 25 per cent of American households had only one person, a rate of aloneness probably the highest in the world. Or, as Berman puts it at one point:

    The culmination of a hustling, laissez-faire capitalist culture is that everything gets dumbed down, that all significant questions are ignored, and that every human activity is turned into a commodity, and anything goes if it sells. What we have is domination by corporate media, politics via poll-driven sound bites, a foreign policy based on unilateralism and preemptive strikes, a failing newspaper industry, a poorly informed citizenry, the unemployed winding up destitute, weak (or no) mass transit systems, and a health care system that ranks thirty-seventh in the world.

    The emperor, and the empire, have no clothes.

    Berman spends a good deal of time talking about the “alternative culture” to all this, including “a commitment to craft, community, the public good, the natural environment, spiritual practice, and the ‘simple life,” and he shows that its adherents and champions have existed all along, though of course overwhelmed by the dominant culture. He cites, for example, Thoreau, Melville, Henry Adams, Veblen, Sinclair Lewis, Henry Demarest Lloyd, Ruskin and Morris and the craft movement, Eric Fromm, Lewis Mumford (on whom he justly spends many pages), the Southern Agrarians, Robert Redfield, Vance Packard, William A. Williams, Marcuse, Ellul, Roszak, Schumacher, Lasch, Wendell Berry, and more recently Jerry Mander, Langdon Winner, Neil Postman, and somewhat surprisingly Ted Kaczynski. This is a distinguished bunch, and they are known today because the work they did was careful and trenchant and exposed powerfully the ills of a material society, but, as Berman notes when talking about Mumford, in the end “you can’t get taken seriously if you point this out.” How well I know.

    And so the alternative culture, though it has always existed on the fringe, and still does even now, has never seriously derailed the steamengine of the hustler civilization nor in fact even slowed it down perceptively. In fact that civilization will always take steps to marginalize it, even destroy it if necessary, a fact that Berman illustrates in a chapter on the antebellum South. He shows how the South was “the one example we have of an opponent of [the dominant] ideology that had real political teeth,” and blatantly opted for a life premodern (indeed “neofeudal”), agrarian, slow, conservative, and honoring tradition, honor, chivalry, and hospitality more than making a buck or inventing a gadget. This ultimately the increasingly industrial and expansive North could not stand and so began a war to destroy it. “The treatment of the South by the North,” Berman says, “was the template for the way the United States would come to treat any nation it regarded as an enemy: not merely a scorched earth policy, but also a ‘scorched soul’ policy’” that it would use in Hawaii, the Philippines, Cuba, Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and anywhere else it could achieve it.

    Which is why in the end Berman concludes that nothing will ever change our hustling civilization and all attempts at trying to replace it are fruitless: “I regard the fantasy of a recovered future as pure drivel.” He sees, instead, that it is headed toward inevitable collapse, and not too many decades away. He quotes a U.S. intelligence report from the Washington Post that predicts “a steady decline” in American dominance in the coming decades, the country eroding “at an accelerating pace” in “political, economic and arguably, cultural arenas,” to which he adds, “Nothing could be more obvious.”

    In a rare moment of optimism he goes on to say, “Collapse could be a good thing” if it could ultimately “open the door to the alternative tradition,” a process he admits is “a long shot.” And here he suggests, and wins my heart as he does so, that one means to that is secession, which holds promise precisely because it has given up on trying to change the industrial society as a whole, across the nation, and picks instead smaller places (such as Vermont) where some version of the alternative tradition might be realized.

    At the present time, he says, “this project doesn’t have a hope in hell,” but “in thirty or forty years, it may not seem so far-fetched.”

    Well, it may take a generation, but I don’t think so. The collapse will come sooner than we realize—I have predicted within a decade—and it will open up secession (or some equivalent such as city-states or medieval walled cities) as the only possible opportunity for a new society with new human-scale alternatives. I’m not predicting it, mind you, I’m just saying it’s the only way to go.

    SOURCE: COUNTERPUCH
    ------------------------------------

    So are we seeing China as a new Superpower?? :whistle:
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  2. Black Widow
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    Black Widow BANNED

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    hold your horses bro. Just bcoz Morris wrote it, USA will not fall.
  3. LEGENDARY WARRIOR
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    LEGENDARY WARRIOR FULL MEMBER

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    Well, he also provided some facts.. :meeting:
  4. LEGENDARY WARRIOR
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    LEGENDARY WARRIOR FULL MEMBER

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  5. Black Widow
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    Black Widow BANNED

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    Thats why I am saying hold your horses. The data you have shown is nothing in front of 1930s great dipression USA will certainly come out of it.
    why??? coz:
    1. USA has huge resource
    2. Per capita resource is much higher than any other country
  6. LEGENDARY WARRIOR
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    LEGENDARY WARRIOR FULL MEMBER

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    In 1930 they were not in a state of War. The money they are spending on this Afghan war is like dumping money down the gutter.. Moreover its not just money. The author talks about the american society as a whole..


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  7. VCheng
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    VCheng ELITE MEMBER

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    Right on cue, another US Doomsday thread-du-jour! :lol:

    US supremacy is not going anywhere for several decades at least, and further very likely.
  8. fd24
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    fd24 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Yet you was the rock steady wannabee american that started this thread

    http://www.defence.pk/forums/world-affairs/96921-usa-budget-issues-3.html#post2524279

    Look Cheng all good things come to an end. Things long term are looking questionable. Quantitative easing and over spending on wars which involve the theft of assets from others nations havent helped.
    If you earn $100 and spend $110 every year - eventually the empire will decline.
  9. DANGER-ZONE
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    DANGER-ZONE SENIOR MEMBER

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    Bara bharam hai bhai ... Desi Angraiz. :tup:
    Lets see how this PROUD SUPREMACY of your Super Power holds on against God's will.
  10. VCheng
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    VCheng ELITE MEMBER

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    Of course all good things come to an end, but long term trends are questionable only if they continue unchanged, which they won't.

    Well, God has blessed America Himself, don't you know that? :D

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  11. rama
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    rama FULL MEMBER

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    The Decline of the American Empire


    counting the feathers of low flying eagle..u might wanna cover ur eyes first :smokin:
  12. jamal18
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    jamal18 FULL MEMBER

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    Nobody can argue against the decline of America; what everybody is ignoring is the relative factor. That as other countries expand their economies, America is less powerful compared to them. It's a two way decline.

    The military decline can only be sudden for two reasons:

    1. The sudden collapse of the dollar (almost inevitable),

    2. Any financial decline will have a greater impact on the military. Say I earn $500 a month. My expenses are $450 (rent, food). This leaves me $50 to buy a baseball bat, put fuel in my car and beat up on my neighbours (estabilsh world peace). Imagine my wages drop by5%, not a lot, only $25. However, I still have to pay my rent and buy my food ( health care and welfare, education etc). My 'spare' cash is less by 50%, I have to buy a smaller baseball bat.

    For these reasons I believe that even if American economic decline is gradual, the military decline will be far more dramatic.

    Also, as cash becomes scarce, the electorate will be less supportive of foreign wars as they will see that this money is more deperately needed at home. The political support for a massive defence budget will not be there.

    I see absolutely no reason for a political break-up of the US.
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  13. lem34
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    lem34 MEMBER

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    I agree with the main thrust of your argument. However in due course I think there may be a break up.

    eg: California Independence and the Separation of States
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  14. VCheng
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    VCheng ELITE MEMBER

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    I think I will buy oceanfront property in Nevada before California literally "breaks away" from mainland USA! :rofl:
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  15. below_freezing
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    below_freezing ELITE MEMBER

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    per capita resources needed to survive is also much higher than any other country, thanks to its lack of public transportation and suburbs. The barrels of oil a Chinese or Indian living in Shanghai or Mumbai needs to get to work, eat 3 meals per day with 1000 calories per meal, live in a 100 square meter house, play in the park after work with their children, and give their children an education is a tiny fraction of the barrels of oil it costs an American, because Shanghai and Mumbai are dense, heavily urbanized, with concentrated services and industry, while the US is dispersed, its urban cores ******* and with many duplicated services and industries due to the dispersion.

    Any nonbiased person who has ever lived in the US, can know this.