The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

A cursory examination of history reveals that the United States is mired in the same process that precipitated the collapse of the great empires of the past.  The foibles and failures of human nature and their impact on the rise and fall of empires is amazingly consistent and the end result always inevitable.  Can this nation avoid a similar fate?

Empires are defined as great military and economic powers encompassing large occupied or controlled land areas.  Although they vary greatly, they average around 250 years in duration.  The United States will be celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2026.

In 1976, Sir John Glubb, a distinguished British diplomat and general, wrote an essay on the fate of empires throughout history.  He enumerated, based on 3,000 years of historical data, the six various stages in the rise and fall of empires.

These stages and how they apply to the United States are as follows:

  • The Age of Pioneers       (The Revolutionary War and the founding of the Nation)
  • The Age of Conquests    (The Western Expansion to the Pacific Ocean)
  • The Age of Commerce   (Industrialization and evolution of a dominant middle class)
  • The Age of Affluence     (The meteoric rise of the standard of living in the 20th Century)
  • The Age of Intellect        (Global domination in the arts, medicine and technology)
  • The Age of Decadence   (For 30+ years America has been increasingly mired in this age )

The Age of Decadence is marked by debauchery, defensiveness, pessimism, materialism, a significant weakening of religion, frivolity, a welfare state, and a massive influx of unassimilated foreigners.  These symptoms of national decadence are the end product of long periods of prosperity and power, love of wealth and status, and self-obsession by the ruling elites leading to fateful government corruption and instability.

Sir John Glubb is definitive in stating that in all ancient and modern fallen empires, “there does not appear to be any doubt that money is the agent which causes the decline of strong, brave and self-confident people.”

An examination of various empires from the Persian Empire to the Roman Empire to the British Empire confirms Glubb’s hypothesis that pursuit and accumulation of money or wealth is the portal through which power over the masses is achieved.  The amassing of wealth and thus power evolves into a quasi-religion that over time triggers the descent into the age of decadence and corruption that inevitably leads to the collapse and conquering of empires by their external enemies.

In the early stage of the age of decadence, materialism becomes a driving force in society, inducing many in the upper classes to indulge in excessive, often conspicuous consumption as an absurdly wealthy elite emerges.  Far too many societal elites and non-elites become convinced that increased consumption and social status is the key to happiness, but in its pursuit they become demonstrably more pessimistic and less happy and fulfilled.

The search for happiness and fulfillment leads to imprudence and voyeurism becoming central to the culture.  Unhappy people searching for diversion became fixated on celebrities and captive to evolving voyeurism.  And voyeurism takes on a more sinister aspect as people in both ancient and modern empires become increasingly desensitized to graphic images and willing spectators or participants in violence and debauchery.

Debauchery is an oft-recurring theme in the demise of empires.  Societies develop an abnormally immature obsession with sex.  An obsession that requires increasing deviancy to satiate coupled with concurrent abuse of children and the marginalization and exploitation of women.  Meanwhile, the use of drugs and alcohol expands exponentially.  Debauchery is a symptom of the absence of meaning in people’s lives leading to the self-destruction of society and concomitantly a loss of a sense of duty and patriotism.

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