One of the great disadvantages to a long life is the uncomfortable fact that one has to witness many shocking happenings at first hand without being able to influence their outcome in any meaningful manner.
The invasion of my motherland by the Germans in 1944 was my first such event. Then came the Hungarian revolution of 1956, followed by the 1970 October Crisis in Quebec. In 1988 PanAm Flight 103 was bombed over Lockerby and in 1995 the Oklahoma Bombing took place. In 2001 New York’s Twin Towers were destroyed.
And so it went, event after event – most of them predictable: the London bombing in 2005, the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 and the Moscow Metro bombing in 2010. The frequency of disastrous terrorist events was rapidly increasing all over the world.
And then, on January 6, 2021, came the Chimborazo of all terrorist attacks – not because of the number of lives lost, but because it signalled the rapidly approaching end of an empire.
Yes, empires come to an end. Just like the stock market, the history of the greatest empires is cyclical in nature. Even the most powerful empires have crashed and burned – and it is this creative destruction that creates the next opportunity for new civilizations and cultures to rise. (Wikipedia)
Think Egypt, Greece, Rome, Spain, and, recently, the British Empire.
Empires tend to decline when they start losing their Moral Compasses. The US Empire has started to lose its Moral Compass not when its Capitol was overrun by a crazed out-of-control mob, but when members of its Republican Party’s Senate refused to hold to account those who incited the rioters.
SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI – THUS PASSES WORDLY GLORY
For many Republicans the sole criterion for voting for a canditate is *lower taxes*.
So true, so true. However, I would roll the declining empire clock back even further – to the moment in time when a gang of radicals gave the British the bum’s rush out of the 13 colonies and then attempted to put into words their highest hope and aspirations for a new type of country, a new type of governance and had the audacity to proclaim that all men were created equal… while, the majority of these same rabble-rousers, regarded people of any other colour but white, as being unequal and (shudders) not even ‘men.” The decline started at the very instant of its birth. Certainly, there were constitutional “correctives” and amendments, even a horrendous civil war and the following treason of “Jim Crow” but the die had been cast. The other great signal of decline was the Supreme court decision that corporations, with their billions, had the same rights of free speech as human beings. Once that decision was made, everything else became a naked war for power, at all costs. I am sorry, that in your long and distinguished life, you had to witness this disgusting display of the very worse in Americans. They deserve themselves.
It will be interesting to see the future of the GOP and the sure to be chasm that is forming between the Trump sympathizers and the more old school Republicans. Could the two party system in the US be a thing of the past?
I don’t think it will be the end of the empire but the empire will not reign as it has in the past century
The Chinese have replaced USSR and will compete strongly against the almost past empire
Thé GOP in in serious jeopardy and who knows what it holds to fix or not this party in distress
Thanks for writing this excellent article, Robert, many insights coupled with a forecast. R- Enjoyed it, learned from your remarks as well as the four comments by others. Indeed, the sun will set on he US Empire, though due not just to decay but also because China and India are bound to be 1 and 2 by 2030 given population and economic growth. Beyond decline of empires of empires am concerned with genocide (Myanmar, Uganda/Rwanda, Ethiopia, and yes, Afghanistan / Pakistan and also Colombia with FARC) and corruption. Allow me to recommend 2 great books: Missionaries by Phil Klay and Kleptopia by Tim Burgis with the latter rated as one of the top 10 books of 2020 by The Economist. One final comment on decline of US empire: look at number of US troops in 150 nations, 150K +, combat & non-combat. Andy
Don’t count the US out too fast. It’s unfortunately true that we are farther from the more perfect union than we have been for a long time, and even that the xenophobic, misogynistic, authoritarian and anti-semitic forces are still unleashed from the constraints we have accepted for generations. But the new administration is reversing course and Martin Luther King was right when he said that the moral arc bends towards justice.
Why it was a terrorist attack? People just walked into the building they are paying for from their every pay-check. Why is to step into the building of our (public) servants is a terror?
And yes it is the end of the empire, because the person who stepped in a building of public servants wearing inappropriate clothes for some reason is called a terrorist and when people were destroying , looting , writing graffitied on many other buildings in many cities – that was called a normal fight for their civil rights and police was kneeling with respect.
A belated response!
Like everyone I’m sure, I’m anxiously watching the new Biden administration methodically set about the mammoth task of ‘saving’ the US empire (as you so name it).
Trump clearly left domestic & international policies battered like toys in a belligerent child’s nursery & with clear doubts about all who played a part in looking after the ‘said’ nursery..
Nevertheless, call me the eternal optimist if you wish I’m quite sure ‘the empire’ is far from dead.
The American Dream was never just about material rags to riches, as we all know it about freedom of expression.
‘Democracy’; life in the grey zone where the sun isn’t always shining but when it does ‘Hallelujah it is glorious.
The moral compass has not been lost it just got some notable dents. Dents like scars on knees from our childhood are our constant reminder. Here the reminder is not just about our personal fragility but that of us all & how vital it is we 🌏 work together to survive. The US, (beleaguered as it may be),is ‘still’ in the best position to lead the way.
I certainly hope I live to see many more days of glorious 🌞
Maybe even a GB revival…. don’t count us out 🇬🇧 yet!
I came to America as an immigrant in 1956 and discovered that many of the things the Hungarian communists described about America were true. I also felt as I was learning about my new homeland that somehow it was on the decline as a society. That the country had great economic wealth but lacked idealism and goals beyond obtaining material things. At this point, I think China is the rising power. Its people work hard, they’re hungry for what they see the West has, so they’ll try to obtain all those goods. Maybe their party is smarter than the American government and will allow the population to gain wealth without letting go of the communist ideals–at least in verbiage. As for America? The hords seemed to have moved in.