Niall Ferguson: Fiscal Crises and Imperial Collapses

Personally I do not think there is any debate on whether or not America has become an Empire. The very definition of Empire is that of an extensive group of politically/militarily motivated states and peoples united or ruled by an emperor; operated the same way as a large-scale business enterprise. By that very definition America has seemingly filled that description to a “T”. America has adopted the policies started by the Romans of so called ‘defensive expansion’. America is always showcasing itself as the innocent, free loving democracy trying to spread peace and aid around the world, only going to war when absolutely necessary or if provoked. That is just a flat out lie. Its no wonder they called it the American dream, everyone has to be asleep in order to live it!

America should not have an empire, it is just that simple. Every day American’s are so well entertained/amused that they cannot see the obvious structure that has risen from the ashes of the Second World War, allowing room for us to be ruled by a type of oligarchy. I don’t know if you could technically categorize America as a full empire, it would have to be a quasi-empire. We have no King, and don’t say the president is King because clearly he’s not the one in control, and no absolute leader. Rather we have something unique in the history of mankind, the multinational corporation. Not just the fact that they are multi-national, the Romans beat us to that by a few hundred years, but these corporations have what is known as “Corporate Personhood”. Meaning, corporations in the United States are allowed to have rights and responsibilities similar to those of a natural person. I would remind the people who make these policies to go back and read a copy of our countries Declaration of Independence which clearly does not identify Corporations as Natural Persons. This is a highly arbitrary phenomenon in our society, one never before seen in History. Unfortunately we can see the results in the current state of America.

Ferguson stresses the financial side of the decline of the West. I would have to completely agree with him for obvious natural reasons. All one has to do is go to the bank these days, check your account statement, and try not to have a heart attack. He also thinks that this is not something new, citing such examples as Der Untergang des Abendlandes, “The decline of the West” By Oswald Spengler, written in the 1940’s. A book which ironically forecasts all of the current problems we face in Western Civilization. Clearly we are in a state of decline. The old ways of the neo-conservatives are starting to not work. A method such as constantly having a looming enemy out there poised to attack Americans at any second, when in reality there was no true threat. Ferguson draws the parallel between the things happening in Greece as an example of what can potentially happen in the United States. Ferguson says when governments spend large amounts of tax revenue to pay interest payments to the national debt, that this is a big early warning sign of collapse. On that point I could not agree more with Mr. Ferguson.

In today’s America we face external threat from overreaching ourselves to much and not being prepared for the things that we can’t see coming down the road. That old saying “save for a rainy day” must have been completely removed from the brains of those in Washington, D.C. I think also, not to be to touchy, but the religious threat is a very real external threat to America. Both in the world where our religious views are not accepted or worshipped, and that of our own internal religious sect’s who believe they have access to the exact word of God, etc. I deliberately used the description above regarding Rome and simply replaced Rome with America, being that you know this after you have read it, it’s a stern reminder that the threats faced in Rome are almost identical to ours today. Clearly American’s and other Super powers for that matter, think they are invincible. This is unfortunately what led to the demise of Rome as well.

America faces the exact same internal threat as Rome in the sense that our leaders do not seem to always represent the interests of their constitutes. What a politician says and what a politician does are two totally different things. The people have become to complacent and entertained to really get involved in politics anymore. This carelessness is what has led to this, and I’ll quote Truman, “a disastrous rise of misplaced power”. Due to the more extreme polarity of power in Rome compared to America, where if at the forum some speaker passed a popular decree, he couldn’t call his friends in the next town over, that the working class was more or less taken advantage of. So I think the internal threat Is the same, it has just been derived a different way for each of our societies.

According to Ferguson, Gibbson & Myself, I would have to say that the fall of America we are currently experiencing today is almost identical to the struggle in Rome’s downfall. In Rome & America Politics became war without bloodshed & war become politics with bloodshed. People start to take notice and loose faith in their leaders and institutions. Not only in the sense of internal corruption where the liars have risen to power and subvert our entire democratic system, but I feel as if America is going to go the way of Caesar. In an odd way America is just a huge defeated giant, slithering around on the ground, gasping its last deep breath. Charlie Chaplin gave a great speech in a movie once which I feel encompasses allot of how I feel about why our fall is inevitable, Charlie said, “In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little…”.Without making this any longer, I will end with saying that Rome had a hell of a lot longer history than America, so we need to not be so arrogant in the face of time because on a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. As fatalistic as it all seems, I do actually have hope. That hope rests in humanity, to learn from the mistakes of our past, take heed to them, and even if this version crashes, then we will walk right forward through the ashes into a bright and shining future.




Niall Ferguson: Fiscal Crises and Imperial Collapses
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