When History Repeats

The Collapse of the American Society

Originally Published on January 28, 2022

The United States and the very idea of liberty are on a course to become just another casualty of predictability. Periodicals from around the world are filled with civilizations that failed to learn from history, whether by arrogance or ignorance. In the case of the modern United States it is both, tragically.

The fate of the Western Roman Empire was due to a multitude of factors. When we examine history objectively, we can recognize some eerily similar precursors in the United States that run parallel to the fall of Rome.

Consider the common factors that have led to the collapse of all complex human societies in the past. From a broader perspective, these include one or more of the following: economical, environmental, demographic, social, and/or cultural turmoil. Anthropologists, historians, and sociologists have further examined causative factors such as depletion of resources, unsustainable complexity, invasion, disease, decay of social cohesion, rising inequality, secular decline of cognitive abilities, loss of creativity, and misfortune.

I review several of those causative factors below. It is not a stretch to acknowledge that not just one, but several of them are relevant today in the United States.

Environmental Change
While natural disasters have had cataclysmic effects on lesser-advanced civilizations, environmental change is more than windmills and hurricanes. Our social environment has been as damning as it has been beneficial. Computer and smartphone technology has created a society of careless gluttony and instant gratification, where members of society care about only what they want, how they want it, and when they want it.

We are also living through a time when there is an inexplicable effort to tear open wounds of the past in order to weaponize the wrongs of our ancestors. This is being used to shame and guilt a distinct group of people into providing more entitlements, while submitting their own identity to an illogical fear. Slavery does not exist in 2022, but if it does return, unironically, it will be at the hand of those screaming the loudest about the horror of its roots.

While this environmental change isn’t caused by the traditional, natural environment, we do not live in traditional times. Natural disasters that occur outside of our cultural environment will always pose a threat to localized areas, but in the 21st Century they should not by themselves result in the collapse of a society as once-resilient as the United States. The environmental change that will contribute to the fall of our civilization will not be one of natural catastrophe but one of a self-inflicted detachment from, and aggressive devaluation of, one another.

Depletion of Resources
Increased migration, combined with the increased size of the Unites States government and the lack of accountable controls is resulting in depletion of everything from common household goods to natural resources. We are increasingly consuming resources at a faster rate than we can replenish them. The early days of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the current supply chain crisis are just subtle examples of how vulnerable we are.

The depletion of resources is further stressed by other pre-existing conditions, including poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions.

Unsustainable Complexity
America’s founding fathers gave her a brilliantly-objective framework for the republic. What they could not give her was an assurance that the people’s representatives would honor their oaths to that framework, or that the people would maintain a respect for the framework that was designed to maintain an equal and orderly, safe, and prosperous society.

The size of the government has become too large and too complex to be effectively managed with the same ideals of liberty being sustained and forwarded. (We need not look much further than the IRS for an example of this).

Additionally, the melting pot’s diversity has also presented complex problems that do not lend themselves to the founding ideals. The United States was founded as a free and opportunistic place for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Diversity became a problem of complexity when the American ideal was made subservient to any number of alternative ideals from the world around her.

The identity of the United States was diluted by what should have been one of its greatest strengths. The ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have become less simple and much more complex.

Invasion and Mass Migration
In our modern times, this has not occurred in the conventional sense, but rather through precision or the exposure of our own vulnerabilities. Our pipelines, power grids, and anyone who owns a computer are vulnerable to invasion from foreign actors. The rise in Islamic terrorism has been the most significant and successful invasion against the United States, causing the exact damage it intended — the decline of the Western value system and the erosion of our liberties. The letters N, S, and A should be example enough.

Now consider the non-violent invasion of our southern border, the further strain it will have on our resources, the added complexity of accommodating their needs, and the unknown pathogens that are likely traveling with them.

The Huns of the fifth century are one of the most notable examples of migratory catastrophe on an empire. After repeated successful incursions into the Roman Empire, the financial demands of the Huns resulted in a series of fiscal crises for the Emperor. The Roman Emperor could no longer buy-off the many barbarian tribes that had occupied sections of the Empire. The Goths and the other tribes, instead of receiving payments, began to demand land in exchange for their continued obedience to the Emperor.

Attila the Hun was one of the most important figures in the dying days of the Western Roman Empire. He was one of a series of barbarian leaders who inflicted irreparable damage on the fabric of the Empire. The social and economic impact of his tribal attacks weakened the empire. The western part of the Empire was weaker and more susceptible to raids and financial exactions. Attila deliberately targeted the west because he knew that it was weaker. He did not conquer it but he did leave it in an economic and social crisis, undermining the western empire so much that its fall was inevitable.

Disease
The spread of disease has often run parallel to migration throughout history. There is evidence that the Mongol expeditions may have spread the bubonic plague across much of Eurasia, which helped to spark the Black Death of the early fourteenth century. Encounters between European explorers and Native Americans exposed the latter to a variety of diseases of extraordinary virulence.

The Antonine plague was the first known pandemic of the Roman Empire. It spread throughout the Roman Empire, and perhaps other areas, including China, and infected many millions of people.

Today, the ease of travel combined with relatively open borders has made the Covid-19 Pandemic prolific in the United States.

Decay of Social Cohesion
We have devalued our time and the accessories of our lives by losing important interpersonal connections that otherwise cultivate respect and appreciation for one another. Social media has created an environment of ignorance and spitefulness, on-demand.

Any number of progressive movements have enable a society where entitlement and turbulence are rewarded while discussion and effort have been made diminutive, if not entirely non-existent in many cases. Once seeming the exception, radicalized opinions have become the polar mainstream with tools that can be used impulsively, like cell phones and social media. The environment we use to communicate with each other, and procure things in, has been widely dehumanized and toxic to our American culture.

We are no longer a country unified by its ideals. We haven’t been in more than two decades. Over the past 16 years, the breakdown of social cohesion has produced a climate of extreme violence, disregard for our fellow citizens, and a polarized society incapable of reconciliation.

Secular Decline of Cognitive Abilities
Arguably, this has been most profoundly seen with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Science has become a bureaucratic cause instead of an objective system of methods — at least to the most caustic sources of unquestionable pontification — the press and political class. The rush to dangerous absolutes has separated society into two distinguishable classes of people, those who seek to objectively know what they are told, and those who choose to dogmatically believe what they are told. Unelected bureaucrats who have turned the scientific method into a cult of pseudoscientific absolutes.

We are not the society of independent thinkers that we once were.

Loss of Creativity
In the reckless rush to believe equal opportunity should mean equal outcome, the larger fraction of our society has pandered to the lowest common denominator in most instances of functional significance. We have regressed from a place of cultivating and recognizing exceptionalism, to an intellectually-lazy herd of mindless drones who are content with mediocrity. We have lost the quest to be exceptional. To be the example. To lead. And most dangerously, that has taken root among the highest in our military class.

A softer example can be found in the lucrative and influential entertainment industry. What was once a medium for diverse talents and skills to showcase their excellence and passion has become an echo chamber of dishonest propaganda — meant to stifle creative differences in favor of fictitious labels and a substandard execution of individual ability.

What happens if this continues?

In The Calamity Omen, I outlined the intersection of worst-case scenarios for the year ahead. If we cannot mitigate the factors mentioned in this article above, we only reinforce our current trajectory. The American civilization is upon the dawn of its collapse.

Rome’s fall ended the ancient world and the Middle Ages were born. These “Dark Ages” brought the end to much that was Roman. The West fell into turmoil. The same will happen in the 21st Century. Imperialist ideals from Russia, China, and the Middle East will eventually consume the complete identity of the Western World. Smaller, weaker, more vulnerable countries will fall first. It is most likely that the United States, the American dream, will be defeated from within over the course of the next two decades.

At some point thereafter, the final collapse will be cemented by foreign incursion that will be enabled and sustained by their footprints already taking hold. We are a destructively-arrogant society if we believe that the causations that have led to the collapse of all other civilizations would somehow not apply to our vulnerabilities as well.

Our one firm resource to avert this imminent disaster remains that beautiful founding framework, and the resolve of those who believe in liberty — and acknowledge the lessons time has given us from societies that have come and gone before us. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

(The above article has been republished from my Substack newsletter. You may subscribe to my exclusive Substack content here.)

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