There’s only one common factor in the failure of great nations: Mismanagement. The USA is heading down a well traveled road to its own Armageddon. Rome, China, Russia, the British Empire and others have all been there before.
The political environment is utterly incapable of governance without melodrama. The GOP doesn’t listen, and the Democrats apparently don’t learn. The ultra-constipated movement of legislation regularly brings actual government to an actual standstill, it just carries on by inertia until someone condescends to pass an appropriation.
Economically the nation’s a disaster area, and the only notable growth in employment is for press release writers who don’t particularly care what they write or why they write it.
This could be considered a continuation of the Civil War by other means. This time, however, the enemy is the public. “They the people” have no effective means of fighting back, and the slaves are now bonded to cheapskate salaries which have created a class of Working Poor which never really existed except in the absolute bottom minimum wage jobs before about 1980. The public has been politically neutered.
Nothing gets done well. Wars, budgets, policies, whatever, they all stagger along in a dysfunctional daze until some new crisis emerges. This is exactly the same story as many fallen civilizations.
The rule the Romans could have taught the US is simple: “Don’t go broke.” Economic chaos was more common than not in the Roman Empire, and the disasters multiplied as the financial tangles and lack of money progressively beggared everything but the military. Ultimately, the military auctioned off the job of Emperor to somebody, decided they didn’t like him, and killed him, before another succession of emperors killed off the Western Roman Empire and an entirely different civilization emerged in the east.
The Chinese could have taught the US another basic lesson: “Insularity destroys countries.” The Chinese went from being the most advanced nation on Earth to a primitive, closed society incapable of dealing with Western and Japanese expansion. That wasn’t ancient China, by the way. It was the story of China up to 1911. Nearly a half a century of unrestrained bloodbaths did the rest.
The Russians can provide a lesson that “A monomaniacal approach to spending is fatal.” The crash of the Soviet Union was a hideous event inside Russia, resulting in the life expectancy dropping by a few decades for a while. The end result was a totally different nation, much amended geographically and politically.
The British Empire has another lesson: “However big you are, ignorance and hidebound policies will wipe you out.” A few wars, a lot of social and economic mismanagement, and where’s the British Empire?
Poland could have taught the US a thing about politics: “Politics and sleaze are the same things”. In the 18th century, 100% vote was required to pass legislation. The result was a roaring trade in vote buying, national poverty and the country was absorbed by Prussia and Russia.
The US, through a truly insane, self-inflicted mix of these factors, has managed to achieve a condition which would have been unthinkable a generation ago. A complete misconception of itself has helped a lot. The US is a super power, not because of its nukes, but because of its economic clout. That clout has been reduced to a paper fan by the recession, unprecedented loss of real capital, and the shutdown of America’s truly global range secret weapon, credit, now well and truly disarmed by its own operators. Trade, internal and external
, is now a twitching mess of signals, with all indicators looking every way but up.
The social results
are well known. Crime, media pandering to privileged nutcases and politics are now the only real growth industries. The basics of Middle America have been falling to pieces. Home ownership, health, education, welfare, you name it. The state economies are deficit-riddled disaster areas. The Midwest has been gutted. Michigan was in deep recession long before the crash. Jobs which generate domestic capital were long ago exterminated by outsourcing. California has been battling its budget for decades. The South is a “job free zone”, made worse by the recession. The West? What West? There’s a West?
And the result so far?
What’s most fascinating about this train wreck is the aura of respectability so many people who’ve contributed to it seem to think they have. Duly elected ignoramuses claiming they know a damn thing about running a hot dog stand. Arguably the most gutless, talentless, and notably very unelected collection of people in history providing a Rent A Mob Rule effect in the media. A collection of naïve, absolutely powerless dupes like the Tea Party somehow deciding they’ve figured out what’s wrong with everything and can fix it with slogans.
The Tea Party could rename itself the Tea Towel, because that’s how much actual influence they have. They’re free publicity for political interests, have no power base, no capital, no direct enabling connections and no way of influencing anything that doesn’t want to be influenced. They’re also paying very large amounts of money for the privilege.
On the Liberal side, “Hunker Down” has replaced “Yes We Can”. Once again, idealism is supposed to educate, house, tend to the sick and employ people, and create a future out of rhetoric.
The great immovable sewer blockage which is modern Washington is hardly the best tool for actual achievement. Its contribution to date over what feels like centuries of bipolar girlish tantrums is self delusion. Nothing, a round and jolly zero, has been done to de-clog the thing. Legislation is one thing, working methods are another, and facts don’t seem to agree with either of them. Ideology has gone from a revolutionary principle to an excuse. This lesson seems never to be learned.
It doesn’t matter how sincere you may be, how talented, or how pragmatic. What matters is what’s achieved. The US needs to get its head out of its backside and start working on real achievements. If liberal progressives want to claim any sort of achievement, that’s where to start. Find the methods, and stop tinkering with a machine which no longer works, or even pretends to work.
The definition of a failed state is “Can’t get anything done and things keep getting worse”. How close is that, would you say?