The Rise And Fall Of Empires

Discussion in 'Politics' started by UncleJoe, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    6,764
    108
    I found this interesting so I thought I'd share.

    ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- "One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse," warns anthropologist Jared Diamond in "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." Many "civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society's demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power."


    'Collapse of All Empires:' 5 stages repeating through the ages.
    Ferguson opens with a fascinating metaphor: "There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than 'The Course of Empire,' a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hangs in the New York Historical Society. Cole was a founder of the Hudson River School and one of the pioneers of nineteenth-century American landscape painting; in 'The Course of Empire,' he beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day. Each of the five imagined scenes depicts the mouth of a great river beneath a rocky outcrop."

    If you're unable to see them at the historical society, they're all reproduced in Foreign Affairs, underscoring Ferguson's warnings that the "American Empire on the precipice," near collapse.

    First. 'The Savage State,' before the Empire rises
    "In the first, 'The Savage State,' a lush wilderness is populated by a handful of hunter-gatherers eking out a primitive existence at the break of a stormy dawn." Imagine our history from Columbus' discovery of America in 1492 on through four more centuries as we savagely expanded across the continent.

    Second. 'The Arcadian or Pastoral State,' as the American Empire flourishes
    "The second picture, 'The Arcadian or Pastoral State,' is of an agrarian idyll: the inhabitants have cleared the trees, planted fields, and built an elegant Greek temple." The temple may seem out of place. However, Cole's paintings were done in 1833-1836, not long after Thomas Jefferson built the University of Virginia using classical Greek and Roman revival architecture.

    As Ferguson continues the tour you sense you're actually inside the New York Historical Society, visually reminded of how history's great cycles do indeed repeat over and over. You are also reminded of one of history's great tragic ironies -- that all nations fail to learn the lessons of history, that all nations and their leaders fall prey to their own narcissistic hubris and that all eventually collapse from within.

    Third. Consummation of the American Empire
    "The third and largest of the paintings is 'The Consummation of Empire.' Now, the landscape is covered by a magnificent marble entrepôt, and the contented farmer-philosophers of the previous tableau have been replaced by a throng of opulently clad merchants, proconsuls and citizen-consumers. It is midday in the life cycle."

    'The Consummation of Empire' focuses us on Ferguson's core message: At the very peak of their power, affluence and glory, leaders arise, run amok with imperial visions and sabotage themselves, their people and their nation. They have it all.

    But more-is-not enough as greed, arrogance and a thirst for power consume them. Back in the early days of the Iraq war, Kevin Phillips, political historian and former Nixon strategist, also captured this inevitable tendency in Wealth and Democracy:

    "Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out." We sense the "consummation" of the American Empire occurred with the leadership handoff from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.

    Unfortunately that peak is behind us: Clinton, Bush, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and all future American leaders are merely playing their parts in the greatest of all historical dramas, repeating but never fully grasping the lessons of history in their insatiable drive for "economic progress," to recapture former glory ... while unwittingly pushing our empire to the edge, into collapse.

    Four. Destruction of the Empire
    Then comes 'The Destruction of Empire,' the fourth stage in Ferguson's grand drama about the life-cycle of all empires. In "Destruction" "the city is ablaze, its citizens fleeing an invading horde that rapes and pillages beneath a brooding evening sky." Elsewhere in "The War of the World," Ferguson described the 20th century as "the bloodiest in history, one hundred years of butchery." Today's high-tech relentless news cycle, suggests that our 21st century world is a far bloodier return to savagery.

    At this point, investors are asking themselves: How can I prepare for the destruction and collapse of the American Empire? There is no solution in the Cole-Ferguson scenario, only an acceptance of fate, of destiny, of history's inevitable cycles.

    But there is one in "Wealth, War and Wisdom" by hedge fund manager Barton Biggs, Morgan Stanley's former chief global strategist who warns us of the "possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure," advising us to buy a farm in the mountains.

    "Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food ... well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson." And when they come looting, fire "a few rounds over the approaching brigands' heads."

    Five. Desolation ... after the Empire disappears
    "Finally, the moon rises over the fifth painting, 'Desolation,'" says Ferguson. There is not a living soul to be seen, only a few decaying columns and colonnades overgrown by briars and ivy." No attacking "brigands?" No loveable waste-collecting robots from Wall-E?

    The good news is the Earth will naturally regenerate itself without savage humans, as we saw in Alan Weisman's brilliant "The World Without Us:" Steel buildings decay. Microbes eat indestructible plastics. Eons pass. And Earth reemerges in all its glory, a Garden of Eden.

    The entire article is here.

    The rise and certain fall of the American Empire - MarketWatch
     

  2. pdx210

    pdx210 Well-Known Member

    320
    0
    Similar trends exist in economic cycles particularly... long wave analysis and (Nikolai) Kondratiev cycle of spring summer fall & winter. These tend to follow population life cycles baby boomer generation retiring now born during ww2 , the great depression was the baby boom children born during the our civil war.

    The winter phase of the cycle ends with a big war. Wars destroy assets, debt and people, spikes births and ultimatly push economic growth, debt and the cycle start again.

    the argument some are having Now ...see (Austrian economic, long wave analysis) is that coordinated economic manipulation by global monetary systems to try and offset this is deferring the winter phase of this cycle. By deferring these cycles the concern is they will be much longer or more severe

    The last big Kondrative winter was the great depression and it ended with ww2


    Kondratieff Wave
     
  3. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member

    3,183
    16
    Excellent post UncleJoe !!! and thanks for the painting posts AlterCow!!
     
  4. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

    1,922
    0
    Great post an d pictures, imagine a post crash society with all this technology we cannot use because the people who understood it are gone. I think the survivors would be more contemporary craftsman like and relying on primitive technology.
     
  5. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

    6,764
    108
    Cool pics!! I didn't think to look for them.
    Thanks AlterCow. :)