Panem Et Circenses

“I recollect, when I was lamenting to the Doctor the misfortunes of the American war, and exclaimed, “If we go on at this rate, the nation must be ruined; he answered, “Be assured, my young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.””

(Sir John Sinclair, 1st Baronet)

In 1776 England was among the greatest nations on Earth.  And this in multiple measures.  Financially, economically, scientifically, militarily, geographically, even culturally it was a power to be reckoned with.  So, when Adam Smith opined that even defeat in the American War of Independence wouldn’t topple Great Britain, he was correct.  And history has many examples of great powers sustaining a terrible loss and recovering.

But history is also full of great nations abandoning the practices that made them great and falling into ruin.  And although the fall may be gradual, nevertheless, the ruin is assured by the reversal inherent in the loss of so important a characteristic.  There may be a great deal of ruin in a nation but once the well-being of the citizens is no longer the driving force behind its government that ruin is assured and the greater the nation the more dramatic the fall.

And as in so many discussions of the American republic we always seem to come back to Rome as the exemplar of a republic that began as a wildly successful partnership between the common people and the elites and ended up as a tyrannical oligarchy where most citizens were impoverished serfs who were essentially slaves to the rich landowners.

Of course, it took about five hundred years for this change to destroy Rome but it is patently obvious that it was the freedom of the Roman citizens in their heyday that made the Roman legion the most fearsome fighting force of the ancient world.  They were fighting for their small farms and families.  These were things worth fighting and dying for.  But by the fifth century A.D. your average Roman commoner didn’t own anything and wouldn’t care whether he was ruled by a Frank, a Visigoth, a Hun or a Roman emperor.  So why would he fight to maintain the empire?  He wouldn’t.  And so, it fell.

What about us?  How do we end up?  Well, currently the globalists have been announcing that in the future “you won’t own anything and you’ll like it.”  That sounds an awful lot like bread and circuses to me.  We’re creating a state that has no patriotic aspect to it.  Now whether such a state can exist in the current international environment is an open question.  But I would say that the idea that such a country could be a militarily dominant state doesn’t seem likely.  I think that will be on display going forward.  Currently, the American nuclear arsenal acts as a powerful deterrent against the great powers attacking the country.  But the idea of using the threat of nuclear annihilation to coerce Hungary or Afghanistan into celebrating gay pride seems kind of absurd.  So, we can conclude that our influence around the world will diminish along with the diminution of our military and economic power.

So, what will we look like going forward?  Probably like an updated version of England.  We’ll be the former hegemon slowly muscled out of all the territories we used to dominate.  And we already see it.  Asia and Africa are already going their own ways.  Then the Americas and finally Europe.  Who knows?  The day could come when even Canada starts kicking sand in our face.  That would be the bottom.

There is nothing certain about the arc of our historical relevance as a great power.  The elites that currently embrace all of the madness that is leading us to ruin could wake up tomorrow and decide that, “Wait a minute, a closed border and resurgent industrial policy is exactly what the Democratic party has always stood for.  And weren’t Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis magnanimous in defeat and shouldn’t we let bygones be bygones?  And what the hell is going on in the cities with criminals running amok?  Law and order is the Democrat way.”  Hell, they wouldn’t even have to let Donald Trump out of prison.  They’d claim he had been the woke problem all along.  After all we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

They could do this because the underlying motivation is their own self-interest.  If the globalist project suddenly founders then it will be all aboard the new American century with red, white and blue bunting and hip, hip hooray for our boys.  We can even expect another attack on the “homeland” at some point.  But as the Roman elites eventually discovered slaves don’t make very convincing legionnaires.  And I think we may be past the point where American troops will dominate the world stage.  So even if there is a pivot to sanity, we won’t again approach what we were in 1941 or even 2001.  Americans just aren’t going to buy into it again.  We’re just another declining empire with puppet masters pulling the strings and the serfs trying to avoid the consequences of the next reflexive spasm of the great dying beast.

And so, as I said earlier, there may be a great deal of ruin in a nation but once the well-being of the citizens is no longer the driving force behind its government that ruin is assured and the greater the nation the more dramatic the fall.  And depending on the surrounding circumstances the fall isn’t necessarily slow.  Keep your eye on the exits.