History, Politics, Top Stories

John Glubb and Avoiding the Fate of Empires

Empires rise, and empires fall. This fact of history—so obvious looking backwards—is all but inconceivable to those living through an empire’s peak. Human life is so short in the scheme of civilisations that we tend to overemphasise the importance and length of our own era, while past ages blur together. We live closer in time to Cleopatra than she did to the builders of the pyramids, but Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome all blend in the popular imagination into a shadowy and distant past.

Culture biases us as much as our sense of time. The Arabic-speaking Moors ruled large parts of what is now Spain for nearly eight centuries—that is, for a third as long again as the 600 years that have passed since they (or at least, their leaders) were driven out by the newly-united Catholic monarchs of Aragon and Castile. Yet through contemporary European eyes, Moorish rule is typically viewed as an “interlude” in the history of the Spanish nation—a nation that, in reality, didn’t come into political being until the late 15th century. And—as many Basques, Catalonians, and Galicians would argue—a nation that has perhaps never truly existed culturally.

Nevertheless, the relative stability of political hegemony lets us overlook many cultural differences and tensions. Today’s Catalan and Basque independence movements may threaten the Spanish state, but they don’t challenge the “empire”—that is, the North Atlantic order, centred on the United States, the European Union, and institutions like the UN, NATO, and the WTO. Similarly, during the golden age of the Emirate of Córdoba, the tensions and rebellions of the Latin-speaking, post-Visigothic kingdoms to the north might have threatened various aspects of the Iberian state, but had little bearing on the sense of hegemonic stability that pervaded the Caliphate, which stretched across the Maghreb through the Middle East to India.

But the Caliphate did fall. And sooner or later, the present North Atlantic empire will lose its hegemony too. Indeed, if there is any truth to the theories of Sir John “Pasha” Glubb, we are already witnessing the final stages of Western dominance, and experiencing a transfer of power (back) towards the East.

Glubb was an English army officer who spent the best part of his career serving the newly-independent governments of Iraq and Jordan. An avid—if amateur—historian, he developed a theory on hegemonic orders that he called the “Fate of Empires.” Comparing a series of ancient and modern empires, he concluded that their average lifespan was 10 generations—about 250 years—and that, despite great geographic, technological, religious, and cultural differences, all empires follow a general pattern as they expand, develop, and finally decline and collapse. Although Glubb himself was the first to acknowledge the risks of over-simplification in his generalised model, his observations aptly describe, in broad-brushstrokes, not only the fate of past empires, but the contemporary situation in global politics today, particularly regarding the West and China.

Glubb was agnostic on whether the “laws” of history he claimed to uncover were at all deterministic, but hoped that, by understanding how empires decline and collapse, modern citizens stood a chance of avoiding their typical fate. And so, I want to consider ways in which the predicted collapse of Western hegemony might be averted. It’s another question whether or not such a collapse ought to be avoided. Glubb—as a man of his time and class—had imperialist tendencies, though his immersion in foreign cultures gave him an open-mindedness that is generally lacking in the present-day imperialists of Western conservative parties. At any rate, as we go along, I’ll suggest that if the West is to avoid the fate of past empires, it needs to stop acting like a typical empire. And to do that, it needs to move as far as possible from modern conservative policy—and its emphasis on corporate profit and economic growth—as it can.

*     *     *

Glubb noted that empires tend to begin with a “breakout” phase, in which an insignificant nation on the margins of an established power—say, the Macedonians before Alexander, the Arabs before Muhammed, or the Mongols before Genghis Khan—suddenly overwhelms its neighbours. This “Age of Pioneers” becomes an “Age of Conquests” when, encouraged by early successes, the rising nation takes over the power structures of its conquered neighbour and continues to expand. Glubb noted that successful new empires are not motivated simply by loot and plunder. With an emphasis on “noble” virtues—adventurousness, courage, strength, and, importantly, honesty—rising empires don’t want simply to subdue the established power; they want to become as they perceive them to be: advanced, technological hegemons. The Arabs took over Greek and Persian institutions—as the Mongols would take over Chinese and Islamic institutions—to become masters of a revitalised and expanded civilisation.

A rising empire, argued Glubb, has at its advantage an optimistic sense of initiative, and a spirit of improvisation, that contrasts with the defensive deference to tradition found in more established powers, who have too much to lose by experimentation. The rising power, he claimed, is also typically marked by a racial homogeneity, and its members consequently feel a strong sense of duty and loyalty to their tribe. This frequently evolves into a sort of “ruling caste,” as the conquerors situate themselves at the head of the pre-existing societal order of the conquered, as happened in India, first with the Mughals, and later with the British.

Having established control over large, diverse territories, the new pax impera creates ideal conditions for trade. And so begins what Glubb called the “Age of Commerce.” The desire for honour and glory gradually becomes a desire for material riches. At first, the conquering class may participate only indirectly in such commerce. Their military success has made the roads and seas safe for merchants, whom they tax and protect, but from whom they remain aloof—indeed, it’s intriguing how low on the social scale merchants and businessmen are considered in many pre-modern cultures. But sooner or later, seeing the potential for riches, the ruling class can’t but get itself involved. However, Glubb claimed that at these still-early stages of the “Age of Commerce,” material gain is still seen in terms of national glory, an extension of political conquest. “Noble” virtues continue to be taught and idealised, above all a sense of duty to the nation.

The “Age of Commerce” thus gives way to an “Age of Affluence,” marked by great civic works and building projects, and investments in art and culture, as the rich look for ways to spend their newfound wealth. In our own day, this depiction aptly fits China. The ruling class of the Communist Party—long aloof, at least in theory, from material excess—has joined forces with the commercial classes to promote not just prosperity but fantastic wealth. All the same, many Chinese—in business as well as in engineering or research—describe their motivations just as much as a duty to the country as for their own or their family’s benefit. Success in business is a source of national pride.

Though perhaps not for long. As an empire grows richer, Glubb noted, wealth becomes an end in itself, and the emphasis moves from national service to personal gain. The old nobility and their sense of virtue are replaced by merchants and the values of the market. With this diminishing sense of duty comes a defensiveness, concerned with protecting affluence for a minimum of shared sacrifice. The United States crossed this line a long time ago, all but codifying it in the Reagan era. Though lip-service is still paid to the pioneer spirit of the Founding Fathers, unchecked individualism has replaced the “united-we-stand” attitude that built the early nation. By the time of the second Gulf war, the middle classes were encouraged to go shopping to support the economy, while the military—drawn largely from the poorest classes of society—made the actual sacrifices. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the defining factor of the richest class of Americans, and their political allies, is the avoidance of all shared national burdens—from healthcare to taxes and the public services that rely on them—in favour of a hyper-individualistic notion of prosperity.

(Interestingly, Glubb also noted that this period of an empire’s history is frequently marked by the building of walls. From Hadrian’s Wall to the Great Wall of China, wall-building is an inward-looking, defensive gesture aimed at hoarding and protecting wealth).

By the time this softer, comfortable, and defensive form of affluence has been achieved, Glubb wrote, the empire has already begun its decline. He called the penultimate stage of empire the “Age of Intellect.” This is often seen in the moment as an empire’s golden age. Higher education becomes widespread, and scientific and technological advances abound. And yet, Glubb noted, time and again—from Ancient Athens to the Arab Caliphate to China’s Song dynasty—an empire’s intellectual peak arrives just moments before its fall. As a result, Glubb was intensely suspicious of intellectualism, which he viewed as a product of the “softness” of the “Age of Affluence”—all talk and no action, inventing justifications for why the nation should no longer fight, and conquer, and grow rich.

Glubb was careful not to stray into anti-intellectualism—there is no reason, he wrote, that a nation’s success should be measured in terms of monetary rather than academic achievement. But he worried that a side-effect of the “Age of Intellect” is that increasing political chatter often raises internal political divisions above external threats in the public consciousness. Glubb’s example is Byzantium which, faced with the Turks’ imminent invasion, fought a series of civil wars that weakened the empire so that it was ready for collapse. In contemporary Britain, America, and Europe, internal divisions and enmity have begun to absorb almost all political and media attention, almost to the exclusion of the geopolitical challenges presented by Russia and China, to say nothing of the looming climate catastrophe.

However, worse than the misdirected political engagement of the “Age of Intellect” is the complete disengagement that marks the final “Age of Decadence.” While the chattering classes might still concern themselves with issues of state, during the final decline the nation’s collective attention becomes consumed by sport and entertainment. For Glubb, this goes hand-in-hand with the welfare state, which he argues is the other face of the decadent merchant’s reaping of the empire’s benefits without participating in the shared sacrifice it requires.

Unpalatable as this final point might be to modern liberals, Glubb offered a few historical examples to support it, and similar observations might be made of the modern West. When industries that support entire communities are sold off or shut down, workers are left with nothing but welfare as an option for survival, and with no political or economic voice, it becomes all too easy to fall into the opiates of diversion—sport and shopping, as well as more literal drugs. Similarly, while Glubb’s scepticism about immigrants (“not bad, just different”) will ring alarm bells for many with liberal tendencies—especially in today’s charged environment—he offered some interesting historical examples to support it, including an accurate prediction of the revival of nationalism in the breakdown of the USSR, which would take place 15 years after he wrote.

Glubb’s account therefore makes uneasy reading for a modern, cosmopolitan intellectual. Although we can question his generalisations and his selection of examples, his broad picture holds true not only for the periods he discusses, but also seems applicable to modern empires, such as China, which appears to be somewhere in the transition from the “Age of Commerce” to the “Age of Affluence,” and the North Atlantic liberal hegemony, which—depending on your vantage point—is in either the later stages of the “Age of Intellect” or entering the “Age of Decadence.” His questioning of intellectualism, immigration, and the welfare state is also challenging for the progressive project, casting the attainment of its goals as symptoms of its impending collapse.

On a superficial reading, Glubb might be caricatured as a particularly sentimental variant of Brexiteer, an imperialist who yearned for a time when men were men and Britain ruled the waves. But while unashamedly nostalgic, Glubb was philosophical enough to accept Britain’s decline, and warned against petty nationalisms as obstacles to European unity. And I believe that his work might in fact offer a clue to breaking the cycle of history, and building a united Europe and revitalised America as lynchpins of a forward-looking, moral, global order.

First of all, we should not assume—and neither did Glubb—that perpetuating an empire is a good in and of itself. He was quite agnostic on that point, and suggested that history’s different empires have allowed humanity’s diverse capacities—for art, organisation, philosophy, and so on—to be emphasised at different times, and that the collapse of one empire is simply the occasion for another’s flourishing. He saw history as cyclical, rather than a linear progression, and assumed that it was simply obvious that, as one society renounced conflict, a more aggressive rival would find openings to challenge it.

Nevertheless, there are still reasons to want to perpetuate Western hegemony. These need not be purely self-interested, either. Despite the hypocritical rhetoric of recent American imperialism, we can still uncynically argue that a world order based on liberal, European values is preferable to one centred on aggressive Russian expansionism, or on Chinese Han-centric authoritarian capitalism. While many Western radicals might welcome the decline of Western hegemony, we ought to pause for a moment to consider what its collapse would mean in practice for progressive values across the globe. Glubb noted that the later “Age of Intellect” is marked by increased equality for women and cultural minorities—rights which disappear when power is passed to a rising power in its patriarchal “Age of Pioneers” (compare, for instance, women’s rights in Iran and Afghanistan as they passed from Western and Soviet hegemony into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists).

Averting the West’s collapse, therefore, needn’t be a reactionary undertaking—in fact, although it is rarely recognised as such, it is vital to the progressive project. Glubb’s language—his praise of “manly” values, his scepticism of immigration and the welfare state, his criticism of intellectualism—certainly makes him look like an ally of the populist nationalists who have arisen in the past decade in reaction to the West’s perceived decadence. The rhetoric of the Right over recent years—with its condemnation of immigrants (“Build the wall!” “Stop the boats!”), and reflexive opposition to welfare, intellectuals, elites, and expertise—might just have been taken from a superficial reading of Glubb. The central populist idea, conscious or not, seems to be that if we could just roll back the “Age of Intellect” and its “soft” values, we could recapture the golden “Age of Affluence.”

But a more careful reading of Glubb reveals that such a strategy treats only the symptoms of the decline, not its cause. Glubb was quite clear—it is greed, and the transition of a culture from “service to selfishness” that marks a nation’s tipping point into decadence and decline. The rise of intellectualism can be better understood as an early reaction to this decline. As a society’s merchants become its leaders, and material wealth its chief measure of worth, it is almost inevitable that many in the succeeding generations will question the point of accumulating for its own sake. It is pretty well-established that, beyond a certain level of comfort, greater wealth doesn’t make us happier, and it is only natural that a society that has grown up in affluence will look for something more. For that reason, it is not surprising that the values of the “intellectual” generations—creativity, exploration, spontaneity, freedom, and truthfulness—should more closely mirror those warriors of the Age of Conquest than the businessmen of the Ages of Commerce and Affluence.

Be that as it may, the political class of the West remains undeniably in the hands of the decadent generation of Affluence. The language of commerce is everywhere—politicians talk of “the UK plc” or “Australia Inc.”—and honesty is certainly not a guiding virtue. Through lobbyists and direct consultation, business leaders influence all aspects of state policy, and yet give as little as possible in return, avoiding tax and moving capital and jobs away as soon as it is in their interests to do so.

The greed spawned by affluence leads to a decline in the virtues that built the nation. The rise of intellectualism is one manifestation of an attempt to recapture those virtues, and we could say that nostalgic nationalism is another, only from a very different point of view. It’s a shame, therefore, that these two arms see themselves so often as working at cross-purposes, although both also contribute to the decline in their own ways. Intellectuals frequently adopt the individualism of the business class, acting more for their own benefit than from a sense of duty or solidarity, while nationalists are vulnerable to exploitation by populists. Citizens from all sides are also far too easily drawn into the frivolity of a decaying civilisation, and the virtues they possess are arrested as their attention is diverted towards the leisure industry.

*     *     *

What lessons can we draw, then, from Glubb’s account of the Fate of Empires? Two things stand out. First, the need for a value higher than money. Second, the need for a spirit of service and self-sacrifice to a cause of which we are all a part. We need to stop thinking like businesspeople, and to stop treating the acquisition of wealth as the measure of success, both as individuals and as a society. And we need to actively replace it, with something that binds a community together and gives it meaning.

The first step is better wealth distribution. If we are all—as a nation—in it together, then we should all be sharing both the burdens and the benefits. A universal basic income would be a good place to start, but it cannot be the only answer. We also need to streamline the economy, centralising natural monopolies (like transport and utilities) and eliminating “bullshit” jobs, so that people can spend less time oiling the wheels of commerce, and more time engaged in meaningful work with their communities. The concept of meaningful work can’t be overstated. Glubb was right to be sceptical of welfare—there’s no preventing societal decay by giving people money to watch daytime tv, play video games, or argue on social media. We need to create space for people to learn and practice skills that empower them, and make their lives—and those of their communities—richer.

Communities should decide for themselves what such activities might be. But I believe that an emphasis on connection to the natural world, and self-reliance, should fall at the centre of them. A respect for the natural world is vital in these times of climate emergency, and may help us to become less materialistic and more appreciative of the simpler comforts we take for granted. An education system that teaches self-reliance through character-building would be an invaluable aid in forming citizens who could resist the frivolity that marks the decaying empire.

An extension of this would be the return of a form of National Service. This shouldn’t just mean military service (although a more equally-shared burden of defence might make governments more conscious as they deploy it). It should be broad enough in range that some form of service would be accessible to all citizens, whatever their ability, circumstances, or beliefs. Indeed, given the disastrous decisions made by American draft-dodgers over recent decades, completing a period of service should be a prerequisite for holding public office, as well as other incentives, such as being on the board of a public company since, as Glubb showed us, a spirit of service is most lacking in the business class. A form of national service—adjusted for family circumstances—might also be a condition of attaining citizenship, helping to assuage Glubb’s worry that immigrants might feel less invested in their new home.

There are countless community projects that would benefit from an investment of young workers—from national parks to urban gardens, from teaching languages to immigrants, to aid projects abroad. But even civil national service should have a communal element, and physical and mental challenges appropriate to the participants. Its dual aims should be to build a sense of community through shared achievement, and individual empowerment through overcoming one’s perceived limits and comfort zone. Such a practical, immersive combination of service and skill-learning would, I hope, build both self-reliance and greater investment in the community—and thus be of value both to a citizen’s future study or career, and their participation in democracy.

This emphasis on practical values, and community service against individual greed, might give our society the strength to persist through the Age of Intellect, reaping its benefits without falling into the decay that materialism, frivolity, and a sense of meaninglessness have brought into so many previous civilisations. Though scaling up such a sense of service to societies as diverse as Europe and the current United States will be challenging, it is perhaps our only hope against sliding into the competing, petty nationalisms that threaten to push the West back into the position it has held through much of history. We forget at our peril that it has once been—and could again become—a backwater on the fringes, and at the mercy, of a proud and united empire.

 

Leo Nicolletto is a poet and philosopher, based in the Italian Alps.

Image: Sir John Glubb (right) in Amman, 1950 (wikicommons)

Comments

  1. Not sure I agree with all the solutions but that was one of if not the most important article I’ve read on Quillette. Excellent piece.

  2. Great article. But it will lose the left on self-reliance which is clearly a symbol of whiteness.

  3. Hard times create strong men,
    Strong men create good times,
    Good times create weak men,
    Weak men create hard times.

  4. “to say nothing of the looming climate catastrophe.”

    Since there isn’t one, it is indeed best to say nothing of it.

  5. Interesting how the media calls illegal aliens ‘‘migrants’’ in some kind of ‘‘imagine-there’s-no-countries’’ wanky, hippy fantasy.

  6. I disagree with the article for one fundamental reason.

    The greed spawned by affluence leads to a decline in the virtues that built the nation.

    Couple this with the assertion that wealth distribution is a major solution to Avoiding the Fate of Empires and I’m out.

  7. Excellent article. I was actually just kicking around some similar thoughts.

    The stages of an “empire” or tightly bound alliance seem to roughly follow an early aggressive/formation stage followed by growth then stagnation then potential collapse or slow decline. I agree with the comments that state this life cycle should be different for ancient Egypt, imperial British and a modern western alliance. The competition and ways to express that competition is different as are the geological limitations and the production and movement of wealth. However, from my limited knowledge of previous empires, the stages still seem to be similar though expressed in different ways.

    However, the core of the article is the discussion of where we now stand in history and what we can learn from prior empires to improve our current state. I believe that the North Atlantic Alliance (US/Europe) as mentioned in the article has entered the stagnation stage. This entity focuses more on internal strife rather than international interactions or improving its strength (advancing technology, reducing non-productive drags on society, increasing standard of living, securing efficient endless energy, creating a solid agricultural base, …). If the North Atlantic Alliance does not advance and improve then another entity will pass it and gain more power in international matters. Looking at economic numbers this is already happening. What is needed is a brilliant statesman to step up in the US and other major western countries to lead us through this. After watching the debate last night… that won’t be happening anytime soon.

  8. It’s not an empire in name, but neither was the Soviet bloc. While both blocs existed, the struggle to “take over countries” was the very essence of their global rivalry, it just didn’t involve overt military annexation. When the Soviet Union was abolished, western economic and military alliances expanded to absorb as much as they could. Then the war on terror made the whole world an American battleground again, and just as during the cold war, American elites used state power to promote American values, culture, and political and economic ideology worldwide. I could even say that for American liberals, the US is not just an empire, it’s a religious empire, an empire that exists to spread a worldview.

  9. It’s interesting, the views put forward in the article are a mixture of ideas, some good and others bad. I think the key piece he is missing is that over time Empires, whether literal or figurative, tend to centralise power. This is the fundamental flaw of Empire, because as Nassim Taleb has shown us large institutions or commercial enterprises don’t possess the antifragility which distributed and iterative acquire from constant exposure to adversity and small shocks.

    This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have our Amazons and Wallmarts, because the economies of scale that these companies deliver allow us to purchase products cheaper. Similarly, it doesn’t mean we should do away with Government. But what it does mean is that we should consciously try to devolve power away from the centre, and try to make the provision of good and services, whether in the private or public sectors, as iterative as possible. Above all, we should avoid uniformity of provision at all costs.

    I often wonder what Adam Smith would make of it all. I imagine he would reserve his most scathing criticism for the finance sector. His views on the East India Company were negative, and he deeply resented the omnipresent need for Government to step in and bail out this enterprise- given its size and relevance to Britain at the time. The phrase too big to fail comes to mind. He was also a critic of Britain’s mercantilist attitudes towards its colonies and rightly predicted that it would provoke Revolution in America.

    One interesting observation from a few years ago, was that a university education made you less likely to become an inventor. I don’t necessarily know whether this is still the case, given the proliferation of Tech. But it would certainly tend to indicate that a university education inclines one towards an analytical, rather than an operational, mindset. And this too might present a folly at a structural level- because does a predisposition towards analytical rather than operational thinking make one more likely to be inclined to be good at rationalising processes and making them more efficient, rather than indulging in the types of intuitive instinct-based insights which generate entirely new sectors in the marketplace?

    Because if so, then we have a problem. It points to a fundamental imbalance in our ability to generate new high value labour at the same rate that we make old jobs obsolescent. Perhaps Peter Thiel had entirely the right idea with his Thiel fellowships, but we all missed the macro- the requirement for this innovation to become more widespread. Maybe if we started plugging geniuses into operational rather than analytical thinking then we could find ways to speed the growth of wealth in the Developing World, whilst filling up our own hollowed-out workforces with a spree of new opportunities and growth.

    This might be the key to Eric Weinstein’s observation that we stopped innovating in 1972. Universities might serve a useful purpose when they fulfil the role of providing a space for oddballs and heretics to congregate and work together to generate cool new ideas. But when they sacrifice the operational mindset for a drier purely analytical worldview, it seems that conventional, not to mention ideological, ideas seem to get the upper hand. We desperately need to create spaces for malcontents, rebels and contrarians, if we are to truly rejuvenate the West.

  10. The Romans “put up with” the Welsh and the Picts

    The Romans and the Parthians had a long standing truce where neither side was quite able to subdue the other…

    So were the Romans not an Imperial Power either?

  11. I have lost count of the times so far I have seen something like this article: the author discovers some interesting and/or profound truth, and then ruins it all by trying to shoehorn liberal pieties where they do not fit, or are even the opposite to what should be concluded. It seems to me that liberals (American sense of the word) are in a quest to preempt people from reaching conclusions that do not fit their narrative, even if they are the obvious ones.

    There was “The Blank Slate” by Steven Pinker, who despite showing most liberal ideology was based on the denial of human nature, still believes that this should not affect the correctness of liberal prescriptions. The man spends most of the book apologising to his liberal friends for the truth.

    More recently was “Oil and the Great Powers” by Anand Toprani, who shows the importance of cheap energy for the future of any state/civilisation by describing in great detail the quest of both Britain and Germany for cheap sources of oil before WWII, and how their failure condemned them to subservience (Britain) and defeat (Germany). After eight chapters of masterful exposition, he throws it all away in the conclusion, which effectively ignores everything the previous chapters have shown. It almost looked like his PhD supervisor told him that, regardless of whatever the data says, you have to mention Climate Change or you will be failed.

    And now this article, where UBI, Climate Change and other liberal ideas are mentioned despite of the fact that the entire point of Sir John Glubb’s proposition is that those very liberal ideas are the problem.

  12. Yes, and as some definite ideological judo is called for these days, I now encourage people to call them ‘colonists.’ It’s as accurate as any term and more accurate than most.

    I also encourage my English, Scottish, Italian, Dutch friends to identify as ‘BIPOC’ - Black Indigenous and People of Color, the latest politically correct term imported from the USA. The English are an indigenous people and might object to being colonized. Yes, The English, in the past, did certainly colonize other shores but then the Danes also raped, pillaged and colonized England That doesn’t give the English, or anyone else, the moral right to rape, pillage and colonize Denmark today.

    The Danes are an indigenous people, no doubt living in harmony as stewards of their land according to their ancient spiritual and religious beliefs and have every right to oppose colonization by those who would disrupt that harmony and force them to change their traditional, indigenous ways.

    See how fun and easy this is? When I do this with my regressive faux-Left friends they accuse me of “weaponizing ideas” and I blankly ask them when they became Right-wing and anti-indigenous. This is the key to this technique, using the exact same tactics and language while out-flanking them on the Left. One must remain completely oblivious when they tack back to using such arguments as “but that’s just unreasonable,” - stick with their doctrine and make them choke on it.

    Btw, I’m an old Leftie myself - still am really, hence my term ‘faux-Left’ - so it might be easier for me than someone right-of-center but anyone can play this game and everyone should in order to bankrupt it so we all can get back to compromising between incrementally changing our society for the better and conserving the best of it rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater in a revolutionary paroxysm. That impetus is currently coming from what sells itself as the Left but in the past has been pushed by the Right so it’s in all combatants’ interests not to use poison gas as a weapon - unless your opponent refuses such an agreement. Then there is no choice.

  13. Prior to the 2016 election, I told the next generation in my family that it was my belief that America had already ceased to be a country in the hearts and minds of many if not most Americans.

    It was - and is now - merely a place on a map where many people find it convenient to live.

    I also told them that I agreed with what they already had begun to suspect, that America would hardly exist even as a political entity by the time they reached my age, and they should take immediate steps to prepare their children for a world in which America has gone in every real sense. Perhaps they’ll become “anywheres”, moving from Singapore to Canada to somewhere else, with the winds.

    I’m glad that Trump has managed to pack the Supreme Court with conservative justices. Glad that real harm has been done to the Democratic Party by his doing so. But ultimately, even that court will be pulled down and destroyed by socialists.

    Someday, something new and good will rise from the ashes. But it won’t be called the United States of America.

  14. The universal basic income idea assumes people are not better than pigs who need nothing more than to line up at the government through. This idea shows the utter disdain the liberals have for the commoners. People derive the meaning of their lives from their ability to contribute, to create, to produce. People need jobs, not handouts. Tens of millions of jobs were exported to low-wage countries. The result is the election of Donald Trump. Instead of listening to the discontent, the liberal elites declared that whoever does not approve of the despicable, degrading model of globalization they promote is a racist, sexist, xenophobe, fascist. Their attitude guarantees that Trumpism is not going away anytime soon. With or without Trump the forces that created him will only get stronger. The modern liberal elites are no different from the French or the Russian aristocracies in the decades before their demise.

  15. Again, I start out by giggling at the pose of “sorting all this out” for me or something. In fact, one of the very interesting aspects of what used to be called “the American experiment” is the very successful assimilation which has occurred in the U.S. across ethnic groups. Irish and Germans and Italians and Hungarians and Dutch - these are not the same peoples. We had a terrible time with it. We stopped immigration to a trickle in the early 1920s and kept it that way for 45 years in the U.S. to drive assimilation. Growing up in the last '60s and '70s, my group of friends included Jews, Spanish, Germans, Irish, Italian - Jews were different cuz they went to church on Friday night.

    We all watched the same TV shows, listened to the same music, went to the same movies, etc. We had a uniculture which I grew up in just as it was being destroyed by '60s radicals spouting the same class BS you are emitting. And the thing about the U.S. is that it class mobility was incredible. Most people who started out poor in the U.S. didn’t end up poor. The middle class that emerged during this period of time was a nightmare for the Marxists cuz the dumb Proles were supposed revolt. But hey, turns out we all had false consciousnesses.

    But please, let me take you seriously for a millisecond. Who in the U.S. is being denied democracy or any civil rights at all, institutionally? And don’t give me the “racism without racists” Stokely Carmichael BS, k? I require actual evidence and reason. And here’s the special challenge just for you. Please explain how you either exploit those ethnicities you apparently oppress nonstop, or are oppressed by them if you are a poor, rightless minority in America. But tell it in the first person - show me how you are affected or are affecting it.

    What’s destroying Western civilization are folks like you who believe the mythology you just spouted. It would be amusing, if not just so damn sad…

Continue the discussion in Quillette Circle

94 more replies

Participants