The Logic Of Empire

The first time I did any serious reading of the Roman Empire, the thought that was always with me was why they never thought to downsize. The cost of conquering Gaul was relatively low, so it made sense to do it, but the cost of hanging onto it never seemed to make sense. The same was even more true with Britannia. By the third century, it should have been obvious that the Empire needed to downsize. Yet, that was never a part of the logic of the empire.

The same is true of the Thirty Years War. The Habsburgs were exhausting themselves trying to preserve something that was probably not worth the effort. Of course, we look at these things in hindsight and from a modern perspective. It seems silly to care about the local religious practices, but important people did care about these things. Still, when I read about the rise and fall of empires, I end up thinking through the alternatives, wondering why they were never considered.

The answer is probably the simplest one. People, even the shrewdest rulers, live and plan within their allotted time on earth. Even the Chinese, who take the long view of things, act in the moment. People can think about how their actions will impact their descendants a century from now, but it will never have the same emotional tug as how their contemporaries think of them in the moment. Most men will trade the applause of today for being remembered long after he is dead.

That is probably what we are seeing with the current struggles of Western elites to keep this house of cards together. The “liberal international order” is the perfection of a solution to problems of the long gone past. From the French Revolution through the Cold War, the great challenge in the West was over conflict resolution. After a long bloody series of experiments, the West finally figured out something that worked to keep the peace, maximize material wealth and settle disputes.

The current arrangements are not answering the questions of this age. In fact, they appear to be exacerbating the problems that face the West. Angela Merkel’s decision to invite in a million Muslim warriors made her the hero of her contemporaries, but it guaranteed that generations of Germans will be engaged in a long twilight struggle to save themselves and their people from the terror of contemporary Islam. A generation from now Merkel will be remembered as a monster.

Of course, when we talk of the West, we are really talking about the American Empire that arose following World War II. Washington has its tentacles in every nook and cranny of the world. The United States has active duty military troops stationed in nearly 150 countries. The cost of this is close to a trillion per year, not counting the unknown sums that are not in the budget. If the American ruling class decides it is time to downsize the empire, then the liberal international order is finished.

Assuming it is true that the top 5% of Americans pay 60% of taxes, the cost of empire is mostly paid by rich people. Rich people like peace and stability, so fear of the alternative keeps them invested in a system that no longer makes sense. The internal contradictions of this empire may even be known to the people in charge, but the way out of it is not clear, so they stick with what has worked for generations, no matter the cost to them and their descendents.

Inertia plays a part in these things too. To abandon what their ancestors built would seem like failure, so our rulers keep throwing good money after bad in places like Afghanistan and Mesopotamia. If there is a reason to be involved in the Syrian civil war, not one has said it, but there we are anyway. If Putin wants to set himself up as a modern day Tsar, what is it matter to us? We have an army of specially trained Russia experts, so our rulers keep pretending Putin is a super villain.

The truly weird thing about the American Empire is it started as a homogeneous nation, composed of English speaking white people. The Romans bankrupted themselves trying to keep the barbarians out, while going to great lengths to integrate those that came in through conquest and migration. America is bankrupting itself trying to import barbarians from every corner of the globe. The point is to keep the current arrangements in place, no matter how illogical.

It is an error to assume the people in charge are thinking this stuff through. Lots of smart people were bamboozled into thinking China would get rich and become a modern Western style democracy. Sure, the people who talked those smart people into this foolishness were in it just for a quick buck, but that just proves the point. The people in charge of the West are not thinking too far past next week. They do what seems to work today, no matter the long term cost.

That is probably the best way to think of the logic of empire. No one lives in the long term, because as Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead. Ultimately, relative to the march of history, everyone in charge at all times and all places has a high time preference. The people in charge are just getting what they can from the current arrangements. It is why they instinctively defend the system. It is what provides them with the lifestyle they believe they deserve. That and it is all they know.

102 thoughts on “The Logic Of Empire

  1. Europe’s most important leaders are all childless: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the French president Emmanuel Macron, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

    No children means they have no connection whatesoever with policies that have long term effects on the rest of us and our children and grandchildren. I suspect that’s also true in US goverment as well.

  2. Urge everyone to read books by Peter Zeihan: Accidental Superpower & Absent Superpower. Look for some of his talks on youTube for an introduction. He predicts that America will withdraw from its Empire to the continental USA.

    Dan Kurt

  3. Socratic question for anyone who cares to answer relative to which of our competitors plays the Long Game: What is the significance of the date September 11th…was it chosen at random for that attack or does it have a deeper meaning to the Jihadi? On September 11th *1683* a determined Islamic army stormed the gates of Vienna…for the second time in about 100 years. If our horizon is last week and our opponent’s is a thousand years ago–friends we are going to lose because our strategic vision is a video game compared to theirs.

      • The lackeys they pinned 9/11 on yeah, but the “brains” behind the operation may have chosen that date. I sort of doubt it though, it was probably just a good time to evac all the Tribe on that day and any other useful assets before detonating all that thermite.

        WTC 7 tells me everything I need to know. They -could- have gotten away with it ‘cept for that little blooper. Given that a newscaster said it fell live on air 15+ min before it actually happened. Maybe she was just psychic?

        • Quite the discussion from all angles of the 9/11 moniker on this thread. Most conjecture coincidence, although the question doesn’t reference the historical connection.

          The two most intriguing answers, imho.
          “Is there any relation between the emergency number 911 and 9/11 attacks or is it a coincidence?”

          1.”Good question; I’ve asked it myself.

          We’ll probably never know for sure, but I think it probably wasn’t a coincidence. The similarity between 9/11 and 911 makes great press, and the people who orchestrated 9/11 wanted lots of publicity.

          Some people say ‘911’ means nothing to people living in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia or whatever. So what?

          If they were smart enough to orchestrate such a sophisticated attack, then they surely could have figured out the similarity between 911 and 9/11.

          Of course, that’s assuming radical Muslims were behind 9/11 in the first place – a pretty radical assumption.”

          2.”Of course there is… that is one of many elements pointing to the scripted nature of the event. 911 was more like a film than a real-life event, but a film that killed thousands. The whole thing unfolded like a movie, from the president reading to children (to heighten the contrast between innocence and evil), to the many interviews that were prepared – they knew who was responsible after one hour – and then high-ranking officials risking their lives on the lawn of the Pentagon, to give assistance, to the heroic action of passengers above Pennsylvannia, when they attacked the hijackers, something we know about because we had cell phone communication with the passengers (at 30k feet, in 2001 hahahahahaha), and then of course there were the many good turns of fortune, such as finding Mohammed Atta’s passport on the sidewalk below the Twin Towers, as well as the passports of the hijackers in that grassy field in PN – nothing survived that crash… there was just a hole in the ground.. the entire plane was swallowed by the earth, but somehow those two passports survived… go figure.. and then, there was 911… help, emergency.. and of course, at the end of that long brutal day, WTC 7 (the Solomon Brothers Building) collapsed – at about 5:20 pm, the last of many tragedies, even though the building showed no signs of imminent collapse (other than the media telling us).. the whole thing was clearly fabricated. “

      • Our vaunted security/intelligence industry has the blood of slain Americans on its hands. In the Statement of the World Islamic Front, which I invite you to Gulag, Usama bin Laden and his counterparts in Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh told the West exactly what they intended to do, and why. Both geostrategic why and more importantly, canonically why. On February 23, 1998. Canonical Islam commands Jihad. You are angry, got it. Now get smart. You vastly underestimate our opponent.
        Those who think “goat fukkers” can’t be a dangerous opponent when we have an opinion shaping industry who thinks they’re a “weligion of peas” set us up to lose.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they eventually downsized, albeit slowly, starting with Hadrian already in the 2nd century. Mesopotâmia and Armênia were conquered but soon relinquished, Dacia (nowadays Romania) was abandoned after some 200 years of occupation, Britain was left to fend for herself even before the invasions got ugly, and eventually Gaul, Spain and most of Italy were abandoned to the barbarians. Thinking well, even Augustus downsized when he called the legions back from the Elbe after 20 years occupying Germany – apparently because not worth the trouble.

    They did try to orderly downsize, but it couldn’t save them from ruin.

  5. Zman: “People can think about how their actions will impact their descendants a century from now, but it will never have the same emotional tug as how their contemporaries think of them in the moment. That’s just human nature. Most men will trade the applause of today for being remembered long after he is dead.”

    Was there a typo in there? Because it seems contradictory.

  6. This is exactly why whenever they get the slightest whiff of isolationism our ruling class gets the vapors. They suspect Trump may have some of those tendencies and that’s what really sets them off.

  7. Well Mr Z man, up here in Carroll County MD we’ve had about 3″ of snow so far. During a brief respite my next door neighbor, a man who I’ve spoken to once, plowed out my driveway. If my boy had not been taking the beast for a stroll I’d never know who did it.
    How are you doing with your obsolete farm equipment down south?

    • If you are using bumfuck Carroll county as a metric for something you are living in a well constructed fantasy world like the shitlib elites do.

      Most of MD is like NoVA a hive of scum and villainy with Montgomery and PG Co being especially indicative of the rot in the nation, writ a bit smaller. I mean you are adjoined to Baltimore County FFS and Baltimore CITY not far away. You are going to use this as a point of pride or some utopia? Nigga puh-leez…

      Don’t even go there. I live and work in the area, your little “arm counties” will be invaded in due time, and you first since you are “first in line” before Alleghany, et. al.

      It WILL reach your doorstep, give it time.

      • You miss the point entirely. Even in utterly corrupt He ‘ll holes like MD there Are belts Of Bumfuck Counties Of decent whites, I’d Have To drive 15 miles to ensure I saw a Negro. I Lived on Fifth Ave In Sodom On Hudson for a decade and the neighbors here are a superior breed of human to those there.
        Fuck You.

  8. The romans didn’t need to downsize- they abandoned Rome entirely and moved to a more defensible position in Constantinople. They left the rabble behind who were obviously unsuitable for providing much of a defense against the goths, huns, etc. The Roman elite had enough and moved anything worth defending away from the angry mobs to a shining new city.

    • While there was some of that, similar to some of today’s elites buying real estate in New Zealand while they plunder what remains of their home countries, most Romans went down without noticing they were down. The same will happen here. Adventurers are rare. Byzantium drew on the population where it was located.

  9. I think GreyEnlightenment’s most recent post is indicative of the neoliberal mindset: White populism is uniquely dangeous. All other eventualities, up to and including dead expropriated Boers, Canadians, Europeans, or Americans, is a price they are willing to pay.

  10. “Assuming it is true that the top 5% of Americans pay 60% of taxes, the cost of empire is mostly paid by rich people.”

    My accountant just completed my income taxes. Trust me, being in the top 5%, or even the top 1% of income earners on a national basis does not make you rich. Most of the “rich” actually live middle class lifestyles in very expensive blue cities like Manhattan, San Francisco or LA.

    • Everyone who is not a sponge pays the tax, only not the income tax. The income tax of which he pays little he pays in a poorer quality of opportunity and in innumerable other ways. To simplify, if the top 2% were to pay 100% of income taxes we would properly see it for what it is–a VAT, the hidden tax.

  11. I for one long to send Europe, especially France, a Rescript of Honorius. 2/3 of the world’s GDP of educated idiocy emanates from Paris. Tell Froggy to look to his own defense, and all of a sudden the world gets a lot saner.

  12. I think the reason for not downsizing boils down to debt. Most people downsize by selling off assets and moving into a smaller place. If our government decides to downsize, what does it have to sell? I can’t think of anything, but I do know that if it does so, it will give up certain streams of revenue without lowering its considerable debt.

    This argument doesn’t take into account the holdings we have because of recent adventures in neoconservatism. It may be that the most recently acquired obligations could be given up with little cost as we see little real benefit from them.

      • They are getting paid back every day with massive trade gains, employment, money, infrastructure and more. The loans and the debt they create are a means to keep that gravy train running for as long as possible. It also gives them a great deal of influence.

        • That was the US scheme from 1919-1929. Loan foreign borrowers money to pay the interest on the debt they already had dating to arrangements made during the Great War. Such prosperity as began in 1914 America had never been experienced, and nobody wanted it to stop. China is the last place to be in a world wide depression. If the Chinese grasp the long view of history, that understanding is also quite narrow.

      • china implodes under massive rioting by all the suckers there that trusted the Chicoms.

    • What isn’t for sale?
      Or whored out for the monthly rent.

      Flip real estate, swap wives, rent children. Cloud people do not lose any sleep over it.

    • Doc;
      Au contraire, governments at all levels have vast landholdings that they could sell for productive use, just not in coastal urban and suburban areas. And I’m not talking National Parks either.

      For example, in my little corner of the world 70% of the land surface area is not on the local tax rolls because it’s held by the Feds or the State. It’s that way throughout them big square states out West, too. And, just to sweeten up the issue, there is no reduction in the Fed & State mandates that local governments are required to implement despite having most of their jurisdictions’ potential tax base walled off.

    • What does the government have to sell? Land, and lots of it. The BLM manages something like 250 million acres. The energy leases alone are worth billions.

      EDIT: Al beat me to it

    • Make the US military a profit center. Offer to protect small and medium sized countries for 2% of GDP.

  13. By the end of the *Western* Roman empire, the actual Roman citizens were happy to see the entire thing come crashing down. They were little more than slaves by that point anyway. I feel a similar way towards our current government.

    • The DC and elite priorities have parted ways with the priorities of the rest of us. I don’t see them aligning again in the future. The late Western Romans probably felt the same way.

    • Interesting how often I see that sentiment expressed. Here you reference that we’re essentially slaves. I’ve seen others who say that society has become so degenerate that they wouldn’t mind seeing it all go up in flames.

      It’s clear a lot of people are profoundly disgusted or just tired of what our civilization has (d)evolved into.

      I know that I personally would not care a whit if a nuclear warhead took out the entire Capitol complex and the White House tomorrow – except for the fact that a gaggle of even greater jerks in the chain of succession somewhere would survive.

      • It’s a horrible thing to contemplate, but the best thing that could happen to America is for every major city to be nuked.

        • I pray for God’s Sodom & Gomorrah routine to take the form of North Korean hellfire every night, does that make me a bad person?

          Let it burn. Build something from the ashes. The cream (literally) will rise to the top as it always does.

    • At that time, the barbarians were more Roman than the rulers of the Romans, so to speak.

      I’ve seen this mentioned other times, and I also think it’s true. It would be good if someone better-read could comb the old texts and find some passages expressing this.

  14. the elites import third worlders because it increases consumer demand via population increase, which props up the ponzi economy/GDP, which allows the rich to keep getting richer (and props up corporate profits, which allows the media to keep making advertising revenue)

    • I agree with you but must add that there is a certain ethnic elite that consciously, intentionally imports third worlders to demographically dispossess the founding stock.

  15. “The truly weird thing about the American Empire is it started as a homogeneous nation, composed of English speaking white people.”

    Eh. It started as 13 somewhat similar states. The Catholics in Maryland didn’t want to be ruled by Protestant Yankees and vice versa. So it started with a tiny and weak federal government.

    Ever since then, the trend has been to strengthen the power of the federal at the expense of the states. The problem is that people hate the results. I don’t want California and New York picking our rulers, and they don’t want rednecks in flyover country picking their rulers.

    • You’re thinking of the First Republic. That ended at Gettysburg. The Second Republic ended with Wilson.

  16. Empires die when the emperors are finally shown to be unable to enforce their imperial will at the periphery. At that point, the wolves and jackals and vultures pick over the corpse. They die when the original people of the core of that imperium no longer care about maintaining conquests to no benefit to themselves. We know where we are in that cycle.

  17. Lots of smart people were bamboozled into thinking China would get rich and become a modern western style democracy.

    Nobody but graduate students in economics and political science believed that. The elites thought they could destabilize China and maybe break it up and install puppets, the same way they think they think they can take over Russia.

  18. “the cost of empire is mostly paid by rich people.”

    The cost of empire will be borne by our children and grandchildren, Another $1 trillion in debt this year soon the interest on the debt will be $1trillion a year.

    The Pax America line always makes me laugh, it means that America always has a couple of wars on the go, some Pax.

      • You both are waxing soy. If you want the nice home and the comfortable life you had best be able and ready to defend it. And what’s the best defense? Comfort becomes a trap, and when your next generation of defenders are amputating their own thumbs so they cannot weild a gladius or pilum your civilization is probably sinking.

        We screwed the pooch with the whole empire thing. If we were going to do it right we should’ve taken all the marbles and the others either did it our way, like Japan and Germany. Or they became ash trays and did it our way like Japan and Germany. The other side to that is a quote from Derb “ rubble doesn’t make trouble” if the lands were not worth the trouble then remove their threat capability.
        Notice a common denominator? The ancients knew it and did wonderfully so long as they practiced it. Our modern, soft tones of therapeutic dente and accommodation serve only to salve effete, achievementless narrow shouldered half men’s egos as they flail about attracting straw haired vinegar drinking proto lesbians.
        Mars will ascend, again.

        • Correct. (I am trying to upvote that comment but my computer isn’t cooperating).
          Taking your ball and going home is not an option. When the Khan died, all the dispersed Mongol power brokers and generals raced home to claim the leadership, and their empire started to fall. Although compared to Christians they were savages – had they not lost their focus they would have taken Europe.
          What will happen when all all those thwarted generals and American globalists come home? It will be mutiny on the Bounty…

      • The cost of empire is paid by the working class in taxes, declining real wages, declining wealth, and increasingly dismal futures.

    • National debt is irrelevant and can be discharged with little more than a blow to national pride so long as you have the will, manufacturing capacity and resources.

      A hypothetical post Right Revolution America could abolish all debts, have a new currency and go to near autarky without any significant risk, caveat chip manufacture which we could deal with if we had too.

      Even current USA makes a ton of stuff after all and is a net oil exporter right now. Future hypothetical USA will be even more drive since they won’t have imports

      Short term this would hurt everyone, medium term the “low wages at any cost class” would suffer but long term, a few decades, the US would have a strong economy

      And yes there would be global repercussions of course, with closed borders and a decent defense not my people, not my problem

      • Abolish all US government debts? I own hundreds of thousands of dollars in treasuries, I own life insurance and the company owns millions of dollars in treasuries, The teachers pensions own treasuries, the FANGS own t-bills and repurchase agreements secured by T-bills and notes. If the USG defaults, millions of US citizens will be impoverished.

  19. There are probably several reasons the Romans were reluctant to abandon Gaul.

    – Celtic / Gallic armies sacked and occupied Rome in 390 BC.
    – Caesar made himself the 2nd richest man in the world by selling captured Gauls into slavery – the rest might not be happy.
    – More dangerous than barbarians are barbarians who got a good look at your technology and fighting styles.
    – The Goths and German tribes would be happy to fill the vacuum in Gaul for a couple decades while planning the attack on Rome.
    – By the 3rd Century, the Legions were being stocked with soldiers from places like Gaul. If Rome wasn’t there, they’d be somebody else’s soldiers.

    Doesn’t mean pulling back to defensible lines wasn’t the right call, but it also might have backfired spectacularly.

  20. All living things are creatures of habit, and habit is more powerful than most people realize. The Executive bureaucracies, Congress, and Judiciary are a hive mind, and they are inevitably bound to old habits. These patterns will continue until they cannot. You don’t want to be in a city when things begin to fall apart.

  21. You have to understand how modern geopolitics and empire works. First – the vast majority of American interests abroad are entirely legitimate – foreign investments were made with the locals, businesses and trade set up, and profits were realized for them and for us. We aren’t necessarily talking about globalists here, but dirt people like you and I. (Where are your RRSP investments?)

    There are any number of local warlords, thugs, cartels, and other mutts that will happily steal those assets, thinking they can put them to work for themselves. Because they don’t understand the nuances of trust based trading – they destroy them instead. Look at South Africa where the black man is being given back control of his destiny – in another ten years they will all be starving and at war over scraps of food. So – in order to protect those investments, you need to have a military presence close to them. If America packed up and ‘brought the boys home’ you would see massive bloodshed abroad as the locals tried to fill the power vacuum, and untold economic hurt at home as a result of the loss of trade. We need those markets, and they need us.

    You have to understand the tenets of modern warfare now too. Up until the 1800’s the defence always held the inherently better tactical situation. In modern warfare, the offense does. The Germans may have invented blitzkrieg tactics – but Americans perfected them. Those tactics rely on mobility which is why America needs boots on the ground as close to his assets and enemies as possible.

    As for Merkel – she’s just another example of what happens when women make the decisions instead of men. Yes, there will be bloodshed. Yes, the moslems will be death marched out of Europe at some point. But – there are some very interesting side effects of Mx. Merkel’s idiocy: is liberalism infecting Islam? Consider Iran – the heart and soul of the moslem theocratic nations – their women are telling the mullahs to shove their burkhas up their collective ass – and are literally rioting in the streets. At least they were… Iran has gone oddly silent of late, no? Oh man – if Merkel undermines the moslems with feminism and faggotry – she may well become a national hero!
    Finally, the old nickel applies: empires don’t get taken down by their enemies – they rot from within.

    There’s a lot of people that make a show of hating America but most of them would vastly prefer it to the alternative they are inadvertently bringing down on themselves.

    • I am following you pretty well here, but I don’t see how bankrupting ourselves to prop up things in faraway places serves our interests. Trade, in and of itself, can be mutually beneficial. But the export of jobs, the expenditures to provide armed protection in faraway places, and the long run equalization of living conditions that bring others up and bring us down, I don’t see the advantage of it.

      • Well – that is what goes hand in hand with empires in decline. Viet Nam – they won every battle they fought, yet democrats managed to lose the war at home. Not only that, they turned it into a defeat for America and is something they actively celebrate. The Gulf War was the same – it should have been over in days, and the enemy combatants actually defeated. They weren’t; they were released, allowed to re-tool for war, and a second intervention was required. Never before in history was stupidity like that even thinkable.

        Successful empires have to fight their enemies in their own lands, if they get within the capitol city gates, the empire falls.

        Export of jobs? Welp – Democrats. Democrats squared and cubed. They’re union slobs. Their jurisdictions tax businesses into penury. The worst economic states in America are all Democrat strongholds.

        Every empire has a group of people that stand to benefit from its demise – or they think they do. Usually they are killed in the ensuing wars and strife that follow a collapse. If those people are allowed to get their hands on the levers of power – they will do what they think is best for themselves. They are the real Cloud people; they don’t care about us, we are expendable quantities or outright obstructions to them.

        I personally believe that the only way America will survive is if the modern democrats are rounded up and either deported or imprisoned. 100 years ago most of them would have been charged with treason. They are the seeds of our destruction and we tend them and shelter them and water them with the blood of patriots. Until they’re gone, America will continue to falter or will fall outright.

      • Some things are best not delegated. It’s easier to take a double turn at the wheel, especially when the south Asian woman’s turn is up next.
        Europe was cutting a groove with their habit of a war about every thirty years. That streak ended in 1945.

    • Here;s the thing, we don;’t need those international trading relationships that have sprung up over the last 30-40 years. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Prior to that we did quite well. This global empire only benefitsa few Americans at the top and no one else here. In fact it has hurt many of sectors of the economy that we off-shored to benefit from cheap sweat shop labor in a foreign land. Socially and economically playing empire has hollowed us out horribly.

      The U.S. military is exhausting itself maintaining it’s insane levels of force projection from Africa to Afghanistan and basically for nothing. All those places are shit holes run by 85 IQ savages. We either retract and let the savages wipe each other out or we die with them.

      Its no different than Rome’s six century long fight with Persia which only bled Rome white of men and treasury

      • Nonsense. We most certainly DO need those markets and business. Anyone that says we don’t doesn’t understand politics or economics.
        Those markets are rising profit centers. If we don’t control them, somebody else will. Somebody who, if you keep losing your markets to him – will eventually challenge you at home. Look at how Europe is being over-run by third world monkeys as we speak.
        A properly run empire is good for everyone: In Africa blacks had jobs, food, shelter, civilization and all the other things he could not provide himself. We had cheap labour, natural resources, commodities and other goodies. Z his pundits are actually wrong about this: Blacks actually SHOULD be picking our cotton. And shining our shoes. I dare say that whether America survives or not – whatever empire that replaces this one will have exactly that. Even in ancient Rome, blacks were servants, slaves – or criminals.

      • You’re right, but it may be too late to go back easily now that we have internationalized the economy and given away our technology and other advantages to the rest of the world.

        If we had maintained fortress America after WW II and jealously guarded our advantages, we could have continued to beneficently dominate the world for centuries.

        But the elites figured they could make a lot of money by playing lots of banking games to extract wealth from the rest of the world, and selling out the working class here,

        • I agree. And that was what NAFTA was originally all about – setting up a fair and equitable trade agreement that worked for everyone. The problems with that are now apparent: on the south, America has an ally that is basically run by a gangster gov’t. On the northern border, and ally that won’t pay a cent for its own national defence, and 50% of the time is run by children or commies and are coming more and more to resemble another failed democrat state – and they will no doubt be begging for handouts and bailouts too.
          The trade agreement should have and could have been renegotiated a dozen times to protect our respective workers and markets – but the Mexicans got greedy and so did the Canucks. Throw in other global labour market free loaders and raiders – and Joe Sixpack hasn’t got a chance. It’s getting so bad that at some point, he is going to have to turn off the TV, get off his couch and DO something about it. We had better have something constructive for him to do – or we will all be in big trouble.

      • Uh, re not needing international trade… Even once we were to once again be self-sufficient in manufactured goods, how are we to get our:

        Arsenic, asbestos, cesium, fluorspar, gallium, natural graphite, indium, manganese, natural sheet mica, nepheline syenite, niobium, industrial quartz crystal, rare earths, rubidium, scandium, strontium, tantalum, thallium, thorium, vanadium, and yttrium (all of which we currently import 100% of our consumption).

        Not to mention cobalt, chromium, platinum, etc., that simply aren’t found in the U.S. in significant quantities.

        “The USA currently imports more than 50% of its lithium needs, 74% of its cobalt and 100% of its manganese and graphite, according to American Manganese Inc.”

  22. “A generation from now Merkel will be remembered in the same way people remember Chamberlain.”

    Or Pétain? The European managerial class seems to be making a bid to keep their jobs by showing the future owners (Muslims) that they are willing to enforce sharia.

      • Quisling though wanted to replace his ideology not the founding stock of his country

        Norway under Nazism would suck but it would still be recognizable as Norway and well populated with Norwegians

      • Ha ha, Zman, you really must learn to think more conspiratorially. You are always saying how inept and innocent the elites are with no long term plans. They just bumble their way into misadventures while attempting to maintain the status quo to their advantage. To the contrary, they have had plenty of time to think it through. Did Coudenhove-Kalergi or Huxley ever really exist or maybe they were only visionaries? They don’t call it the LOOONG march through the institutions for nothing. Now you will say something about history/confusing tactics and strategy/I’m a window-licking moron.

    • The current heads of the EU will keep their jobs even less than will the Democrats who imported buttloads of Somalis into Minneapolis get to have their votes and keep their offices. Heck, the Muzzies are likely to behead them first, wrongly (if understandably) seeing those EU bigshots as threats to Muslim hegemony

      • Eventually, yes. But for a while, they will use the existing politicians before pushing them aside. The technocrats they may use indefinitely: “Engineering is for menials.”

  23. It’s worth looking at the detail of how empires accumulate. The British Empire had a regular pattern of the government in London issuing instructions against expansion, which the men on the spot would frequently ignore. One obvious example was when some American colonists set their hearts on seizing the Ohio valley whereas the government wanted to honour its treaties with the Indians, and restrict settlement to east of the watershed.

    The analogy to Caesar’s conquest of Gaul is pretty fair: the Senate had no desire to rule Gaul but Caesar had a strong desire to make himself a Great Man.

    • Interesting. Thank you for posting it.

      Spengler wrote about the life cycle of civilizations being similar to that of humans. They are born, prosper, settle into their achievements and slowly decline and die. It’s a helpful way to explain things. At various times, I have argued that we are at the end of the post-war America (short cycle) and the end of the post-Civil War America (long cycle).

      • This has been covered post-Spengler at much greater length (and IMO sophistication) by Strauss and Howe in their book “The Fourth Turning”. They termed this concept “Generational Theory”, with the phrase “Generations make history, and history makes generations”.

    • So, like Hemmingway’s description of a bankruptcy, gradually then suddenly.

      Old men fooling themselves they are virile by taking Viagra. Can’t maintain this very long.

    • Henri Pirrene thought Roman civilization continued until Islamic conquest turned the Med into a Muslim lake ending trade. Gibbons thought it a moral failure.

      Recent research points to depopulation as the cause. Plagues wiped out many, contraception and late marriage among Roman women who demanded ever higher status as slavery spread making small holders non competitive dropped population in both east and west.

      East just had a higher base hence lasting longer.

      Can’t have a civilization without its people. Barbarians wanted Roman stuff but without Romans could not even maintain what they had

    • I read the article. Also read Limits to Growth back in the 1970’s and Tainter’s book on complex societies.

      “What brought down the Romans, and eventually will bring us down, is the overexploitation of the resources.”

      This is bullshit. It suffers from the same problem that Gibbon did. And that the persistence of the Eastern Empire, which used the same systems that the west did, for another thousand years.

      In Gibbon’s case he said Christianity was the cause of the decline. In this professor’s case it is recource exploitation.

      The Eastern Empire is a pretty big elephant to lose track of while making generalized arguments like this. There were problems specific to the Western Empire that have to be addressed when discussing this, and reasons why the East continued on. Most authors, such as this one, gives lip service to this early on, and then promptly puts on blinders.

      • Yeah, I don’t get this phenomena — which is almost universal — of completely discounting the Eastern part of the empire, like it really wasn’t Roman?! The citizens of the Eastern empire certainly considered themselves proper Romans, and referred to themselves as such.

        • Because the Byzantines were not Western enough when the Enlightenment historians and their descendants started the historical aggrandizement of Western Europe that reached a near monopoly just prior to WWI. The Protestant “reformation” never penetrated Orthodoxy, and the Slavs inhabiting the old Eastern Empire were looked down on as little more than savages. It’s the same old disdain for Eastern Europe that continues to poison relations with the inheritor of the Byzantines, the Russians.

          • It’s more accurate to say Russians are the inheritors of the Mongols, than the Byzantines 🙂

          • Zman, can you tell who downvoted my mongols comment? I only ask because it seems like their are some people here who react negatively whenever I post something about how shitty Russians are, and how they deserve all the bad things that have happened to them over the centuries, and how it seems like they will disappear as a race and as a country in a few years.

      • Teapartydoc, I think you said something interesting. What would you say were these problems specific to the Western Empire?

        Myself, I entertain the possibility that the Western Provinces just regressed to their natural state. The non-greek parts of Spain, France, and Italy (and even Rome herself before conquering Greece) were not too removed from the barbarians before being incorporated to the Empire, and the civilization Rome took from Greece and imposed on them (and on herself) was slow to take roots and depended heavilly on input from the East – money and skilled slaves from conquest or tribute. As the East started to consume more money and attention to be defended from the Persians, the West regressed to be relatively backward and ruleless.

    • re: peak-civilization article

      The article by Ugo Bardi was published about ten years ago in The Oil Drum. That internet blog was devoted to the cause of PEAK OIL. I used to read the Oil Drum mainly for laughs (I considered Peak Oil to be as fraudulent as Global Warming hysteria.) and remember that most of the articles were by credentialed scientists and professors all spouting the party line. The blog the Oil Drum was closed in 2013 or so as there was too much oil and reserves extant to continue promoting Peak Oil.

      Dan Kurt

  24. I don’t know how much is paid for by taxes, rich or otherwise but it seems to be just added to the national debt. Where are we now, 20 trillion? I think another increase of one trillion happened as will continue given the compounded and accelerated interest on it.
    When does it all come down?

    This, as you say, will not end well.

  25. You could have also mentioned the USSR, which poured money and material it could scarcely afford into propping up shitholes in Africa. Had they withdrawn from the “international socialism” stuff which obliged them to bankroll any illiterate farmer who seized the national palace and announce his conversion to socialism, they could have hung on a lot longer, but it never seemed to have occurred to them.

    • That’s another good example. In fact, both sides of the Cold War squandered trillions playing a pointless game of cat and mouse.

      • Z Man;
        Have to respectfully disagree about the stakes in the Cold War. Anybody in the Western elites, near-elites and even the middle class had plenty of examples from the Russian Civil War onwards about what awaited them personally should Communism prevail. The crazy thing was actually that so many of them chose to not take those examples explicitly to heart. Baffled me from my middle school days in the ’50s.

        I hated being tied to them for my own family’s safety. I’d gladly have turned the Progs. over to the Commies as Gulag fodder had I not known that I’d likely be pulled into the wood chipper myself in the process.

        • You could defend the US for less than 10% of the money pissed away. America is uniquely situated with Canucks, for gods sake, to the north and illiterate peasants to the south. $50 billion a year takes care of both. Another 20-30 for a few missiles and you are done,

          • Bile;
            You may be right (or not), but that was not my point. My point was that a whole lot of American citizens *did* have very real skin in the game during the Cold War even if many of them had their heads up their a***s by denying it.

            The struggle was *not* pointless, even though it might look like it today.

            Where and how to fight for our lives and our Western civilization during the Cold War can and should be a matter for discussion (e.g. Vietnam). Whether to fight for them cannot be.

            Had the USSR prevailed, the murder toll of world-wide Communism in the last century would have greatly expanded from its already horrifying ~100 million, maybe even doubling. It would likely have included me directly and Z and you, maybe through your parents, indirectly.

            The Commies and Progs. have lied for the last 100 years about their plans for us after their revolution. These included mass executions at first for anybody capable of possible future opposition (Stalin’s policy) and slow death in a American Gulag for those remotely capable that cropped up later. Obama’s BFF Bill Ayres is on record from the late ’60s estimating that probably 25 million or more of us would have to be ‘eliminated’ right away to implement their utopia. That was ~1/5 of the population.

          • Sorry for the bad math. After the revolution Bill Ayers & Co. *only* planned to immediately murder 1/10 of the entire US population at the time, not 1/5.

          • But there’s also all those inflated salaries to pay to endless layers of middle management at defense contractors and the Pentagon.

          • Great point. The US empire is tossing away the great wealth that the Americans built up over time. Now it is a debtor nation with no hope of ever again even being broke.

            (broke meaning out of debt)

      • was the civil war pointless?
        one of the reasons the founding plutocrats created the USA was to enlarge the voting districts, thus weakening unity among the electorate…larger nations are more divided, thus less united, and as madison (father of the constitution) pointed out, less able to unite against the elite, thus allowing the elites to continue to rule…by fighting the civil war and thus preventing secession, the elites maintained a large and thus more divided and less united nation, thus ensuring their continued reign…look to the UK Brexit struggle today for a similar situation

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