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The end of history - how empires collapse and new ones rise

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hariseldon

Unconfirmed Member
On 9th November 1989 the Berlin wall came down. This was the culmination of a period of Communist collapse throughout Eastern Europe as Gorbachev loosened Russia's grip on those nations. With the Soviet Union collapsing, Christmas Day 1991 signalling the end of the USSR and the beginning of the CIS, we found Francis Fukuyama declaring the End Of History as mankind reached its final goal of Western liberal democractic hegemony. With 20/20 hindsight, this was the high point for Western liberalism, one which would never be matched.

Today we find ourselves at a point where the West is clearly falling, in some ways it is in the state the Communist nations were in in about 1987-88, where the strain was showing and it was just waiting for the spark to send it over the edge. In those heady days, the West was running interference, formenting dissent and working to destablise nations which were already on the edge due to the economic failures of the Communist system. It is of course always economic failure that does for any empire. Consider the British Empire (and indeed various European empires) and its collapse after two expensive world wars, the latter directly funding America's rise as we sold the family silver to buy their weapons to take on Hitler. Fundamentally the British overstretched themselves and the wars finally broke them.

So having established that economic collapse brings down empires perhaps we should look at how the West has become a failed empire. In many ways the same lessons exist. America has spent decades policing the world, and has made enemies as a result. In addition, it has built a Military Industrial Complex which has become bloated and inefficient, leading to such pork barrel stupidity as the F35 - a plane that costs billions but is so unreliable as to likely be useless in direct confrontation with a powerful enemy like Russia or China, and which is outdated in an age of cheap drone warfare. Spending on the military has become enormously expensive and robbed the government of its ability to do a lot of more important work domestically, leaving its government effectively bankrupt with trillions of dollars of debt that it can never, and will never, repay. The interest payments on those debts are crippling.

Having overstretched itself in the manner of the British empire, it also finds itself economically at a point of collapse as its corporations ceased to be American and became global, exporting jobs to China. Doing this destroyed the American dream, as social mobility suffered a crippling blow. Alongside this, the political class became as stagnant as late-Soviet Russia. Where Russia had its gerontocracy with Brezhnev remaining in office til death in his 70s folllowed by Andropov and Chernenko both only lasting just over a year as they entered the job in their senior years, so in 2016 America put forward then-70 year old Donald Trump against 69 year old Hilary Clinton, and in 2020 74 year old Donald Trump against a 77 year old Joe Biden. This gerontocracy exemplifies the calcification of the political classes, with the Supreme Court stuffed full of the old and infirm, and Congress and House both packed to the rafters with the ancient and frail, locked in terminal warfare, unable to reach the compromises that used to get things done.

The collapse of the West has been hastened by the rise of social media, allowing centralised corporate control of public discourse. However, the problem is not so much that, as people still communicate by other means (though no doubt Covid has shifted people further away from face-to-face chat and towards mediated chat where even private messages are censored). The problem is that now, for all of the people in power and the influencers, Twitter is the medium through which they interact with the public, and Twitter does not represent that public. Twitter is full of rage, so public figures seek to placate that rage as best they can. It leads to self-censorship and avoidance of dissent from the voices of the maddest crowd. It has directly led to the groupthink that sees us make ruinous policy decisions over Covid.

The beginnings of America's collapse were in some ways seeded long ago, but the beginning of the end was, in all probability, 9/11. This was where America lost its place as a moral authority as it struck out blindly at enemies it could not comprehend, the event itself a product of foreign adventures ill-thought-out with insufficient consideration for nation building. With America losing its moral authority, in 2008 it caused an economic collapse that destroyed the economic consensus - it lost its ability to promote capitalism as the only way. With movements like Occupy showing internal dissent, it became increasingly difficult to persuade others in the world that liberal democracy was the way forward, and Western governments were bankrupted trying to prevent full economic collapse. The final nail in the coffin was COVID, in which China successfully persuaded the West that lockdowns were the only solution, with groupthink and social media pressure forcing governments to further bankrupt themselves and destroy their economies.

As the West has collapsed, China has risen, powered by western corporations keen to profit from cheap labour without considering the cost of its lost intellectual property as China powers ahead and overtakes it. China is every bit as dangerous and vicious as Hitler's Germany, but corporations have willingly jumped at the chance to profit from the slave labour available to them. China will undoubtedly win in the not too distant future, as it fights a war the west doesn't even realise it's in. With Donald Trump gone, China will have a free hand to continue its Wolf Diplomacy and the West won't fight back because too many Western leaders, not least Joe Biden, have made substantial fortunes from Chinese interests. Our universities are cowed by China, our corporations dependent upon them, and our governments afraid of them. The next century looks bleak.

There is hope however. While it is easier these days to maintain an authoritarian state due to the power of technology, so cameras can track every movement through facial recognition, and all financial transactions can be electronic if you eliminate cash, making tracing economic links easy, there is still a manpower cost and an economic drag from this, and eventually this, in combination with China's heavily indebted state run enterprises and banks, will cause the Chinese empire to fall just like the others. In the meantime, those of us who value freedom will have to fight hard to prevent our own countries from becoming contaminated with the horrors and hope that China's historical avoidance of expansionism continues. Of course, if they do expand, one could argue that this would hasten their demise as their society becomes less homologous, more fractured, and the cost of maintaining control of hostile populations mounts. They have so far chosen the more sensible path of influence rather than takeover, but Xi has an ego and this is demonstrated by his haste to misbehave in the COVID era and his choice to remain leader beyond the previously allowed terms. He is trying to create a cult on the scale of Maoism. This runs the risk of going down the same path as Soviet Russia, as succession won't be planned, and a gerontocracy will take over, unable to manage the cracks in their economy which are already present.

What we don't know is who will form the next empire once China falls. Fukuyama made a common mistake in thinking that history is a line going from tyranny to freedom, and that freedom was the final form. In truth, the last 80 years have seen the most open and prosperous empire the world has known, but such freedom has historically been the exception rather than the rule. Much of history is tyranny. I will however say that I expect the next empire after China to be one more free, because freedom allows creativity to find better solutions and to question convention. The genie is out of the bottle and provided we keep some corner of freedom in the world it will eventually fight back, setting an example of prosperity that others will follow.
 

GamingKaiju

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Great post @hariseldon I do think we in the west have pushed ourselves into a corner with China. Lots of jobs that low skilled workers would do like manufacturing have vanished and with it those peoples ability to pull themselves out of poverty and into the middle class. Our Government has continued the move of fractional lending and then QE further and further to a point where economic growth without radical rethink is going to leave us in an era of stagnation for probably the rest of our life’s.

The US will probably be ok as they have massive industry and resources to draw against but for lot of us in Europe we are dependent on Russia and ME for their natural resources and China for manufacturing even what manufacturing remains in Europe lots of little things like metals/plastics are made in China not Europe so whilst a car maybe put together in France or Germany many of those parts are made elsewhere, this is unsustainable in the long run. China is a big Country but I don’t know if they have the ability to maintain a massive war effort I guess they’re hoping that they’re economic mite will be enough to deter Countries from going against them.

The empires that stretch the furthest generally become more and more unsustainable in the long run Rome, British empire, ussr to name a few have fallen because they went too far. People often wonder if we’ll return to pre 2010 era and the answer is no we’ll probably continue down path for some time. Covid has given governments the ability to carry out tracking and monitoring of its populations under the guise of protection our technology has given rise to the ability for our governments to see our life’s what we do our political leanings, even what times we take a shit combined with an even more authoritative government and technological control of its population even social media are acting as the arbitrators of truth and running interference we have entered a dark era where civil liberties are scoffed at Karen’s raging at people for not wearing a mask and freedom of speech has it limits. FoS is gone in Europe, your freedom to engage in e-commerce only applies when the government says its ok.

fuck it’s sounding more like George Orwell here 😬

To my American friends I say never give up an inch of your constitution once they take it they’ll never give it back.
 
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diffusionx

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Anyone who is interested in this topic, there are lots of good books on the topic.

Peter Turchin has a bunch. He puts an almost (ahem) Hari Seldon like framework to it, in terms of inevitability and timing. His basic idea is that great empires rise because they face external threats along a civilizational frontier. In the case of the US, it would be our westward expansion and Indian wars. In Ancient Rome, it would be their wars against Carthage, the Germanic tribes, Gaul, etc. Along the way these places develop a capacity for collective action that they eventually lose out on and turn into a sort of black hole of activity; see Southern Italy’s dysfunction to this day.

Joseph Tainter is another one. He posits that as civilizations become more complex, their ability to solve problems diminishes because the problems get too complex and too expensive to solve. Eventjually, it gets to the point when the civilization is simply unable to solve problems as any investments into them end up, essentially, making the problems worse.

I would argue the USA is in a failure state by both authors’ standard at this point. Look at this election, we clearly do not have the capacity for collective action anymore, we are a squabbling tribe of identities by now and this shows no sign of letting up. The feds are essentially a useless black hole that suck up money, resources, and energy without solving anything, and in fact making it worse in many situations. I dont think there is any hope.
 
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hariseldon

Unconfirmed Member
Basically Biden is a Chinese communist

I wouldn't say that, but I would say that he likes money.

diffusionx diffusionx interesting that you point to Hari Seldon's psychohistory - Asimov was a smart man. What's interesting in his later work was how he charted the decline of the old empire in Prelude To Foundation and Forward The Foundation. It features many of the features of the fall of Rome of course, but what's interesting is that it shows how leaders become steadily less effective with Cleon being, if I remember rightly as it's been a while, fairly ineffective, and problems mounting internally at the hub and with dissent at the fringes, a fracturing of social cohesion as generations drift apart and crime becomes rampant, etc.

Going further one could consider the media and the globalists to be represented by the Second Foundation, pulling the strings behind the scenes, unaccountable, inscrutable, and maybe Donald Trump was The Mule.

Or maybe I'm just talking out of my arse!
 
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Catphish

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OK hun, big hugs
You're likely too much the simpleton to understand this, or care even if you did, but I'll try anyway.

The people who would "reap" a civil war 2.0 in the US wouldn't be the ones who sowed it. Like any other war, it's the common people who would suffer, while the actual villains carry on.

Just like the thousands of Americans lying at the bottom of the Atlantic because they came to the aid of your country 75 years ago. They didn't sow WWII, but they sure as hell reaped it.

But go ahead, and have the last witty quip. I'm sure it'll be as impressive as the last two.
 

INCUBASE

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You're likely too much the simpleton to understand this, or care even if you did, but I'll try anyway.

The people who would "reap" a civil war 2.0 in the US wouldn't be the ones who sowed it. Like any other war, it's the common people who would suffer, while the actual villains carry on.

Just like the thousands of Americans lying at the bottom of the Atlantic because they came to the aid of your country 75 years ago. They didn't sow WWII, but they sure as hell reaped it.

But go ahead, and have the last witty quip. I'm sure it'll be as impressive as the last two.

I'll thank your grandfather, u didn't do shit yourself so........
 
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Catphish

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Well this thread went to shit. *sigh*
Sorry, mate. I didn't mean to derail your thread. I just really took exception to that bullshit. I wouldn't wish civil war on anyone and the thought of someone relishing another country tearing itself apart wasn't what I needed first thing this morning.

Your post was on-point, well-articulated, and appreciated. I don't agree with your optimism, however. I don't think China's reign will be short-lived. If anything, I fear their current success will initiate an adaptation of their societal engineering by western nations. I think this whole 'woke' era is just lubricating the path for exactly that. Our reliance on their manufacturing will necessitate it.
 
Apr 19, 2019
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Away with the fairies
Seems as it's gone to shit, it would rude not to join in...

We know what causes Empires to fall, we know the how's, the why's and the when's of empire collapse. We have 1000's of years of documented history, writing and buildings to show us what happened.

in the last 100 years we have seen the German super-state rise and fall, twice. The British Empire shrug and hand everything back. The Soviet empire come crashing down. It doesn't take much imagination to see that yes, this is the fall of the 'west' and our way of values. Maybe China ruling will be better? Maybe the NWO won't be so bad? We don't know and we can't know.

What we do know, regardless of the US election results, is that China will be the world's number 1 economy and new military super-power. Will it be next year? or next decade? Who knows, but the writing is on the wall, and after nearly 80 years of relative world peace, a new world war or mass civil wars across the west, is an unfortunate inevitability.

The only question is; Will you fight, or will you fold?
 

lock2k

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Jun 13, 2018
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Seems as it's gone to shit, it would rude not to join in...

We know what causes Empires to fall, we know the how's, the why's and the when's of empire collapse. We have 1000's of years of documented history, writing and buildings to show us what happened.

in the last 100 years we have seen the German super-state rise and fall, twice. The British Empire shrug and hand everything back. The Soviet empire come crashing down. It doesn't take much imagination to see that yes, this is the fall of the 'west' and our way of values. Maybe China ruling will be better? Maybe the NWO won't be so bad? We don't know and we can't know.

What we do know, regardless of the US election results, is that China will be the world's number 1 economy and new military super-power. Will it be next year? or next decade? Who knows, but the writing is on the wall, and after nearly 80 years of relative world peace, a new world war or mass civil wars across the west, is an unfortunate inevitability.

The only question is; Will you fight, or will you fold?

Will China ever be on the same level as the U.S. in military gear though? Isn't it unmatched?
 
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Apr 19, 2019
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Will China ever be on the same level as the U.S. in military gear though? Isn't it unmatched?
Not by a long shot.

America, being America, have a lot of firepower, but very little of it is cutting edge. The most advanced weaponry and tech that the West uses, comes from Israel.

The Russians aren't to be sniffed at either. I know there's the meme/psyops that days Russia are still using old tech, it simply isn't true. The nation that launched the first satellite, did the first space walk and circumnavigation, are not behind in tech.

Then there's China. Who, at the moment, absolutely are the largest force in the world. We don't know what tech they have (any UFO sightings that aren't American advanced tech are Chinese tech).

Though none of that matters because we no longer fight on battlefields. While the pen may be mightier than the sword, the keystroke annihilates both. Have a look at what a 'meme' was before the Internet started to use the term. China are fighting a new war, on a new battlefront; the mind. And all evidence points to it working completely.

You can't take a country or empire down from the outside using aggressive tactics, you need to take it down from the inside using viral weaponry. No, not covid, its too detectable. The virus is a psychological one that can't be detected, treated or cured.

Besides, China have their super secret weapon; if all the Chinese jumped at the same time it would cause a tidal wave that would destroy the (edit:west) west coast of America. So....
 
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