Now that we have a tiny mental framework, let’s answer the question: is America (really) collapsing?
I think that we can say American is collapsing in four very real ways: going from something to something else. I’ll italicize these so they’re crystal clear.Sponsored Ads
Political collapse. America is visibly collapsing from a democracy to an autocracy, just like Rome.
“Geopolitical revisionism on the part of unsatisfied major powers is traditionally the sort of thing that has preceded large-scale war with all of its horrors.”
Americans have forgotten that historic tragedies on a global scale are real. They’ll soon get a reminder.
The threats today are diverse, but they do share a common theme. They represent the warning lights flashing on the dashboard; they are indications that an international system that has long been so historically exceptional in its effectiveness and stability is now fraying at the edges. The revival of great-power competition is particularly concerning: Geopolitical revisionism on the part of unsatisfied major powers is traditionally the sort of thing that has preceded large-scale war with all of its horrors.Geopolitical revisionism on the part of unsatisfied major powers is traditionally the sort of thing that has preceded large-scale war with all of its horrors. Hard as it may be for us to imagine, it is by no means inconceivable that we will one day look back on the challenges and disruptions the international system is now experiencing as auguries of the greater tragedy that would follow.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a statement on Monday, warning of the “critical” situation in Gaza, caused by the severe power and fuel shortages that have thrown the besieged coastal enclave into political and economic crisis in recent months.
The ICRC said a “crisis is looming,” with the lack of power and fuel “endangering essential services including healthcare, wastewater treatment and water provision.”
“Currently, people in Gaza only have power for six hours a day, in most cases. All aspects of life in Gaza have been affected. As a result, a systemic collapse of an already battered infrastructure and economy is impending,” the statement said.
According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost. As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war, that did the Empire in.
Islamic State has warned that the Tabqa dam, which a US-backed Kurdish and Arab militia is trying to capture from the militant group, is at imminent risk of collapse because of airstrikes and increased water levels.
It also said in messages carried on its social media channels that the dam’s operations had been put out of service and that all flood gates were closed.
Scientists have discovered that there is a “very real risk” that the holiest site in Christianity may collapse if nothing is done to shore up its unstable foundations.
A scientific team from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), which has just completed the restoration of what is traditionally believed to be the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem, warns that additional work is needed to prevent the shrine and surrounding complex from experiencing significant structural failure.
“When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic,” says Antonia Moropoulou, NTUA’s chief scientific supervisor.
As a result, Venezuela’s collapse could have a notable impact on the US, albeit indirectly at first. While the two countries are separated by the Caribbean Sea, the problem remains that the Venezuelan crisis will largely affect countries in the Caribbean and Central America. Many of these countries receive large amounts of energy products from Venezuela at a discounted rate, with Caracas sending over US$50 billion in oil to these nations since 2005. Although the amounts have been decreasing, these energy subsidies make it easier for these local economies to operate. Venezuela’s implosion could lead to a cut in such provisions, causing economic upheaval in these already vulnerable countries, which could increase migration towards Mexico and the US, a dangerous path that many have already taken.
According to the Mounk-Foa early-warning system, signs of democratic deconsolidation in the United States and many other liberal democracies are now similar to those in Venezuela before its crisis.
Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.
He fears that the minutiae of politics can easily distract from these more fundamental dangers. “It’s not just about what Trump will do to the E.P.A.,” he said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “It really is that Trump may try to undermine liberal democracy in the United States.”
Naturally, the election of Donald Trump is a warning sign. And of course the researcher isn’t biased. But really Donald Trump is just part of the push back against “equality” that seems to be alarming to researchers. Equality encompasses communism, globalism, immigration and diversity, or another way to say all of that is world-wide equality. The people aren’t on-board with that agenda.
The real problem facing the West is equality. Equality got Venezuela in trouble through socialist redistribution schemes. Generally, stealing from wealthy and middle income people to give to the poor will improve society initially. But then the victims of theft start slowly reacting. They start moving out if they can, or they stop working so hard because hard work is disincentivized.
I would say the hysteria of the Left shows that the people are doing the right thing.
Venezuela was once one of Latin America’s richest countries, flush with oil wealth that attracted immigrants from places as varied as Europe and the Middle East.
But after President Hugo Chávez vowed to break the country’s economic elite and redistribute wealth to the poor, the rich and middle class fled to more welcoming countries in droves, creating what demographers describe as Venezuela’s first diaspora.
Now a second diaspora is underway — much less wealthy and not nearly as welcome.
Well over 150,000 Venezuelans have fled the country in the last year alone, the highest in more than a decade, according to scholars studying the exodus.
The presidential election of 2016 through the lens of cliodynamics
Cliodynamics is a new “transdisciplinary discipline” that treats history as just another science. Ten years ago I started applying its tools to the society I live in: the United States. What I discovered alarmed me.
My research showed that about 40 seemingly disparate (but, according to cliodynamics, related) social indicators experienced turning points during the 1970s. Historically, such developments have served as leading indicators of political turmoil. My model indicated that social instability and political violence would peak in the 2020s (see Political Instability May be a Contributor in the Coming Decade).