Death of Empire
Chris Hedges outlines the decline of the American Empire, and how our gross domestic product is really weapons, domination and death: The Unraveling Of The American Empire
I suggest you read this first. But if you dive deeper in understanding, you will have already realized all of this long ago. Empires rise and fall, repeatedly, but what is the real reason? Is it because of internal rot? Ineptitude? Over reach? Resource collapse?
The imposition of presumed superiority through force, domination, economic manipulation and control doesn’t quite go deep enough. The cultural expectations and demands are to blame, with all of the recipients, beneficiaries and manipulators that depend upon empires to sustain them. The resulting wave of destruction and eventual self-implosion is inevitable with hundreds of millions of ruined lives and destroyed cities and towns littering the global landscape.
In short, Empires fall because of corruption, privilege, hubris and (endless) greed, countless examples of which can be found virtually everywhere within any empire. Empires are not sustainable, they do not bother themselves with the concept, having long since replaced the meaning of words to champion new definitions to suit their political agenda.
We blame the fall of Empire on elected leaders, petty dictators and wanna-be power brokers, but this is also too shallow. Empire is exhibited throughout the citizenry, in wage-slavery “zeks” (political prisoners in debt-servitude) to investment ‘speculators’ preying upon widespread ignorance and competition (rapists and con-men) to factory produced death machines (weaponization encompassing everything from food production to bombs). This is the culture of Empire. Empires are advanced death machines. It is a very American thing which we all have found ourselves doing throughout the world.
Right now, there are three, perhaps four Empires all vying for the same things, all in a state of decline, all actively stomping out lesser contenders and the “mini-empires” that seek to displace their big brothers. None have rejected their mistakes. None have restrained themselves. None have even identified the errors of their ways. The populations within are at drift, rudderless (and powerless) to the stormy seas raged by their respective Empires, finding themselves irrevocably enslaved to Empire’s whims and dalliances. Death and destruction invariably follow like a overwhelming flood consuming different parts of the globe. Decline and depletion and eventually, a final collapse marks their final chapters.
America is not immune to this, it’s already happening, and in a thousand different ways, I’ve described it over the years. It’s irrelevant what you “believe” about any of this, the arcing trajectory of this American empire isn’t going to change. I personally cannot buy into the empty promises, lies, deception and new phony definitions that this Empire will be any different the all the others. I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever to support this. You have to look behind the smoke to see what is still burning, and the fire is very large now.
Hedges points this out, we’ve traded politicians and pretend politics but nothing changes. Nothing is being improved. I told everyone that this would happen, again and again. Our collapse is inevitable, no matter where you live on the planet. You are on your own and always will be.
Therefore, the only thing you can really do, is to look out for yourself. Those of us following decline already know this, we’re irrevocably hitched to the destruction of our Empire. Virtually everybody else is lying about the future they’re promising (but never deliver). Pay attention – and pay heed to what is happening.
Related and relevant: The Dead Sea is dying. Drinking water is scarce. Jordan faces a climate crisis
10 thoughts on “Death of Empire”
I have been following the work of Chris Hedges for many years, and as with all ‘Cassandras’, his work is thoroughly appreciated by a tiny minority and totally ignored by the rest.
Living in a vassal state of the American Empire (NZ), we do not fear being ‘bombed into the Stone Age’ as a component of a ‘regime change’ agenda: we got ‘regime change’ back in 1984, when a group of traitors hijacked the ‘Labour’ government and implemented the changes necessary to destroy the country in an orgy of commercialism and greed; now we just have to endure the final phase of a local gang of corporate raiders and self-serving [in the short term] liars following dysfunctional American systems, e.g. the Chicago School of Economics’, ravage the country from within.
The loot-and-pollute system, accompanied by fossil-fuel-madness, debt-slavery and rampant consumerism, is in the process of ruining one of the last place on the planet where sustainable living is possible.
Our only hope, (I don’t like that word because it represents a desire for a favourable outcome in the face of unfavourable circumstances) is that the American Empire collapses quickly and that sane economic and environmental policies can be introduced soon; every day that the behemoth keeps going results in ever-worsening prospects for survival.
Needless to say, as a client state of the American (and British) systems, the NZ government is fully committed to making everything that matters worse: that is inevitable as a consequence of the slavish adherence to dysfunctional systems such as measurement of economic activity via GDP and adherence to the dysfunctional financial system, predicated on creating money out of thin air and charging interest on it.
We describe the present Jacinda Adern government as LINO, Labour In Name Only. since it has no connection whatsoever with the Labour movement of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century that fought hard for the rights of the working class; the Adern government is entirely faux, and dedicated to short-term maintenance of completely dysfunctional systems of empire -both the global financial empire and the US-based military empire.
Interestingly, I was very active on The Daily Blog, a website supposedly dedicated to promoting social and environmental change in NZ, but have given up on that avenue of communication after numerous comments pointing out the narratives of the feature-article-writers were incorrect were censored out of existence When a website that is supposedly devoted to change has to rely on censorship of fundamental truth to maintain its faux narratives you know the rot is to the core.
I describe the activities of the sociopaths and eco-vandals as self-serving in the short term because they destroy the very aspects of environment that provide the foundations of life on this planet, and in doing so wreck their own progeny’s futures.
The culture we live in is the first in all of history to do so much damage it raises the prospect of rendering the Earth uninhabitable for humans and most other vertebrate species in a matter of decades. And it’s not as if we don’t know we are doing irreparable damage: it has been known for at least 20 years (I began writing about it in 1999).
It seems we are in the ‘progress trap’ from which there is no escape.
I am entirely devoted to creating a pleasant environment that is highly productive [of food] and uses the minimum of fossil fuels, which is roughly the opposite of what most people are doing.
We’ll see over the coming years (months?) which strategy provides the better outcomes.
By the way, there are whispers that the ‘Peak Everything’ (share markets, fictional assets, house prices etc.) bubble is about to burst. When the long-overdue ‘correction’ does come, that will, of course, lead to ‘Peak Mayhem’.
I do not personally subscribe to ‘fast collapse’ as likely, despite the signals and warnings always given (and always wrong). There is seemingly enough slack in the falling dominoes to push this further and further out; resource collapse and contraction affords more and more exploitation for harder and more expensive sources; and the grift-management of the power brokers keeps things going (still). Decades have now gone by and we’re still here, sucking down the last dregs. Even still, fast or slow, decline is inevitable, irrevocable and irresolute. Everybody SHOULD know this verse by heart now, but most still don’t. The progress trap is real, and so is the failure of progress to solve the most pressing needs of humanity, which still remain, largely unsolved.
I guess whether it is fast or slow depends very much on your definitions.
In geological terms the current overheating period is the fastest ever, beating other extinction-level events by an order of magnitude or two (this being the sixth known extinction event).
Continuing on the same path -and all the evidence indicates that is exactly what will occur (inability to extract fossil fuels being a possible factor to terminate the madness), we will break through the so-called safe level of 450 ppm atmospheric CO2 before 2040.
As oil-dependent societies we have been steadily moving down the EROEI curve, from 100:1 to 10:1 and now headed for 3:1…. at which point it all comes to a grinding halt.
The capacity of central banks to devalue money via ‘money-printing’ -creation of computer digits- does seem to be limitless.
I look at it this way: politicians and economists are attempting to defy the laws of mathematics, chemistry and physics -and we know exactly how that will end up. Good old Albert Bartlett had a few words to say about that.
‘Arithmetic, Population and Energy’
“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”
Whether we are 7/8ths kaput, 15/16ths kaput or 31/32nds kaput will be revealed over the next few years.
Are humans smarter than yeast?….well some of the are but the ones in charge certainly aren’t.
Charles Hugh Smith points out that the only way to get ahead in America (or even not go backwards at a horrific pace) is to play the ‘casino’, where ‘the Fed has the market’s back’ and you can’t lose because stock prices go upwards ‘forever’ on the back of perpetual computerised money-printing.
‘It’s painfully obvious that the only way left to get ahead in America is crazy-risky speculation, but nobody seems to even notice this stark and stunning reality. Why are people piling into crazy-risky bets on speculative vehicles like Gamestop and Dogecoin? The obvious answer is because others have reaped a decade or two of wages in a few weeks, and skimming a couple hundred thousand dollars in a few weeks or months is the only way an average wage earner is going to be able to buy a house, fund a retirement account, afford to have a family, etc.
Look at the reality of wage stagnation: I made $12 an hour in 1986, and I wasn’t some highly paid techno-guru or Wall Street shill. $12 an hour was an OK wage in 1986 but it wasn’t fantastic. Now 35 years later, $12 is still an OK wage. A lot of people make less than $12/hour.
But what happened to the cost of healthcare, housing, childcare and everything else required to have a family in those 35 years? These costs have exploded higher. It was already a stretch to buy a house in 1986 making $12/hour, but now–are you joking? Depending on the region, the cost of a modest house has tripled or gone up five-fold or even ten-fold in the past 35 years.
As for getting ahead by starting your own business–that’s another bitter joke. In 1986 I was able to provide our single employees decent healthcare insurance for $50 each and those with families for about $150 per month. Our employees did not pay a dime for this coverage. We (the employers) paid all the healthcare insurance costs as well as workers compensation, liability insurance and unemployment insurance (federal and state).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the consumer price index (CPI) has risen such that what $1 bought in 1986 now costs $2.40. Try buying real healthcare insurance for an employee today for $50 X 2.4 = $120 per month. The CPI is a pathetic joke when it comes to housing, childcare, healthcare, higher education and all the other big-ticket expenses of having a family.
All the expenses of operating a business have soared even as liability exposure, compliance costs and junk fees have skyrocketed. And by definition, you’re “rich,” even if you’re losing money, because you’re a business owner, so there’s a tax target on your back as state and local governments jack up junk fees, penalties, fines and taxes on everything that isn’t already overtaxed.
As for getting a graduate degree to place yourself above the competition–credential inflation is even worse than price inflation. There are 100 other equally credentialed candidates for every high-paying slot, and if you (foolishly) accept the big-bucks job, your life outside of work is over. You are essentially a well-compensated indentured servant of your Corporate America masters…..’
On Aljazeera I saw part of an interesting discussion about development of oil deposits in Uganda and a proposal to build a pipeline to a port in Tanzania to export that oil.
On one side was a member of the loot-and-pollute club, talking about jobs and prospective wealth; on the other side were the environmentalists, declaring that oil extraction was a sunset industry and that it had to be phased out to ‘save the planet’ (as opposed to save humanity from self-extinction).
The really big one in the short term is the matter of Ukraine. The bought-and-paid-for western media are still beating the drums of war, and continue with the preposterous narrative that Russia seized Crimea from the Ukraine and that it is building up troop numbers in preparation for an invasion of Ukraine: nothing could be further from the truth, of course, a brilliantly laid out by Dmitri Orlov:
Russia is deploying troops (and superfast missiles) in response to build up of troops and weaponry on the Ukrainian side of the border -sponsored by the US and its NATO lapdogs, some of which are not so keen on the idea. Putin has promised ‘asymmetric response’ should the neo-fascists attempt anything daft.
Apparently, the US warships destined for the Black Sea last week decided to turn around and not pass through the Dardanelles. ‘No one’ knows why.
It’s all about Russia supplying gas to Germany via an undersea pipeline to keep the lights on, as opposed to importing expensive American shale gas via trans-Atlantic tankers (have you ever herd of anything more preposterous?), amongst other things. The ‘great leap’ towards solar turned out not to work when the weather turned bad, and Germany had to fire-up its ancient coal-burning power stations, I believe. Solar panels don’t work to well when covered with snow. And wind turbines don’t work when there’s no wind. Funny that. Texas had a taste of something similar recently.
The pot is coming to a boil on a multitude of fronts.
The drought here continues.
Here is a must-read article on how processed food is killing the American populace, and highlighting that subsidies are STILL being given to corporations that are in reality merchants of death.
One key sentence:
‘We can strengthen our immunological system by rejecting a diet of subsidized, heavily processed calories.’
Nothing I disagree with in this article worth mentioning beyond some minor conjecture. Americans continue to choose the easy way when it comes diet, exercise and learning to live healthy.
But be careful, that site is chock-full of misdirection and dubious claims. A look around and I know why they don’t allow comments.
Charles Hugh Smith has highlighted what I discovered for myself via advocacy for the common good 10 to 20 years ago: the average citizen (or even group of citizens) has ZERO influence on the policies of central and local government; they persist with policies that suit the short-term goals of sociopaths with money and power, to the detriment of EVERYONE’S long-term future.
What is fascinating about the times we live in is that ALL the official narratives are unravelling very quickly, and all the cans that have been kicked along the gutter for several decades and now so deformed they are almost unrecognisable as cans.
Aljazeera ran a feature yesterday which focused on the fact that large corporations like Exxon knew about the potentially catastrophic effect burning oil would have 30 years ago, but spent hundreds of millions on misinformation campaigns to keep western societies addicted to oil use -what is called the tobacco strategy because big tobacco spent enormous sums denying the link between use of tobacco and ill health; the key was the manufacture of ‘doubt’ in the science when there wasn’t any.
I see the Biden administration has completed a total U-turn from the Trump position on planetary meltdown (which they are still calling global warming) and have now pledged massive emission cuts.
Well, we know what pledges are worth: zilch. Especially when the pledges defy the laws of chemistry and mathematics.
It sure will be interesting to how the Biden administration proposes to rebuild infrastructure without using steel and concrete, and stimulate economic growth and create jobs without the use of fossil fuels.
Not picking on Biden as such: the same lunacy (or should we just call it mendacity) prevails almost everywhere.
I keep a weekly eye on the US Drought Monitor. Could 2021 be the year its all over for the southwest region of the US?
All good points. The source article for Smith’s point – Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
I had (deliberately) strongly advocated that voting this past election was absolutely critical (our very lives depended on it); Trump would have made things MUCH worse for Americans, with two things in particular, Fascism and the pandemic. Trump “unleashed” with a 2nd term would have been a nightmare (which many of us were preparing for).
Previously I wrote that voting was actually useless and would not change anything, but this time, we had no other choice. If we didn’t vote, we’d have gotten Trump (worst possible outcome with the soonest likelihood of utter failure). I can now see that at critical times, you do have to vote to avoid the worst, despite knowing that voting is actually rather useless. America barely missed an asteroid strike. But I agree with Smith, we don’t have any influence (like we think); our efforts are minuscule and pathetic; we’re told we can have the change we want, but never get it.
Biden is trying (which Trump didn’t even bother to do) to address some of the bigger issues, but he’s up against all the evil and machinations that refuse to change (including the American people) and the very form of government he is now the head of. Government today is not “for the people” but “for the profits”, having been deliberately subverted and sold out to the highest bidder long ago. Our “Republic” is actually a joke – we all know it is not a Republic anymore, there is no such thing as “representative government”.
The disconnect here is enormous. We can’t even get idiot Americans to wear a mask while in public, or abide by simple instructions. Trump would have done nothing more about the pandemic and we would likely be in the situation India now finds itself, totally overwhelmed (over 350,000 cases daily). I just got back from the store, big signs on every window, “Mask Required”, but very few people even trying. But I digress – the people’s voice and even their dissent doesn’t change anything for the most part.
The trajectory implied (after dissent) means violent rebellion, which many Americans are still hoping for, but what they really want is a fascist dictator to outlaw, overrule and void out all the undesirable people, policies, and practices, stupidly thinking that this will leave them in charge and in power. This is NOT the voice or the will of the people, it’s the voice of idiots.
Millions of Americans have utterly abandoned all forms of critical thought and abdicated personal responsibility and accountability. You see this everywhere now. Nobody wants to be held accountable, they want the ‘freedom’ to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and damn the consequences (this is EXACTLY the attitude corporate America has taken these past many decades – and look where it got us). It makes no difference to them how many people are hurt, killed or harmed by their actions.
That’s not freedom, it’s not even anarchy, it’s simply lawlessness and irresponsibility, while at the same time, they wanted to restrict the real freedoms of other people and groups, including the freedom to simply live and be left alone. Voters went to the booth expecting to enable this asinine dual standard and they were disappointed with the outcome. Now, under Biden, the subversive groups are trying to decide how best to attack what little stability we have left. They’re not done with advocating for civil war, they’re still trying to find a way to get that started.
Rampant stupidity and short-sighted selfish greed is as good as any description of America today. Those of us who disagree can’t change anyone’s mind. Look at the asinine cryptocurrency fever, stock speculations and vampish behavior found everywhere on social media. These are all direct signs of a civilization in collapse, internally devouring and prostituting itself in a desperate (and pathetic) bid to be ‘relevant’.
I get so disgusted by what I see happening here that I can barely bring myself back to the keyboard to even talk about it. I know that I can’t change anything.
Although we know we have no power to change the trajectory the banks, the corporations and the opportunists have put us on, I still think it is important to remain engaged, not by voting for the next ‘idiot’/saboteur waiting in line to become ‘leader’, but in order to remain sane and analytical. And to know what to prepare for.
A very important point is that not all Americans are idiots, and there is a large number of very intelligent, very caring, very astute people who talk a lot of sense: sadly, their voices are drowned out by the corporate media and the ‘howling mob’.
An interesting point was raised in the Aljazeera discussion about planetary overheating: Shell have tried to turn the tables on consumers and ask; “What are YOU going to do to help ‘save the planet’?” -as if by making the ‘right’ choices ( buying a fuel-efficient vehicle, eating less meat etc.) ordinary folk are going to influence the trajectory we are on.
That kind of cynical preying on the ignorance of ordinary folk appalls me, since, whilst Shell try to put onus for the for environmental collapse onto consumers, they continue to ‘attack’ the Earth with heavy drilling equipment and continue to make substantial profits out of their looting and polluting activities.
I remember how Shell sponsored various community facilities and events around Taranaki: “Look how great we are; we’ve just donated $100,000” blah, blah, blah -after extracting $20 million from the commons and clearing a profit of $5 million.
I’ve just been shocked by a massive price increase on a building material. The price was $7.50 for a year; every month the same. Today $10.50. Glad I bought what I did when I did. With timber prices rising rapidly (lumber, as Americans call it), construction will come to a standstill because no one will be able to afford the asking price.
All it will take is for food to follow a similar trajectory for rioting in the streets to be taken to the next level.
The coming Northern Hemisphere summer will be the most ‘interesting’ ever.
The drought here continues. No rain forecasted for at least a week.
A 2×4 board used to sell for cheap here, anywhere from $1.99 to $2.39. Now they’re nearly $8.00 each. Prices have quadripled. New house construction has gone up about $44,000 for materials (just materials). Absolutely worthless run-down shacks that need demolishing are selling for over $300,000 now. It’s insane. I’ve heard first-hand reports that many items are simply “order and wait”, such as appliances, insulation, sinks, etc. There is a rush of escapists from the larger urban areas to the countryside. Being trapped in the city during a pandemic finally triggered this.
I’ve always said you should live in your survival retreat year-round, no need to “bug out” and you will finally learn the required skills to make a go of it. That’s not something you can get from books, experience has enormous value.
Listing agents don’t even produce real estate catalogs now (I checked), the properties they sign up sell in 1 to 2 days after a bidding war, sellers get far more then they are asking.
What I used to buy at the supermarket has jumped up substantially too, way more then the dishonestly reported 3% price increase, I would estimate at least 12% or higher. A new supermarket came to town, thought it would be worth checking out, but I’ve only been there once in many months, prices were no better at all.
I did get some heating quotations (contractor installations) for this place – both came in very high, over 700% then 10 years ago. I will do it myself instead. I am now producing millable logs too from my downed trees. I can get these turned into boards at .50 per foot, so about half-price of current lumber costs. So far, I’ve got over 30 logs ready. Taking down trees that were already dropped or need to be. Meanwhile, I keep wearing out chainsaws and shopping around, these too have jumped up in price.
What’s shocking to me is just how much it actually costs to live and do anything at all. I don’t eat out, I don’t drink, smoke, just do my own thing here and stay home most of the time. Everything is paid for, no debts, but it’s stupid expensive to just ‘live’. ‘They’ made it so – demanding both compliance and servitude to a system that put a price tag on everything to exist. I’ve long debated how one could eject oneself from such a system and reduce the dependency upon it. It’s unjust, unethical and capricious. But you get to a point in life (age and ability) where you can’t do the things you used to do.