Time is a tricky substance. Within the next 7o years, I will be dead(I am being quite optimistic here). Perhaps a lot sooner than that. One does not know. But in the history of empire, we have known that essentially all that were created, failed. The Byzantines, the Romans, the Spanish, the British, just to name a few. The most recent empire to bite the dust is the American. It may be that this pronouncement is premature. Regardless, we are currently witnessing its demise. This is not an emotional statement, merely a factual assessment. Empires come, and empires go. I do not cheer this on in any sense. What I foresee for the future might be referred to as 'interesting times', and of course what this means is a lot of change. There will be tremendous dislocations of people in terms of employment, and therefore their ability to live. While this is common in many places on the planet already, in the 'Western World', many people are not used to these kinds of disruptions. I include myself in this group. By comparison to my parents, I have had an easy life, and people who have access to the internet and can read my blog are quite possibly in the same group. When most people of the planet are living with barely day to day subsistence, the ability to have a phone and use the internet are true luxuries.
So The American Empire is collapsing. Perhaps not yet in the death throes, but the inevitable will occur. The question is, will humanity learn anything from this tragedy, and will anything better spring from the ashes? Or will we simply repeat the same mistaks over again?
One might also ask, what is the intrinsic nature of empires that causes them to collapse? Is there a common feature which leads to their inevitable destruction? I am not studied sufficiently in the historical understanding of the collapses of previous empires, so I am not really going to address that question. I am going to confine my comments to the current American Empire, and what I see as the basic flaws which are precipitating its demise.
I am sure many of you have your own ideas about what the underlying issues are. For me, it is inequality. Now you may believe that this is a simplistic idea, and I will have to flesh it out for it to be better understood. I am not going to leave it at that. Let me also state up front that I have no real solution to the problem. It has been around for so long, that perhaps it is actually insolvable; it will take someone with a much bigger brain, and greater understanding than me to solve such a longstanding dichotomy.
How is inequality manifested in our system, and why does this lead to collapse of empire? Well, inequality first and foremost is shown in the way people use each other to perform work, and to make, essentially, 'something for nothing'. This is the basis of profit. When you read any standard text book on economics, the source of profit is never addressed. When one thinks about this with a logician's mind, it is clear to see that profit comes from some one else's labour.
Imagine a beach of sand. Then imagine the bags of sand that you buy at the gas station to prevent your car from skidding in winter time. The beach sand has no value till you put it in a bag, and then sell it at the garage. How did it get in to the bag? Some guy put it in there. Say you own the sand company, and you employ 10 people. You pay each guy 3 dollars a bag for the sand, and then charge your customers 5 dollars a bag. You make a 'profit' of 2 dollars a bag. Your workman could have sold the bag for 5 dollars, but you only paid him 3 dollars. You make a profit by paying him less than the value of his labour. Of course this is the essence of capitalism in a nut shell. People work, and they are paid for their labour. Capitalists pay the worker less than the value of their labour, and this becomes their 'profit'.
In a Capitalist system, therefore, there are more services and goods around than there is money to pay for them, as rich Capitalists can only purchase so much in the way of goods. All that excess money that is sitting in banks, and in stocks etc, is not being used to purchase hard goods and services. We are left with a situation where rich people have all the goods and services they need, with money in the bank, and poor people struggle to survive, are in debt, and have not got enough food on the table. Combined with this, there is an actual excess of goods, such that butter and cheese are thrown away, even though there are people with not enough food, living within only miles of that food! Giving this food to people without them paying for it would upset 'The System' of markets which supposedly controls Capitalism. The bottom line is that we are working for 'The System', 'The System' is not working for us. Is it any wonder that people who are working and yet poor might not be too understanding of this model? It is inhumane, and yet it is the way that we are being forced to live.
This inequity is leading to the current destruction of The American Empire. The very system of Capitalism is unstable, and leads to vast richness for the few, and extreme poverty for the many. It is inevitable that there will be revolution. It is just a question of time.
So how has this system managed to stay in place for so long, and what methods are used to ensure that the poor do not revolt? More in the next post...