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End Of The Empire

Charles Hugh Smith

I like Charles Hugh Smith’s articles, because he raises issues others don’t like to touch. I don’t always agree with him, but his articles always make me think. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor

This article comes from OfTwoMinds

by Charles Hugh Smith

If the top 1/100th of 1% crowding airports with their private jets isn’t afraid of impoverished, disenchanted debt-serfs with pitchforks, they should be.

By End of the Empire I refer not to the collapse of American Imperial power but to the excesses and anxieties that characterize the decay of Empire. I have covered the dynamics of Imperial decay before: How Empires Fall (April 17, 2013):

The imperial tree falls not because the challenges are too great but because the core of the tree has been weakened by the gradual loss of surplus, purpose, institutional effectiveness, intellectual vigor and productive investment.

What I want to address today is the psychological characteristics of Imperial decay: a jaded populace that seeks distraction from their anxieties in excess. We know what characterizes empires on the make: a populace that is vigorous, confident, brimming with abilities and more than willing to engage in spirited intellectual debate on key issues.
What characterizes the American populace today? Jaded, unwilling to sacrifice comfort and convenience for long-term gain, incapable of honest debate, brimming with resentful excuses, insecure, anxious, fearful, depressed, distracted, self-absorbed. These last seven are of course the key traits of permanent adolescence, the state of arrested development encouraged by consumerism.

But they also characterize an Empire that has lost its edge, its ability to sacrifice for a common good, its confidence in its leadership and institutions, and its focus on building value rather than consuming.
Longtime correspondent Kevin K. recently submitted a comparison of the cost for a family of four to attend an NFL football game. San Francisco led the pack at $641 per game for average seats and a few drinks/hot dogs. (Scratch the $10 program and the $22 hat and that drops it all the way down to $609.)
49ers stadium priciest in NFL for a family of four: $641

The cheapest outing in the league came in at $345. I confess I’m frugal (hey I’m a writer, frugality is part of the package), but $345 doesn’t strike me as particularly affordable. That’s two months’ groceries in our abode, and $641 is the cost of a 3,000-mile car-camping trip.

It’s remarkably easy to drop $600 on a dinner for four at a high-end eatery (with wine, of course). It’s almost laughable to look at archived menus of top-end restaurants in the 1960s; even in major bastions of old wealth like San Francisco, the fare at the best restaurants in town in the 1960s would barely pass muster at a decent cafe nowadays in terms of sophistication and complexity.





  1. It’s funny how obvious this all seems right now. Sir John Glubb wrote about this as well. Empires typically last for so long(somewhere over 200 years) and go through several phases. After an outburst, and age of conquest, commerce and knowledge, things begin to fester and rot from within. Greed permeates every aspect of society, people no longer seek knowledge for its own sake, and people no longer care for honor or courage(aside from groups like these and a good bit of the military). A good trademark is also a welfare state under the guise of generosity, a more defensive posture, and a general lack of concern for citizens.

    It’s quite a shame. But things will get worse before they get better.

  2. If virtue is the main characteristic of a surviving healthy Democracy, Spirituality is the lifeblood of a Republic, and when you all are told,, This is not a Christian Nation,, then you are being told your Republic is at an end, the statement is not an attack on Christianity but a historical statement of fact,, you criminal (spiritually) kids (age 60 and younger) are done with Republic because youse people are not of Republic caliber.

  3. Spirituality is certainly an important aspect, but I have to wonder if that term only applies to religion. I think it can also apply to things like the “spirit of competition” or the “spirit of America”. I think it just means to have a common belief to unite people.

    [Editor’s Note: Alex, most folks unquestionably presume that “spirit” has to do with “religion”. It does, on certain levels of consciousness, but spirituality exists not in flesh but in mind, in psyche, and certainly is not limited to religion. In fact, since religions are based in the past (doctrine, myth, faith-based dogma) most people who consider themselves to be religious have very little cognizance of “spirit” in its reality. Therefore, on the mental levels of religion, “spirit” is easily associated with such as you noted, “team spirit” or the “American spirit” etc. Much awakening to the reality of one’s own psyche is necessary before people can usually achieve an understanding of spirituality. But most people seldom ever ponder just what is a “mind”, what is a thought, what is an emotion, what is “knowledge”, what is memory, what is intuition, what is perception. And today’s corporate churches seldom if ever teach their laity to question such mysteries in life. Spirit has to do with the psyche, the conscious and sub-conscious aspects of the mind. In a hierarchy of the “invisible” world, spirit exists on the finest vibratory planes, followed below those planes by the coarser vibratory planes of the soul, which in turn are followed by the vibratory planes of the psyche, the mind. And below all those vibratory planes, invisible as they are, exists the physical Newtonian universe which contains our human bodies with their five physical senses. So it’s spirit, soul, psyche, body, in that order.
    Life holds many wonderful revelations once one breaks away from past teachings, questions one’s own “known”, and embraces the world of the mind unfettered by belief, dogma, and myth. Spirit holds the whole world together, but very few humans down through history have discovered that divine fact.

    Elias Alias, editor]

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