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View Diary: German Spiegel: "Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation" (317 comments)

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  •  but what empire has declined gracefully? (9+ / 0-)

    True, the British did wind down their empire peacefully--only after they were nearly bankrupted by WWII and they could no longer afford to hold onto it. But they ended up just passing the torch along to us in the US.

    It's like the Lord of the Rings. You can use the One Ring to overthrow the Dark Lord, but then you simply become the new Dark Lord and things are just as bad and oppressive as before. Until someone else comes along to overthrow you and seize the Ring, and then he becomes the new Dark Lord until...ad infinitum.

    And so too the history of empire. One empire dies and another is born out of the ashes, and becomes just as tyrannical as its predecessor, and so it goes, an endless cycle. Unlike Tolkien's books, there's no Ring to be tossed into the fire of Mount Doom to end it.

    It's a mistake perhaps to speak of the rise and fall of empires. There is only one permanent empire, which periodically renews itself in many different guises, different names, and different peoples, and manifests itself through different nations, but the essential features of which remain the same.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 01:56:45 PM PST

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    •  Good points, all. (6+ / 0-)

      But the world has also moved on with some serious game changers such as the technology age.

      That may preclude, to some degree, the overt continuation of "one ring to rule them all."

      None have declined as gracefully as they wished they had. Many were destroyed buy that very lack of grace. That advice is coming from historians who see how exceptional and utopian a declined power could be, domestically, if they used their resources at home -- rather than throwing them down the black hole of resisting their inevitable eclipse.


      A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

      by Pluto on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 02:04:06 PM PST

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      •  true, although perhaps technology (4+ / 0-)
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        Pluto, PatriciaVa, flowerfarmer, melo

        will simply allow subtler expressions of imperialism, novel ways in which to project power.

        Virtual imperium will take the place of old-fashioned, battleships-'n-tanks imperium. Perhaps it will be less violent and bloody than what we have now. That would be progress.

        Otherwise, I don't think that anything but the physical limits of the planet will halt the cycle. As long as there are resources to fuel it, the drive for empire will continue.

        Human desire would consume the universe entire to sate itself, had it the power.

        Once we go into space and figure out how to exploit the resources of extraterrestrial planets, get ready for an era of galactic imperialism--new conquistadores and plunderers ruthlessly stripping entire planetary systems of their resources and subjugating alien populations.

        Our writers of fiction have already imagined how it will be, as in Dune, for instance. The same struggles, but in a new form.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 02:30:47 PM PST

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      •  mr.u and I were talking about this last night (3+ / 0-)
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        Pluto, flowerfarmer, melo

        both of us wishing we would put the same energy into fixing our failing infrastructure, healthcare, and education that we do in messing in the business of others.

        "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

        by high uintas on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 04:05:38 PM PST

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    •  Uh (7+ / 0-)

      Yes, but I think you may be accepting England's version of history a bit much.  The end of the empire was violent and ugly.  Check out India, Kenya, and many other locations.

      Even were it wasn't violent, it was ugly.  For example, when the UK left Hong Kong, they issued passports to the citizens that were not valid for living in the UK.  

      Britain did not give up their empire, it was taken from them, usually by force.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 02:08:29 PM PST

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