Kinetics of Empire
ANGLO AMERICA, 25 Jul 2016
23 Jul 2016 – All life systems have laws that govern them, identified or not. Many are beyond human capacity to catalog and comprehend. But not all.
Newton said that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and nailed that to the wall of physics. Social sciences can’t match such precision. John Stuart Mill observed that against great political power, a small resistance does not have a small effect: it has no effect at all. One could argue sentimentally, of course, but history tends to bear him out.
Are there laws that govern empires? Formed by conquest and exploiting subject nations, they must have the might both to subdue and to rule. (Viz. Rome, Czarist Russia, Nazi Germany, Victorian England)
Another constant is that their intake of loot from abroad and from bleeding their own people is endlessly consumed in fueling the engine of dominion until the running balance goes negative. Then imperial recession begins.
A third is that as the capacity to rule its colonies fails, repression at home must increase to quash incipient rebellion. The death camps of Hitler and the gulags of Stalin were final solutions to largely domestic concerns.
These may or may not be laws, exactly, but they are common to the genus and it is abundantly clear by now that America belongs to it.
No point in recounting our expeditionary insanities. Everyone’s memorized them. They’re the recurring nightmares of our collective consciousness.
Routine police murder of blacks is the obverse of the horrific brutality our mercenaries inflict on the peoples of countries we’ve destroyed. Imperial murder abroad necessitates commensurate racist homicide at home.
This is how it works. And the darkest reality is that all our killing power–and there is much in reserve; our deluded elite may yet provoke world war–is useless to maintain our shabby and corrupt hegemony, shattered as it now is by a long string of appalling, degrading, and shameful failures.
Kipling wrote of Britannia waning but his words frame the end of all empires: “Far-called, our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire: Lo, all our pomp of yesterday, is one with Nineveh and Tyre!”
Imperial America is functioning predictably, robotically, on kinetic principles it cannot alter. The Last Best Hope of Humankind has evolved into a cruel, blind, autonomic Death Star, hurtling inexorably toward its end. Ironically, the fact of the Exceptional Nation’s demise will be entirely unexceptional.
No one can say what the trigger mechanism will be or what will follow. Imperial dissolution is as complex as expansion and less predictable.
There was general and total disintegration in Rome. Systemic breakdowns in Bourbon France and Romanov Russia led to revolutions that tore those societies apart. The pulverization of Banzai Japan and Nazi Germany led through ashes to reconstitution. And war bankruptcy and implosion sank Great Britain from great
power to welfare basket case.
What will be undeniably unique in the American Empire’s end is the scale on which disintegration will occur. Never in history has so mighty a power been so inextricably and irremediably entangled with so much of the world.
Whether our dissolution comes through annihilation by war or evisceration through financial meltdown, it will be the greatest act of state terrorism ever inflicted on humankind. In this catastrophic imperial suicide, the collateral damage will be the world.
Paul Edwards is a writer and filmmaker in Montana.
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