Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Is America going to fall?

posted by Rod Dreher

Was having lunch with a friend today, who mentioned a couple of “declinist” commentators, who are exceptionally gloomy and doomy. I raised my hand and said that I’m in the strange position of being a declinist, but one who is perhaps unaccountably cheerful despite it all. I can’t explain it. If I really believed the country was going to hell in a handbasket, why am I not po-faced all the time? Well, I do believe this, pretty much, but I also believe that the hand of divine providence is in all things, and that is possible to live well (which is not a synonym for live luxuriously) in all kinds of circumstances. To paraphrase Wilde, we’ll all be living in the gutter before it’s all over with, but some of us will be looking up at the stars. Anyway, Piers Brendon is not worried that the American Empire will decline as Rome’s and Britain’s did, and explains why — but he also says that America is going to have to change if it is to continue from a position of strength. Niall Ferguson, however, is much less sanguine about U.S. prospects, saying that history rarely follows predictable narrative patterns, and that the fall of the American Empire could come as a thief in the night. Excerpt:

If empires are complex systems that sooner or later succumb to sudden and catastrophic malfunctions, what are the implications for the United States today? First, debating the stages of decline may be a waste of time — it is a precipitous and unexpected fall that should most concern policymakers and citizens. Second, most imperial falls are associated with fiscal crises. Alarm bells should therefore be ringing very loudly indeed as the United States contemplates a deficit for 2010 of more than $1.5 trillion — about 11% of GDP, the biggest since World War II.These numbers are bad, but in the realm of political entities, the role of perception is just as crucial. In imperial crises, it is not the material underpinnings of power that really matter but expectations about future power. The fiscal numbers cited above cannot erode U.S. strength on their own, but they can work to weaken a long-assumed faith in the United States’ ability to weather any crisis.One day, a seemingly random piece of bad news — perhaps a negative report by a rating agency — will make the headlines during an otherwise quiet news cycle. Suddenly, it will be not just a few policy wonks who worry about the sustainability of U.S. fiscal policy but the public at large, not to mention investors abroad. It is this shift that is crucial: A complex adaptive system is in big trouble when its component parts lose faith in its viability.Over the last three years, the complex system of the global economy flipped from boom to bust — all because a bunch of Americans started to default on their subprime mortgages, thereby blowing huge holes in the business models of thousands of highly leveraged financial institutions. The next phase of the current crisis may begin when the public begins to reassess the credibility of the radical monetary and fiscal steps that were taken in response.

A complex adaptive system is in big trouble when its component parts lose faith in its viability. It seems to me that the country is in far better shape than it was from say, 1967 to 1980, when it must really have seemed that the wheels were coming off. On the other hand, social capital has been drawn down greatly as well since then (more on which tomorrow), so perhaps there are real weaknesses in our social fabric that have been patched over by money. When that disappears, what comes next? Anyway, that line of Ferguson’s put me in mind of Alasdair MacIntyre’s line in “After Virtue” about how the Roman Empire passed a point of no return:

A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium.

It is hard for me to imagine a state of affairs in which ordinary decent people quit having faith in the U.S. government. I’m not talking about people who are quick to proclaim their lack of faith in the U.S. government, but who don’t mean it. It’s a pose. They trust the government to defend the country, to make sure checks roll out on time, and so forth. But what happens when ordinary people — not just fringe hotheads — lose faith in the government? Thoughts?Meanwhile, look at this magnificent Soviet performance from 1976 (thanks Boing Boing). How in the world did they lose the Cold War with such cultural ammunition?



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D.S.

posted March 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm


Why do I get the feeling this guy was the Captain in the Soviet version of Star Trek?



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rj

posted March 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm


Ferguson makes some claims about the deficit as a harbinger of American decline, claiming that a deficit of 11% of GDP is some sort of horrid number. In some situations, it might be. However, we are seeing none of the market signals that presage a financial problem for the government: interest rates on our treasuries are low and inflation is close to non-existent.
It is worth keeping in mind the structural bulwarks we have in place against calamity:
1) we are geographically isolated from world trouble spots;
2) Our internal dissent is dominated by people who argue that they have the best claim to the framers’ intent and/or the spirit of the nation’s history generally;
3) Separatist groups are laughed at, aside from a little posturing here and there (think Tex. Gov. Perry);
4) The nations we prop up with military support are not our main trading partners;
5) Our strongest allies are those in the best position among the nations of the world and have the correct incentives to work against U.S. fiscal calamity;
6) Despite the endless worry about the quality of our schools, we remain an innovator and the world’s biggest cause of brain drain.
So yes, we’ll have to innovate. Of course we’ll change. If the U.S. were patrolling the high seas in frigates and we had a Gilded Age regulatory structure, we’d be toast. But there is no reason to think we have reached some static end point at which there is no change except collapse or revolution.



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Peter

posted March 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm


Translation, please!



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Jon

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:20 pm


To whom is America going to fall? Is there some enemy at the gates?
As for Britain, it did not “fall”– it just let its unwilling colonies go. The UK homeland is still every bit as much intact as it was at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. What’s more the average Briton lives better than his great great grandparents did back then.
If the US “falls” as Britain did, we won’t hold Puerto Rico and Guam in 100 years, but our homeland will be just fine, and our descendants will be doing better than we are.



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r

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm


Agree with Peter, rj’s list is somewhat ambiguous. But on #4, have to disagree. Think Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, and even Mexico. And yes, we do prop them up, in one fashion or another, with military support. Allies like that, you might want to redefine their respective relationships. Especially with financial concerns at home, which potentially in the future could preclude scientific and technological innovation.



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Jillian

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:05 pm


Those are curiously poor critiques. *An* America is in decline and fall, that’s true, along with its relative brute form of power and the ending of its particular historical role/task in the world. Another America is arising, a successor with a far more Modern nature.
For James Fallows the losing adherents and partisans of the first are obstructing and trying to sabotage the second. (He is polite and pretends that the structural factors in government these folks exploit are to blame.) For all declinism I’ve read here, none meaningfully refutes Fallows.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/01/how-america-can-rise-again/7839/
I find it amusing that Gibbon essentially blames localism (Larison says it’s localism if you like it, provincialism if you don’t) for the fall of the Roman Empire. Food for thought, for some.



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Rev. Mike

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm


If you want to have the living daylights scared out of you and to answer Rod’s question at the same time, you may wish to read One Second After by William R. Forstchen and consider just how easily we could find ourselves thrown back a couple of hundred years in a fairly credible scenario where we are hit with EMP weapons. I’ve been chewing my lip on that one all weekend long.
“Black swans” can come in many forms.



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mdavid

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:50 pm


It is hard for me to imagine a state of affairs in which ordinary decent people quit having faith in the U.S. government. I’m not talking about people who are quick to proclaim their lack of faith in the U.S. government, but who don’t mean it. It’s a pose.
Not the kind of people I live around. They are generally practical people – people who can work with their hands or head, and have good jobs (that they don’t expect to last). And I would estimate many, even most, of these people believe the US is defunct culturally and merely a dead shell staggering along. Certainly not worth fighting for or worrying about over the longer term. So they take care of their own, and while they take (back) from government whatever they can, they don’t see themselves owing anything to it, nor expecting anything from it.
In fact, I find that the wealthier and more intelligent the individual, the less they trust the concept of the U.S government as a serious entity that can stand the test of time. Made up a a jumble of dishonest pols voted in by an immoral population of broken families whose general goal is to suck at the government teat that is long since bankrupt, it’s become more like a fire that roars and consumes than the typical government of yore. It no longer has a religious culture or moral purpose guiding it, and thus has become a dangerous entity, one without any purpose or function except to consume and grow at the expense of any and all that get in the way.
In summary, I and many others doubt the solvency of the US empire right now, let alone in the future. And I don’t see this as anything but practical.



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stari_momak

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:56 pm


If the US “falls” as Britain did, we won’t hold Puerto Rico and Guam in 100 years,
We should be so lucky.



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Jon

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:03 pm


Re: consider just how easily we could find ourselves thrown back a couple of hundred years in a fairly credible scenario where we are hit with EMP weapons.
EMP weapons are like bio-wepaons– they’re scary in principle, but no one has ever used one and no one knows how well they work. Also, short of blowing up a very big H-Bomb in space there’s no way you can blanket a country the size of the US with a powerful EMP. The only such bombs (and intercontinental missile delivery systems) are found in the arsenals of Russia, China, the UK and France. None of whom, I submit, would risk a gambit like that. A much more localized EMP would be nasty, but the fix would be on the order of repairing the S Florida power grid after Wilma in 2005– a big job, but hardly something that would surpass us.



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Steven Donegal

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm


“In fact, I find that the wealthier and more intelligent the individual, the less they trust the concept of the U.S government as a serious entity that can stand the test of time.”
Interesting. You and I hang with very different wealthy and intelligent people. The wealthy and intelligent people I hang with trust the US government just fine. I find it’s the wealthy but less intelligent that generally distrust the government. (I see your gross generalization and raise you one.)



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MH

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm


I am totally clueless about the Russian video and don’t get it.
There are many places in the world that are places of past greatness and the people seem to lead perfectly fine lives. So if the American empire were to fall it doesn’t seem like it would be the end of the world. We might have fewer citizens dieing in foreign entanglements.



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MH

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm


Another fact about EMP is that the US military is aware of the threat and has hardened off enough of their infrastructure to retain our ability to retaliate. This means that a first strike would have no reward because the aggressors goos would shortly be cooked. So this is really MAD in another form.



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godisaheretic

posted March 1, 2010 at 10:44 pm


a pundit, don’t remember who, awhile back said something like:
there is no investment that is safe from a “run on the bank”.
if the American people start to panic and cash out their investments,
the party may be over.
I think “America” will survive, but life may be brutal.



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godisaheretic

posted March 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm


and…
of course, unlike previous crises, we are near the end of cheap energy.
so, there won’t be enough available low cost energy to maintain the existing American infrastructure.
and…
without such cheap energy supplies, there will be no way to build large scale technologies such as so-called “alternative energy” systems.
in other words, no cheap energy means not much technology.
“America” in the far future will have to run again on “wood”.
good luck with that.



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Katie in FL

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:09 pm


That video is great! He wasn’t even trying to appear in sync with the music. LOL



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Brian

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm


Even if the U.S. were to “fall”, we have enough manpower and resources to take care of ourselves. That, and our diverse nature, is what makes this nation great. As one of my professors put it, even though the British aren’t as strong a nation they once were, they are not living in tents.
As for mistrust of government, you get people of all wealth and intelligence levels that have a problem trusting government. Though I don’t really know why. It seems to me our government isn’t really doing anything right now.



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stari_momak

posted March 2, 2010 at 12:33 am


The dude’s name is Edward Hill — Edward Anatolievich Hill. Here he performs “Opal” — literally “Moon Rock”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWlgs6-pM10



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mdavid

posted March 2, 2010 at 12:54 am


Regarding intelligence and trust in government:
At the least, one would have to be plain ignorant to trust any government. That is, ignorant of history since every single one has failed so far except a few recent upstarts. I won’t go as far as to say that those who trust government are stupid and asking for it; let’s just say some folk are nice and naive.
Another way to put it: a hundred years ago, any person who didn’t have a month or so of food on hand would have been considered ill prepared. Today, those who do are considered paranoid, as trust in government and society has reached a level of insanity. It’s the new bubble: government trust. As with any bubble, when it pops, a lot of people are going to be mighty shocked.
Here’s a related tidbit I read somewhere today about government: GSO Fannie Mae lost $72 billion in 2009. That’s $136,000 a minute. New business plan: fire everyone except one janitor who shovels stacks of $100 bills into the furnace all day, every day, all year. Save taxpayers billions! Or then again Treasury could just let it go bust and use the bailout cash to buy outright a tiny little energy company like Conoco Phillips. Since the US is already in such deep hock that it will never repay it, I think distrust in government is merely a sign than one is sane.



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r

posted March 2, 2010 at 1:47 am


For all of the above predicting the inevitable financial collapse of the United States, there is one simple question. Where is the new dominant world power? Where will money be invested? Answer that question. You reach the inevitable and proper conclusion, it will still be the United States of America. In times of insecurity, wealth seeks security. Case in point: World War II. A very heavy relocation of wealth from Europe and Asia to the US prior to and during the engagement. At the time of the end of the conflict, the US held close to a majority of the international wealth. It would occur again in a time of world insecurity.



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michael

posted March 2, 2010 at 2:04 am


Fiscally, I do think we’re headed off a cliff, but the Congress can’t even work out a plan. Just interest groups only interested in their own slice of pie. We see this in California too. I keep waiting for the adults to show up and rein it in, but I’m still waiting.



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Allison

posted March 2, 2010 at 5:51 am


America as we know it will fail. That is just based on birth rates.
White Anglo-Saxon couples have approximately 1.8 children per family. Afro-Americans have 3-4 children per family as do Latinos.
Couples from the Middle East have about 8 children per family.
Do the math. In 50 years the question of separation of Church and State will no longer exist as we will have a government and a State religion.
Want to guess which direction you will face as you pray.
If you have facts that prove me wrong please post them here.



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public_defender

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:00 am


Others commentators have said this, so I’ll just put a different gloss on it. Yes, we have major structural problems. Yes, the system of low taxes (thank you Republicans) and high benefits (thank you Republicans and Democrats) is unsustainable. But what are the choices of investors? American quasi-capitalism may be a horrible system, but everything else is worse.
You think China will beat us? China is a serious threat, but the government’s limits on liberty are creating a powder keg. The bargain of growth for political peace cannot last forever,



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Jon

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:24 am


Re: Couples from the Middle East have about 8 children per family.
Please document this as I believe it is much inflated from the true number.
Also, your “50 years” is way to short a time span. You would need centuries to efect the change you posit. Human beings live about 70-80 years; our generations do not turn over in a mere 50 years. Ad many Middle Easterners in this country are Christians fleeing religious persecution. “Arab” is not a synonym for Muslim.
Based on current trends it’s far more likely that in 200 years Spanish will be one of the official languages of the US.



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Jon

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:27 am


Re: without such cheap energy supplies, there will be no way to build large scale technologies such as so-called “alternative energy” systems.
We have enough coal to last several centuries.
We produce very little electricity from oil.
Alternative energy sources are already available, but are a bit too costly to compete. Higher energy costs makes thenm competitive.
And check out the price of natural gas– this is not cheap?
Enough with this silly gloom-mongering!



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JVSharpe

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:40 am


“It is hard for me to imagine a state of affairs in which ordinary decent people quit having faith in the U.S. government.”
What grounds might there be for faith in the government per se? Mightn’t it be wiser to have confidence in “ordinary decent people”? To the extent that the government is operated by such people, faith is warranted. In their absence, it is not.
JVS



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Indy

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:42 am


Mdavid, I appreciate your explaining that there are people “believe the US is defunct culturally and merely a dead shell staggering along. Certainly not worth fighting for or worrying about over the longer term. So they take care of their own, and while they take (back) from government whatever they can, they don’t see themselves owing anything to it, nor expecting anything from it.” I’ve had a sense from reading between the lines in what some people write on message boards that there were folks who focused mostly on their own kind while clutching tightly their own wallets, but it hasn’t been clear to me what drove such thinking.
Rod, I think some of what is happening is due to ignorance about how things work. If you look anecdotally at what people say in interviews and in comboxes, you see that there are some who believe that if “pork barrel” projects could be eliminated, the U.S. could balance the budget. Yet earmarks make up a mere 1% of the budget deficit. Entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) and payment on the debt comprise some 67% of the budget. Just a little over a third is discretionary outlays (defense, homeland security, domestic programs). There isn’t enough to cut in that 33.7% to balance the budget. Rather than help legislators confront tough choices, such as whether to require means testing for Medicare, too many citizens just say I’m gonna get what I can but simultaneously gripe about the governmental structure that provides it to me. That voters often are poor stewards is too tough for most of them to confront. Better to wrap themselves up in various myths, such as “you can’t fight City Hall;” “all pols are corrupt,” “nobody listens to the people,” blah blah blah. Nuance largely is lost in this feel good culture of us v. them which drives a lot of griping.
Moreover, people tend not to complain about pork barrel projects that benefit their communities. And there is other waste in the budget, as well. How many people realize that some of the weapons systems that are being manufactured actually are unneeded and unwanted by the military but they are required to accept them not for national security but for political reasons? That’s not the case with all weapons, of course, but does happen with some items in production. Yet there is almost no public outcry about that, which means defense contractors are able to exert more influence than experts within the armed services would wish were the case. Public silence, based on ignorance, adds to the imbalance.
And then there are discrepancies in how state and local leaders approach things. A gubernatorial candidate who runs on fiscal responsibility and belt tightening often turns around and asks for federal stimulus help. Just this morning I read on a news site that Gov. Robert McDonnel (R- VA), who criticized stimulus spending during his campaign last year, has asked for $4.35 billion in Recovery Act education funding. Are the “let’s go it alone” folks who voted him into office in his state going to pressure him to drop the plea for federal funding? I doubt it. There’s a lot of dissonance out there, and a lot of avoidance. Lots of talking the talk among voters, very, very little walking the walk. Much easier to gripe about decline and use any excuse to pull back into one’s shell and focus just on hearth and home while still claiming to “put country first.”



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rj

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:42 am


I’m disappointed by this thread. We’re talking about the decline of the richest, most powerful nation on earth, which also happens to be the world’s longest-standing republic. What do we have?
- Rich people not trusting the government (not the rich people I know)
- Tired Gingrichite fantasies about EMP (check this out: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/02/17/the_boogeyman_bomb?page=full)
- Eurabia/Creeping Sharia/Breeding Brown People paranoia.
- Running out of energy (unlike every other nation on the planet?)
Let’s get some newer, better excuses to stock up on canned meat, people.



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James P.

posted March 2, 2010 at 10:25 am


No doubt that video runs on an endless loop in your beloved local liquor store up there in PA.
Rod, the next time you have a question about wine, just call me. I would have told you that 95% of Washington Rieslings are sweet and that you should buy the Trimbach. (Was the Trimbach by any chance their special bottling “Cuvee Frederic Emile?” If so, you can start kicking yourself, now. Hard.) Don’t risk getting caught with contraband from over the state line. (Class C misdemeanor, perhaps, or worse?)



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gambino

posted March 2, 2010 at 11:08 am


As long as the U.S.&A. is the home of the free and land of the brave, and NOT, the home of the scared and land of the slave, the U.S.&A. WILL REMAIN THE MOST DESIRED PLACE IN THE WORLD TO LIVE. the economic ups and downs are not the driving factor. People are. People create, thrive, innovate, populate, extrapolate, etc-ate, best with freedom. The color of people, the religion etc becomes less relevant where you bow and prey. Fear is the only thing you have to fear.Be brave, think positive and NOW, go create some new ideas and smile and thank G-d YOU ARE LIVING IN THE OVERALL BESTESTESEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.



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Nick the Greek

posted March 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm


If you believe, clap your hands; don’t let the U.S.&A. (sic) die.



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TWylite

posted March 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm


If it’s ever put to ballot, I’d vote for the British route of voluntary downsizing the empire. It’s the only sustainable way to go. If things get real bad somewhere (e.g. a Taliban 2.0 with real power in Afghanistan, not just relative nusiances that set off a suicide bomber now and again), we strike back, but temporarily. This habit of never leaving countries we occupy has to stop.
The Soviet video is great. It’s not that far off from Lawrence Welk, except they didn’t lip sync as far as I know. In college, I preferred watching Lawrence Welk to MTV, largely due to the kitsch factor, but also because there was some real musical performance on display. So maybe Lawrence Welk actually won the Cold War. The sheer volume of polyester and hairspray involved must have done something to global energy prices, at least.



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The Man From K Street

posted March 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Rod is wrong, but not in the way he thinks. The kicker of course is that, given a choice, we should opt for “sudden collapse” OVER “gradual decline.” Practically any imaginable scenario that causes the former could actually open up some real freedom of action for “the American Nation”, howsoever would politically reconstitute itself. The latter would just remove freedom of action over time. That is because there is no imaginable scenario that causes the former that would not greatly effect the rest of the globe as well, where the latter is about RELATIVE power.
Should the “United States of America” collapse in, say, the next 5 years, its situation would not be like a bankrupt, post-Suez UK begging for EEC membership, but rather more probably be roughly akin to Weimar Germany circa 1920: humiliated, completely insolvent, currency worthless, previously fringe political movements able to grab legitimacy, yadda yadda yadda.
And yet. The Weimar Germany of the 20s and early 30s still had its economic infrastructure intact, and vast untapped military potential to boot. Moreover they were in a better geopolitical situation than they were before–prior to WWI Germany was bordered by three empires, whereas in 1919 two of those empires had shattered, leaving a belt of weak, malleable statelets to their south and east that could be manipulated (in that geopolitical sense
Germany actually “won” the Great War). That it all ended in Hitler was not historically inevitable–there are a hundred more likely (and happier) scenarios for Germany to have capitalized on its clean slate situation in the 1930s and 40s, perhaps even peaceably.
Likewise, any post-federal collapse Central North America will still have 300 million+ healthy people, a lot more of them of military age than elsewhere in the developed world, a few dozen million entrepreneurs, intact universities and research labs, railroad nets, airports, telecom infrastructure, about 5 times as many capital ships as the rest of the world’s navies combined, more grain than it can eat, most of the world’s gold bullion still stacked in Kentucky vaults, and young people having a lot more babies than their counterparts in Europe and Asia. Plus, whatever entitlement spending obligations are no longer operative. Assuming whatever caused this collapse caused similarly bad damage to the rest of the developed world, I would kind of prefer to be the President of the Reconstituted States of America than to any other job in the world.



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Anti Dhimmi

posted March 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm


Maybe it’s time to repost this:
http://www.arlev.clara.net/glubb/index.htm
One stage: The Age of Intellect, in which people decide that all problems of the world can be solved by the human brain.
Then there is the issue of frivolity, in which cynics become pessimists who then become “Eat, drink and be merry” types, even as the handwriting appears on the wall (atheists and others will find the reference near the end of the Old Testament book of Daniel).



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Anti Dhimmi

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm


Rod says:
It is hard for me to imagine a state of affairs in which ordinary decent people quit having faith in the U.S. government.
Well, see if this fits your imagination.
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/26/cnn-poll-majority-says-government-a-threat-to-citizens-rights/?fbid=2lTeknyLBRf
Excerpt:
Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.



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Jon

posted March 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm


Re: young people having a lot more babies than their counterparts in Europe and Asia.
You need to amend that to “a few more babies”, not “a lot more”. And certainly not in comparison to all of Asia. See: India. Moreover a large fraction of those babies will grow up speaking Spanish as their first language.
Re: Plus, whatever entitlement spending obligations are no longer operative.
Unless you think we will herd the poor and elderly into death camps, we will have to sustain them somehow or other, so we will still be spending a lot of resources on consumers who are no longer (and perhaps never were) producers. Whatever demographic issues Social Security may have are a problem for any conceivable American society without the entitlements- absent genocide on a scale that would shock even Der Fuhrer.
And all in all I would much rather see a gentile decline, one that leaves us like Britain or France today: a still-important nation with no great horror in our recent history to atone for, a decent living standard for our citizens, and a past we can (legitimately) brag of for generations to come.



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Indy

posted March 3, 2010 at 7:39 am


What about the idea raised by an anonymous poster under a recent New York Times story about political turmoil? The article quoted people in Idaho who expressed fear of the federal government. A poster (I don’t know if it was a man or a woman, I’ll just say he) wrote in describing what he would like to see. He said, why not have all the anti-federal government people move to Idaho. They would lose access to federal entitlements, highway and transportation funding, stimulus spending, federal assistance with unemployment benefits, food safety and consumer protections, regulatory protection, and just about everything else that federal taxes pay for, except national security and defense. Let them sort out amongst themselves who pays for highways, who keeps their elderly parents safe in nursing homes, who protects from unsafe products and tainted food, etc. Just let market forces and the strongest and most powerful among them prevail, just like in the 18th century.
The anonymous poster was being sarcastic but he had a point. I don’t take take the polls about fear of big government seriously. I think a lot of people haven’t thought through what they want from government and what they don’t, much of the griping comes across as mostly a lot of hot air. Few would be willing to walk the walk.



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Jon

posted March 3, 2010 at 8:15 am


Indy,
To be fair here, there is reason to be skeptical and cautious about government: government power is dangerous and can turn tyrant. However too many people at these “tea parties”, and on rightwing talk radio (not to mention some of the leftwing blogs, when the GOP is ascendant), are not merely skeptical, but are outright paranoid. Comparing Obama (or George W Bush) to Stalin and Hitler is, well, nuts.



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Anti Dhimmi

posted March 3, 2010 at 3:09 pm


Jon, not to get too partisan, but I’m curious: when it was popular on the Left to refer to GW Bush as Hitler (“BusHitler” for example), did you also state in public that such was, well, nuts?



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Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done to your na-nas? Doc has just the solution: Doctors say

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




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