Why the US Is Falling – and Faster than You May Expect: A 40-year-old Prediction Coming True
The unique, dominating position of the United States in the post-1945 world is well-known. It maintains this position thanks to both a very large historical goodwill capital and former glory in the eyes of generations around the world – and thanks to rampant militarism and imperialism that has destroyed the good ‘America’ that it used to be.
The world’s major division the next few years will be this: Are you on the side of continued US global dominance or do you want to see a new multipolar world with more balance and the US in the role of a partner among equals?
In my view, the US no longer has the capacity to lead itself effectively and find solutions to its own multi-dimensional crisis be it the economy, democracy, climate change, warfare addiction, social polarization, racism and on top of it all the Covid-19 crisis.
Not being able to lead itself, no one should wish that the US should lead the world. Neither does it have any right to.
While its allies, friends and admirers are increasingly turning sceptical, others turn away and look for other partners be it China, Russia or Iran.
While the friends of the US should try to help it out of its addiction to its outdated self-image, the designated enemies, of course, cannot help the US as it simply would not listen. Strangely, these countries also need the US and have sought and still seek constructive cooperation but in vain.
The fact is that no one threatens the US (and certainly not Russia with less than 8 % of the military expenditures of NATO. The US has become its own worst enemy but blames others for its problems.
Sadly, it seems that there is not one ministry of foreign affairs among the EU /NATO countries that has even thought of developing a strategy for the post-US dominated West.
Countries such as China, other BRICS and many others are building a new world order. Will the West, therefore, loose completely, or will parts of it still be able to save what can be saved and transition into the future multipolar world order?
The chances of a “yes” to that question is diminishing by the day.
The list of twenty points below was written long before the Presidential candidate debate on September 29 (it would be an offence to children to say that they behaved like children). But that debate only confirmed these points – and the simple point that it doesn’t matter much whether the next president of the US will be Trump or Biden.
It’s the system, stupid! And it is rapidly coming to an end.
It’s a valid intellectual-theoretical point that one cannot apply characteristics from psychology – basically the science of the individual – to much larger aggregates such as people, nations or the global system. That’s the fallacy of levels.
That said, let’s anyhow try to just a bit of such “psychologizing” to make it more familiar to the reader.
- All empires go down, sooner or later – the latest was the Soviet Union, and the US/West has not been able to cope since its beloved enemy disappeared. All empires emerge, grow, reach a peak point, climax – and then begins to lose it to move to relative decline (others coming up) and then fall. Rather much like the individual life.
- Over-reach or you never get enough – there is no one and nothing you don’t want to try to influence, dominate or control.
- Hubris – we can get away with everything, we are big and powerful. May be right for a time, then reality catches up.
- Exceptionalism – we can do things nobody else can because we are those we are – and we can tell others not to do what we ourselves do. We are above the law that others must follow, we fight wars for good while others fight for evil and are evil. Because we are good and have God on our side.
- The unbearable lightness of routine – it’s all gone so well for so long thanks to our pervasive mind- and lifestyle-shaping influence through the media, film, culture, arts – Hollywood and all that. For as long as the rest of the world sees you as an ideal to imitate, – Americanization – everything goes smoothly.
- The Number One problem – meaning that if you are (or believe you are) Number One in a rank order, there is no one to look up to and learn from so you end up becoming a teacher, master, dictator, more or less arrogantly “downwards”. If you are No 37, there are 36 others to learn from – how did they do it better than we did? However, sooner or later, the “pupils” stop listening and obeying the Master – His Master’s Voice, so to speak.
- Mission activity or ‘mission civilisatrice’ – you try ad absurdum to shape others in the image of yourself; they shall become like us. Our national thinking is universalizable. The world should adapt to us, not we to the world. Remember who was The First World – (the Second and the Third) earlier?
- Legitimacy in the eyes of others slowly disappears – you may get away with some bad acts once or twice, but when it becomes a habit, others begin to think. As time goes by, your normative power is eroded, and you rely increasingly on naked force – the military. My country, right or wrong: Send the marines!
- Overmilitarization – the system needs a war more or less regularly; that means you need images of enemies (invented or real) all the time. Like a drug addict needs a fix. The US surely cannot do without enemies. The problem is that that military colossus called the Military-Industrial Media Academic Complex (MIMAC) always wants more – also in times when the economy cannot carry that burden. (Like the Sovjet Union in the 1970s and 1980s couldn’t). And the Coronavirus weakens the economy even further.
- Increasing autism, denial of the real world plus Group Think – “everything worked so fine in the past, it cannot be true that we cannot just continue what we used to do. (So, let’s start a new Cold War, this time against China). Group think means that a small group of people over time build a common worldview that repels any new thoughts from the outside and become convinced that it’s right and everybody else wrong. The problem is that they don’t know they sit in that restaurant on US Titanic, the music playing so well…
- Socio-political metal fatique – something has been strong for a long time but suddenly there is a crack, and then comes another. The unthinkable, or at least unlikely and unforseen, suddenly happens repeatedly. And old tools can’t fix the problems.
- Lack of vision and lack of the pioneering new dynamics – of the type that makes other want to follow you voluntarily. Little by little, everything signal you send out is negative or destructive.
- The old positive life energy ebbs, and paranoia enters – like the increasingly old crumpy person who feels that the world turns its back and become unreasonable. Is there any important country in today’s world that the Trump US is not running some kind of conflict with, even friends and allies? Enters paranoia – “The whole world is against us… we see enemies all around – the world doesn’t understand us anymore. But we shall teach them a lesson…”
- Stagnation and anti-intellectualism – you continue to do what worked before, such as solving every problem with the military and increasingly becoming unable to think. To the person who has only a hammer in the toolbox, every problem in the house is about hammering…So, don’t allow anything new, don’t tolerate diversity, and crack down on critical voices.
- The normative and cultural power vanish – the perception by others of the Empire’s values as good and fair and as part of a vision crumbles. They embark on a future without the Empire’s diktat and/or protection and build a new world order (that the US will not hear about or let its subordinates participate in).
- Over-extension through self-aggrandizement – you engage in conflicts and wars which you don’t stand a chance to win, increasingly losing a sense of reality and of your own strength vis-a-vis others.
- Addiction & uni-dimensionality – since the only power scale in which you are “second to none” is the military, you use that where other means would be much more effective and cheaper as well as create respect worldwide. Diplomacy fades – lacking carrots, use the big stick.
- Decadence, illusions and lies – the Secretary of State, Pompeo, is on record boasting that it is part of the American tradition to “cheat, steal and lie” – in other words, moral decay. Fake and omission, a struggle about what reality really is mounted.
- Psychopaths and kakistocrats increasingly win influence = Pathocracy! Kakistocracy means government by the worst, least qualified, and/or most unscrupulous citizens. The tempo with which norms and expectations of normal behaviour is broken overwhelms the world. Leader senility may play its role too – remember Breznev? And then, somebody usually turns up in the chaotic developments and declares that s/he is the saviour.
- Democracy and people’s participation in it crumbles – most citizens sense what happens but in disbelief. Mobilization of counterforces to save what can be saved, become more difficult by the day.
“And faster than you may expect”?
One should hesitate to appear too sure about predicting the final end. Sometimes terminally ill people live longer than medical expertise predicted. Taking the risk anyhow, I would say within the next presidential term 2021-2026 or at the latest by 2030.
When the cracks are frequent enough and big enough, the decline and breakdown accelerate exponentially. Remember the end of the Cold War in 1989 when border guards just opened the gates and people started moving feely.
In a Danish academic book from 1981 (1) I predicted the fall of the West thus:
“The Western world is on its way down and the present crisis is not just cyclical and also not just a crisis of capitalism (it is not exclusively economic) but a sort of civilizational crisis. The global system that has existed with Europe-US as its centre and developed over the last 400-500 years is going through convulsions of a deeper nature than is normally perceived.
Neither liberalism nor Marxism which are both Western thought systems and neither the US nor the Soviet Union appears as attractive models to the rest of the world. They are in deep crisis themselves – socially as well as economically – while Japan, China and a series of new growth centres and regional larger powers are rising, particularly in Asia.
The wealthy, overdeveloped countries are approaching certain ‘objective’ limitations in terms of nature, raw materials, exploitation of human beings, the sheer size of the systems as well as management problems, social pressures, etc.
Armament and the increasing militarization of various types of social structures everywhere is an (attempt at) “rejuvenation treatment” in the old- age phase of the West, a sort of compensation for diminishing power in other areas.”
Conclusion: Governments, businesses, academia and others who in these years hold on to the US Empire will become a periphery in the future world order.