Everything in the world of forms is always changing, and so is the fortune and misfortune of various peoples. So it is no big news that the US empire too will fall, although when and how is still unknown of course.
As the Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung says, this fall is the best that could happen for the US republic and population, as resources – in form of humans, technology, research, money, attention, etc. – now tied up in the military machinery will be freed up and can be applied to the real needs of the US population.
For me, one of the most obvious signs of the coming fall of the US empire, and one of its mechanisms, may be the lack of quality feedback loops.
The US media is notoriously skewed in which stories they focus on and how, which means that large portions of the US population holds profoundly mistaken views about so many issues. They are generally far less accurately informed than their counterparts in for instance Canada and Western Europe, as repeated studies show. And the same is true of the focus and rhetoric of many US politicians, also contributing to misperceptions and misinformation.
I was reminded of this when I listened to NPR this morning, and they – with great passion and emphasis – called demonstrations in Argentina, and the views of Hugo Chavez, anti-american. They give the impression, apparently intentionally, that portions of the world irrationally hate everything about the US… And this misinformation is repeated in the US media over and over.
Of course, people around the world are smart enough to differentiate the horrors of the current US foreign policy and its support of neo-liberal globalization, from other aspects of the US society and culture. People around the world typically have nothing against the people of the US, but rightfully so abhor the foreign policy of the country – coming from the current administration and for administrations for so many decades – inflicting so much suffering on people around the world through military intervention, undermining and toppling of democratically elected governments, support of dictatorships, pushing through global economical policies aimed at increasing power and profits of multi-national corporations (and draining the people and countries), and so on.
Although I also notice that this differentiation is now being questioned more and more. Why did the US population elect GW Bush for a second period, even in the face of so much evidence of his incompetence, his use of false information and lies, his simplistic and polarized views, his less than sophisticated way of speaking and argumenting…? Why is the US politics so rife with polarization and obsession with outdated ideas? How come they have such a naive and simplistic view of people around the world? Why did they support the Iraq war, when they knew it was not necessary, was based on lies, and would most likely destabilize the middle east? Did they really believe that they, as an imperial occupying power, would be welcomed with open arms? Why do they try to portray Hugo Chavez as “anti-american”, when his views are generally far more reflected, sane, nuanced and genuinely life-centered than that of the Bush administration?
It is interesting that by the simplistic and naive views promoted by the US media and politicians, they give reasons for people around the world to question their differentiation between the US foreign policies and the US population… The question that comes up is, can americans really be so naive and misinformed – so… stupid?
From Spiral Dynamics, we see that one reason for this clash of views – especially between the US and Western Europe – is the difference between the predominance of blue (authoritarian, polarized, fundamentalists) in the US, and of orange (science, human rights) in Western Europe. Even many of the typically orange elements in the US get caught up in the rhetoric, views and framing coming from blue… From an European perspective, much of the thinking reflected in US media and government thus appears outdated, naive, simplistic, and dangerous.
Johan Galtung has studied the fall of empires throughout history, and the common mechanisms bringing these falls about. He correctly predicted the fall of the Soviet empire several years prior, and now predicts the fall of the US empire within 10 or at most 20 years. (With the current administration, seemingly hell-bent on bringing the US to the ground, he predicts that it will occur sooner rather than later).
There are so many reasons for this. One is the lack of reliable feedback loops for information and decision making. Others are the influence of big money in politics and policy making (taking the interest of big money to heart, leaving out the interest of the people). Military over-extension and pouring of enormous resources into the military machinery. Violent global interventions over decades which turns large portions of the world’s population against the US empire. Skyrocketing foreign debt. Its reluctance to take peak oil seriously. And so on.
This is the fall of the US empire, not republic. It is the fall of the ability of the US to be a global superpower in terms of economy and military. And this will of course leave a vacuum which will be filled by others, not necessarily – but also possibly – more benign.
It for instance leaves the stage open for a more deeply democratic and stronger global governance. With its own strengths, benefits and shortcomings.