if you backdated this essay to the 19th century, and substituted Great Britain for United States, you wouldn’t need to change anything except a few names here and there.
Great Britain saw itself as a benign ruler looking after the brown people of the world, either through force or corruption or both.
So why did America take over?
the answer is very easy to understand. The UK prime energy resource (coal) peaked in 1914, just when we imagined the British Empire would last forever as a greater good for the world. No one recognised that peak point for what it was. Britain would be great forever.
50 years later the British empire had gone. True, we still have the ‘commonwealth’ but membership of that holds together because its members see some kind of benefit in belonging to it for a little while longer.
That 50 years saw the rise of wars and fascism, the desperation of poverty overwhelm Europe. Fascism arose in Europe as part of the pretence that economonic collapse was ‘someone else’s fault’. It barely affected America because America was awash with cheap energy. Roosevelt burned oil to create jobs, then fought WW2. The American dream was alive and well and real.
But now the same sequence of events has caught up with America.
Just as in UK in 1914, the USA source of energy (oil) peaked in 1970,. Unlike UK, the American empire is largely an internal one, consisting of the lower 48. But it is still an empire. And just like the British version, it is held together by the availability of energy.
Add 50 years to 1970, and you arrive at now. The past decade or so has shown the same signs of disintegration. We have reached the time where the US empire is clearly becoming unsustainable, as rulers promise infinite growth against a backdrop of a debt based economy, and where the rise of fascism gives such promises credibility.
“The reason for your discomfort and poverty can be found in those who have taken your jobs, drained your wealth.”
The mantra of the dispossessed everywhere. It is being repeated now, and millions are listening, just as they always have. The details might be different, but the purpose remains the same.
50 years on from 1970, the 2020s will see the disintegration of the American empire. And just like the British one, there will be wars to hold it together, but the wars will be civil wars, on American soil. It is not a political problem, it is an energy problem.
Without cheap energy, the nation will be ungovernable from Washington, just as India, Nigeria or Malaya were ungovernable from London. The UK was broke. Just as the USA is broke while pretending to be wealthy on borrowed money.
But the rise of fascism will bring on tyranny before the final collapse, because rulers will use any means to cling on to power. Already the POTUS is ‘joking’ about extending his term of office like his other tyrant chums.
Except that he he isn’t joking.