Good-Bye to All That
December 8, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
posted by Joe Beese (80 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
As someone who does not have an empire, I have to say it's probably not a bad thing, really. Nice run there though.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on December 8, 2010


Eighty-five out of a hundred ain't bad.
posted by kenko at 2:22 PM on December 8, 2010


As a Canadian, I want to say something smug and passive-aggressive, but let's face it: if the U.S. fails, it's going to drag us down with it.
posted by Zozo at 2:29 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I heard China is the new America and America is the new Europe.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:32 PM on December 8, 2010


As a Canadian, I want to say something smug and passive-aggressive, but let's face it: if the U.S. fails, it's going to drag us down with it.

Damn American wetbacks* comin' north and tryin' to steal all our jobs.

* A different slur will be required for all points west of Thunder Bay.
posted by GuyZero at 2:33 PM on December 8, 2010


The prospect of waiting through another fifteen or twenty years of this crap is really depressing. Please can't we just call it quits on the bogus American empire now? It's not as though all this invasion and occupation is even making us rich or anything.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:35 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


So .. no flying cars? Or just smaller, velour-interiored flying cars?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:35 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exchange "Japan" for "China", rewind 30 years and we can read all about it.
posted by jet_silver at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


"On the beach at Matala, a tiny sun-drenched village in Crete, are forty or fifty caves occupied by runaway American troglodytes, young men and women who, for the most part, have given up any further effort to cope with the high-speed complexities of life .... Today, according to Daniel P. Moynihan, the chief White House advisor on urban affairs, the United States 'exhibits the qualities of an individudal going through a nervous breakdown' .... This sickness is increasingly mirrored in our culture, our philosophy, our attitude toward reality."

That was 40 years ago -- in Alvin Toffler's Future Shock.
posted by blucevalo at 2:37 PM on December 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


I agree with that 100%. Let's just coast from here on out. It will be like america's senior year. We can spend all our time at keg parties, smoking killer weed, trying to get laid and blasting Metallica tunes.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:38 PM on December 8, 2010 [28 favorites]


This all depends on a host of other countries with their own corrupt leadership not messing up.
posted by circular at 2:38 PM on December 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


If I were asked to date the apex of American power, I would say November 27, 1985.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:39 PM on December 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


It will be like america's senior year. We can spend all our time at keg parties, smoking killer weed, trying to get laid and blasting Metallica tunes.

I think that was the 80's. America is rapidly approaching it's Jim Anchower years.
posted by GuyZero at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


At least now when future historians are arguing about the greatest empires ever over the broken remains of humanity's glory, they'll have to account for the distinction between *peak* and *lifetime* ratings.
posted by absalom at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2010


That was 40 years ago -- in Alvin Toffler's Future Shock.

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.
posted by notion at 2:43 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Haven't people been making predictions like this for decades?
posted by reductiondesign at 2:44 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


call me in 2025 and i'll let you know.

until then, enjoy these y2k predictions.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:46 PM on December 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


After reading that "World War III: Scenario 2025" I now know what happens when someone simultaneously types while masturbating furiously to copies of Wired and Tom Clancy novels.
posted by fryman at 2:46 PM on December 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


I told you so!

Signed: Chicken Little
posted by HuronBob at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2010


MetaFilter: masturbating furiously
posted by Joe Beese at 2:54 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Turtledove meets Luttwak.
posted by clavdivs at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2010


These are always interesting, gripping reads.

And they are always wrong.

But they're never wrong in the way you expect them to be wrong.

If, in 1991, I wrote that the three most important events of the next twenty years would be something called "the Internet," 19 hijackers with boxcutters and George Bush's son (you know, the managing partner of the Texas Rangers) starting a war over phantom WMDs in Iraq, you'd have assumed I was extremely high on something grown hydroponically.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


Flagged as idiotic not-best-of-the-web stupid gloom and doom porn.
posted by mark242 at 2:58 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Ironmouth's link.
DEPRESSION IN THE UNITED STATES: "Economic slowdown... unemployment rises... interruptions in utilities... common use of heaters, cook stoves... increase in layoffs... some neighborhoods form purchasing associations... [probability of this outcome or worse] is 65 percent."
--Consultant Bruce Webster, The Y2K Survival Guide
So we were a few years late... eh.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


In (cold) war there are no winners.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:00 PM on December 8, 2010


Meh. I'm not so convinced that America even is a standard empire, much less a declining one. Yes, they are the greatest beneficiary of the current system, but American consumption is the engine that drives the world economy. It's not a simple enslave and loot the provinces arrangement. Look at our current economic problems: they started with US real estate bubbles and crazy, deregulated speculation, which was soon emulated by the rest of the world. So America is still at the center of everything, and when they screw up it effects us all. That's an indicator of how important the country still is.

I think it's much more likely that we'll start to hit some of the Earth's physical limits in the next generation, and the result of that will mean a readjustment of everyone's standard of living and growth prospects, including those of the US.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:03 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't wait to see what a globally responsible steward China (or the 'multipolar world') will be wrt human rights, the environment, resource management, democracy and the rule of law! LOL.*


I say this because despite the vast waste & slaughter unleashed by the US's warmongering and resource-hogging ways, for a global hegemon and nexus of power, it really wasn't that bad. It has led signal advances in science, democracy and human rights, even if it only lived up to 10% of its hypocritical and pompous blather, that's 9% more than pretty much any other empire-in-all-but name.

For the development, perfection and dissemination of the culturo-economic system that has conspicuous consumption at its rotten, globally metastasized core, our descendants will curse our names.

YOU DID WHAT AGAIN WITH ALL THE OIL THAT COULD MAKE MEDICINE?

The reason why we are dissapointed is not because of inherent evil, it's because of the squandering of the chances for so much more good given the system we have. I fear we will not see its likes again...........perhaps things will be better honestly couched in terms of naked power: but I doubt it.


*and by LOL I really mean COL
posted by lalochezia at 3:05 PM on December 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Link bypassing salon to single page
posted by dancestoblue at 3:06 PM on December 8, 2010


if only we could sell pessimism, we'd live like kings. damn hell ass kings!
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:08 PM on December 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Crap, just when my student loans are paid off.
posted by gordie at 3:15 PM on December 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Empires rise, empires fall, but the societal collapse porn industry just keeps right on going.
posted by dw at 3:21 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


the societal collapse porn industry just keeps right on going

SOYLENT CREAM
THE LOAD
BUKAKKE FOR LIEBOWITZ

...classics all.
posted by everichon at 3:31 PM on December 8, 2010 [12 favorites]


The basement scene in The Load is rather harrowing.
posted by everichon at 3:32 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The projections are silly. It's silly to conjecture on any Very Large System. But, each scenario has a "present situation" segment that has some very worrisome stuff in it. It's hard, given the current state of things, not to imagine something really bad happening.
posted by Trochanter at 3:36 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cunard Steamship motto: GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
posted by Postroad at 3:38 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meh, I say we just pass a constitutional amendment naming Warren Buffett dictator for 2013-2017. Let him clean up America. If he passes in that time, Obama gets his job back..
posted by SirOmega at 3:39 PM on December 8, 2010


"The bombs never fell. They didn't have to.

"Russia's pact with Japan, Africa, and South America kept her fat and cozy. To America, half the world became closed. Her few remaining friends bled the frightened giant dry, while her spoiled children ate well.

"As ever, America pretended it wasn't happening. She wanted more and found the cupboards bare.

"America hadn't planned on this. Her fields were barren, her topsoil eroded, her orchards picked, her oil tapped out. She had nowhere to go, no dinner invitations to answer, no friends in sight.

"The easy-way-out-helium-flash never came. She became a very small country. The world turned without her. In the dustbowls of her heartland, she sat alone —:— hungry, mad, forgotten...

"The one called Scout rode out of the mountains.

"America was empty. But he'd lived on less..."
-Scout, Book 1, page 1
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:48 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't wait to see what a globally responsible steward China (or the 'multipolar world') will be wrt human rights, the environment, resource management, democracy and the rule of law! LOL.*

At this point, they deserve a shot, they honestly can't do much worse.
posted by mek at 3:53 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


SOYLENT CREAM
THE LOAD
BUKAKKE FOR LIEBOWITZ


THE HANDMAID'S TAIL
O BOY, BABYLON!
HUGE MAX
THE LOAD WARRIOR
MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDICK
AEON FUX
28 GAYS LATER
THE PORNMAN
THE QUIETLY MOANING EARTH
HARD-OZ
A CLOCKWORK PORNGE
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:55 PM on December 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


Meh. I mean, yeah, it's total boner-maker for folks who hate the idea of an American empire, but the dude plays pretty fast and loose with the idea of "empire" and "collapse" in order to make the article sensational. I mean, it might have looked like the USSR collapsed in two years if you don't actually know that much about Russia, or that the Ottoman Empire collapsed in eleven years if you don't know much about the Middle East, but really, those "collapses" were pretty long and not really analogous. And claiming that the end of the Spanish empire came in 1921? Not, you know, at Trafalgar or anything reasonable? Or at the end of the Spanish-American War? It's a bit like claiming that the Holy Roman Empire ended when Daimler couldn't save Chevy.

This is especially true when you think about the different modes of empire — the US hasn't ever fit traditional models of an empire, but rather it's been called an empire because its overlapping hegemonic modes connote imperialism in different spheres (e.g., American cultural imperialism is very different than Roman or British cultural imperialism, being mostly spread through voluntary acquisition).
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


At this point, they deserve a shot, they honestly can't do much worse.

Ha, yeah, China would never kill tens of millions of innocent people unlike that time the US totally did.

Wait, what?
posted by kmz at 4:10 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


A CLOCKWORK PORNGE

A COCKWORK ORANGE
SILENT CUMMING
SEX 1138
V IS FOR VAGINA
ROBOTOP
LOGAN'S CUM
A BOY AND HIS DOG
posted by jamaro at 4:13 PM on December 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


1830 onwards, wasn't it?
posted by Artw at 4:13 PM on December 8, 2010


the US hasn't ever fit traditional models of an empire

Except perhaps in the sense of garrisoning troops in lots of other people's countries.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


> The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025,
> its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.

(Bugs Bunny voice) EHHHHH... COULD BE.
posted by jfuller at 4:16 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just hope We Americans manage to avoid the atavistic impulse to take the rest of the world with us and not burn this motherfucker down like a disgruntled Burger Shack employee.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:19 PM on December 8, 2010


Except perhaps in the sense of garrisoning troops in lots of other people's countries.

As a percentage of our overall population it's tiny. This isn't Rome, the Raj or other models of empire. The system setup in post WWII allowed lot of regional autonomy, but gradually bound the vast global middle class together with a consistent set of trading rules, flexible currency and trend towards the rule of law.
posted by humanfont at 4:30 PM on December 8, 2010


Except perhaps in the sense of garrisoning troops in lots of other people's countries.
posted by Joe Beese

Bukkake withdrawl is inserted in place of garrisoned pronbots
posted by clavdivs at 4:31 PM on December 8, 2010


I'd argue that the American century began in 1914. Almost all the world's other industrialized nations simultaneously bled each other out while the US picked up the pieces. Japan had similar good sense, but flamed out in WWII.

1945 wasn't the start of the American century; it was the apex of American power relative to other nations. All other major powers were economically devastated. Militarily, it had the nuclear monopoly and unprecedented, uncontested control of the world's oceans (Canada had the world's third largest navy) Diplomatically, the US was for a moment without rivals (with the Soviets still participating in an active military alliance), and was beloved throughout much of the world as a liberator. It was the closest any single country has ever come to ruling the world.

2014 is only three years away.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:32 PM on December 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


I read up to "critical shortage of talented scientists." Come on, this nonsense again? The fact that "[n]early half of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are now foreigners" may prove something, but not that "the U.S. education system, that source of future scientists and innovators, has been falling behind its competitors."
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:38 PM on December 8, 2010


The "American Century" was a historical anomaly to begin with.

The US escaped the immense destruction wrought by the Second World War but got to claim victory nonetheless. All of the United States' potential postwar competitors had been utterly ruined by the war - and the Soviet Union, which suffered so enormously in victory (and yes, it was the USSR that largely 'won' WWII, American exceptionalist propaganda notwithstanding) did not have the resources to play catch-up.

And as a result, the US was able to create a new international system that (surprise) hugely benefited US interests. Bretton Woods, NATO, the dollar's reserve currency status - all of these things aggrandized the emerging primacy of America. While the rest of the developed world was de-colonizing, the US empire was rapidly expanding, adding hundreds of new military bases and cultivating local elites who, in exchange for military protection and favorable diplomatic and economic relations with the world's leading country, subordinated themselves to US power. Oh, and I forgot the biggest thing of all: insanely cheap hydrocarbons that allowed the US to defy limits to unhindered growth for half a century. All of this was unprecedented in modern world history - and that's why I think it's absurd to suggest that the rapidly emerging multipolar world won't put an end to this era of US hyper-dominance.

It was never about Freedom™ or Democracy™; the US has a long history of making deals with dictators and overthrowing democratically elected governments when it suited the national security establishment's perception of the 'American interest.' Those amorphous terms are nothing more than political battering rams used to bludgeon authoritarian countries that don't play ball with the US, and on the home front they make good propaganda fodder for the American exceptionalist narrative that's shoved down the throat of every schoolkid and reinforced incessantly by the media.

But that doesn't matter anymore - for a variety of reasons, the US has reached it's peak, and for the empire at least, it's all downhill from here. If you want to look at where a country is headed, talk to the young people. The younger generations in the US are more skeptical than any other about the imperial narrative - but with millions of people who still believe that the US is exceptional, a heavily armed populace, and a housing and transportation system based almost entirely on cheap energy, the collapse, when it comes, could get very ugly.

PS: China is coming, and I have 1.3 billion reasons for you why it's not the Japan of 25 years ago.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 4:41 PM on December 8, 2010 [12 favorites]


does this mean that people in the US will be taking long, leisurely meals that include good wine for cheap, tasty cheese, and an obligatory nap?
posted by Neekee at 4:49 PM on December 8, 2010


PS: China is coming, and I have 1.3 billion reasons for you why it's not the Japan of 25 years ago.

Yeah, starting with massive corruption, terrible bookeeping and a population bomb that makes the US's look like a firecracker.

India is the next comer.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:05 PM on December 8, 2010


I always like to root for Brazil in this game, 'cos they're the little guy.
posted by Artw at 5:10 PM on December 8, 2010


India is the next comer.

If you think India doesn't have massive corruption, terrible bookeeping and a population bomb ... just imagine China with democracy but without the threat of summary execution.

There will be no "next" superpower. Economies will grow, and there will always be big players at the table. Some bigger than others. It'll just be that the differences between them will shrink in significance.

In other words ... it will all look like Europe.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:25 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd argue that the American century began in 1914. Almost all the world's other industrialized nations simultaneously bled each other out while the US picked up the pieces.

I'd suggest the Spanish–American War in 1898, which resulted in the US taking over Cuba and the Philippines from Spain (and is how we still have Guantánamo Bay). There's also Teddy Roosevelt's Big Stick policy and the Great White Fleet in 1907-1909.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:28 PM on December 8, 2010


Yeah, starting with massive corruption, terrible bookeeping and a population bomb that makes the US's look like a firecracker.

Wait - you cite these problems in relation to China and then tout...India?

Throw in massive poverty, political violence, ethnic tensions and a burgeoning population and I think India faces more intractable challenges than China.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 5:30 PM on December 8, 2010


As wise economists long ago understood, how well a country does is best measured against other countries. You can be a pretty shitty place, but if the other places are even more shitty, hey, you're #1! And that's what it's all about. The U.S. is certainly declining in power relative to other countries. It had perhaps the stupidest people available at a critical juncture (GWB), and that massively sped up the decline - unlike some empires which were lucky to have stumbled upon a ruling clique that managed to prolong the dominance of their empires long past their natural life span. Still, the key is that the decline will ultimately be measured against the competition. We transition to a multi-polar world. It doesn't mean a new empire will arise to take our place. We may still remain the first among equals. Britain, which is well out of its empire phase, still plays an outsize role relative to the size of their economy. Japan, arguably, is at the other end - playing a role much smaller relative to their economy, at least since 1945. So the U.S., I expect will be closer to Britain, in that we'll exert a greater influence (unless we get a series of prez Palins with nail guns for our coffin). Frankly, I don't see who is going to eclipse us. China's economy will undoubtedly become larger than ours, but their growth will slow once they've exhausted the easy pickings and they enter a period of maturity (when you start as low as China did, it's easier to get super fast growth initially). Besides, China has some very serious problems. Their infrastructure is not up to par, and it will take them a very long time to catch up - and by infrastructure, I mean it in the broadest of terms, like developing a legal system that can deal with a very complex economy. And China has much greater centrifugal forces tearing at its unity than does the U.S. - they have many challenges which I think will prevent them from dominating the world as did the empires of the past (including the U.S.). India too has enormously deep and complex problems - it will be a huge market and an economic power to reckon with, but not an empire. And that's that. Russia and Brazil? Please. It's really still a decaying U.S. that will be at the center of it all, with much diminished power - for some time yet... nobody can tell how long, but I'd think at least another 100-150 years.
posted by VikingSword at 5:40 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I always like to root for Brazil in this game, 'cos they're the little guy.

Brazil is the wild card here - and it always amazes me how it gets so little attention despite belonging to the much-discussed BRIC category of states. The quiet growth the country experienced under Lula has been nothing short of spectacular, and Brazil is well-placed to become the dominant power (perhaps even as soon as the next decade) in Latin America, which is thankfully not going to be the figurative US "backyard" anymore. So far, the US national security elite has been strangely silent about this development - and there has been little fearmongering about the rise of Brazil, in contrast to China's development.

And don't forget: Brazil, remarkably, is going to host the World Cup and Summer Olympics within two years of each other (2014 and 2016, respectively) - so you're going to start hearing about them very soon.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 5:56 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, things are going to hell in a handbasket, but there's no credible successor to the US as global hegemon. China is going to have huge problems with its aging population. Sure, the US is highly dependent on oil, but China and India are heading for problems at least that big with fresh water, in addition to their own problems with oil. Russia and Iran have natural resources, but not that much else to get them beyond regional powers.

Sure, the US may be in for some hardship, but it's also a huge country with tons of natural resources, loads of arable land and relatively low population density. Even in decline, people around the world will still want to live there, so relatively speaking it's not going to be that bad.

And even though many hate our government, people around the world love Americans because of our movies, music and the fact that we tip. Lenny Kravitz (why do foreigners like him so much anyways?) and generous gratuities will at least slow the decline of our influence.
posted by snofoam at 6:11 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Throw in massive poverty, political violence, ethnic tensions and a burgeoning population and I think India faces more intractable challenges than China.

China has these problems as well.
posted by humanfont at 6:20 PM on December 8, 2010


Sure, but not to the extent and magnitude of India.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 6:27 PM on December 8, 2010


Brazil is the country of the future. And it always will be.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:05 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Your favourite global proto-superpower sucks?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:10 PM on December 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think winning WWII was one of the worst things that has happened to the US because it gave us the idea that kicking bad guys asses felt good, was the right thing to do, and made people love us. Misguided attempts at bad guy ass kicking haven't been working out so well for the past 50 years.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:28 PM on December 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think one of the things that's troubling about China is that there is a kind of vestigial revolutionary zeal there. It's probably divorced from any real Socialist ideology, but it can fuel a scary, ruthless certainty. A belief in a manifest destiny. I sense a drive to empire with China.

Why we whored ourselves out to them is a question our descendants will puzzle about under their corrugated tin roofs. "Because we were whores," will be the answer. In our time we thought it was morally abhorrent to see money and refuse it.
posted by Trochanter at 7:28 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Kinda reminds me of the Russian chap who was predicting the immediate collapse and partitioning of the US back in 2008...

Man can we just tax the crap out of everyone who makes gloomsday predictions that don't come true? They really are a dime a dozen.
posted by edgeways at 7:43 PM on December 8, 2010


28 GAYS LATER

A cautionary tale.
posted by ovvl at 8:18 PM on December 8, 2010


Malin thought:

Both professor and prophet depress
For vision and longer view
Agree in predicting a day
Of convulsion and vast evil,
When the Cold Societies Clash
Or the mosses are set in motion
To overrun the earth,
And the great brain which began
With lucid dialectics
Ends in a horrid madness
posted by eegphalanges at 8:47 PM on December 8, 2010


God I hate predictions. Also planning. Anything involving the future. Cept robots.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:21 PM on December 8, 2010


but not that "the U.S. education system, that source of future scientists and innovators, has been falling behind its competitors."

This doesn't really refute the point made in the article : "The World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010."
posted by IvoShandor at 10:27 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Second Coming [1919]

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
posted by chavenet at 2:35 AM on December 9, 2010


Can't all of this be fixed by cutting taxes?

Signed,
Someone running for office
posted by gjc at 3:11 AM on December 9, 2010


Lots of sneering at the broken British empire, but funny how London is still the city of choice for rich (and not so rich) ex-patriots of all flags.

Piece in today's Financial Times points out that China still has an innovation problem. Reverse engineering only gets you so far. Will that change? Difficult to say.

My own guess is that China will break apart in the coming decades. Which may lessen the WWIII thing if outside countries are wise enough to stay home.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:44 AM on December 9, 2010


I should have said helping to win WWII rather than ignoring all others. The Soviets did most of the heavy lifting in Europe against the Nazis.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:13 AM on December 9, 2010


It isn't the fall that worries me (as an 'merican), but rather how it pans out. My worry is that our leaders will deny that it is happening and make the situation worse, akin to swimming against the riptide. Raw American optimism and can-do attitudes will likely stoke the decline, should it come to pass. America will be a better world citizen long term as a peer player, but it will hurt getting there.
posted by dgran at 8:22 AM on December 9, 2010


That'll teach you cocky kids to base your Big Dream on greed, comfortable myths and unexamined self-aggrandisement.

I feel I can say that to you people as a product of the decayed corpse of the British Empire. We now take our sense of superiority from having succeeded and failed first.
posted by Decani at 8:26 AM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


We now take our sense of superiority from having succeeded and failed first.

Though, you know, when you put it into the bigger historical perspective of endless empires rising and falling over the centuries and millenia, you barely beat the U.S. to the FAIL line, you know. (Admittedly my visit to the Istanbul Archeology Museum is still fresh in my mind.)

Please can't we just call it quits on the bogus American empire now? It's not as though all this invasion and occupation is even making us rich or anything.

Hm, this comment not posted via Dick Cheney's sockpuppet obviously.
posted by aught at 9:37 AM on December 9, 2010


I feel I can say that to you people as a product of the decayed corpse of the British Empire. We now take our sense of superiority from having succeeded and failed first.

France and Spain both beat you to it.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:41 AM on December 9, 2010


France and Spain both beat you to it.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:41 PM on December 9


Of course. But we succeeded so very much better than they did.

Failed just as hard, mind you.

Dammit.

Another gin and ice, Jenkins. Make it a triple.
posted by Decani at 12:27 PM on December 9, 2010


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