Book Excerpt from Forging the Hero
I don’t do a lot of marketing for my classes and books. When we’re doing a class, I post it, then drop it. If you want to come take the class, you’ll get value, but if you choose not to, I don’t actually care. If you want to buy the books, you WILL get more than your money’s worth out of it, but if you don’t, it’s not going to break my heart. To use Jack Donovan’s phrase, “Not my people, not my problem.” If you don’t think the information is worth the price, okay.
Today may be seen as a little different. This is going to look like an attempt to push Forging the Hero from a marketing angle. Take it or leave it.
I’ve had a few emails in recent weeks, specifically asking about my apparent switch in focus from doctrinal SF UW, to more of a tribal angle. As one correspondent termed it, “You’ve gone from Guerrilla to Germanic.” As I’ve pointed out, in numerous examples, and in every one of my books, this is a misreading of the facts, and is a very narrow view of the subject.
Nevertheless, since it is apparently a commonly held belief among readers, I thought I would share a little bit about my reasons. In some ways, I have deviated from doctrine. The problem is that, at the strategic level, SF UW doctrine is still a product of conventional military education and prejudices. It presupposes that bigger is always better, and the overall aim should always be the maintenance of the status quo within Western Civ/Culture. At the end of the day, SFODA are using local indig Gs to prepare the battle space for conventional force operations, either through the notional idea of turning the G force irregular INTO regular, conventional force units, or by creating enough of a “gap” for US conventional forces to enter the battle space with “boots on the ground.” Either way, the end game goal remains, “let’s build a cohesive, conventional force that can be controlled, or demobilized, depending on what we need, when we win.”
My goal of course, is not that. My goal is not to–nor has it ever been–to overthrow the government. My goal is to help people build resilient, survivable communities, and specifically, the ability to protect those communities from outside threats and internal subversion. So, we utilize the tactical aspects of SF UW doctrine (which is really just conventional SUT, applied in unconventional ways), to what Civilization would call “unconventional,” and the human experience over the last 20-200,000 years would label “normal” or “conventional.”
I don’t believe that the American Empire can be saved (whether it should be or not, were it possible, is open to debate). I believe, based on my observations and study, combined with a relatively robust understanding of history and the patterns thereof, that we have already begun an inexorable decline. The excerpt below, which is most of Chapter One of Forging The Hero, explains the reasoning behind that, and goes a long way towards explaining why I take the approach that I take in my teaching and writing.
(I have deleted the considerable number of footnotes from the excerpt, which is sad, because they are important to overall grasp of the material, and some of them are flat fucking funny, if I do say so myself.)
Some of what I say in this excerpt could trigger negative emotions in some readers heavily entrenched in the cultural mythology of the Divine Inspiration of American Greatness and Singularity. If that is the case, I suggest finding your fucking Safe Space and burying your head in the sand.
Like most people in our society, I find myself in constant social and professional contact with people from the entire span of political persuasions, and the entire spectrum of age from children and teenagers, across my own middle-aged demographic, to the elderly. Universally it seems, whether young or old, Progressive, Conservative, or Other, the consensus I observe is that everyone understands that “shit just ain’t right.”
It’s been said that discussing societal collapse is a conversation killer. It’s a sure way to not get invited to the next cocktail party. Social inertia can be an awe-inspiring thing, after all. People are inherently social. In addition to—but generally far more powerful than—any internal conversations, much of our motivation, self-image, and even self-worth, are derived from our interactions with other people, and the vast majority of human beings exhibit an entirely human condition that is an aversion to even the thought of discomfort.
While many so-called “preppers” seem to harbor some sort of internal sense that collapse will be some sort of grand adventure, releasing them from the misery of their failure to fit into society, finally rewarding them for being social pariahs, most people actually understand the truism penned by famed Western pulp fiction writer Louis L’Amour that “adventure is just a fancy word for trouble.” Thus, for most people, the discussion of the potential—let alone inevitable—collapse of society and civilization, is a serious faux pas in polite company. It makes people uncomfortable, and people who enjoy being sociable do not make people uncomfortable.
This has changed significantly in recent years though, as preparedness has apparently gone mainstream. People are talking about it. Movies are being made about the subject. Books are being published, by mainstream publishing houses, and sold in major bookstores, on the subject of preparedness. All because everybody is beginning to recognize that “shit just ain’t right.”
The discussions range from what form the coming doomsday will take, to what methods can be used to survive different elements of it. Will it be terrorists, or the Russians, or the Chinese setting off some sort of Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon? Will it be terrorist dirty bombs in the cities? Will it be government crackdowns on “domestic terrorists” and gun owners? Will it be the crossover past Peak Oil and the resulting price inflation of everyday consumer goods? Will it be melting ice caps and coastal regions being flooded because of Climate Change? Will it be….will it…will…..?
What nobody—or almost nobody—has worked up to bring into the conversation, is the real question: “what are we doing about the collapse that we are already in?”
“Ain’t nothin’ new under the Sun, boy.”
As a youth, I once tried to explain some new social trend to my grandfather. Although I genuinely don’t recall what this critically important novelty was, some three decades later, I do recall his response to me, verbatim: “There ain’t nothin’ new under the sun, boy. It’s all happened before.” This is particularly true in the case of history, including social collapse.
The experiences of the human species have been recorded in the written word, in one form or another, as history, for over four thousand years1. Prehistory, defined as that portion of the collective human experience that predates the written word, is also available for study, through the archaeological and paleontological record, for hundreds of thousands of years, back to—and preceding—the first appearance of anatomically-modern human beings, in the form of Cro-Magnon Man, some 200,000 years ago.
While it is popular, in our increasingly myopic society, to dismiss the past as unworthy of note, except as plot devices in blockbuster cinema, if we bother to look objectively as such broad expanses of time, across as many different human cultures as possible, we begin to discover a striking similarity between the patterns of development and behavior of peoples, across vastly different conditions of climate, culture, and religion. Such a study necessarily leads the inquisitive and insightful to recognize the importance of the questions, “if we study these patterns calmly and impartially, might we not discover some Truths of human nature, but also, possible solutions to the problems that our culture faces today?” We can, after all, recognize in these recurring patterns, the same things occurring, over and over again, throughout the entire span of human existence. The patterns, of course, are particularly clear over the four thousand-plus years of written human history; we just have to be able to recognize them for what they are.
It has been said, “the only thing we learn from history is that man never learns from history.” While that is a disturbingly broad generalization about humanity’s foibles—that is, after all, the point of studying history—when one views the chaos engulfing our society today, and the solutions being proposed for that chaos, through the lens of history, it becomes blindingly obvious that the political and cultural schism being used to tear apart the fabric of our society have all been experienced before, for the exact same purposes. That gives us a pretty solid basis for hypothesizing the probable outcomes.
There are numerous causes that can be blamed for our collective failure to learn from history. Most of these are the result solely of culturally-created cognitive biases. First and foremost however, is the natural human condition of xenophobia. Properly defined as “an intense distrust of the foreign or unfamiliar,” xenophobia is a completely natural part of the human condition. It has played an important instinctual role in the evolutionary survival of the species, and still offers benefits, despite the whining pleas of collectivists to ignore it.
Unfortunately, xenophobia also has drawbacks, since it leads to a failure of the ability to learn from the entirety of the human experience, leading to a myopic limitation on our study of history. All that came before is foreign and unfamiliar to us, never mind the idea of looking to other countries and cultures for valuable lessons to be learned. It is a common understanding in some preparedness and “patriot” circles that “most” Americans have no consciousness of their own history. My own experiences however, have amply demonstrated that, even among that small number of Americans who do study history, all too often, the evidence pretty clearly indicates that they believe history started sometime around 1774. We don’t give a damn about the history of “others,” so we don’t study it, and look for parallels to our own experiences. This limit on the available patterns for comparative study however, within the entire human experience is, obviously, detrimental to our ability to learn from history and prehistory.
Even within our xenophobic approach to history, we form a limited narrative of our own national and cultural histories, due to cognitive biases. We focus on those periods of history that allow us to recognize our ancestors as heroes and “the good guys,” according to our own contemporary definitions. We tend to focus on those eras when they were prosperous and victorious, ignoring their defeats and roguery. We ignore the entirely too human traits of our forebears that we view as negative, and we overlook their defeats, turning them into idealized morality plays, by redefining the definitions of cultural values like courage.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the treatment, within the general education system—and thus the public imagination—of George Washington’s administration during the “Whiskey Rebellion.” Having led the Continental Army to victory in a struggle for independence from the British crown over taxes, as the head of state for the new American government, Washington suffered no qualms about calling out the federal army to crush a rebellion over taxation. Now that the figurative crown was on his own head, he was more than willing to crush an effort that was almost identical to the rebellion he had led against the British Crown. Too often, because our popular histories overlook this in their zeal to applaud the Founders for their “divinely inspired” crusade for liberty, people are completely unaware of these events that occurred less than three years after the new constitution was ratified.
At the same time, we dehumanize and belittle our foes, making them subhuman in our imaginations, rather than looking at the story objectively, and including their points-of-view and perceived reasons for their actions. We create, in our own minds and within the minds of our people, a national propaganda, rather than an objective history that would allow for the ability to conduct a well-balanced, educational investigation of the past.
When we do manage to tear ourselves free of the grandeur of our own idealized national/cultural mythology, and look outward at world history, we focus only on certain, relatively short, generally disconnected epochs that serve to reinforce our own myths. Following the typical curriculum of world history in the American education system—assuming that subject is even still taught today—we might look at the city-states of ancient Greece, to try and find connections between our own culture and the mob democracy of Athens, even though more accurate comparison would be made with the oligarchy of Plato’s hypothetical Republic, for the model that our current system seems to be based on.
Within the militarization of the populace in support of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), we’ve seen the emphasis switch, in the popular imagination, to the idealization of the warrior-caste of Sparta, with near deification of Leonidas and his “three hundred” at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. Conveniently, this new found awe for the actions of the 300 ignores several salient facts: 1) there were actually somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 Hellenes at Thermopylae, and 2) Sparta was a slavery- based economy allowing for the male citizens to do nothing except train for war every day—the antithesis of what our contemporary culture is supposed to actually reflect—and far contrary to the soft, doughy, laziness of the vast majority of American life.
We look to the Roman Republic for the founding myths of our system of republicanism, defined as a system of governance through representatives elected by the people, without a central monarch. We see the decline of the Roman Empire labeled as the “Dark Ages,” and look for parallels that herald the perils that face our own culture. We ignore the “barbarian” tribal origins of the Roman Republic, and ignore—except in their role as the uncivilized antagonists to the culture we choose to adore—the Celto- Germanic peoples of the rest of Europe, despite the fact that most of what we consider the greatest “traditional American values” are actually derived from those cultures, and not from the licentious, reprehensible, profligate, government worshiping debauchery that was Rome, even after Christianization.
In order to begin to gain any real value from the study of human ancestral paths however, to discover potential solutions to our current social and political conditions, it is essential that we manage to force ourselves outside of our culturally conditioned cognitive biases, and look at the story of the entire human experience from a broader perspective, rather than limiting ourselves to our own short, idealized national mythology. This is not a suggestion to ignore—or worse, discredit—our own ancestral cultures, as has become ever more popular in the myopia of academia and the popular imagination, thanks to the efforts of our modern oligarchs to create a “one world, one (consumer) culture” intended to increase their control and profit margins.
On the contrary, as we will see, within the context of our purposes—surviving the decline and collapse of an American empire—each of us owes it to ourselves, our families, and our communities; even to the idea of America itself, to look first towards our own ancestral cultures, for the universal answers we seek. The validity of that approach moreover, is proven by the objective study of the broader human experience.
The prehistory and history of humanity is a constant, cyclical process, developing, changing, and rolling backwards over itself. Contrary to the beliefs of progressives and Utopians of all flavors, once we manage to step outside of our cultural comfort zones and temporarily set aside our xenophobia, we can easily recognize the absurdity of the notion that we are on some sort of evolutionary progression upwards in human development. Any useful ideas however, can only be extracted when we observe them within the context of the whole, rather than through the selection of short periods, here and there, within a single cultural and environmental context, specifically selected to reinforce an already extent cultural bias. This becomes doubly critical when those biases are demonstrably false.
The experience of the mythology of the American empire is firmly rooted in the transition of the Roman Republic into the Empire, with Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon, and its subsequent dissolution, but is paralleled in other imperial experiences as well. While the political structures we cling to are derivatives—at best—of the Republic and Empire, many—if not most—of the cultural values we hold sacred are actually “barbarian” values of the Celto-Germanic tribes3 that were adopted by the decaying Empire’s citizens during the decline and fall.
The Imperial Legacy
The parallels between the decline and fall of modern, American imperialism, and that of Rome have been discussed and analyzed countless times in the past, even though most contemporary Americans, comfortable in the passive ignorance they are spoon-fed by the media have, at best, only a passing familiarity with the idea. Perhaps most famously, the late Sir John Baget Glubb (1897-1987) wrote The Fate of Empires and the Search for Survival, in 1978. The Fate of Empires is a short essay that describes and explains Glubb’s interpretation of the cyclical parallels of human empires ranging from the ancient Assyrians to the United States.
As the cultural inheritors of the Britannic imperial legacy, most Americans view an empire in that limited context alone, and thus do not recognize our own imperialism. An empire is imagined as a political home state, like England, with far-flung colonies of emigrants around the globe, making the home state rich by paying taxes, buying manufactured products at retail, and shipping natural, local resources “back home” at lower, wholesale prices. Obviously, there is some validity in that definition of an empire, since our own history is such. It is however, a very short view of history that uses that as the sole—or even primary—definition of the term.
Throughout most of the human political experience, the term empire had a much simpler, albeit more encompassing meaning. An empire was a nation with an overwhelmingly strong military presence, surrounded by subjugated peoples and nations, within the span of the empire’s ability to project that military force, who paid tribute to the imperial power. This tribute could be in the form of gold and silver, and often was, but it could—and did—come in other forms as well. It might be through the exploitation of natural resources and goods, or it might be through the forced servitude of slaves and soldiers in the interest of the Empire. The only colonists would be soldiers garrisoning the imperial outposts, to protect the wealth and to preclude or put down rebellion, as well as a small number of experts in the service of the empire that were needed to extract the local wealth more efficiently.
The governance of the local people would more often than not, be left to the local indigenous leaders, subject to the guidance of imperial decree through the mouthpiece of the local garrison commander. As long as the local puppet government kept the wealth flowing into the imperial coffers, their position—and whatever wealth they managed to skim off the export—was safe. Ultimately however, the goal of empire is—and has always been—to gain wealth from the subjugated peoples. If the local indigenous government fell short in that, they were deposed and replaced with more accommodating and capable local puppets, or an imperial governor might be placed in power.
Today of course, even though we complicate things with moralistic jingoism about “installing democracy,” the same basic organization and behavior can be observed. We have imperial powers, with a few “allied” nations that support the empire in return for a share of the plundered wealth. Outside of these, we have the subject nations who serve, ultimately, as nothing more than a source of wealth for the imperial power.
Beyond these “spheres of influence,” we have unaligned nations that are not subject to the imperial powers, for whatever reasons—typically a lack of recognizable or easily exportable wealth, combined with little or no strategic value in relation to opposing empires—and hostile, opposing imperial powers. One of the problems that ultimately arises for any empire—and that we face today—is that the natural resource wealth of any given nation is finite. At some point, it becomes more expensive to get those resources from the local environment than the profit potential they offer the empire. At that point, the empire has to begin looking elsewhere for the resources it needs to support itself and the standard-of- living that its people have grown accustomed to, or it faces internal strife and rebellion. Further, the allied nations start looking for a new sugar daddy.
This ultimately—invariably—leads to war, since the choices for new wealth are really limited to a) projecting military force further out, and invading unaligned countries that might have some exploitable wealth, or b) encroaching on the territory of other imperial powers. Even if choice a) is made, that indirectly places the imperial powers on the path to conflict with other imperial powers—or aspiring imperial powers—who recognize that they too will need those resources shortly. This is a particularly relevant issue today, as opposed to the ancient world, since we can now circumnavigate the globe in hours and days, whereas historically, something days away might as well have been a different planet for most people.
If we look to Sir John’s essay, we can learn from his study that we are demonstrably an imperial power, and are within the last days of greatness within the natural life cycle of empire, both chronologically and historically. History provides us with a considerable amount of information on the many empires that have existed throughout humanity’s existence, and an overview of the major imperial powers of the western world’s experience led Sir John to compellingly argue that human empires have a common pattern of experience, and a shared lifespan of roughly two-and-a-half centuries, if not shorter.
(The book contains a table here, showing the duration of twelve different empires in human history, taken from Glubb’s essay.)
The list of empires included in Baget’s monograph requires several comments. First of all, it obviously does not list every power that has ever been labeled—or labeled itself—an empire. Many national “empires” have been imperial only in the modern sense of the word; they held control over one or more overseas colonies for some period of time. These generally only existed following the establishment of the modern European nation-state concept developed with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
Second, the dates listed are relatively arbitrary, and are ongoing sources of academic debate among historians. For instance, saying that the Roman Empire “fell” with the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE, seems false on the face of it. After all, there were Roman emperors for several more centuries, and both the Eternal City and the Legions continued to exert influence for long after. Setting aside, for the moment, that this is itself a large part of the point of this book, it’s important to note that this date marks the end of the imperial legacy because it was the beginning of the total implosion of Roman imperialism, not the end of claims of imperial hegemony. After 180 CE, what survived of the Roman Empire was being rent apart by internal strife and constant civil war, as well as foreign invasion on all sides. There is no way—outside of the professional arrogance of tenured academia—to say conclusively, “this empire began on this date, and ended on that date.” There is typically a period of expansion and growth as the imperial culture expands its growth and power, rising from a small, localized band of aggressive tribesmen, until they have consolidated power, during the formative years, before it is can even be labeled an “empire” legitimately. During the decline, there may be years, decades, or even centuries, of disintegration and increasing failure in control of the populace and the infrastructure, indicating the impotence of the empire, while the imperial government still possesses the trappings of power. The above example of Rome, following the death of Aurelius, is the example par excellence of this. Together, these factors make it categorically impossible to place an exact date on the birth or death of most empires that will be universally agreed upon by historians. Trying to do is is either intellectual convenience—as in Glubb’s case—or intellectual chicanery to reinforce a preconceived bias.
Finally, there are some arguably longer surviving empires missing from Glubb’s list. The Byzantine, for example, is not on the list. The Byzantine, or Eastern Roman Empire, existed however, solely as a result of the schisms that marked the destruction of the Roman Empire, and although the throne would be held for centuries, the requisite consolidation of actual power over the claimed imperial territory was already disintegrating at the time of those schisms. The Byzantine, like later “national” empires, was largely nothing but a figurehead in most of the regions it declared hegemony over, from the beginning.
While the Chinese dynasties of the Middle Kingdom are often viewed as if they were one continuous imperial line, and this view is encouraged by the xenophobic superiority complex that the Chinese possess in spades, the pattern of human experience, and even a passing familiarity with Chinese history, tells us that, with the possible—albeit exceedingly unlikely—exception of the prehistoric Xia (2070-1600 BCE) and Shang (1600-1046) dynasties, the history of Chinese dynasties in fact, belies the title empire, in large part due to the fractious tribal nature of the culture and the rampant warlordism that has defined most of its cultural history. Between “dynasties” like the Sui (581- 648 BCE) that lasted one lifetime, to eras like the “Three Kingdoms” (200-581 CE) that preceded the Sui, in which the Chinese were anything but one homogeneous political entity, China has rarely existed as an empire in the classical sense of the word, except with the last century, under the Communist regime.
What is noteworthy about empires, across the breadth and depth of the collective human experience, is the remarkable similarities in the duration of those empires. The human experience is subject to the vagaries of luck, environment, and fickle human whim, and cannot—despite the attempts of philosophers like Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677), be calculated and foretold with mathematical formulas. Nevertheless, the remarkable similarities in the survival and life patterns of empires bears scrutiny, especially within the context of this work, considering the current life span of the American experiment at 226 years,8 and the similarities with the lives of previous imperial powers.
Observant Biblical scholars will notice that we’ve ignored the Babylonian Empire. This is because, despite Nebudchadnezzar’s infamy for his maltreatment of the Hebrews, as described in the Hebrew tribal chronicle of the Old Testament, that empire lasted less than a century before it was conquered by Cyrus of Persia, and never attained imperial power in anything but name. Like the Napoleonic Empire, it was more a cult of personality than an actual empire.
It is a prejudice common to every generation of humans to see itself as something special, set apart from history and the past. One of the defining traits of mankind seems to be the egoism of seeing himself as something very important, even indispensable, to the advancement of the world at large. The rapid advances made in technology over the last century has made that view all the more inviting to modern man.
In my four decades alone, we’ve seen the development of the personal computer, and the subsequent rapid miniaturization of technology, to the point that I can now access the entire record of accrued human knowledge, over the last 200,000 years, in the palm of my hand, on a “smart phone.” We’ve seen man achieve the self-perceived status of a god, through the successful achievement of genetic cloning in the laboratory. We’ve witnessed the realization of humans wielding the mythical thunderbolts of Zeus, in the form of successful, missile-armed, remote-controlled drone aircraft, in less than two decades. We’ve seen humans develop the ability to turn night into day, at the individual level, through the development of night-vision and thermal imaging devices. We’ve seen the fortunate creation of the science fiction fantasy of the Bionic Man, in the form of prosthetic limbs that mimic—and even surpass —the strength and agility of the missing limbs. Indeed, it is very enticing to view ourselves as separate from and superior to, history. This attitude that we have nothing to learn from history though, no matter how alluring the flattery may be, is fatally flawed. When we look back, objectively, the irrelevance of technological advancement to the lifespan of empire becomes self-evident.
The Assyrians marched to war on foot, and fought with archery tackle and spears. Their conquests were limited to those neighbors whose countries they could walk to—and maintain a supply and communication avenue to. Their only use of cavalry was the chariot, because they had not sufficiently mastered the equestrian arts to allow mounting and riding in combat conditions9. This severely curtailed the effective application of their “cavalry” however, since chariots were/are of limited use in rough terrain that a horseman can traverse with relative ease. The Assyrian Empire lasted 247 years.
Fast forward to 1700 CE. The British soldier of the Line, at the beginning of the British Imperial period, had the ability to strike with massed musket fire. He could strike his enemy with “thunder and lightning.” He could circumnavigate the globe aboard a sailing ship. His cavalry could ride circles around a charioteer, had anyone still been fighting from chariots. It’s fair to say that, in many ways, the Assyrians would have viewed the British soldier of 1700 like a god, or at least possessing some of the powers of a god. We can see a similar situation with the initial Mesoamerican response to the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas.
Leap forward through time in our phone box TARDIS time machine though, to the end of the British Imperial experience, in 1950 CE. Now, not only can the British soldier circumnavigate the globe on a ship that doesn’t even require the gods to provide favorable winds, he could actually fly through the air! He could strike with thunderbolts from the sky! On foot, he was armed with a “spear” that could fire twenty thunderbolts in seconds, and strike his enemies at three or four times the distance that the most powerful bows the Assyrians could have ever even heard of were capable of reaching!10 He could communicate instantly with someone hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away, with his own voice, through the use of radios. It is fair to say that, if the Assyrian might have seen the soldier of 1700 as something approaching a god, the British para or RAF pilot of 1950 would have been a god.
The British Empire lasted 250 years…
To even suggest the potential—let alone the inevitability—of the fall of American exceptionalism though, is to risk raising the ire of both Left and Right. To the progressive of the Left, seeking the support of the uneducated mob, labels such as “reactionary,” or even “racist,” seems to be the standard, as does the accusation of being “opposed to the egalitarian, democratic ideals” of America. The pseudo-patriotic neo-conservative Right, on the other hand, considers it seditious to proclaim anything less than total, unwavering, blind faith in the immortality and divine guidance of the government of the United States…at least as long as the Congress and Presidency are firmly in the hands of the Republican Party. They begin sounding as much like a bunch of spoiled children as their political rivals, throwing temper tantrums, with their fingers stuck in their ears, tongues out, and eyes clenched tightly shut, as they scream, “USA! USA! Divine inspiration! Jesus loves America! USA! USA!”
Both sides of this spectrum choose to ignore the fact that every other imperial power in the human experience has viewed its own existence as divinely inspired and immortal. We are no more the zenith of human social and political achievement that the Assyrians, the Romans, or the Muslim Caliphate were.
The Life Cycle of Empires
Outburst and Conquest
Glubb described the life cycle of empires in stages. When one looks at the parallels between the experiences of various major empires, these similarities become obvious. The first stage, Glubb labeled “The Outburst.” This is when a small nation or tribe, often viewed as culturally backwards by its more powerful neighbors, emerge suddenly from their small homeland and overrun significant portions of the Earth.
(In the book, this section is a sidenote:
In 600 CE, most of the western world fell within the sphere of influence of one of two major imperial powers: the remnants of the Roman Empire, in the form of the Byzantine, Eastern Roman Empire, and the Persians. For a modern parallel, think of the state of affairs that existed during the Cold War between the United States and the former Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR). The Arab world, at this time consisted solely of a bunch of backwards goatherds, eking out survival on the Arabian peninsula, surrounded by those two imperial powers. Modern-day Iraq was part of the Persian Empire, while Syria, Palestine, and all of North Africa were Byzantine Roman provinces. The Arabs were nomadic tribesmen with no central government or army. They were a bunch of barbarian tribes. In 613, an Arab dude named Mohammed (570-632 CE) had a religious awakening, and began preaching about the supremacy of the old moon god, Allah. He died 19 years later, in 632 CE, having largely consolidated the different bands of Arabs under the banner of his new religion. In 633, the year after his death, the rest of the world learned of his legacy. The Mohammedan Arabs burst out of their desert lair, attacking both the Eastern Roman Empire and the Persians, simultaneously. Two decades later, the Persian Empire was a memory. By 700 CE—less than 70 years after the Arab outburst—their religious and political empire, known as the Caliphate, extended from the frontiers of China, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. In another decade, they would conquer the Iberian Peninsula.
At the beginning of the 13th Century, there were a bunch of dirt-poor horse herders eking out a subsistence survival existence on the plains of Mongolia. In 1211, an outcast from one of their tribes who had renamed himself Genghis, brought the different bands of the Mongols together under one banner, and decided to invade China. Forty years later, the Mongols controlled the largest geographic empire the world has ever known, stretching from Asia Minor to the China Sea.
In 1607, a small band of English adventurers settled on the Atlantic seaboard of North America in a small community they named Jamestown. Almost starving as a result of crop failures their first year, they relied on the naivete and beneficence of the local indigenous population. 169 years later, the descendants of those colonists declared themselves a new nation, and within a century of that, had conquered not an ancient empire, but an entire continent, and had already begun to impose their will across the oceans. They didn’t get the luxury of conquering already built cities and agricultural areas. They had to chop down forests, quarry mountains, and forge the imperial civilization out of what was basically raw wilderness.)
Glubb makes the point that the outburst stage is characterized by the display of “extraordinary” energy and courage by people who are typically poor, but hardy, enterprising, and—most important— aggressive. Meanwhile they are generally—although, as in the case of America, not necessarily— fighting a decaying superpower in the decadence of decline. These new nations are not just notable for military successes however. They are adventurous and heroic in every field. The Arabs crossed the Straits of Gibralter in 711 CE with 12,000 men, slaughtered a Gothic army of double their size, and then marched 250 miles, across hostile country, to capture the capital at Toledo. At the same stage in British history, Crook had sailed far enough away from England to discover Australia. In the US, our ancestors were hacking places like Lexington, Kentucky out of hardwood forest, and building the world’s first transcontinental railroad.
The conquering pioneers of new empires are not held back by the constraints of traditional methods. They are willing to improvise, adapt, and overcome through experimentation. “Action is their solution to every problem.” Just like the pioneers of America, often half-starved, and ill-clad in whatever garb the environment will provide, they abound in courage, energy, and the initiative to go out and overcome anything that stands in the way of gaining what they want.
The reasons that these outbursts happen are difficult to determine, since they have been so varied. Glubb argued that the easiest explanation was simple jealousy. The poor and obscure nation simply coveted what their neighbors had. When Attila died in 453 CE, his people simply took their plunder from Europe and went home. Much of the barbarian tribal conquest of Western Europe, on the other hand, occurred because the local tribal chieftains admired the technology of Roman civilization and wanted to acquire that for their own people.
Underlying all of these however, I would argue, is religious fervor. From the monotheist drive to conquer and convert for The One True God, witnessed in the advance of the Caliphate, the British Empire, or American expansion, or the ancestral faith of the barbarians of Europe, and their need to strengthen the fortunes of the tribe, while the drive for wealth is always present, often there is a strong undercurrent of religious destiny involved as well.
The successful conquest of large areas, and the hegemony of control under one governing power acts as a stimulus to the merchants of the newly empowered tribe. The speed of modern transportation makes us think of “interstate” commerce as a new creation, but this is the ultimate in cultural hubris. Archaeological excavations indicate regular commercial exchange between far-flung cultures like the Middle East and Scandinavia, or China and Eastern Europe, dating back thousands of years. While obviously much slower to transport than a diesel-fueled ocean going cargo ship, or an intercontinental flight, commerce within ancient empires was freed of shackles that modern trade suffers, such as import permits, customs inspections, boycotts, and political interference.
Glubb uses the Roman Empire as an example. At its height, it extended from Syria to the Scottish border with England. In a direct line as the crow flies, that is almost 3000 miles. It might take six months to travel from England to Damascus, but throughout that journey, you would be in the same nation, with the same laws, currency, and form of governmental administration.
Even savage, militaristic empires have encouraged and promoted commerce and trade, both for the benefit of taxation, and because the leaders want nice things for themselves and their families. The Mongols were among the most brutal military conquerors in history. They put the entire population of some cities to the sword. But, in the thirteenth century, the trade caravans between China and Europe were the pinnacle of the concept of free-trade—the whole journey was in the territory of a single government. For free-trade advocates, seeking to be able to sell their produced goods to the largest market share, imperialism is a huge advantage, because it does away with, or at least reduces the disparity of various national laws, politics, customs fees and bribes, and currencies.
The Age of Conquest, that expansion of the military strength and resulting territorial control of the new power, overlaps the beginning of the Age of Commerce and the rise of mercantilism within the imperial culture. The pride in military strength still holds precedence, as does avid public support of the military standing guard on the frontiers and pushing the boundaries of the empire’s reach into new lands. At the same time though, the desire to make money, with considerably less risk of life and limb, begins to dominate the public imagination. While glory and honor were the principal objects during the warrior-centric phase of the imperial expansion, to the merchant those ideas are meaningless, since they do not add to his bank account.
Instead, those of a mercantile leaning look to ways to take advantage of the empire’s new wealth to grow wealthy themselves. The first portion of the mercantile age of the imperial life cycle actually tends to strengthen the empire. The founders’ virtues of enterprise, strength, courage, pride, and duty are still valued, and every effort is driven by the patriotism behind those virtues. This is the epoch within the empire when exploration occurs and new sources of wealth are sought out. Whether it’s a military leader conquering a new land to take advantage of its resources, a merchant leading a trading caravan into foreign lands to seek trade, prospectors and miners looking for mineral wealth, entrepreneurs building roads or railroads to transport goods and people, or families carving farms and ranches out of conquered wilderness, everyone is trying to leverage the wealth of the empire’s resources for their benefit, convinced—rightly so—that their efforts to grow wealthy are strengthening and enriching the empire. The drive for wealth, by any legal means, is seen as patriotism, and no one minds paying some taxes to help strengthen the empire.
Unfortunately, that same wealth, and the drive to amass more of it, is also the agent that creates the decline of the imperial culture. To begin with, decisions are no longer made by the warrior-statesmen that put their own blood and lives on the line to create the empire. Instead those decisions begin to be made by—and for the benefit of—a select class of wealthy merchants, bankers, and descendants of the conquering heroes of old. The quest for money begins to replace the quest for honor and adventure. Greed takes over. Men no longer seek to enrich their country and community, but just themselves and their families. Gradually this affluence crushes the spirit of patriotic duty in most of the population. The youth of all classes are no longer educated to live lives—and create career—that value honor and service, but instead, are taught to seek wealth.
Colleges and schools of higher education no longer focus on general civic education—what we would recognize as a general liberal arts education; how to think clearly. Instead, they focus on what the parents and students seek: simply meeting the requirements to obtain the job with the highest salary. The virtue of service is replaced with the virtue of selfishness.
It is popular in some circles to blame the troubles of our current situation on the self-interested manipulations of secret cabals of super-rich oligarchs who control the wealth—and thus the politics— of our nation and world. While this is undoubtedly true, and only a jackass would argue otherwise, it is also not any sort of novelty. Whether you are discussing Rockefellers, Carnegies, Gateses, Waltons, or others in our own time, or the Patrician class of ancient Rome, every empire has resulted in the creation of a class of super wealthy oligarchs who gathered enough wealth to their families that they could control the political decision-making cycle for their benefit and continued enrichment.
Conspiracy theories make it possible to believe, “if we could just get rid of ‘them,’ then everything would go back to ‘normal.’” The problem is not the existence of a patrician class of oligarchic aristocracy however. The problem is when the virtue of service is replaced with the virtue of selfishness, and both the oligarchs and the common man begin caring more about themselves than they do about their nation and their community. The problem is that the patricians—like the rest of society— lack the long-range vision necessary to recognize that what seems beneficial to them in the near-term, even though it might be detrimental to the rest of society, is also detrimental to them in the long-term. You can’t continue to make money off a society that no longer exists.
The problem is when the common man, hoping to benefit from government largesse, allows greedy, selfish men, susceptible to corruption, into positions within the government, where the patricians can afford to bribe them. The blame is not just on the oligarchs. It is on every man. The problem is greed, and during the mercantile phase of empire, greed is the virtue of the culture. Commercial interests continue to applaud consumerism as “patriotism,” even as they do everything in their power to avoid supporting the nation and their communities with taxes. The common man sees those around him apparently doing better than him financially, with all their material belongings and begins to believe in this new virtue. Now, he’d rather work long hours and extra days than spend time with his wife and children, teaching his children the values of their forefathers that made their nation great. His children thus learn, “working for the man in the big house on the hill is patriotism!” and “if you don’t go to the mall and go shopping, the terrorists win!”
The people, and thus the nation as a general whole, are no longer interested in honor and glory. Their only interest is in retaining their wealth and their luxury. Whether it’s China’s Great Wall, Roman emperor Hadrian’s Wall along the English-Scottish border, France’s Maginot Line during World War Two, or the proposed wall along the US border with Mexico, Arnold Toynbee, one of the greatest historians of the modern era, and author of the 12-volume masterpiece The Study of History , makes the very valid point in that work, that the moment when an empire decides that building walls to protect their wealth is a good idea is the moment you know that empire is done. The people are no longer willing to risk their wealth or the blood to continue to expand, content instead to just keep what they have.
Wealth, being more abundant than courage in the empire at its peak, during this Age of Affluence, money and material goods are used in an attempt to buy off enemies. After all, “if I or my sons go off to fight a war, we might die. Then we won’t be able to make any more money!” Who wants to die to make other people rich? Of course, admitting such a reason, even as they justify it as “patriotism,” while hearing or reading the tales of the heroism of their ancestors would lead one to feelings of cowardly inferiority. To avoid that, justifications are made, both individually and collectively at the social level. Militarism, violence, and imperialism are denounced as primitive, unfair, and immoral. Civilized people solve their problems with ideas and words, rather than with fists. Violence is never the answer!
The problem with this pacifist approach to the world of course, is that it’s utterly stupid. It is demonstrably false and ignorant of reality. There are many people in the world who are aggressive, and no amount of education as to the inherent superiority of the imperial culture is going to change their minds. You can’t convince them to like you by showing them how much better your life is than their’s and their family’s. They still value service to their family and their culture as more important than their own individual comfort.
We can see this ignorance in our own culture, of course. People are content to sit on the couch and watch other men fight their nation’s battles, even as they pontificate on convincing members of other cultures through material largess, of the superiority of western democracy and capitalism. They feel superior to the outsiders, even as these aggressive foreign cultures invade our lands and attack and rape our women. “Well, at least it isn’t happening to me!” In Glubb’s own words, “…history seems to indicate that great nations do not normally disarm from motives of conscience, but owing to the weakening of a sense of duty in the citizens, and the increase in selfishness and the desire for wealth and ease.”
The mercantile oligarchs of the Age of Commerce seek to gain the fame, praise, and immortal renown that their ancestors won through valor and achievement, by spreading a small fraction of their wealth. They create endowments for the arts, and they found or endow universities and colleges and scholarships. Like the criticisms of the secret cabals controlling the puppet strings of politicians, it is popular to denounce people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, the Walton family, and Bill and Melinda Gates, not so much for the endowments themselves, but for the ideological strings they seem to attach to those endowments. It is interesting however, when one notices the regularity with which this happens—in every empire, even centuries apart. It is also interesting how precise an indication this is of an empire in its final death throes.
In the eleventh century, the Caliphate was in complete decline. Its frontiers had been pushed back drastically, and it was no longer an empire of warriors, but of intellectual dilettantes. Under Sultan Malik Shah, the Arabs were the intellectual leaders of the world. These are the people who invented Algebra, after all. Building universities and colleges became the passion of the rich. A university appeared in seemingly every moderately-sized city.
In our own time, we see the same phenomenon in the US. At the height of our glory, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and a handful of other colleges seemed to meet our needs. State colleges focused on agricultural and mechanical/technical educations, and most people gained their education through some form of apprenticeship in their trade. Now, even a state like Idaho, with a population of just 1.6 million people, has at least fifteen different colleges and universities! These of course, are not counting professional licensing schools like hairstyling “schools,” nor interstate “universities” that teach via correspondence or online, like University of Phoenix.
It is important to point out, I feel, that while this rise of intellectualism is, as we will see shortly, the final harbinger of doom for the imperial power, almost all of the pursuits sought after with such fervor, throughout the life cycle of the empire, have the potential to be “good” by any objective metric. The cult of hardiness, courage, and truthfulnessof the Age of Conquest during The Outburst, produces heroes that we honor centuries later, even from other empires. The opening of natural resources and the peaceful accumulation of wealth during the mercantile phase, allows for the advancement of technology and the sciences during the Age of Intellect. We cannot label any of these as “good” or “bad” in themselves however. It is the application of them that matters, and ultimately, outside of religious and cultural prejudices, the definition of any of them as “good” or “bad” is entirely subjective.
What is noteworthy about these stages is that they follow the exact same course, one after another, across the imperial legacy of various human cultures, even across centuries and millenia. The argument of course could be made—and is, regularly—that something will make this time different. Unfortunately, that argument has also been made, every single time, and always with the exact same lack of result. What is noteworthy is the accuracy with which these stages can be seen to foretell the decline of every empire, including our own.
Harbingers of the Apocalypse
Internal Strife and Division
The first of the warning signs of the demise of empire that Glubb noted was an intensification of internal political divisions and hatreds. These are a result of the impact of the Ages of Affluence and Intellectualism, as people struggle to maintain their hold on their possessions and wealth and luxury. In the fourteenth century, the long weakened Byzantines were already dominated by the Turks of the rising power that would become known as the Ottoman Empire. When one would expect that every citizen of the Eastern Roman Empire would set aside his personal interests to stand shoulder-to- shoulder with his countrymen, out of self-interest if not patriotism, the opposite actually occurred. The Byzantines spent the last half-century of their cultural and imperial existence in an ongoing internecine civil war, right up until the Turks delivered the coup de grace that wiped the empire from the face of the Earth.
Today, as I write this, we see the same things happening in America. I watch both sides of the standard political spectrum spew absolute filth from their mouths to describe their countrymen, over differences in political opinion and interpretation that ultimately can always be followed back to the desire to keep or gain wealth and luxury. Even as we face internal and external threats—with the stated purpose of destroying our culture—we see even the moderate Left label those on the Right as terrorists and worse. Equally nefarious however, we see the True Believers of divine inspiration on the Right label their political rivals with accusations ranging from communist and socialist to the utterly ridiculous “satanic.” In an era when our nation faces threats from resurgent Russian imperialism, growing recognition by China of its own imperial needs, and a growing resurgence of Mohammedan expansionism that looks very much like the beginning of a successful New Caliphate, you would think that every thinking person, with any interest in saving America wold be coming together in a bipartisan effort to salvage what is left of the idea that was America. Instead, we seem to be more than willing to watch a re-run of the Fall of Byzantium.
There is a greater threat than just the external however, that actually increases the threat from outside. This results from the intensification of these internal political schisms within the declining imperial power, and is every bit a result of the virtue of selfishness created during the Age of Affluence. In the Roman Republic, a schism erupted within the Senate as two factions battled. The Optinates were the “conservative” party, striving to hold to traditional forms of Roman governance, while the Populares were the “progressive” party that stressed the importance of recognizing the growing strength and importance of the Plebeian Assembly of the common citizenry18. By the second century BCE, there was enough discord within both the Republic and the Senate to terminate centuries of essentially peaceful governance. We can see the same thing in the encouragement of class and racial divides, and the resulting angst and violence in our own society today.
Reforms that had taken place under Tiberius and Gaius as consuls looked to address the conditions of the disenfranchised, but much like similar reform attempts within our own government, the result was instead a growing animosity—and even outright enmity—between the Patrician and Plebeian “haves,” and the poorest Plebeian “have-nots.” By the end of the Punic Wars with Carthage (264-146 BCE), wealth had concentrated towards the more powerful of the Patrician clans within Rome, while middle-class citizen-soldiers found themselves landless, as their untended lands, laying fallow as they campaigned abroad for the “greater glory of Rome,” prevented their ability to repay creditors. Those lands, in most cases, were then bought from the creditors who has possessed them in lieu of repayment, by the more wealthy, oligarchic clans, who had kept their sons at home, rather than risking them on the battlefield. This created an even wider gap in power and wealth, favoring the Patricians. This small, wealthy, oligarchic class, recognizing the benefits they were accruing from the situation, and believing naively in the immortality of Rome, focused on their own greed, rather than on the security and welfare of the Republic, and strove to maintain the status quo.
The situation grew increasingly desperate, with more and more of the limited arable land tied up in the hands of a small number of well-moneyed families. By 107 BCE, Gaius Marius was appointed consul, and opposition to land reform was a given in the Senate. Despite this, Marius opted to reorganize the army, allowing—for the first time in Roman history—landless citizens to enlist, enticing them with promises of valuable land grants as a pension. This allowed him the manpower and the finances needed to develop it into a professional army, with standardized training and equipment suitable for waging the increasing number of extended campaigns required by the growing expansionist efforts of the empire. Land is, like so many other things, a non-renewable resource. As the cliché goes, one thing you can be certain of about land—they’re not making any more of it. In order to attain more of any limited, finite resource, the empire has to expand its reach and influence.
The problem with Marius’ effort was, because their pensions—their futures and the futures of their children—were tied to the conquered territories,the soldiers’ loyalties were tied to the generals that led them to victory and their new homelands, rather than the Republic and the Eternal City itself. The legions thus became essentially private armies of the generals, considering themselves not beholden to the citizens of Rome, but to their comrades and leaders. In fact, the view was that the citizens of Rome were beholden to them instead, because of the riches they sent back. Meanwhile, the citizens of Rome felt this arrogance were driven into the arms of rival factions within the Senate who wanted to curtail the power and influence of the generals. As the conflict grew within the Senatorial Patrician class and became open confrontation, this web of divided loyalties that was created was the trigger that initiated the coup that resulted in the final death knell of the Republic and the imposition of the dictatorial imperial government under Julius Caesar.
The parallels between ancient Rome and our own contemporary situation is not just the blindingly obvious schisms between conservative and progressive, Left and Right, and rich and poor. The veterans’ community, especially in the last decade, has come to pride itself on its separation and uniqueness from the general American population, pointing out pridefully that only 0.45% of the American populace has served in the GWOT, and only 12-15% of living Americans have served in the military at all. This meme is parroted repeatedly in social media and on both the Left and the Right, encouraging the schisms between the military/veterans’ community and the general public. Key figures in the “patriot” movement and even in the more mainstream “neo-conservative” Right call for military generals to oust the legally elected President. The military and veterans’ community, sadly too often completely unaware of the historical parallels, are themselves reinforcing the schisms with a self- imposed loyalty to their comrades and wartime leaders, before their loyalty to the nation and constitution. Even across social media, we see an increasingly serious campaign for “Mattis for President!” and calls for David Petraeus to run for the office, despite his recent legal troubles, as veterans of the recent campaigns demonstrate a very Roman loyalty to their generals first.
The Right encourages this by extolling the virtue and self-sacrifice of veterans—including the complete fabrication of the theme that 22 veterans of the GWOT commit suicide every day—all of whom, I feel obligated to point out, that are currently serving, not only volunteered, but volunteered in wartime no less, “fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession.” No one that I’ve ever met, who served in the military—including myself, I hasten to add—has ever volunteered to forfeit their salary out of patriotism.
The Left encourages the same schisms however, between veteran and public, by too often labeling veterans as war criminals and PTSD victims, trivializing their efforts for a cause—the expansion of American imperialism—that they were socially indoctrinated to believe in by the very educational system that the Left so ardently supports. The government itself, much like the Roman government, under the control of both sides of the oligarchic political class, pushes the schism even wider, encouraging veterans to feel abandoned and alone in society, denied the benefits they were contractually promised in return for their service.
The political divisions and vitriolic name-calling and insults are not what any sane man would want for his nation, but the oligarchs of the modern Patrician class—just like their Roman predecessors— encourage it, because they know it helps them consolidate their control and power, separating the potential power of the military from any real fraternity with the populace it is sworn to protect and defend. Further, by keeping the people themselves at each others’ throats over the encouraged perceptions of unfairness on both sides, there can be no unity among the American people to return to the natural equality under the law of our constitutional system. The oligarchs—again like their predecessors—do not recognize the parallels path of destruction they have put themselves, and all of our nation, on.
Multiculturalism is Collectivism
The second great harbinger of doom that Glubb described was the influx of foreigners into the capital cities and the political center of power. He cited complaints by Roman citizens of the vast numbers of Asians and Africans that had settled in Rome. Baghdad likewise, in its prime as the capital of the Caliphate during the ninth century, was as cosmopolitan as New York or London are today— Persians, Turks, Egyptians, Sub-Saharan Africans, and Greeks; all mingled with the indigenous population in the city’s cafes, coffee shops, and universities.
America is of course, the melting pot. We have long celebrated our assimilation of diverse ethnic origins into a harmonious, homogeneous, distinctly American culture. That has long been heralded as one of America’s greatest strengths. Today however, we see the metaphor of the melting pot, a term first coined in the 1780s, transformed into the contemptible, intentionally divisive celebration of multiculturalism.
The idea that we should celebrate the contributions of the individual cultures of different ethnic communities in the greater American culture is nothing new. As early as 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the British Army in New York staged a St. Patrick’s Day parade, and this ethnic/religious holiday honoring a saint of the Catholic Church, despite a Protestant, Anglo cultural majority, has been observed for all of American history. The difference of course, is that people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day have done so for one day out of the year, sporting “Kiss Me! I’m Irish!” t-shirts, shamrock pins, and horrendous fake Irish accents, and then go back to being Americans the very next day. The idea that we should elevate the individual cultures of different ethnic communities in America above American culture in general, is actually antithetical to the conceptual metaphor of the melting pot. The original idea, that we may choose to appropriate some of the best cultural traits and traditions that different immigrants have brought with them from their native lands, and assimilate those into the homogeneous culture of America, worked well. The inherent divisiveness of trying to elevate the importance of outside cultural values and celebrations however, can be seen throughout American history. As new groups of immigrants came into this country, those who wanted to succeed outside of their urban ethnic bastions, otherwise referred to as “ghettos,” had to quickly shed themselves of as many markers of their native culture as possible, or face violent recriminations from nativists who
might be only one generation removed their own homelands.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating one’s ancestral culture, regardless of what that ancestral culture is. Doing so is, in fact, central to my personal belief system. The melting pot concept however, is central to the control of the empire. Looking at ethnic/tribal groups that have traditionally/historically refused to integrate actually illustrates this: gypsies/Rom, Orthodox Jews, Amish and Mennonite German Baptists, and others, have long existed within the imperial boundaries, as outsiders. This can only be allowed however, for small groups, and even those groups are generally persecuted in any empire but our own. Allowing everyone to maintain their tribal/ancestral culture means no one adopts the imperial culture, and results in a lack of loyalty to the state that the empire needs for patriotic service and sacrifice for the greater good of the empire.
The problem with post-modern multiculturalism however, is the elevation of one—or more than one —group’s ancestral cultural values over those of others, as well as over the homogeneity of American cultural values. We “celebrate diversity” even as it tears apart the very fabric of our culture. This divisiveness is the undoing of the unified culture that allowed the empire to grow to greatness. It is not a matter of the inferiority of one culture or another. Rather, it is that the differences between them, if not buffered by the acceptance and elevation of shared cultural values through the homogeneity of the imperial culture, or—in a more ideal world—the equal protection under the law, of all different cultural groups, leads to the impossibility of peaceful coexistence.
Historically, we’ve seen immigrants, during the affluent periods of an empire’s existence, who felt— and expressed—great pride in becoming imperial citizens. Even Mohammedans in America, during the peak of American imperial power in the 1940s and 1950s, were proud to be Americans and part of The Great Experiment. No one is more patriotic, or fervent in their support of the empire, than the immigrant who found success and fortune in his new homeland. When decline sets in and reaches a state that can no longer be ignored though, the memories of every slight—real or imagined—is suddenly recalled by those who have held on to the vestiges of their ancestral cultures, instead of integrating successfully and totally into the imperial culture. While the empire is affluent, and there is money to be made, all the diverse cultures seem to be equally loyal and filled with patriotic fervor. As soon as the decline begins to steepen however, and wealth and luxury begin to become harder to find and hold on to, because it is consolidated in fewer and fewer hands, and the rungs of the ladder are harder—if not impossible—to scale, ethnic enclaves begin reforming, in the form of self-segregating communities, and tribalism naturally finds a resurgence in a reversion to the naturally xenophobic state of mankind, within the borders of the empire, as people focus on looking out for their own.
We see this occurring before our eyes, in America today. Even a mere 46 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we see a deepening, voluntary resegregation of American society, as black Americans separate into their own neighborhoods and ghettos, and strive to create and recognize a specific, separate, black American culture within the larger American culture.
We can see the same things happening among other ethnic groups and national ancestral groups as well though. Within the Asian communities in America, the Chinese have always, to some degree, segregated themselves, with the establishment of Chinatowns in larger urban areas. We also see Laotian, Hmong, Korean, and—to a far lesser extent—Japanese ethnic enclaves beginning to form as well though.
Among Hispanics, we can see Salvadorans, Mexicans, Guatemalans, and other Latino immigrants— both legal and illegal—segregating themselves, not only from the greater American culture, but from other Hispanic ethnic cultural groups, putting the lie to the racialist idea of “Brown Pride” as a pan- Hispanic political movement. One example of this can be seen in the resurgence of interest among Americans of Mexican descent, in returning the southwestern states to Mexico, with the rise of the Azatlan movement and the Reconquista. The best example of this in recent memory though, may actually be an interview with a young American soldier serving in Afghanistan. When asked by a reporter why he performed an action that the reporter felt was particularly courageous, the soldier responded with, “Because I’m a Mexi-CAN, not a Mexi-CAN’T!” This was a US citizen, serving in the Army of the United States of America…
We see Mohammedan immigrants separating themselves not only into religious enclaves, but specific ethnic religious enclaves. Mohammedan religious groups and leaders try to establish the legitimacy of Shariah law in their communities, as superseding American constitutional law and jurisprudence. This fracturing of the imperial social culture into tribal societies is one of the most critical of Sir John’s markers. It is—both figuratively and literally—the incursion of the barbarians into the very borders of the empire. It is also one of history’s great indicators that an empire is past the point of salvation.
(Again, the following is a sidenote in the book:
While most of the few Americans with any knowledge of historical affairs preceding 1774 think of the sack of Rome by the Germanic Visigoths under Alaric in 410 CE as the “Fall of Rome,” too few recognize that it was actually Caesar Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE) that first brought in large numbers of Germanic warrior tribesmen to serve as his imperial bodyguards, because he did not trust Roman legionnaires to do the job. Although he shunted them off to lesser, more remote postings following Arminius of the Cherusci’s destruction of a 20,000 man Roman Army at the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE, he quickly reverted to the practice, and his successors followed suit. Additionally, even by the time his predecessor and uncle Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE), famously crossed the Rubicon and took control of Rome by force of arms, a significant portion of the Roman Army was comprised of foreign-born troops with—at best—questionable loyalty to the Eternal City.)
To reiterate an important point however, this is not about race and pigmentation of skin. It is not about the inherent superiority or inferiority of one racial group or ethnicity over another. It is about cultural hegemony within the imperial culture—in this case, what we define as “western culture.” These foreign cultures may not be inferior. In fact, in their natural environment, and for their native people, they can be said to be superior, or they would not have survived and thrived as they did. They are certainly different though, and that difference, within the borders of the empire, leads to the schism in the homogeneity of the national culture—if the outsiders refuse to assimilate—that means the empire cannot maintain its hegemony over even its own populace.
Games Are For Children
The third indicator of cultural decline is the rise of what Sir John referred to as “frivolity.” This is seen as the companion to the pessimism that accompanies the unconscious dawning realization of the end of affluence. “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” is the classic Roman example cited by Glubb. The Roman mob insisted on their panem et circenses, even as their world collapsed around them.
The parallels between gladiatorial games, violent chariot races, and other entertainment spectacles, to the contemporary American fascination with watching—rather than participating—in professional sports, blockbuster movies, and five hundred channels of satellite television programming, need not be explicitly pointed out to any thinking reader. We see the youth—and even most so-called “adults”—of America today proclaim their adoration for celebrity singers, actors, and other performers, hanging on their every word and action, no matter how ridiculous, rather than the cultural icons of the American Outburst. They would rather emulate some ridiculous “twerking” than the actions of the heroes that made America great; men like George Washington, Francis Marion, Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Thomas Edison, and more are instead, castigated as “dead white men” who were probably “murdering rapists and racists.”
We see people that are considered “mature”adults culturally, basing their entire political world view on the public statements of entertainers, many of whom never even managed to finish high school, rather than making the effort to educate themselves to understand the political system they live under,and who refuse to use basic critical thinking skills to determine what their own beliefs are on matters. It’s easier to simply re-post the illiterate memes of social media as “political statements.” We have, it seems, been convinced that being fashionable is more important than being intelligent. We have been convinced to ignore and forget our cultural mythic ancestry, in favor of the popular fashion entertainment of the moment. The capitalist-collectivist idea of course, is that in three months, there will be another “new and improved” cultural idol we “simply must” follow the antics of. The socialist- collectivist idea, on the other hand, is that, since “everyone is of equal value,” then the message of the famous celebrity, who spouts the same nonsense as their side of the political equation—no matter how ridiculously assinine it may be—is obviously valid, regardless of their lack of qualification to even open their mouth on the subject.
The fourth indicator of decline is the rise of the fervent belief in the inherent superiority of the culture, above all cultures that have ever existed before in the human experience. This includes a belief in the divine inspiration and favor of the gods towards the imperial culture, that will allow the culture to last for the rest of time, regardless of the historical indicators otherwise. Rome famously billed itself as the “Eternal City.” The Caliphs of Baghdad believed that Allah had appointed them to rule magnanimously over all of mankind until the Judgment Day. At the beginning of the 20th century, any Englishman, of any age, would proudly declare with absolute certainty, “Britannia forever!”
Today, even as more and more Americans turn away from religion in general24, and especially divine inspiration as the result of divine inspiration as the reason behind the constitutional republican system, the idea of some sort of inherent superiority as a result of our progressive advancement over previous cultures, combined with our ability to develop new technologies, has led to the idea that progress is automatic, requiring no effort to maintain, other than blind faith in the inherent superiority of our liberalism. It is completely unfathomable to Americans that the world could exist without America. We see again, the eternal conceit of every generation of man, that they are somehow so indispensable that they are, somehow outside of and immune to, history.
We have been engaged, for well over a decade, in a half-hearted “war” effort to bring American “democracy” to failed states in parts of the world that have zero experience in representative government, since the dawn of time, and have evinced no real indication of any interest in it25. We pour scorn on any petty tyrant who refuses to embrace the idealism of our defaced, commercialized rendition of republican representative governance, no matter how well his rule has served his people, in their own minds. At least, we scorn them when we don’t come right out and depose the poor, misguided bastards for not conforming to our own definitions of good and evil.
We sit, secure in our programmed, juvenile obedience, ignoring the realities of the world around us, blindly accepting the gospel that “America is eternal so quit worrying and keep spending!” We accept —even clamor for—the message of fairy tale solutions to the problems that we are forced to acknowledge. Americans are optimists, after all. We are patriots, and we want to believe in the inherent, divine righteousness of our constitutional system. We want to believe that, if we could just get “our guy” into office, then things will change for the better. In our optimistic, blind patriotism, we strive to continue believing in the rule-of-law and egalitarian justice, even as we watch them trampled and destroyed before our eyes.
This is ironic to the objective historian, because the life expectancy of an empire bears absolutely zero apparent relationship to the form of government instituted. The Roman Republic lasted the same two and a half centuries that the dictatorial Empire did. While the House of Windsor still “rules” England, the “divine right of kings” did nothing to stop the loss of their empire. Previous empires in the human experience illustrate almost every possible imaginable variation of political system, and still, each of them experienced the same life cycle and patterns of decay. Yet, somehow, magically, we alone are immune?
We—America—have become Rome, as the city burned. Do not think, for even a moment, that the citizens of Rome did not feel the same righteous loyalty towards their empire, even as Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon26 and overthrew the Republic, taking on the mantle of dictator. Like modern Americans, the people of Rome viewed their culture as the zenith of social, legal, and political development in the human experience. Even as the legions stood on the frontiers, and looked homeward over their shoulders, watching the destruction of the empire they represented from internal discord, this proto-patriotism existed. No one thought Rome could fail, let alone that it would.
Moral Degeneracy and the Religious Revival
Directly tied to the idea of the immortality of empire, due to divine guidance, is the fifth indicator in Glubb’s thesis, the rise of moral degeneracy and a subsequent religious revival. This is a popular aspect of the thesis among some evangelical Christians today who are students of preparedness. All too often however, in their attempt to make political headway, or perhaps—to be generous—out of pure cognitive bias, this indicator is often horribly misrepresented. One obviously evangelical Christian summary of The Fate of Empires, hosted on the website of the United Church of God, states the following:
“Glubb describes developments like these: 1. Rampant sexual immorality, an aversion to marriage in favor of ‘living together,’ and an increased divorce rate all combine to undermine family stability.”
Unfortunately for the credibility of the author of the article, and the United Church of God for hosting it, obviously none of whom actually read Glubb’s essay—or they simply assumed none of their readers would ever bother reading it—Glubb said absolutely nothing of the sort. He said nothing at all about sex, marriage, or divorce in this context.
In fact, despite presumably being a Christian himself, Glubb’s words on the subject had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity or “Christian values.” His actual words however, included:
“Historians of periods of decadence often refer to a decline of religion, but if we extend our investigation over a period covering the Assyrians (859-612 BCE) to our own times, we have to interpret religion in a broad sense. Some such definition as ‘the feeling that there is something, some invisible Power, apart from material objects, which controls life and the natural world.’ We are probably too narrow and contemptuous in our interpretation of idol worship. The people of ancient civilizations were as sensible as we are, and would scarcely have been so foolish as to worship sticks and stones fashioned by their own hands. The idol was for them merely a symbol, and represented an unknown, spiritual reality, which controlled the lives of men and demanded human obedience to its moral precepts.
“We all know only too well that minor differences in the human visualization of this Spirit frequently became the ostensible reason for human wars, in which both sides claimed to be fighting for the true God, but the absurd narrowness of human conceptions should not blind us to the fact that, very often, both sides believed their campaigns to have a moral background. Genghis Khan, one of the most brutal of all conquerors, claimed that God had delegated him the duty to exterminate the decadent races of the civilized world. Thus the Age of Conquests often had some kind of religious atmosphere, which implied heroic self-sacrifice for the cause.
“But this spirit of dedication was slowly eroded in the Age of Commerce by the action of money. People make money for themselves, not for their country. Thus periods of affluence gradually dissolved the spirit of service, which had caused the rise of the imperial races. In due course, selfishness permeated the community, the coherence of which was weakened until disintegration was threatened. Then, as we have seen, came the period of pessimism with the accompanying spirit of frivolity and sensual indulgence, by-products of despair. It was inevitable at such times that men would look back yearningly to the days of ‘religion,’ when the spirit of self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make men ready to give and to serve, rather than to snatch.
“But while despair might permeate the greater part of the nation, others achieved a new realisation of the fact that only readiness for self-sacrifice could enable a community to survive. Some of the greatest saints in history lived in times of national decadence, raising the banner of duty and service against the flood of depravity and despair.
“In this manner, at the height of vice and frivolity the seeds of religious revival are quietly sown. After, perhaps, several generations (or even centuries) of suffering, the impoverished nation has been purged of its selfishness and its love of money, religion regains its sway and a new era sets in.”
At no point in his essay, particularly under the heading of religion, did Sir John say anything at all about “an aversion to marriage,” or “an increased divorce rate.” He wrote nothing at all about undermining “family stability,” or in fact, anything related to any particular religious creed. These are projections by others who lack Glubb’s ability to step outside their own world view and look at the author’s writing objectively. The underlying theme of this portion of Sir John’s essay is actually almost completely contrary to the spirit of evangelical propaganda in the UCG article, especially considering his comments about “…we all know only too well, that minor differences in human visualization of this Spirit frequently become the reason for human wars, in which both sides claim to be fighting for the true God, but the absurd narrowness of human conception should not blind us to the fact that, very often, both sides believed the conflict to have a moral background…”
The moral of looking at “religious decline” as an indicator of the decline of empire, in Glubb’s thesis, has nothing to do with the morality of a particular religion’s morality, or even with a particular god. Instead, it refers to a morality that has been common across cultures, throughout the collective human experience, regardless of epoch or declared religious beliefs. The morality in question is one that arises in the early epochs of empire, during the Age of Conquest. This is a morality of heroic self- sacrifice for the benefit of the tribe. This is eroded during the mercantile phase of empire, as the quest for individual gain and profit take precedence over the spirit of community that allowed the tribe to gain dominance over its rivals and decadent predecessors. The simple fact is, as Glubb stated, “people make money for themselves, not for their country,” regardless of labeling it “patriotic.” He defined the erosion of religious fervor as a decline in the moral supremacy of the spirit of service, and a rise in the spirit of selfishness.
This selfishness eventually pervades the community, weakening the fabric of society by destroying the bonds of mutual self-sacrifice and sense of community, until total disintegration threatens. During this time of despair, “…it is inevitable that men should look back yearningly to the days of ‘religion,’ when the spirit of self-sacrifice was still strong enough to make men ready to give and to serve, rather than to snatch.” It is out of the reawakened yearning for some “ol’ time religion,” and a morality of community service, that the seeds of a ‘religious’ revival are sown, Sir John argued. Unfortunately, as we can see in the excerpts above from the UCG article, too often, people with a vested interest other than the good of the community are more than willing to twist that yearning to fit their own goals and agendas, doing nothing of real substance to remedy the problem.
In America today, even as the more militant evangelical Christian element within the body politic seeks a “return” of the “ol’ time religion” of their particular brand of fervent Protestantism, and a theocracy based on Biblical Law that—too often—they apparently don’t even understand, despite their professed support for the “natural, God-given right” of “freedom of conscience,” we are actually seeing a resurgence of the type of ‘religious’ revival that Glubb was actually referring to; that is, a resurgence in the longing for—and actual action towards fulfilling that longing—a sense of real community, even as the mercantilist factions of our society continue to push the capitalist-collectivist meme of “the rugged individualist” to keep people focused on wealth and luxury instead.
Americans have begun—in ever increasing numbers—to recognize the concerted efforts being made against them to weaken their communities, their families, their spirits, and their bodies, in the imperial grasp to maintain hegemony. More and more people are beginning to recognize that the “bread and circuses” they are being offered are intended to fatten them into the docility of sheep, rather than allowing them to act on their recognition that “shit just ain’t right!”
The commercialized and politicized push for multiculturalism and globalization are really nothing more than the destruction of ethnic historical cultures, in order to replace them, not with the homogeneous American culture, but with a “one-world, one (consumer) culture.” It is a synthetic religion of the marketplace, where people are expected to worship whomever or whatever the celebrities and politicians tell them they should like this week. Money and material gain have become the primary aim of society, with family, children, and service to the community of kith and kin, becoming nothing more than burdens that interfere with that self-indulgence.
Like Plato, Marx, and Engels, the imperial class today views family, motherhood, and traditional gender roles to be as much a hindrance to the imperial global economy as they consider nation-state borders a barrier to world trade. In 1884, with the publication of The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, Friedrich Engels argued—inaccurately—that in man’s barbarian, preliterate past, there had been no difference in gender roles. This is as nonsensical—and science proves it daily— as the rest of his socialist nonsense was.
Since the beginning of human evolutionary development, the sexes have had distinct roles. Men were the providers and women stayed home and took care of the household. This contributed both to family stability, and the survival of the culture. Civilization during the Age of Conquest, is built as much on the ability of the conquering culture to breed new generations of soldiers as it is solely on the might of the sword arm. In the American experience—mirroring that of its parental British Empire— the necessity to replace the recalcitrant, indigenous “barbarian” tribes with colonizing families was equally important. When the first explorers, fur trappers/traders, and soldiers arrived on scene, the Indians managed to maintain control of their territories, even if they lost some—or most—fights. Many of those first adventurers even ended up marrying into the indigenous tribes and adopting their culture. It wasn’t until settlers began showing up—with women and children in tow—that the expansion of the imperial culture was brought to bear.
It is during the mercantile Age of Commerce of the empire, following the consolidation of the Age of Conquest, that the power brokers of the imperial oligarchy begin realizing the importance of breaking down family loyalties and replacing them with a primary loyalty to the State. In ancient Rome this started with the lionization of pleasure: from orgies and accepted infidelity and pederasty, anything that weakened the fiber of the fabric of family—destroying the natural bonds between father, mother, and children—was encouraged. Following Christianization, the State used the Scriptural admonition of Luke 14:25-26, “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yeah, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple,” to encourage the same thing, through the medium of the State Church.
In our own time, we see the drive to bring both parents into the workforce, “liberating” women from the traditional bonds of home and child-rearing. By doing so, they double the potential workforce, allowing wages to be driven downward through competitiveness, even as the advertising market pushes parents to “spend, spend, spend” to replace the nurturing and caring of an absentee mother with material goods. We see commercial television encouraging it, by showcasing programming that features youth rebelling successfully against their parents with rewarding outcomes.
The children find themselves shuttled off to preschools, grade schools, and secondary schools, where they spend 13+ years of the most formative portion of their development being indoctrinated into a collectivist, commercialized culture of materialism, without ever really having the opportunity to know their parents as anything beyond “the people who gave me stuff.” They are locked into artificial restraints of age-peer groups, and conditioned via Pavlovian techniques and fear, to blindly obey the commands and decrees of strangers, lest they incur the penalties of detentions, expulsions, or bad marks on their “permanent records!”
Fortunately, more and more people seem to be experiencing Glubb’s ‘religious’ reawakening. We see this in the growing popularity of the ancestral health movement, despite the vehement protests of industry-financed “scientists” extolling the importance of genetically-modified organisms (GMO) and the monopolization and industrialization of modern agriculture. We see young families from mainstream, WASP America, willing to bypass the budgetary convenience of the global supermarket chains like Wal-Mart’s SuperCenters, preferring instead to search out and purchase—even at greater expense that negatively impacts their ability to collect more of the “stuff” that society tells them they should want—locally grown organic meats and vegetables produced on small-scale, sustainable family farms. Suburban, white-bread, minivan-driving soccer moms are recognizing that at least three generations of Americans have been weakened, physically, mentally, and spiritually, through the contribution of processed, industrialized “foods” that offered no real benefit, instead simply weakening and fattening them, keeping them pliant and ready for the economic fleecing and slaughter by their betters.
These typical, normal Americans—from all walks of life and all classes of society—are leaping, wholeheartedly, into the struggle to seek a healthier, more natural way of life in an attempt to return strength and vigor to their families, even as they move away from the conditioned urge towards profligate spending on meaningless, commercialized “stuff.” People are waking up to the weakening of their physical and mental health, and the health of their communities, through the intentional dulling of their natural physical competitiveness—the very spirit that ensured the survival of their ancestors and the growth of the American empire—by replacing their natural physical vigor that were hereditary gifts of their ancestors, with the artifice of the “ethic” of supporting “my team” of overpaid performing clowns in professional sports.
They have embraced fitness and competition, even in the often criticized “Sport of Fitness,” as Crossfit bills itself. For all the negativity that so many heap onto the ancestral health movement in general, and Crossfit specifically, it should be apparent that they are revolutionary, in the literal, political sense of the word as a “turning back.” The entire ancestral health movement has long since passed the stage of development that would allow it to be accurately dismissed as a mere fad. The oligarchic class certainly recognizes it, and we can witness that recognition in their attempts to subvert it. From the availability of organic produce and grass-fed beef at Wal-Mart, to the purchase of the Crossfit brand by sports apparel giant Reebok, and the arrival of “natural foods” supermarket chains like Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers, the mercantile class is not only trying to subvert the ancestral health movement, they are trying to do so by leveraging it for their own financial benefit.
These are ‘religious’ revivals in the sense of religion that Glubb was referring to. The word religion is derived from the Latin word religere, meaning “to reconnect.” These “religions” are attempts by people to reconnect with their cultural past, that they intuitively recognize as more resilient than the falling facades of the decadence of declining imperial grandeur. They restore a sense of community and tribal connections in people. Look at the proclivity of outsiders to label Crossfit and the Paleo/Primal diets as “cultish” for example. Even many of the most avid Crossfit athletes I know refer to the other members of their “boxes” as “family” and “tribe.” These religions reflect the reborn yearning for “ol’ time religion” not in the sense of worshiping a particular deity, but in the seeking of traditional values of family and community identity. These are movements that actively encourage the intentional reconstruction of community, by encouraging the participation of the whole family.
None of this however, should be taken as an insult to religion as it is generally recognized—worship and veneration of a particular deity or a group of deities. Religion—genuine religion, in the sense of a reconnection to something greater than the self—is a critical part of surviving the decline we’re experiencing, as Glubb noted in the excerpt above, and as we will discuss in greater detail later in this work. There are churches that offer this, and it is my firm conviction that, for believers, those churches and the community they provide will form an important bridge for connection.
The final indicator of imperial decline that Sir John discussed was the rise of the welfare state. He explained that the decline of empire is often brought on during the period of decadence, when the people—comfortable in their own wealth, and smug in their inherent superiority over the rest of mankind—feel an urge towards philanthropy, and sympathy towards the “less fortunate.” This was expressed during the colonial periods of European empire as the “white man’s burden.” The Christian nations of Europe accepted their duty as a result of their “inherent superior values as civilized peoples,” to go forth and not only subdue the barbarians of the world for economic exploitation, but to convert them to the True Faith of Civilization, that peace might reign on Earth…how’d that work out?
This impression of eternal superiority due to divine favor, and a belief in the never ceasing increase in wealth, thanks to the beneficence of technology, leads the people of the climactic empire to lavishly spread its wealth on all those unfortunate souls so unlucky as to have not been born the natural inheritors of the inherent superiority conferred by natural-born citizenship—whether those unfortunate souls recognized their misfortune or not. On the domestic front, this is characterized by the obscene largess of the political patricians giving away other people’s money to buy votes—while conveniently, keeping their own positions of wealthy control—while on the foreign front, it is most often characterized either through foreign aid to hostile regimes, or wars of intervention to overthrow local governments, in the interest of spreading the control of imperial hegemony—in the modern, American
lexicon, “spreading democracy” is “the white man’s burden.”
The Left views this absurdly suicidal benevolence towards others as a moral imperative, to balance the “unfair” blessings bestowed on our inherently superior American culture by Progress. The opposition on the Right meanwhile, views the same benevolence as either a “Christian Duty,” to spread the profit of Faith or as a form of capitalist charity, to bring the blessings of commercialized, material culture to the unwashed heathens, in order to get them to spend money to make corporations richer.
Ironically, the Mohammedan Caliphate was even more generous with other people’s money than the modern American government. By the ninth-century, the ruling, pure-bred Arab class had become outnumbered by the very cosmopolitan population of the empire. State assistance however was still very generous to both the young and the poor. University students were given government grants to fund their very extravagant lifestyles, while they partied their way through their studies. The coffee houses of Baghdad were open forums for collegial debates, much like Starbucks has become in our own epoch. The poor received medical care from tax-funded “free” hospitals that the government built and funded, from Spain to what is now Pakistan. It was their “Islamic Duty,” as servants of Allah, for the Mohammedans to demonstrate the beneficence of the blessings of Allah to their less fortunate neighbors and countrymen.
The same welfare state culture exists in America today, except we’ve taken it one giant leap further, and actually fund the very enemies of our empire as we send unimaginably vast amounts of money, food, and even military equipment, to the very countries—full of poor, hungry, marginalized, and aggressive barbarians, chomping at the bit to wreak havoc and take over—that call for our destruction.
There is an important distinction that has to be made of course, between imposition of the welfare state, and the spirit of service to the community. The pioneering, conquering spirit of service to the community is not about handing shit out for free to others in your community and nation. It’s about creating opportunities for them to advance themselves, through their own efforts. Certainly, a short- term helping hand can be seen in the pioneering age of every great culture. That is not the same thing as providing a subsidized living for the lazy and stupid.
The End Of The World As We Know It
There is a growing recognition at a visceral level, that “shit just ain’t right.” At both a conscious and unconscious level, people are beginning to awaken to the fact that the current situation is simply unsustainable. From the social phenomenon of zombie culture to the increasingly mainstream popularity of dystopian fiction adventures like the Hunger Games and Divergent series of books and their spin-off movies for young adults, we can see the recognition occurring in even the most childish acolytes of both progressivism and nationalism, that “shit just ain’t right.” Even within the oligarchic reaches of the Patrician classes of our own society, there is recognition of this. These blockbuster novels and the film adaptations are not being produced to encourage the overthrow of the system. Rather, they are the same panem et circenses as professional sports—a pressure-relief outlet for the growing feelings of anger and disenfranchisement, via vicarious rebellion.
We can recognize intellectually, the occurrence of the common indicators of imperial decline that
parallel events in historical imperial cultures. All of the signs indicate that the American Empire is dying. We can feel to the depths of our marrow, in the growing disquiet and unease that are ever more apparent in the social discourse, that “shit ain’t right.” The question that must sensibly arise then, is “so what?” Not in the frivolous sense of “who gives a shit?” That answer is self-evident. I care, or I would not be writing this. You care, or you would not be reading it. Others care, or the discussion would not be arising with increasing frequency in every venue.
No, the question that arises is, “so, what….can we do to remedy the situation?” The short answer, of course, is “not a fucking thing.” The decline into decay is so far along that any attempt to return to “America” would require methods that would result in a very different “America” than any of us would care to experience. That’s what happened when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and the Roman Republic became a dictatorial empire overnight.
I suppose, if it fits your belief system, you could pray for a return of divine favor and intervention. I would hasten to point out—again—however, that every great culture has resorted to attempts— sometimes absolutely horrific attempts by our moral standards, to propitiate the gods, as they recognized that their culture was dying. Even if you believe their failure was because of a lack of belief in your “One, True God,” I would hasten to remind your that both the Roman Empire and the British Empire were Christian empires. I can guarantee you, as the decline of their empire became self-evident, a huge percentage of good, god-fearing Christian housewives of Britannia prayed fervently for a divine reversal of fortune, to no avail. It’s a given that the faithful of the Caliphate made their five daily prayers, hoping for some sort of emergency intercession from Allah. The Caliphate still found itself tossed so far back into savage darkness that it’s just now recognizing its ability to spread aggressively again. Do you want to wait a millenium for America to be resurgent? Perhaps, rather than looking for divine intercession, we should be looking for more proactive solutions.
It is interesting that, in The Fate of Empires, Glubb hastens to point out that the decadence that signals the collapse of culture is a decadence of the civilization, and not necessarily of the individual citizenry. The character and vigor of the society is corrupted and softened by the comfort of its riches. The people—as a culture—become selfish, lazy, and idle; a community of selfishness necessarily falls into a cultural state of indolence and apathy about anything except the division of the rapidly diminishing available wealth. The people become far more concerned about increasing—or at least maintaining—their individual material wealth and comfortable luxury than they are in recognizing, let alone displaying, the ardor that their ancestors displayed in building an empire through the strength of blood and iron. Within this torpor of moral and physical vigor however, there is no way for the people to redirect their thoughts and energies. There are exceptions though. In Rome, a school of philosophy arose called Stoicism, that recognized this weakening and sought, within its adherents, to reverse those trends by encouraging them to not become overly focused on the luxuries.
When individual members—or small groups of individuals, such as families or companies of companions—of the declining culture emigrate however, and find themselves in new surroundings, where the material luxuries are not as readily accessible, they do not remain discernibly dissolute. Once they have separated themselves from the depravity of their native culture, and have endured a short period of integration into the new ways of thinking mandated by their new surroundings, they discover —from the necessity of sheer human survival instinct—a renewed vigor and thirst for the necessary virtues of community service, energy, hardiness, and other pioneering virtues.
The decline into decadence then, Glubb argues, does not necessarily undermine the inherent cultural character of its members, despite the common complaint among seemingly every generation as it ages that, “today’s kids are useless.” He posits that, transported out of the decadence of their old environment, they soon discard the corruption of laziness, and prove their worth as the equals of their ancestors.
There is further hope in Sir John’s conclusions that the degeneration of decadence is not physical. While the citizens of an empire are often criticized by internal critics as being too physically emasculated to bear real hardship or endure great efforts, the reality seems to be that any emasculation is simply a moral and spiritual shortcoming. The citizens of Rome, when compared the Celto-Germanic hordes, being one of the exceptions that proves the rules—sort of—typically, Glubb points out, the citizens of the empire are actually of a larger physical stature than the enemies at the gate.
While this is obvious in the fleshy corpulence of modern America, Glubb specifically cited the experiences of the British Army in World War One, when young men of the gentry, raised in the luxury of late imperial wealth, found little difficulty in accommodating themselves to life in the trenches39. Men who were accustomed to easy, comfortable living in the parlors of modern homes in England managed to display a hardiness and endurance to equal the natives in riding camels across the deserts of Arabia. If ever a milquetoast product of decadence made good as a man of action, it was T.E. Lawrence of Arabia. Of course, looking back at my previous comment about the corpulence of Americans, we can see—some of us were—the self-indulgent youth of post-modern American imperial decline, go on and rebuild themselves into the physical and mental image of the mythic heroes of epic history, and achieve astounding feats in combat.
Therein lies the answer to “so, what?” The masses of the Plebeian class may sit idly by, comfortable in their decadence, blindly hoping for a postponement of the inevitable, satisfied—even as the world burns around them—the the reassurance of their Patrician leaders that “Progress will never cease!” and/or “We’re protected by the blessing of Almighty God!” As people awaken to the visceral reality of the crumbling infrastructure of empire however, more and more people are beginning to feel obligated to act towards the preservation of their traditional customs and values. Any person who values their family, and is unwilling to see their family destroyed on the altar of the invasion of alien, foreign cultural values overtaking our way of life, bears the burden of releasing themselves from the comfortable fantasy that ignorance equals avoidance. They must take up the yoke of the hero. We cannot place the fate of our futures, or the futures of our children and grandchildren, or the legacies of their pasts, in the hands of some ephemeral, fantastic “hope.” We must grab the opportunity presented by the decline of decadent imperial culture and the degeneration of the individual, and “emigrate’ outside the decadence of the collapsing culture, to either rebuild the culture, or—more valuable—to build a new culture that enshrines the best of the old, while being more resilient. The barriers that present themselves are fear and ignorance, but those are walls that are easily scaled and breached.