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Superpowers aren’t impressive.
Italy, Greece, Ethiopia, Egypt, Britain, Spain, Portugal; they’ve all ruled the world for a time before sliding back to just regular-ol’-nation status.
Now it’s America’s turn.
The United States is going to collapse.
This isn’t a fear-mongering statement.
Just a fact.
Everyone knows it.
Whether in five years or fifty, the days of America-as-global-superpower are numbered.
In the same way that Rome pulled back its troops from Alexandria in Egypt and the Scottish borders in Britain, the American military-industrial complex will continue the work started in Afghanistan and eventually withdraw its 800 global military bases in order to make a last-ditch effort to enslave its own people in a soft-totalitarian panopticon surveillance state.
And then it will collapse.
Diehard nationalists insist it could never happen, but the signs of American collapse are obvious:
1. Wealth inequality
American income inequality is growing, too.
Higher than the Roman Empire’s, in fact.
The stats on wealth inequality are crazy. Please read them all.
Nevermind the Gilded Age of corporate tyrants like Vanderbilt and Carnegie and Rockefeller — today’s billionaires control more wealth and political power than the monopolists of the past could ever have dreamed.
And while extreme right-wingers are quick to shout “Communism! Socialism!” they fail to realize we’re not advocating central ownership or central control of the economy. That’s what billionaires are working on.
The numbers are staggering:
America has nearly $29 trillion in federal debt.
Total consumer debt sits at $14.9 trillion.
Half a million American families are systemically forced into bankruptcy every year.
Don’t listen to those nutty Modern Monetary Theory boosters who think we can pile up debt forever and it will never destroy our society.
The bell will toll, and it will toll for us.
Don’t get me wrong, the MMTers are technically right — we can print money forever. But every unbacked printed dollar erodes trust and purchasing power.
When society is built on a literal lie, it’s only a matter of time before it falls.
3. Economic Instability
Because of how hyper-elites have structured the economy, we’re stuck with permanent economic instability — insane asset bubbles, followed by massive crashes that hurt those who a.) didn’t benefit in the good times, and b.) suffer most in the bad times.
While it’s never occurred to the corporations who control our countries, people want to live in economically stable places.
Because America refuses to deliver on true, long-term economic stability for the majority, it’s no wonder we’re currently seeing a national strike, and why many of us with the power to do so have already moved overseas.
4. Homeownership in Crisis
I’ve been sounding the alarm on this one for a while — people have no idea the tidal wave that’s about to shatter the American middle class once and for all.
House prices are going to $10 million in our lifetime, and if we don’t ban for-profit residential real estate investment and overthrow the corrupt zoning boards that keep young families from building homes they can afford, we will see a houselessness crisis never witnessed before in human history.
5. Crony Corporate Politics
Democracy, of course, has never existed in America, but the corporate oligarchy now owns Congress lock, stock, and barrel.
There’s honestly no point in voting unless it’s with your money.
6. Environmental Instability
When I was younger, my wife and I visited Tikal in Guatemala, the New York City of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.
They destroyed their environment, and then it destroyed them.
It’s really simple: Nations that don’t protect people, wildlife, soil, water, and air eventually go extinct.
It’s not personal, it’s science.
As commenter Nikos Papakonstantinou put it:
You can’t eat, drink, or breathe money.
It takes 1,000 years for nature to grow 3cm of topsoil, and America has managed to burn through several feet in the past century.
Now, America only has sixty harvests left.
(An excellent book on the topic is Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilization.)
7. The Vampire Economy
Let’s face it, the American productive economy is dead.
Most of the major brands are zombie companies that burn cash and have never been profitable a day in their short-lived corporate lives.
Rather than producing products and services of real value, corporate America is just a giant game of extractivism, a dung pile of rent-seeking skimmers who blood-suck time and wealth from the productive poor while contributing nothing of real value:
Crypto speculators who would rather treat Bitcoin as a Ponzi scheme instead of freedom money to stave off abhorrent central bank surveillance currencies.
When a nation stops creating real value and starts eating itself like a snake, its days are mathematically numbered.
8. Mass Hysteria
Looking at you, anti-vaxxers.
And cancel culturists.
And people who vote for Republicans and Democrats.
America is now filled with conspiracy theorists and people who draw the line and refuse to dialogue with people outside of their own box. This signals a total breakdown in personal understanding, civic goodwill, institutional trust, and national unity.
9. Screen Addiction
The invention of the smartphone will surely go down in history as one of the most destructive pieces of technology ever invented.
Homo sapiens are in no way adapted for the super-stimulus of digital outputs.
Just wait until Gen Z and Gen Alpha are in charge.
America is a culture (from the Latin cultus, where we derive the word “cult”) built on the myth of rugged individualism, of “one for me, and all for me.”
It’s a dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest, winner-take-all, loser-dies-in-poverty cult where the rich prey on the poor and the masses suffer so the elites can live a little better a little longer.
America is a piece of glass that has been shattered into 331 million shards, each stabbing the next in a frantic fight for survival.
Only a hard fire can forge the pieces back together.
There are those who believe a Canadian living in Europe shouldn’t have the right to comment on America at all, but of course, those people are usually nationalists who fail to see we live in a hyper-connected world where everyone’s choices affect everyone else. The failure to understand this is yet another symptom of hyper-individualism.
America is a fractured, atomized nation, with each member so hell-bent on self-actualization, obsessed with concocting a singularly unique identity, and blinded by the idea that autonomy and freedom are the same thing.
Because the nation cannot fathom it shares one common freedom, it simply cannot surrender any amount of selfhood to the collective, despite the fact that human togetherness is the #1 thing correlated to human happiness.
The end isn’t the end
All empires fall. It’s a non-negotiable. It’s just a matter of when, how, and how hard.
Collapse doesn’t mean disappearance.
And it doesn’t necessarily mean a total dystopian hellscape like the Book of Eli.
But it does mean a loss of global superpower status and all the unfair advantages that came along with it, like currency supremacy and cheap goods. It means a country seriously diminished, greatly impoverished, wracked with crime and disease and exploitation, and subject to the whims of foreign corporatists hell-bent on extraction.
You know, like much of the rest of the world.
Normally, my articles outline a challenge facing society and offer some proposals for how to fix it. This is one of those rare posts that just points out the macro factors that will lead to the inevitable fall of America.
Collapse shouldn’t sit well with readers.
Everyone needs to be working on solutions. (And yes, peacefully turning the American landmass into a dozen or so new nations is highly preferable to a bloody second civil war.)
The goal, of course, shouldn’t be to maintain a hyper-violent military empire and coercive global economic grasp on others. It’s time for new ideas, and ancient ideas, and real servant-hearted leadership, and working together.
We shouldn’t mourn the loss of corporate-controlled America as the global superpower. It’s a monstrous menace to global freedom and widest-spread wellbeing.
Now, does that mean this is China’s century?
They already own America’s largest pork producer, and Canada’s largest dairy farm, but a third of their domestic economy is a giant real estate bubble that could seriously slow their growth.
China’s rise to global super-power will all depend on their continued colonization of Africa and their ability to debt-trap the world via their Belt and Road Initiative — practicing capitalism abroad to enforce fake communism at home.
Clearly, the world doesn’t need or want a conformist culture to dictate global policy. People often say that America is still the world’s “best hope for freedom.” But as billions of people who’ve endured the heavy hammer of the American military-industrial complex can attest, it’s simply not true.
Modern corporate America doesn’t equal hope. No self-centered human institution can ever deliver the freedom that people truly need.
Don’t worry, America itself isn’t going anywhere
After all, Rome’s as gorgeous as ever.
And Athens is amazing, albeit under-maintained.
America the superpower is waning, but that doesn’t mean Concord won’t always be a gorgeous place to visit.
Texas will probably always be the BBQ capital of the world (or at least until the radical left bans meat or the radical right makes beef-raising an environmental impossibility.)
Maybe Canada or Mexico will annex America and finally provide free healthcare to the poor?
And if the fifty states decide to split up, which they almost certainly will in time, you never know if a united Maine and New Hampshire might rule a world in desperate need of lumber and freshwater.
Or maybe we just don’t need superpowers anymore.
Maybe it’s time for Tinyism and a million little democracies.
Either way, the United States of America won’t be around to see it happen.