All downhill from here?

November 2nd, 2002

John Robb laments the state of American politics, power and greed.

I’ve been thinking lately about the American Empire and empires throughout history, their rises and falls. I think the intensity of America’s success and supremity and the advances in communications, technology and war could well combine to shorten the natural duration of this empire in relation to those which preceded it. As a Canadian, I’m no less affected.

If we were to assume that like all other empires, America’s fortunes will follow the pattern of rise, sustain, fall, it follows that there will be events surrounding which future historians will mark the turning points where rise ended, decline started and various milestones in between.

It is my considered opinion that a number of issues in the past two years are accumulating to become elements that are signalling to me what could be the beginning of a (perhaps the) big decline.

  • Homeland Security measures which trample constitutional freedoms
  • Congress giving the President the unilateral ability to declare war
  • Micrsoft’s DOJ Settlement
  • Congress-supported Patent and Copyright excesses threatening to destroy the intellectual commons.

All of these things demonstrate a shift away from the one principle that allowed America to thrive: Don’t let power or greed concentrate in the hands of the few.

Communism tried to do the same by decreeing that power and greed were nonexistent, thus ensuring that they were the two most powerful factors in their society.

American law and society has been cautiously accepting of ambition, greed, and power in manageable amounts. The framers of the Constitution knew that the wise course is to place limits and enforce them. Recent events are demonstrating a lack of commitment on the part of the current keepers of the Constitution to resist pressure to remove these limits. Even worse, sometimes I’m starting to think there is pressure from within.

One comment to “All downhill from here?”

  1. As an American expatriate who has been a citizen of Canada for 25 years, I have been thinking lately about why people think I “hate America.” I agree with your perceptions of the beginnings of the decline of the American empire; one factor you have missed is the hypocricy of the culture, that pretends to stand for the pinnacle of human achievement but in truth is based on greed, recognized for millenia as a fatal defect.