The End of America


Photo from Cole Thomas; public domain image

Just as the Roman Empire eventually collapsed, leaving behind chaos and empty ruins, America and her empire will eventually succumb to the structural faults she is built on.

No empire can last forever. Eventually, all that they were and all that they accomplished crumbles into the annals of history, leaving behind sombering ruins of their golden age. So it was for the Romans and the Maya; so it is for the United States. 

The failings of America have never been made so clear as during the coronavirus pandemic. In what seemed to be an economic freefall, millions of Americans found themselves out of work as business dried up and closed their windows. All levels of government seemed to be crippled in their response to the virus.

People elected to lead took action. But they did not warn the American people; they profited off their early knowledge of what was to come. People like Kelly Loeffer, the junior senator from Georgia, who used her access to private coronavirus briefings and the knowledge they bestowed in order to sell stocks and enrich herself, are emblematic of the entire reaction to the coronavirus. 

There was no plan, no unified direction. Business and schools panicked, forced to individually decide how to respond. 

Some of the most respected medical professionals in America, scrambling to hide their drastic unpreparedness, told US citizens that masks were not necessary despite the recommendations of their use in China. According to The Atlantic magazine, when it finally became a recommendation, there were no masks to be had. No ventilators. No test kits. No PPE. Desperate states, hung out to dry by the federal government, began to fall prey to gouged prices and destructive bidding wars, The Atlantic reported.  

 For the first time in a very long time, the very core of America had been threatened. For those raised in America, enveloped by the myth of American Exceptionalism, the unthinkable began to happen — foreign governments began to send aid to the United States. 

Many will lay the blame at President Trump’s feet. They see him as the angel of death, laying waste to American civil society. There is some truth to this. Trump is indeed an evil man, and his reign has been a cancer for the American proletariat. 

It would be incorrect, however, to view Trump as the cause of America’s rapid descent. Trump is more correctly viewed as the logical outcome of the neoliberal mindset that has for so long ruled our politics. Neoliberalism, despite being something that governs much of our lives today and the prevailing global order, is something that many people struggle to define. A lot of this confusion stems from the fact that even professionals use the term in different contexts to mean different things. While there is no one perfection definition, neoliberalism can be best understood as a political program that arose in the 1970s that attempted to increase profitability (for the global elite) by decentralizing and ruthlessly deregulating national economies, while mercilessly privatizing state assets/functions and drastically cutting taxes.

 Trump accelerated the process of stripping away the foundations of the American state for the profit of the rich and powerful. Across the board, on all levels of government over a span of many years, funding was cut for services the government provides, and resources moved to the private sector. 

The reasons for the coming collapse of the American Empire are as difficult to understand as the collapse of the Roman Empire. Every bit of information has its own story attached to it that needs its own analysis. But in short, there are two driving forces for the decline of America, both connected to the evil of neoliberalism. 

The first is America’s personality. Many Americans fail to understand how deeply poisoned the very soul of our nation is. The myths of rugged individualism and American Exceptionalism have withered the heart of America, leaving a sickened husk behind. 

In America, you have no community. The community structures have been commodified or discarded by capital as it searches for more and more avenues to develop. The truth of real, existing capitalism forces us to view others as competitors. Whatever you get, I don’t get. It’s no surprise then that there is a breakdown in public trust, and the very fabric of society is pulling itself apart. 

This is the societal effect of neoliberalism. When the ideology of competition and profit is internalized, societies are poisoned. 

The full effects of this poison can be seen today in groups such as QAnon. These are people who have a fundamentally different understanding of reality; we couldn’t reconcile our differences if we wanted to. These once-fringe conspiracy theorists are being elevated to elected positions. Their followers are armed and have been shown to be able to mobilize on a dime.

 These groups are again, not the cause of the collapse but a symptom. Where are people to turn when communities have been turned into commodities, when violence has become the language of choice for their empire, and wealth is squeezed out of them by the parasites of capital? Confused and bewildered, they lash out at those they are told hurt them: minorities like immigrants, African-Americans and Jewish people. 

 No healthy society functions like this. 

The second force driving our downward spiral is the fundamental economics our nation is based on. According to the Next System Project’s index of systemic trends, wages have stagnated and are essentially the same today as they were in 1970, even as the amount of wealth we are producing skyrockets. The poverty rate has hovered around 13% since 1970 too. Unbelievably, the child poverty rate is actually higher than the overall rate, at 21%. 

According to Rolling Stone, some people across the nation take two jobs in order to pay unreasonably high rent. Many cannot afford healthcare. The 1% control $30 trillion in assets while the bottom 50% has more debt than assets. The three richest men in our country have more money than the poorest 160 million. A fifth of American households have negative net worth. Most Americans are two paychecks away from bankruptcy. We are dangling from a thread and there is nothing to catch us when we fall. This is simply unsustainable.

So where does that leave us? There is no doubt in my mind that the American Empire will eventually collapse and become another chapter in history. However, such powerful empires do not usually end quickly and dramatically. The British Empire did not suddenly collapse; it still technically exists to this day. The Roman Empire did not fall after a disastrous battle. It instead withered slowly over hundreds of years until there was simply nothing left.  

The American Empire may very well be around for quite some time. Yet for those living in it, just as it was for the Romans, things will continue to get a little bit worse with each passing day.