America is the new Rome. Late Republican Rome (not the best of times)
Summary: The past decade has taught us much about America, with its two recessions and the war on terror. A new vision slowly emerges of America, its people, and our future.
“What’s past is prologue.”
— Antonio, in Act II Scene 1 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare
No consumption of sports, porn, and drugs can conceal the bad news: The Constitution (and the Regime based on it) is dying. And the worse news: we’re the weak link in the Republic. Like in the last days of the Roman Republic, we find the burden of self-government too heavy. Then as now natura abhorret a vacuo. No throne remains empty for long, and we already see powerful elites jousting for supreme power. Already they have configured the government, and especially the tax code (federal, state, local), to concentrate wealth and income in their hands.
Nothing can save America until we change. And the mystery of reformation lies beyond the ken of our social scientists. Perhaps only large-scale turmoil can reawaken our spirit, although that did nothing for the Roman Republic (nothing good, that is). Sans that, the best we can hope for are efficient and merciful tyrants.
Polls show our loss of confidence in America’s institutions. Compare the Gallup polls asking “how much confidence you have in our institutions” from 1999 and from 2010. Especially note that loss of confidence in the 3 branches of government. In percentage points.
- the medical system: unchanged
- public schools: -2%
- newspapers: -8%
- organized labor: -8%
- church: -10%
- big business: -11%
- the presidency: -13%
- TV news: -14%
- Congress: -15%
- the supreme court: -13%
- banks: -20%
Our confidence has increased in a few institutions. Can you guess which ones?
- the police: +2
- the criminal justice system: +4
- the military: +8
These show us to be a fearful people. These are fitting results for the nation ranked #1 in per cent of its population in prison, fifth in the number of executions, and spending more than the rest of the world combined on foreign intelligence and the military. Perhaps we should adopt the deathless motto of people fearing the future: “Come the revolution we’ll be ready!”
The rational response of our sages is despair, as seen in these examples:
- Fred Reed, one of America’s few gurus. Formerly giving words of hope, now sharing his gloom. As in his latest article here.
- Chris Floyd gives a cogent description of our situation in “The Altars of Fear: Wrong Turns on a Long, Dark Road“
- South Park — For the first dozen years episodes usually ended on an upbeat note. No longer. Eroded away by a harsh reality, now they come to bleak conclusions. Such as in this episode.
- Almost any article by Glenn Greenwald, such as “Collapsing empire watch“ (no real expert in constitutional law can read current news without tears)
America will be whatever we wish it to be. Together we have the necessary strength, whatever the weak and doomsters might say. We lack only the will.
For more information
Looking back to see our future:
- Caesar: A Biography by Christian Meier (1996)
- Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland (2005)
All posts about this are listed on the FM reference page America – how can we reform it? Here are some posts about the American spirit:
- Forecast: Death of the American Constitution
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment)
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”
- The intelligentsia takes easy steps to abandoning America
- This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are)
- About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep
- Are we citizens? Or peasants?
- A famous guest speaker visits the FM site to tell us that we are not weak — we are strong
- A great artist died today. We can gain inspiration from his words.
- Matt Taibbi helps us see ourselves, and the leaders we elect to run America
- Who can we trust to defend our liberty? Will our culture’s rot spread to the military?