PATRICK LAWRENCE: Embracing the Equality of Nations

The decline of the West should come as no surprise, yet the U.S. still wages a ferocious fight against the prospect of equality among nations. 

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, July 3, 2020, Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, S.D. (White House, Tia Dufour)

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

The signs of America’s decline are ubiquitous now such that the phenomenon is no longer worthy of debate.

China, Japan, South Korea; Italy, Spain, Germany, the Danes and Norwegians  — Asia and Europe all gain control of the Covid–19 pandemic even as the U.S., by the newest numbers, is back where it was during the worst of it last spring.

This is systemic failure next to systemic success, plain and simple.

We face a leadership failure, too — again, as others do not. President Donald Trump was not wrong, during his Mount Rushmore speech last Friday, to note the frightening illiberality of American liberals. But there was something disturbingly Mussolini-esque in his language, his gestures, his defiance of reality — altogether the portentous dynamic one saw between an ignorant figurehead and a crowd embracing his ignorance as its own.

“The worst are full of passionate intensity,” Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming,” and the worst are either running our republic or propose to run it. Things fall apart: We are collectively responsible for this.

Bitter as our national circumstances are at this moment, let us not miss the larger reality of which they are expressions. Read properly, America’s decline is a subset of the decline of the West. The phrase is Oswald Spengler’s, of course — the title of a two-volume work he published a century ago. If the German historian got as much wrong as right, he was spot on in identifying our Western-centric understanding of history as a Faustian fallacy that would eventually bite us on the backside.

We are now living through the epochal turn Spengler’s thesis implied. All that befalls us and all our leaders do — our failed response to the Covid–19 crisis, the collapse of our political institutions, the exposure of our papered-over past, our ever-more-aggressive conduct abroad — is best understood as a function of this historic moment. 

The West’s superiority over the non–West has been a given in the Atlantic world for half a millennium. I take my date from Vasco da Gama’s landing at Calicut, on India’s Malabar Coast, in 1498. From the Portuguese explorer’s first steps in the East and ever since, this presumption has rested primarily on the West’s material preeminence.

Systems of governance, social norms, individual liberties — the East was considered inferior in all such matters. But it was science, technology and industry that mattered most: From these the West derived its power and claimed its right to imperial dominion. Dieu et mon droit, remember?

This claim to historically ordained superiority evaporates as we speak. So is this, our Spenglerian moment. It has been a long moment, let’s say, unfolding for some time. But the Covid­–19 crisis hastens it and brings it into painfully sharp relief. 

21st Century Imperative

Protesters climb over the Berlin Wall, 1989. (Raphaël Thiémard, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Parity between West and non–West is a 21st century imperative, a human destiny no nation can hope to prevent.

Your columnist has argued this (and applauded it) since the Cold War’s end. A wise and imaginative world power would not merely accept this turn of history’s wheel: It would embrace it, recognizing the immense advantage in having more voices from more perspectives address themselves to humanity’s common problems and tasks.

No such good fortune comes to us. The Europeans appear to be at least minimally open to the thought that the era of the West’s “global leadership” — skipping the euphemism, its colonial and postcolonial domination — draws to a close.

This may be an overly optimistic reading, I confess. But it is inarguably the case that the U.S. stands alone in waging so ferocious a fight against the prospect of equality among nations.

Do you think it is coincidence that Washington’s aggressions toward its declared enemies has intensified as America’s failed response to the Covid–19 pandemic becomes too evident to deny? I don’t. Our neoliberal political economy has failed.

Our elevation of individuality into an “ism,” a creed, has failed. Counting from the Reagan presidency, our savaging of our public sector over four decades leaves us looking like a nation of deluded nitwits. The military hardware we worship like cargo cultists proves of no use.

Consider these declared enemies, our latest axis of evil. China, Russia, and Iran are all non–Western nations in unmistakably emergent phases of development. In the advance toward parity with the West, these three are among the leaders.

They all have sturdy state sectors, centralized governments to one or another degree, and extensive social welfare systems. None is immune from domestic turmoil, but none is beset with institutional collapse. And not to be missed: As of Monday, China has 405 active Covid–19 cases on its books; Russia and Iran while their numbers are not nearly  as good, appear to be in recovery mode, bringing their crises under control. 

When the U.S. aggresses toward these nations by way of sanctions, threats of military attack, or a trade war, never mind how it explains itself. In the final analysis it acts in defense of the pretense of Western superiority. It is essential to the preservation of America’s understanding of the world that these nations fail.    

Mike Pompeo, our thickheaded secretary of state, hoes this envy-of-the-world row more or less daily. At issue here is what I call the tyranny of American happiness: The worse we have done, the happier we must declare ourselves. This is our last line of defense against all admissions of failure. How forlorn a nation are we.

Pompeo takes his place in a centuries-long line of thinkers, commentators, travelers, and who have you — some a lot more elevated — who insist on the incontrovertible superiority of the West. It is to those in this tradition our virus-beset moment is bitterest.

When India and China Were Richer

Vasco da Gama arriving in India, 1498. (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal).

Some years ago Angus Maddison, the late and noted British economist, published a study showing that until the brink of the 20th century the Chinese and Indian economies were the world’s largest by considerable margins. The U.S. overtook China in gross domestic product little more than a century ago. To speak of parity, then, is to speak of a return to it. What we witness now would be of little surprise were we not so conditioned to our habit of Orientalism.

Maybe Western Europeans are more cognizant of history’s waves. I read their far superior responses to the Covid–19 crisis as an indication they can still think for themselves after decades of marching to Washington’s orders.

They are emphatically not behind the U.S. in its efforts to cultivate a new Cold War with China, in its determination to apply its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran ever more stringently, in its efforts to isolate the Russian Federation. We will have to see where this emergent drift in European thinking leads. As things stand, it looks as if the U.S. is effectively pulling the West apart from within. No bad thing.   

Spengler considered civilizational decline inevitable, a fate imposed by history’s laws—a very Germanic notion. Arnold Toynbee, whose 12–volume “A Study of History” came some years later, thought otherwise. Decline is the consequence of a failure of imagination and creativity among leaders. They can no longer respond anew to new circumstances. Decline comes to a choice, then, not a fate.

Your columnist stands with Toynbee on this point. The West’s decline, now so evident, arises from the choices its leaders make daily, Europe’s ambivalences notwithstanding. But we must not miss the optimism buried beneath the apparent pessimism. What is in decline should decline. Then there is at least the prospect of beginning again, and differently.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist.His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site. 

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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29 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: Embracing the Equality of Nations

  1. bob
    July 8, 2020 at 14:55

    As Gandhi said when asked what he thought about western civilization he replied, “I think it would be a good idea”.

  2. Jeff
    July 8, 2020 at 12:53

    I think most of what we see can be filed under the heading of “aggression”. The Normans were the world’s bad boy going back to 1066, charging their way through Europe and creating a “country” in Italy before running out of steam. Laurence Bergreen in his book Over the Edge of the World about Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world points out that the societies that Magellan encountered were radically different than his own. Far less aggressive. Indeed when Magellan attacked the Filipinos, they didn’t kill him with lethal poison, their poison only induced temporary paralysis – enough for him to drown in his armor but not as lethal as the weapons that Magellan had. Charles Mann in his book 1491 points out that the early Europeans who came to the new world were not technically more advanced than the natives here. But, quoting John Winthrop, the Indians simply refused to accept an overlord.

    The US has replaced the Normans. The question is when will the US run out of steam? The rest of the world is ready for us to run out of steam….

  3. Dave P.
    July 7, 2020 at 20:57

    India, with so many languages and different cultures, is a very dysfunctional democracy. It is heading for ecological disaster in decade or two. It’s Western inclined shallow minded and corrupt ruling elite, easily prone to flattery, lives in a delusional state. They can not comprehend their own history, let alone the World History. It is helpful to read the book by late V.S. Naipaul “India, a Wounded Civilization”. It was published in late 1970’s. V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad where his grandparents came as indentured Laborers from India during nineteenth century.
    I came from that country fifty five years ago to go to the Graduate School here in U.S. and had been going back there regularly to see my parents in the village. My mother who was in her 90’s passed away six years ago. The country has developed industrially but is facing gigantic problems.

    When I think of the problems facing India, African Countries, and many other Asian Countries, I wonder about the sanity of the World Rulers in Washington and New York. After all these are the problems which will affect the whole planet.

    • Skip Scott
      July 8, 2020 at 08:35

      Long time. Good to hear from you. I believe it will take a global catastrophe before we have any chance for equality of nations. Humanity’s collective psyche needs a real “shaking up” to force it to advance. Hopefully the shaking up won’t cause our extinction.

    • Dave P.
      July 8, 2020 at 12:23

      I posted these comments further down below in response to some comments about India and China. Some how it got posted here again.

  4. Gerald
    July 7, 2020 at 20:57

    The US’ greatest on going war is against reality.

  5. Dennis Argall
    July 7, 2020 at 19:58

    To shift the historical turning point a little…

    J C van Leur in his ‘On Early Asian Trade’
    noted that when Vasco da Gama entered the Indian Ocean his naval technology and weaponry were broadly on a par with the Arab, Indian, Malay, Javanese, Chinese, etc ships encountered. It was not until the arrival of Spanish ships and especially Dutch and then British ships that local ships and trade and ports were overwhelmed.
    The history of nutmeg is instructive as to genocide and slavery in the Moluccas from the 1600s.

    I wrote last year some more on this as applying to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan here:

  6. Michael888
    July 7, 2020 at 18:05

    “Maybe Western Europeans are more cognizant of history’s waves. I read their far superior responses to the Covid–19 crisis as an indication they can still think for themselves after decades of marching to Washington’s orders.”
    If one looks at deaths per million from covid-19, Belgium (843), the UK (654), Spain (607), Italy (577), Sweden (539), and France (459) all have more deaths per million than the US (404). Not that there should be any competition in responses to covid-19. If so, Asian countries who favored their own Public Health policies over that of the WHO, have done well with travel bans and quarantines. Vietnam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Laos, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong have less than one (1) death per million. Even “underperformers” China (4), Singapore (4), Australia (4) and New Zealand (4) have done incredible jobs using basic Public Health procedures adopted from the US, circa 1960. Singapore has exploded with over 45,000 cases, BUT has only 26 deaths, the last June 13. The West needs to study and cooperate with Asia, who sees respiratory viruses every year. In the Acela Corridor (from DC to Massachusetts), the death rate ranged from 534 to 1728 per million. Supposedly their epidemic is over, so we will see how the other 30+ states fare, many in lockdown for four months with no virus (except that seeded by NYers– May 7, NY Times). California, Texas, and Florida, the three most populous states in the US with high aged (vulnerable) people populations and spiking case numbers, have death rates per million of 164, 96, and 179 (all lower than the Western European death rates cited above). Hopefully the increased case number will not translate into deaths, unlike in the Acela Corridor states. There likely will be no widely available vaccine until the Spring, so our physicians will need to show how much they have learned from the Chinese, Italians and NY doctors who struggled before them.
    (How is it that so few of our federal government bureaucracy, Congressmen and Senators, including many septuagenarians and octogenarians, have escaped death by covid-19? Seems statistically unlikely?)

    • July 8, 2020 at 12:22

      But equally parts of Europe, have been relatively untouched. The East , Balkans, Germany and Scandinavia (except Sweden ) have lower rates than the US as a whole. The death rates are now in single or double figures apart from my country -the UK where the leadership has been poor.
      Some of the states New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts together have the population of a major European state and even higher rates than the UK or Italy.
      I agree it is not right to be competitive here but the European states have managed to get things under control.

  7. Rob
    July 7, 2020 at 13:55

    With all due respect, “equality of nations” is a utopian dream that will never become a reality. History teaches that strong nations always hold sway over weak ones. The important question is that nature or quality of that sway. Is it domineering and malevolent or cooperative and benevolent? The American Empire has increasingly become the former, but there is no guarantee that new great powers, such as China, will follow the latter course. At this point, one can see hopeful signs in China’s behavior, but one never knows what the future may bring.

  8. worldblee
    July 7, 2020 at 11:59

    There’s an old Kings of Convenience song called “Failure” with the chorus of “Failure is always the best way to learn.” We are in the window where the American nation has many, many opportunities to learn. I fear that America is doing its best to avoid learning, however. We need more voices like Patrick’s to help us change that trend.

  9. July 7, 2020 at 11:50

    The United Nations, instead of assuring peace, equity and equality has, due to the oligarchic nature of the Security Council and electoral procedures for many of its economic related organs, instead assured that peace, equity and equality are unattainable. In international law classes I taught during the past decade my students would dissect and critique the United Nations Charter, both in terms of its provisions and how its provisions were applied. A more incoherent and inconsistent brew would be difficult to attain although reform would be relatively easy: eliminate the Security Council and non-democratic voting and electoral procedures, eliminating all vetoes; grant legislative and executive power to the General Assembly as a parliament, providing for dual voting requirements, i.e., actions pass only when approved by a majority of the states as well as by states with a majority of the world’s population; and, making submission to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and enforcement of its decisions compulsory. Easy to structure but not at all easy to implement.

  10. July 7, 2020 at 11:45

    “From the Portuguese explorer’s first steps in the East and ever since, this presumption has rested primarily on the West’s material preeminence.”

    This presumption was not particularly clear for quite a while. What Portugal brought to the fore was a “killer app” in the form of maritime technology. While seas of south and eastern Asia have a benign wind pattern, punctuated by occasional hurricanes, storms in the European seas were frequent, fostering development of sturdy ships. Thus in 15th century Portuguese ships reached the capability of sailing to any place in the globe. Of course, ships of other Atlantic countries were similar. Peculiarity of Portugal was its marginal position leaving few opportunities for expansions and development, and a military order that deprived opportunity for Crusades (they tried in Morocco, did not work) decided to proceed with geographical explorations. Once the value of those explorations was proven, other nations joined and European started to scour the globe for places where plunder and “honest profit” as available.

    Before 1700 AD, European conquests were limited to the least developed regions like Americas — still in bronze Age (Incas) or before bronze Age (elsewhere), Indonesia, Philippines (hard slog), and many coastal trading factories. Huge boost of trade led to improvement in pre-industrial technology that trickled to war technologies perfected over perennial wars — sometimes over the overseas plunder. In other words, ca. 1500 AD, Europe did not get superiority, still no match to China and top states in India, but they got a superior position. They could profit from price differences on world wide basis and pick on the most vulnerable targets to subjugate.

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    July 7, 2020 at 11:13

    Empires come…empires go. Hopefully, this “empire” will go before causing more pain and misery all over the globe.

  12. July 7, 2020 at 10:20

    I just love that image selected for the article. It contains so many of America’s contradictions and even reminds me a little of the old Mad Magazine.

    There’s the President and his wife, people who are husband in wife in name only according to many witnesses, standing much like the figures on top of an expensive wedding cake.

    Both with their showboat Patriotic salutes.during the anthem played, of course, by a military band.

    A President who avoided military service during a war through a flimsy excuse and a man whose whole career is built on devious manipulations of taxes and debts and reportedly even the odd bit of help from a Mafia.

    An altogether shabby man dressed in extremely expensive clothes, as he always is, with one of his almost laughable red “power neckties.’

    His wife of course is wearing an expensive dress, although this one looks to have been selected less for its haute couture than a suggestion of down-hominess, considering the nature of the crowd and the location in the Midwest.

    The stage for their performance sits at the base of Mount Rushmore, a monument built on someone else’s land, a Sioux tribe.

    Lots and lots of flags.

    It does look like a Disneyland tableau.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      July 7, 2020 at 11:16

      If you care to take the time, on Internet you’ll find a picture (Canadian humour) as to how Canada sees Mount Rushmore from the back side. Quite amusing.

  13. Tim
    July 7, 2020 at 10:03

    The photograph of the national holiday celebration in Ruritania is really telling…

  14. July 7, 2020 at 09:49

    “But it is inarguably the case that the U.S. stands alone in waging so ferocious a fight against the prospect of equality among nations.”

    I don’t agree with all the words of Patrick Lawrence’s article, but it contains some fine insights, and that is one of them.

    I think of the way Putin in all his talks, speaks of the “partners,” and I like that very much. No politician in America would speak that way. Not one.

    Russia is an ancient state, roughly a thousand years old, although not nearly as old as the civilizational states of Persia and China, yet America has contempt for them all. And I think “contempt” is the right word.

    It is just remarkable that none of these three states is guilty of any aggression or threat today. They all just want to go about their business, but the United States is determined not to let them. The Russia we see today is a Russia America would have been amazed by had it emerged from communism in the 1960s and allowed enterprises and business to flourish and demonstrated no inclination to threaten anyone, only to defend itself, and with a highly intelligent leader always ready to strike a deal on any matter of concern.

    But is America amazed? No, quite the opposite it is filled with hatreds and takes every opportunity to undermine Russia.

    China I regard as one of the miracles of my lifetime. The changes, over, say, fifty years, are stunning. And China also threatens no one, and China also is ready to do business with anyone. Even though it is a nuclear power, China keeps a minimal arsenal, about one-twentieth that of the United States so as to not suggest an effort to dominate and just sufficient to ward off a surprise attack. Like Russia, it is developing many defensive weapons, such as powerful anti-ship missiles to protect its huge coast from American armadas. China also has a truly remarkable leader in Zi, its wonderful Silk Road initiative being his initiative.

    But does America regard China as a miracle and take full advantage to build the strongest and most mutually beneficial connections? No, again now it is the opposite, hostility and resentment, resentment over China’s competitiveness. The former Maoists have proven superior at what were supposed to America’s key abilities, innovating and building things to serve the world. Most well-informed analysts expect China to emerge as the world’s leading economy within not many years.

    Iran, since its revolution, has been constantly plagued by the United States, which encouraged the hideous Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s and saw to it that Saddam had enough poison gas weapons to even the odds with Iran’s much larger population. And Saddam used them on tens of thousands. By rights the United States should have been charged with a grave war crime, but it wasn’t, as it never is in its countless aggressions, owing to its financial power and influence. Since then, Iran has simply not been allowed to develop normally. It has been under constant harassment and abuse from the United States, despite the fact that modern Iran has attacked no one. But it has managed by skill and intelligence to develop missiles with pin-point accuracy which make the United States think twice about attacking. Allowed to flourish peacefully, I believe Iran, too, would amaze us.

    Why is America so hateful towards Iran? Simply because its size – a population the size of Germany’s – and oil wealth make it the natural hegemon for the region, a position Israel arrogantly regards as its own by virtue of its American connection and armaments. Iran has never threatened Israel, never attacked Israel, and all experts agree that its nuclear program was never about weapons.

    In all three cases it is America which leads the charge. The Europeans go along because they are allies and they are under virtual occupation but with no great enthusiasm. Again, America’s financial power serves as a club ready to be used.

    I do believe that the coronavirus-induced depression is going to become a watershed event to major change, the United States having shown no leadership of any kind but only making constant demands and threats. It has also lost immense moral authority, having many dark aspects of its society revealed.

    • July 7, 2020 at 15:03

      [USA] “has also lost immense moral authority, having many dark aspects of its society revealed.”

      One of the resources of any institution with power is hypocrisy. You set the rules and control how your rules are practice, you select the slope of the playing field — what is the point of having power if you cannot tilt rules and principles in your favor?

      But it does not mean that literally anything goes. As hypocrisy increases, the desirable parts of law and order deteriorate, cooperation decreases, hostilities are magnified etc. Corruption increases, cooperation decreases, threats to foes and friend alike have to be increased, there is a danger of a vicious circle that leads to decline.

      The detrimental effect of hypocrisy and corruption are most acute at the periphery, in places where the “superiority of Western ways” was suppose to create shining examples that would cement the friendship of those places with “the West” and create shiny examples to the nearby nation, attracting them to the Western camp. Two principal examples of that are Ukraine and Afghanistan. Corrupt Westerners advise locals how to create good economy, justice system, clean administration, and a precise opposite is happening. Of course, local military is as pathetic as everything else. However bad situation can be induced in Iran, the population does not seem to crave to have it at least as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan, similarly, Russian do not envy Ukrainians etc.

    • Dave P.
      July 7, 2020 at 20:08

      J. C. – As always, exceptionally astute observations. Always look forward to read your outstanding – absolutely accurate and objective- comments.

  15. peter mcloughlin
    July 7, 2020 at 09:05

    There are “efforts to cultivate a new Cold War”, among certain warmongers (though it is more about power than war). They sanguinely believe the outcome will be like the first: a dangerous illusion. They do want peace: but only on their own terms – not parity. That is why the world is moving towards a hot, not cold, war (

  16. Pierre Guerlain
    July 7, 2020 at 04:39

    Thoughtful piece but I think there is an error about China and India’s dominance. In 1860 China was dominated and humiliated by Western powers (Britain & France). It had been dominant until 1800- 1820. Also Iran is not doing well at all in its fight against the virus. Yet the overaching point is still fine.

    • July 7, 2020 at 09:02

      Thanks this note.
      Please look at the Angus Maddison numbers. You’re perfectly right about China’s humiliation at the hands of the West from the Opium Wars onward, and about the general drift of global GDP, but the treaty ports don’t have much to do with this. This is a case wherein statistics don’t tell the whole story, but the GDP story is there in Maddison’s highly regarded work. India’s decline is beyond dispute, I should add.
      Kind rgds.

    • Dave P.
      July 7, 2020 at 20:55

      India, with so many languages and different cultures, is a very dysfunctional democracy. It is heading for ecological disaster in decade or two. It’s Western inclined shallow minded and corrupt ruling elite, easily prone to flattery, lives in a delusional state. They can not comprehend their own history, let alone the World History. It is helpful to read the book by late V.S. Naipaul “India, a Wounded Civilization”. It was published in late 1970’s. V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad where his grandparents came as indentured Laborers from India during nineteenth century.
      I came from that country fifty five years ago to go to the Graduate School here in U.S. and had been going back there regularly to see my parents in the village. My mother who was in her 90’s passed away six years ago. The country has developed industrially but is facing gigantic problems.

      When I think of the problems facing India, African Countries, and many other Asian Countries, I wonder about the sanity of the
      World Rulers in Washington and New York. After all these are the problems which will affect the whole planet.

    • bevin
      July 7, 2020 at 21:16

      Paradoxically China’s strength and potential power was demonstrated in the 1860s by the Taiping revolt a civil war in which a chiliastic populist movement came very close to replacing the dying Ching dynasty.
      Three years earlier in 1857 India too came very close to a revolution ejecting the British.
      In both India and China, the weaknesses that imperialism exploited were political- greatly inferior western forces were able to prevail by playing off factions against each other. It was once the imperialists had gained control of Bengal, for example and the ports of south China that the business of looting and wrecking these Asian economies began. Until forced to accept opium imports, for example, China was able to drain the west of precious metals. The same was true of India- the prized cotton textiles had to be paid for in silver. Europe had nothing else to offer either China or India, for the goods, both agricultural and industrial, that it coveted and its customers demanded.
      Europe’s moment of domination was rooted in technical military advantages and maintained by a mixture of diplomacy (divide and rule) and the judicious employment of mercenary forces.

  17. Nathan Mulcahy
    July 6, 2020 at 22:07

    Notwithstanding Toynbee’s greatness, Oswald Spengler’s view is more convincing. And long before Toynbee and Spengler, actually already in the 14th century, Ibn Khaldun had very convincingly laid out in his classic “The Muqaddimah”, why all civilizations inevitably conceal the seeds of their later demise.

    According to Khaldun, the very conditions that make it possible to develop crafts and sciences, and civilization in general, also initiate growing selfishness, corruption and effemination of the ruling class. This then leads to alienation, delegitimation, weakening and ultimately destruction of the civilization.

    The failure of imagination and creativity of the leaders of a declining civilization stare us right in the face. But you cannot prevent that decline by wishing smarter leaders. That’s because such leaders are simply the symptoms of much deeper changes in the society that is declining. But this is how the nature works – in cycles…..

    • AnneR
      July 7, 2020 at 10:35

      While not having read Ibn Khaldun I would agree with him (and thus you) that all “civilizations” contain the causes of their own demise – although it would be difficult to name the present western corporate-capitalist-imperialist construct civilized in any way.

      What we in the west with our deeply rooted racist Orientalism refuse to do (among all too many other things) is to truly recognize and acknowledge and accept that WE low melanin peoples were very much slow off the blocks when it came to being anything approaching civilized (and that assumes one considers civilization as industrial capitalism – much of whose technology came from peoples with far longer, well entrenched civilizations, e.g.: India and China. Equally old if not older civilizations were Egypt and Iran (Persia)…. writing, agriculture (as understood in the west – the agri rev began in the Fertile Crescent, i.e. in what is now Iraq, Syria, and to some extent Iran. From there our domesticated farm animals came; from there and Egypt came our cereal crops (and beer); from these areas came irrigation techniques. And from this region’s ancient civilizations came such truly humane notions as Jubilee years. The forgiveness of all Debt…Can one imagine???? And we consider and have done so for at least a couple of hundred years ourselves, the low melanin types, as THE civilized? Yes, Orientalism.

      We can but hope that our imperialist (very deeply rooted) ambitions, intentions die on the branch and that the world becomes (?) less antagonistic twixt east and west; that we can end – now- our Russophobia, Sinophobia, Iranophobia et al. The planet needs us to get along, leave each of our peoples alone to live their lives as they (the majority) want them to be lived. We, humanity, need this; so too all of the other animals with whom we share this most beautiful, wonderful of planets. Before we in our humanimal arrogance destroy it all.

    • July 7, 2020 at 12:29

      And we have Lord Acton’s immortal, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’

      I regard the United States as being located in the last part of the dictum.

      What possibly could be more corrupt than not even caring for your own while you spend unholy amounts seeking victims across the globe?

  18. Aaron
    July 6, 2020 at 20:37

    The worse things get here, the more deluded folks get and retreat into their patriotism trance. Allow me to invoke “In America”, since Charlie Daniels just passed away, an attempt at defiance in an apparent period of decline. Just like at the NFL games in recent years, as everything is falling apart around us, they make the flags bigger and bigger, and have more and more flyovers, and more and more Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and desperately daydream that, despite the evidence to the contrary, we’re gonna be “great” again. Like Springsteen’s “Glory Days”, well they passed us by. Even as cities are on fire with millions of protestors and Vice President Kevorkian, I mean Pence, is doing his best to screw up his task of handling the disease, we want and need so bad to confirm that we are still the exceptional city on the hill that the whole world is jealous of and admires and loves. Well Charlie’s got “a thing or two to tell y’all!!!”

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