Home » Posts tagged 'decline'

Tag Archives: decline

Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Post Archives by Category

The Last Gasps of a Dying Empire

The Last Gasps of a Dying Empire

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1818 – (image by Dezgo.com)

All empires in history follow the same trajectory of glory, stasis, and decay. They start their existence around agricultural or mineral resources that they use to create a powerful military force. Then, they grow by conquering their neighbors. The structure of an empire is not different from that of other human enterprises: companies, states, or other groups of people who happen to collaborate with each other in formal or informal ways. It is just that empires are nearly pure military organizations. They live by war, and they die by war.

Necessarily, the resources that created the glorious empire are destined to run out, typically overexploited by the greedy imperial elites. At the same time, the empire itself creates structures that tend to destroy it: bureaucracy, desertification, pollution, and more. In time, depletion and pollution collaborate to bring down the mighty imperial structure and to bring it down fast. It is the essence of the “Seneca Effect,” according to the words of the Roman Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, who noted that “Increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid.” At some point, the King of Kings, Ozymandias, will find that his time has come, and nothing will be left of him except carvings on stones in the desert that proclaim his eternal glory.

But between the phases of growth and the collapse, there is a gray zone, a short-lived age in which the empire is still powerful enough to attempt new conquests but too weak to succeed…

…click on the above link to read the rest…


The Precipice: Europe on the Verge of Its Long Decline

Green transportation. No kidding. Photo by luana niemann on Unsplash

A serious and long lasting economic downturn in Europe is now within sight. Not a mild recession, but something truly transformative… something similar to the 1930’s great depression. The energy crisis simmering on the back-burner since 2 years now seems to be getting close to its boiling point: with a war in Europe, the blow up and closure of most natural gas pipelines, persistent inflation, drought and a complete global geopolitical rift on top of it all, only luck can save Europe from its fate.

“Labour without energy is a corpse; capital without energy is a sculpture.”

Professor Steve Keen

GDP fell by 0.3% for the quarter when adjusted for price and seasonal effects, according to the data from the Federal Statistical Office, Destatis.“After GDP growth entered negative territory at the end of 2022, the German economy has now recorded two consecutive negative quarters,” said Destatis President Ruth Brand. Inflation continued to take its toll on the German economy during the quarter, the office said. This was reflected in household consumption, which was down 1.2% quarter-on-quarter after price and seasonal adjustments…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

2022 — A Year-End Contemplation

Another year has passed (almost), yet the world didn’t collapse. We have got close to nuclear annihilation — probably closer than we’ve ever had — yet we are still here. The long decline of our High-Tech civilization in general, and the Western empire in particular works on different timescales than mere years though. The fall of a civilization does produce some serious humps on the road (some admittedly brutal and terrible), but for most people living through it, it is rather like a long trendline pointing downwards throughout many decades. Let’s review why we always end up in this process, and how it might continue to unfold in our case.

In order to have a better understanding what we are facing in the new year, we have to pull out our ultra-wide angle lens and see how 2022 fits into the large scheme of things. True, we are living through remarkable times, one of great flux and high unpredictability. This time though, it is quite a bit different from previous cases of decline and fall. We are at a turning point in human civilization, one which could only be understood from a truly historic and systems perspective.

Our modern, planetary civilization is complex system with innumerable positive as well as negative feedback loops. There are a multitude of factors, processes and groups of influential people competing with one another, producing a dynamic equilibrium. In a relatively stable world with abundant resources such systems of human beings produce remarkable results, growth and prosperity. Factors, serving as a basis for this growth and which we have took for granted, however, have started to shift under the immense pressure of our industrial activities. The climate has kept deteriorating from its ten millennia long mean in an accelerating way. Resources, we thought were inexhaustible have started to become ever harder to get. Sand. Fresh water. Fossil fuels. Metal ores. All of them.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Escalation: Recent Events Suggest Mounting Economic Danger

Escalation: Recent Events Suggest Mounting Economic Danger

A common refrain from people who are critical of alternative economists is that we have been predicting crisis for so long that “eventually we will be right.” These are generally people who don’t understand the nature of economic decline – It’s like an avalanche that builds over time, then breaks and quickly escalates as it flows down the mountain. What they don’t grasp is that they are in the middle of an economic collapse RIGHT NOW, and they just can’t see it because they have been acclimated to the presence of the snow and cold.

Economic decline is a process that takes many years, and while you might get an event like the market crash of 1929 or the crash of 2008, these moments of panic are nothing more than the wreckage left behind by the great wave of tumbling ice that everyone should have seen coming far in advance, but they refused.

In 2022 the job of warning people is far easier than it used to be because we are well past the midpoint of the process of decline. But, believe it or not, I still get people today who claim that we analysts are “doom mongers.” The power of willful ignorance is truly amazing. It’s enough to make a person blind to stagflationary crisis, supply chain disruptions, quickly inflating prices, stock market carnage, bond market instability, record consumer debt, and international conflict.

At this point, I think if a person can’t see the dangers ahead they are probably a waste of time and space and are destined to be buried in the ice; there’s nothing that can be done for them…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Rehash, Part Three: Unsafe and Ineffective

The Great Rehash, Part Three: Unsafe and Ineffective

In the first two parts of this sequence of posts (12), I’ve outlined the background of the Great Reset, Klaus Schwab’s dreary rehash of the last half century or so of fix-the-world schemes, and used the creation and destruction of the Georgia Guidestones as a lens through which to see how those schemes have so reliably run face first into the brick wall of reality.  In this third part of the sequence I want to put those phenomena in a broader context.

My regular readers will not be surprised to hear that there are historical parallels for the situation we’re in, in which a complex society is managed by a caste of privileged intellectuals convinced that their mastery of abstract notions makes them uniquely qualified to run the world. That’s a common state of affairs at a certain point in the history of civilizations.  My regular readers won’t be surprised, either, to learn that quite often the point in question is roughly where the first half of the time-honored phrase “decline and fall” gives way to the second half.

Something of the sort happens tolerably often when a clerisy ends up in control of a society.  A clerisy?  Why, yes. For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with the further shores of English vocabulary, a clerisy is a group of people whose claim to privilege is that they’re better educated and therefore, at least in theory, smarter than the rest of us.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was a better poet than philosopher and a better philosopher than political theorist, coined the word in 1818. He believed that in order to flourish, humanity needed the guidance of a secular organization of well-educated people to tell the rabble what to think…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Physical Preps and Tools

This is the article about “stuff” you can buy. 

What we are facing is not going to be short term, and it’s not going to affect one small area. The duration is forever. It will affect literally everything, in progressively compounding ways. First we’ll go through ever-increasing, and unending, scarcity and downscaling. People everywhere are going to be disabused of their previous expectations of abundance within a few months. The decline of globalized industrial civilization will lead to a collapse of the global economy. We are at the cusp of rapid and severely disruptive changes. The infrastructure of our civilization will break down, giving rise to a predicament that will swamp the government’s ability to manage. It will lead to widespread disorientation, anxiety, and social breakdown. Eventually within your area grocery stores won’t exist, hospitals won’t be open, firefighters and police won’t come to your aid, etc. And this decline will happen far faster than people expect.
There will always be a continuum of best practices that give you a higher probability of survival. As I’ve written about before, the realistic absolute best would probably be some intentional community of highly skilled people on a great amount of land (adjoining a national/state park or BLM land on 3 sides maybe) and having the ability to grow enough food for all of those people year-round, as well as provide your own top-notch security. In such a situation (with a lot more expanding of ideas), you’d probably have the best chance of surviving pretty much anything besides all-out nuclear holocaust. On the other end of the spectrum is someone who lives a normal life and has a few extra things they think could be useful in an emergency situation in the garage or the closet, but who hasn’t thought or planned beyond that and has no contingency plans.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is a partial collapse possible? Part 1

Can the East survive the fall (or rather the collective suicide) of the West? Can the center of global power be transferred from the falling Western Empire to its Eastern counterparts? And ultimately: will this shift contribute to or, instead, reverse the end-game of this global civilization…? These are the questions bugging me for weeks now…What follows is an internal dialog, leading to wild guesses and a lot of speculation. Enjoy.

In order to answer the question posed in the title we have to first find an answer for the following: how long will it take for the West to fall? Years? Decades? A century?

Asking such a question presumes, of course, that the West will fall. I have to say, that we must take this as a given — in fact, the West has been falling for quite a while now. Deluded in their powers and by the technologies they wield, ruling elites in these societies did not even notice that they are no longer driving towards a cliff — they have become airborne. While some of them have noticed that we have left the cliff’s edge far behind, they now think and proclaim loudly that we can fly. The inconvenient question, none of them is even willing to ponder, is how much time we have left till we touch the ground, and then how many rollovers will it take till the badly damaged chassis finally stops bouncing and the dust starts to settle on it.

Some of those, who are willing (and capable) to ponder such a question expect a sudden explosion upon touchdown — a nuclear holocaust — as their hopelessly impotent leaders finally hit the red button in their utter frustration felt over the loss of their global hegemony…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Four Reasons Civilization Won’t Decline: It Will Collapse

Four Reasons Civilization Won’t Decline: It Will Collapse

Photograph Source: Studio Incendo – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As modern civilization’s shelf life expires, more scholars have turned their attention to the decline and fall of civilizations past.  Their studies have generated rival explanations of why societies collapse and civilizations die.  Meanwhile, a lucrative market has emerged for post-apocalyptic novels, movies, TV shows, and video games for those who enjoy the vicarious thrill of dark, futuristic disaster and mayhem from the comfort of their cozy couch.  Of course, surviving the real thing will become a much different story.

The latent fear that civilization is living on borrowed time has also spawned a counter-market of “happily ever after” optimists who desperately cling to their belief in endless progress.  Popular Pollyannas, like cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, provide this anxious crowd with soothing assurances that the titanic ship of progress is unsinkable.  Pinker’s publications have made him the high priest of progress.[1] While civilization circles the drain, his ardent audiences find comfort in lectures and books brimming with cherry-picked evidence to prove that life is better than ever, and will surely keep improving.  Yet, when questioned, Pinker himself admits, “It’s incorrect to extrapolate that the fact that we’ve made progress is a prediction that we’re guaranteed to make progress.”[2]

Pinker’s rosy statistics cleverly disguise the fatal flaw in his argument.  The progress of the past was built by sacrificing the future—and the future is upon us.  All the happy facts he cites about living standards, life expectancy, and economic growth are the product of an industrial civilization that has pillaged and polluted the planet to produce temporary progress for a growing middle class—and enormous profits and power for a tiny elite.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The hidden recession of 2020

The hidden recession of 2020

After 20 months of economy-wrecking lockdowns and restrictions, 2019 is fondly remembered as a period of prosperous calm.  Memories though, are deceptive.  And in the days before we learned what gain-of-function meant, things were not as rosy as they now seem.  Although the decade 2009-2019 was officially one of the longest periods of economic growth ever recorded, the rate of growth was anaemic – the media reporting on any quarter with more than 1.0% growth as if it heralded a return to the 1960s.  And what growth there was owed more to additional debt than to improvements in productivity.  The reality of the post-2008 years was of the mergence of an 80:20 economy in which the majority watched their prosperity evaporate, while a shrinking metropolitan salaried class fought a rear-guard defence of their income and status.

The political dam broke in 2016, with “the revenge of the places that didn’t matter” – aka Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.  But few in the salaried class understood the economic decline which had spilled over into the political arena; preferring instead to blame it all on Russian bots.  Nevertheless, whether the elites and their salaried lapdogs chose to understand the economic situation or not, the process of decline continued.

In the UK, Christmas 2018 had been the worse on record… until Christmas 2019 rolled around.  And whereas Christmas 2018 had seen a big decline in discretionary spending, Christmas 2019 produced the first indicators of a decline in borderline essential spending too.  We might choose to regard the humble Christmas pudding as something which can be lived without – although those who lived under Cromwell’s puritanical dictatorship might beg to differ – but a decline in sales – along with those of turkey and seasonal biscuits – points to a nation which was reining in its spending long before SARS-CoV-2 embarked upon the European leg of its world tour.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Tao of Degrowth

Tao of Degrowth

I am a degrowther and a doomer but this is not what your first reaction indicates.  We are taught to be optimistic and so forth.  People loath pessimist and doomers.  People tire of people who cry wolf constantly.  This is what the doom movement has done for decades now.  There is some truth to this but there is also the reality of the slow boil.  A frog will slowly boil without realizing its fate.  Humans because of our short-termism and immediate gratification tendencies slow boil with periods of change.  Some of this is beneficial because it is the degree of shock and the duration that is the key variable of survivability so adapting slowly allows survivable change.

My doom approach is different.  I am a visionary of sorts in regards to the tipping over of an age.  This is academic and I have been studying this for decades now.  I have been living the response for over a decade.  I have digested the available science not as a specialist but as a generalist with some specialization.  I study all fields in general picking through them in relation to decline.  I specialize in energy and systems for my theoretical approach.  It is my assessment that a multifaceted tipping over is now at or near the peak point.  The tipping over is at or near where diminishing returns to technological efforts go non-liner into problem creation.  I see an extinction event for life systems with localized failure and general decline.  The planetary systems that support life is in abrupt change with climate but also the nutrient, carbon, and hydrologic cycles.  Finally, systematically, civilization is in a phase of degrading.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Escobar: The Disintegrated States Of America

Escobar: The Disintegrated States Of America

Andrei Martyanov is in a class by himself. A third wave baby boomer, born in the early 1960s in Baku, in the Caucasus, then part of the former USSR, he’s arguably the foremost military analyst in the Russian sphere, living and working in the US, writing in English for a global audience, and always excelling in his Reminiscence of the Future blog.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Martyanov’s previous two books. In Losing Military Supremacy: The Myopia of American Strategic Planning, nearly three years ago he conclusively proved, among other things, how the missile gap between the US and Russia was a “technological abyss”, and how the Khinzal was “a complete game-changer geopolitically, strategically, operationally, tactically and psychologically”.

He extensively mapped “the final arrival of a completely new paradigm” in warfare and military technology. This review is included in my own Asia Times e-book Shadow play.

Then came The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs, where he went one step beyond, explaining how this “revolution”, introduced at the Pentagon by the late Andrew Marshall, a.k.a. Yoda, the de facto inventor of the “pivot to Asia” concept, was in fact designed by Soviet military theoreticians way back in the 1970s, as MTR (Military-Technological Revolution).

His new book, Disintegration, completes a trilogy. And it’s a stunning departure.

Here, Martyanov, in meticulous detail, analyzes the imperial decline thematically – with chapters on Consumption, Geoeconomics, Energy, Losing the Arms Race, among others, composing a devastating indictment especially of toxic D.C. lobbies and the prevailing political mediocrity across the Beltway. What is laid bare for the reader is the complex interplay of forces that are driving the political, ideological, economic, cultural and military American chaos.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Western Civilization has become a never-ending Jerry Springer episode

Early in the 2nd century AD, around the year 101, the Roman humorist Decimus Junius Juvenalis began publishing a collection of satirical poems poking fun at the Empire.

Rome was already in serious decline by the time Juvenalis wrote his first poem. In the first century AD alone, Romans suffered the tyrannical insanity of Caligula, the destructive extravagance of Nero, multiple civil wars, and the ‘Year of the Four Emperors’ in 96 AD.

Needless to say, Juvenalis had plenty of inspiration for his satires.

He was like the George Carlin of his day– making fun of everyone, even the most sacrosanct institutions. And he didn’t pull any punches.

Juvenalis made fun of the Senate for their endless hypocrisy. He made fun of wealthy noblemen for acquiring their wealth by sucking up to the Emperor.

He made fun of the merchant class and its constant obsession with status. He made fun of the military for acting as if they were above the law.

He made fun of how the Imperial government pretends to give a damn about the common folk. And he made fun the common folk, saying “the mob cares for nothing but bread and circuses. . .”

Most of all, Juvenalis made fun of the extreme decay in Roman morality.

By the 2nd century AD, the Roman virtues of ‘strength and honor’ had been replaced by deceit, idleness, apathy, and corruption.

Edward Gibbon echoed this sentiment in his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in 1776.

Gibbon’s primary thesis is that Rome became a victim of its own success– its extraordinary wealth and prosperity made people lazy, complacent, and entitled.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2021 – The Choppiness Ahead

QUESTION #1: OK. Now what? The Democrats seem to be just vindictive and do not represent all the people. Any thoughts on the future?


QUESTION #2:  Hello Martin.
You and Socrates are the only sane people/AI in a totally insane world for the time being. Thanks for that.
From a Swedish perspective, it is completely absurd what we see unfolding in Washington DC among these corrupt politicians. If Trump leaves without some security guarantees, they will probably chase him and his entire family all the way to hell with various accusations, lawsuits, and maybe even arrests. Maybe he can make an art of the deal with Pence and let him step in 24 hours before noon 20th and pardon Trump and his family against all possible accusations or maybe even make an art of the deal with Biden, for the good of the country, etc.

What do you think and what does Socrates say?


ANSWER: Trump’s biggest flaw is he does not know when to stop. Think a rally would show he had support was not necessary because he had the support and a number of Republicans were going to contest the vote despite the fact it would not win. All the conspiracy theories that Pence would just unilaterally declare Trump the winner were absurd. That was a fringe opinion at best. I stated that once the Supreme Court rejected the Texas suit it was over. The absurd statements that they were telling him how to bring the suit were obviously made up by people that do not understand the law. I do think he should step down, cut a deal with Pence, get a pardon for him and his family. The press will never allow him to come back.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


There Is No Normal

There Is No Normal

The wheel of time rolls forward, never retracing its path, but because it is a wheel, and we are riding in it, a persistent illusion persuades us that the landscape is recognizably the same, and that our doings within the regular turning of the seasons seem comfortably normal. There is no normal.

There is for us, at this moment in history, an especially harsh turning (so Strauss and Howe would say) as our journey takes the exit ramp out of the high energy era into the next reality of a long emergency. The human hive-mind senses that something is different, but at the same moment we’re unable to imagine changing all our exquisitely tuned arrangements — especially the thinking class in charge of all that, self-enchanted with pixeled fantasies. The dissonance over this is driving America crazy.

The wheel hit a deep pothole in 2008 turning onto the off-ramp and has been wobbling badly ever since. 2008 was a warning that going through the motions isn’t enough to sustain a sense of purpose, either nationally or for individuals trying to keep their lives together ever more desperately. The cultural memory of the confident years, when we seemed to know what we were doing, and where we were going, dogs us and mocks us.

The young adults feel all that most acutely. The pain prompts them to want to deconstruct that memory. “No, it didn’t happen that way,” they are saying. All those stories about the founding of this society — of those Great Men with their powdered hair-doos writing the national charter, and the remarkable experience of the past 200-odd years — are wrong! There was nothing wonderful about it. The whole thing was a swindle!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

American Chernobyl

American Chernobyl

In the Spring of 1986 the Soviet Union was in a slow motion collapse. No one in the US intelligence agencies predicted it, the military was taken completely by surprise and no apologies were ever made for the thirty year, multi-trillion dollar oversight. It’s political and social institutions were Potemkin villages kept alive by little more than inertia yet on the outside everything appeared normal, and if not healthy, at least it seemed monolithic in it’s outward appearance.

The structural rot that had taken hold after the death of Stalin had become the central pillar of Eastern European civilization and the foundation upon which it was built- the blood of tens of millions of murdered citizens- softened the ground further, leading to it’s eventual implosion five short years later. On the 26th of April a failed experiment at a nuclear power plant in the Ukraine initiated a slow and steady series of system failures, leading to a full blown meltdown that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of inhabitants from the exclusion zone.

Most Americans recall the event as a catastrophic ecological disaster that threatened- at that time- to spread radioactive particles across wide swaths of Europe, poisoning the groundwater that fed the Dnieper River, leading directly to the Black Sea. No one was certain in the aftermath of the extent of the damage, nor of the ability of the Soviet system to respond truthfully to international inquiries. It was assumed throughout the Free and Democratic nations of the West that the USSR was incapable of sharing anything that would reflect poorly on their ability to govern.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
Click on image to read excerpts

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Click on image to purchase @ FriesenPress