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This Is How It Ends: All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

This Is How It Ends: All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

While the Federal Reserve and the Billionaire Class push the stock market to new highs to promote a false facade of prosperity, everyday life will fall apart.
How will the status quo collapse? An open conflict–a civil war, an insurrection, a coup–appeals to our affection for drama, but the more likely reality is a decidedly undramatic dissolution in which all the elements of our way of life we reckoned were solid and permanent simply melt into air, to borrow Marx’s trenchant phrase.
In other words, Rome won’t be sacked by Barbarians, or ignite in an insurrectionary conflagration–everything will simply stop working as those burdened with the impossible task of keeping a failed system glued together simply walk away.
If we examine the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Western Roman Empire, we can trace the eventual collapse to the sudden psychological shift from an assumption of permanence that found expression in denial (Rome can’t fall, it’s eternal…) or in the universal belief that life was unchanging and so everything was forever.
This psychological state was replaced by a shocked awareness that what was unimaginable, “impossible”–systemic collapse–was not only entirely possible, it was happening in real time. This change in consciousness arose in individuals in differing ways and velocities, but eventually everyone accepted that some adaptation was now necessary.
Correspondent R.J. and I have been discussing the consequences of the sharp decline in the value of labor which is painfully obvious in the chart below and the many other charts depicting the declining purchasing power of wages and the skimming of the majority of the economic gains by the top 0.1%.
In effect, it no longer pays to work beyond the bare minimum needed to survive as all the value generated by labor above this minimum is either skimmed by the Bezos, Buffetts, Gates, Zuckerbergs et al. or it’s paid in higher taxes to the government.

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

The lure of imperial dreams: What are our leaders going to do to us?

The lure of imperial dreams: What are our leaders going to do to us?

Donald Trump is often represented wearing some kind of imperial garb. Actually, his presidency may have been less imperial than that of his predecessors. Yet, his style as president is very much “imperial” and his winning slogan in the 2016 elections, “MAGA,” (make America great again) has a deep imperial ring to it. Earlier on, Benito Mussolini, the leader of the Italian government between the two world wars, was destroyed (and with him Italy and not just Italy) by his Imperial ambitions.

When things get tough, people seem to think that they need tough leaders and this is a clear trend in the world, nowadays. It is a deadly mechanism that tends to bring dangerous psychotic personalities to the top government positions. I already noted in a previous post how imperial ambitions coupled with incompetence (both common conditions in high-level leaders) can destroy entire countries.

Here, let me examine an interesting feature of how Benito Mussolini (1883 -1945) ruled Italy. Despite his warlike rhetoric, during the first phase of his government he pursued a moderate foreign policy, avoiding wars. Then, the second phase of his rule was characterized by a series of disastrous wars that led to the destruction of Italy (and not just of Italy) and to the downfall of Mussolini himself. Whether this story can tell us something about a possible second term for Donald Trump as president, is left to the readers to decide.

Benito Mussolini and the Italian Empire: How Leaders’ Absurd Decisions Lead to Collapse.

Benito Mussolini ruled Italy for 21 years after the “March on Rome” of 1922. Many things happened during those years but, on the whole, you could think of the Fascist rule as having two phases: one before and the other after the turning point that was the invasion of Ethiopia, in 1935.

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

Why America Won’t Be ‘Great’ Again

Why America Won’t Be ‘Great’ Again

They called him the ‘Little Emperor’. Romulus Augustus — better known as Romulus ‘Augustulus’ (‘Little Augustus’) — was the last Western Roman Emperor. He assumed the throne at the age of 16 during a period of unprecedented strife. There had been 8 emperors in the previous 20 years. Like his predecessors, the Little Emperor’s reign was short. It lasted less than a year. In 476 CE, Augustus was deposed and the Western Roman Empire came to an end.1

One wonders what Augustus said to his followers during his reign. As little more than a proxy for his military-general father, Augustus left no monuments and made no decisions. But what might he have said in private? Perhaps he promised to ‘make Rome great again’. …

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We are perennially fascinated with the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Why? Likely because its collapse cast such a long shadow on Western Europe. Once the center of civilization, the Roman collapse sent Western Europe into a dark age. It would take a millennia to recover.

Interestingly, the Roman elite seemed to be the last to recognize the empire’s decline. True, during Augustus’ reign the elite probably knew that the empire was a shadow of its former self. But elites were too busy squabbling over power to care much for the long arc of history. In their eyes, a return to Roman ‘greatness’ was probably forever on the horizon.

Perhaps the best characterization of this elite attitude comes not from history, but from science fiction. In his Foundation trilogy, Isaac Asimov imagines a galactic empire that sits on the verge of collapse. Scientist Harry Seldon sees the writing on the wall. But the leaders of the galactic empire do not. They’re too busy squabbling amongst themselves.

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

“Revolutions And Wars”: What According To Ray Dalio Comes After “Printing Money”

“Revolutions And Wars”: What According To Ray Dalio Comes After “Printing Money”

Having seemingly conquered the world of finance, Ray Dalio and Howard Marks have been competing who can be a more productive writer in recent weeks, and just two weeks after writing a lengthy thesis on the rise and fall of fiat currencies (which had no less than 43 mentions of gold for obvious reasons), Dalio is back to discussing one of his favorite topics, namely the rise and fall of empires, among which the US and China, over the last 500 years. 

The third chapter of his “Changing World Order” series (preceded by Chapter 1 “The Big Picture in a Tiny Nutshell”,  and Chapter 2, “The Big Cycle of Money, Credit, Debt, and Economic Activity” and its appendix “The Changing Value of Money“), takes a closer look at the rise and fall of the Dutch, British, and American empires and their reserve currencies and, in what will spark howls of outrage from both sides of the discussion, touches on the rise of the Chinese empire, which Dalio views as the next ascendent superpower “to bring us up to the present.”Ray Dalio@RayDalio

In this latest release of my series The Changing World Order, I will review the rises and declines of the Dutch, British, and American empires and their reserve currencies and will touch on the rise of the Chinese empire to bring us up to the present…


https://bit.ly/TCWOch3 The Big Cycles Over The Last 500 YearsNote: To make this an easier and shorter article to read, I tried to convey the most important points in simple language and bolded them, so you can get the gist of the whole thing in just a few…linkedin.com


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

Our Fate Is Sealed, Vaccines Won’t Matter: Four Long Cycles Align

Our Fate Is Sealed, Vaccines Won’t Matter: Four Long Cycles Align

A Covid-19 vaccine, or lack thereof, will have zero effect in terms of reversing these cycles. Call it Fate, call it karma, call it what you will, but the cycles have aligned and nothing can stop the unraveling of all that was foolishly presumed to be permanent.

We like to think we’re in charge and that technology conquers all, but history moves in cycles that are larger than any person, corporation, elite or (gasp) technology. My first version of the chart below was drawn in 2008, when the Global Financial Meltdown revealed the cracks in the happy-story facade of permanent wonderfulness based on the amazing magic of borrowing / printing ever greater sums of currency, a.k.a. “money.”

Longtime correspondent Cheryl A. suggested I revisit the alignment of long-wave cycles, and so let’s start by what the study of cycles is not: it is predictive in terms of trends and turning points, not precise time or amplitude targets. In effect, the study of cycles is the study of human nature as it plays out in long-term social, political and economic dynamics.

Sir John Glubb’s succinct and deeply informed 1978 essay The Fate of Empires lists these stages of social development and decay that manifest as the rise and decline of empires:

The Age of Pioneers (outburst or Boost Phase)

The Age of Conquests

The Age of Commerce

The Age of Affluence

The Age of Intellect

The Age of Decadence

The slippery slope to collapse–decadence–is characterized by greed, corruption, irreconcilable internal political rifts, moral decay, frivolity, materialism–hmm, sound familiar?

The global status quo sped through The Age of Intellect (postmodernism) with little to show for the vast expenditure of resources, and is now firmly in the final terminal stage of decadence and collapse.

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

Fall of Akkadian empire due to climate change

Fall of Akkadian empire due to climate change

Preface. Any civilization or region that survives energy decline must then survive climate change for many centuries. As far as the wind systems that collapsed the Akkadian empire, it’s already happening:

“Greenhouse gases are increasingly disrupting the jet stream, a powerful river of winds that steers weather systems in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s causing more frequent summer droughts, floods and wildfires, a new study says. The findings suggest that summers like 2018, when the jet stream drove extreme weather on an unprecedented scale across the Northern Hemisphere, will be 50% more frequent by the end of the century if emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants from industry, agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels continue at a high rate” (Berwyn 2018).

***

Bressan, D. 2019. Climate Change Caused the World’s First Empire To Collapse. Forbes

The Akkadian Empire was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia, centered around the lost city of Akkad. The reign of Akkad is sometimes regarded as the first empire in history, as it developed a central government and elaborate bureaucracy to rule over a vast area comprising modern Iraq, Syria, parts of Iran and central Turkey. Established around 4.600 years ago, it abruptly collapsed two centuries later as settlements were suddenly abandoned. New research published in the journal Geology argues that shifting wind systems contributed to the demise of the empire. 

The region of the Middle East is characterized by strong northwesterly winds known locally as shamals. This weather effect occurs one or more times a year. The resulting wind typically creates large sandstorms that impact the climate of the area. To reconstruct the temperature and rainfall patterns of the area around the ancient metropolis of Tell-Leilan, the researchers sampled 4,600- to 3,000-year-old fossil Porites corals, deposited by an ancient tsunami on the northeastern coast of Oman.

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

How Long Will It Take For The US To Collapse?

How Long Will It Take For The US To Collapse?

Friday, 03 January 2020 05:11 Brandon Smith

There are a multitude of false assumptions out there on what the collapse of a nation or “empire” looks like. Modern day Americans have never experienced this type of event, only peripheral crises and crashes. Thanks to Hollywood, many in the public are under the delusion that a collapse is an overnight affair. They think that such a thing is impossible in their lifetimes, and if it did happen, it would happen as it does in the movies – They would simply wake up one morning and find the world on fire. Historically speaking, this is not how it works. The collapse of an empire is a process, not an event.

This is not to say that there are not moments of shock and awe; there certainly are. As we witnessed during the Great Depression, or in 2008, the system can only be propped up artificially for so long before the bubble pops. In past instances of central bank intervention, the window for manipulation is around ten years between events, give or take a couple of years. For the average person, a decade might seem like a long time. For the banking elites behind the degradation of our society and economy, a decade is a blink of an eye.

In the meantime, danger signals abound as those analysts aware of the situation try to warn the populace of the underlying decay of the system and where it will inevitably lead. Economists like Ludwig Von Mises foresaw the collapse of the German Mark and predicted the Great Depression; almost no one listened until it was too late. Multiple alternative economists predicted the credit crisis and derivatives crash of 2008; and almost no one listened until it was too late. People refused to listen because their normalcy bias took control of their ability to reason and accept the facts in front of them.

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

Falling From Grace

Falling From Grace

Years ago, Doug Casey mentioned in a correspondence to me, “Empires fall from grace with alarming speed.”

Every now and then, you receive a comment that, although it may have been stated casually, has a lasting effect, as it offers uncommon insight. For me, this was one of those and it’s one that I’ve kept handy at my desk since that time, as a reminder.

I’m from a British family, one that left the UK just as the British Empire was about to begin its decline. They expatriated to the “New World” to seek promise for the future.

As I’ve spent most of my life centred in a British colony – the Cayman Islands – I’ve had the opportunity to observe many British contract professionals who left the UK seeking advancement, which they almost invariably find in Cayman. Curiously, though, most returned to the UK after a contract or two, in the belief that the UK would bounce back from its decline, and they wanted to be on board when Britain “came back.”

This, of course, never happened. The US replaced the UK as the world’s foremost empire, and although the UK has had its ups and downs over the ensuing decades, it hasn’t returned to its former glory.

And it never will.

If we observe the empires of the world that have existed over the millennia, we see a consistent history of collapse without renewal. Whether we’re looking at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, or any other that’s existed at one time, history is remarkably consistent: The decline and fall of any empire never reverses itself; nor does the empire return, once it’s fallen.

But of what importance is this to us today?

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

How Empires Fall: Moral Decay

How Empires Fall: Moral Decay

There is a name for this institutionalized, commoditized fraud: moral decay. 

Moral decay is an interesting phenomenon: we spot it easily in our partisan-politics opponents and BAU (business as usual) government/private-sector dealings (are those $3,000 Pentagon hammers now $5,000 each or $10,000 each? It’s hard to keep current…), and we’re suitably indignant when non-partisan corruption is discovered in supposed meritocracies such as the college admissions process.

But we’re less adept, it seems, at discerning systemic moral decay, which infects the very foundations of the economy and society.

Consider America’s favorite pastime, corrosive partisan politics. This distemper is often traced back to (surprise!) extreme partisans, but as the chart below shows, political partisanship has risen in near-perfect correlation with wealth-income inequality, which it itself the hallmark of deeply systemic corruption, as the system is rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many. (Chart courtesy of Slope of Hope.)

There’s a phrase that describes a socio-economic system becoming the means for personal aggrandizement at the expense of civil society itself: moral decay.How else can we describe a system whose inputs and processes are rigged so the output is the vast majority of all income gains flow to the top 0.1%? (See chart below.)

When a socio-economic system institutionalizes the extralegal privileges of wealth and power, that is moral decay. When government only responds in ways that first serve the interests of entrenched insiders, that is moral decay. When the financial system is rigged to sluice income and wealth to the top of the wealth-power pyramid while stripmining the productive class below via inflation and taxes, that’s moral decay. (See chart below of workers’ share of the national income.)

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

Fuck You, Dying American Empire: Reflections of an Aging Anti-Imperialist

Fuck You, Dying American Empire: Reflections of an Aging Anti-Imperialist

Last year at Jamia Millia Islamia Central University in New Delhi, India I met students and teachers who thought that it was cool that I’d written an anti-imperialist book and that it was still in print nearly fifty years after it was first published. It was easy to be an anti-imperialist at Jamia Millia. After all, the students and the teachers were anti-imperialists and all worked-up about U.S. drones, U.S. air strikes and about the Syrians on the ground who had been battered and bombed.

It was also relatively easy to be an anti-imperialist in the late 1960s and early 1970s when anti-imperialism was a red badge of courage in SDS, the Venceremos Brigade, in anti-war circles and even among the Yippies, who were far more internationalist in their outlook than many on the Left assumed. Once upon a time, Jerry Rubin went to Cuba to check out the revolution, and later to Chile with singer and songwriter, Phil Ochs, to see what Salvador Allende was doing.

But here in the U.S. in 2018, is it still possible to be an authentic anti-imperialist, an anti-imperialist in more than name? I thought about that question recently when a former comrade explained that he was still an anti-imperialist and wondered if I was one, too.

It wasn’t the first time that my politics were questioned. In 1980, soon after Reagan was elected president, Professor Edward Said asked me if I was still on the Left and hadn’t drifted to the right like that former radical, David Horowitz, whom Alexander Cockburn dismissed as a “whiner.” A plain “Yes,” or a “No” answer wouldn’t do, nor a “Maybe.”

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

Does Society Turn More Violent During its End Times?

QUESTION: Is MMA the new Roman Colosseum? I’m a layman in history but didn’t blood sports rise in popularity during Rome’s decline? Now everyone and their mother is talking about MMA, and random celebrities e.g. Logan Paul or now Trump Jr. are jumping in the octagon or being challenged.

JR
ANSWER: Yes. For some reason, society begins to turn more violent toward its end times. Mixed martial arts is a full-contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from other combat sports and martial arts. It is an interesting pattern. The Christian Persecutions really came into full swing only as the Empire was collapsing during the 3rd century.

The Fall of Empires Explained in 10 Minutes

The Fall of Empires Explained in 10 Minutes

This is the presentation I gave to the meeting for the 50th anniversary of the Club of Rome on Oct 18th in Rome. The gist of the idea is that the fall of ancient civilizations, such as the Roman Empire, can be described with the same models developed in the 1970 to describe the future of our civilization. States, empires, and entire civilizations tend to fall under the combined effect of resource depletion and growing pollution. In the end, they are destroyed by what I call the Seneca Effect.

You can find the paper I mention in the talk at this link.

Could Donald Trump be the Last World Emperor? States and Empires After the End of the Fossil Age

Could Donald Trump be the Last World Emperor? States and Empires After the End of the Fossil Age

Empires are short-lived structures created and kept together by the availability of mineral resources, fossil fuels in our times. They tend to decline and fall with the decline of the resources that created them, and that’s the destiny of the current World Empire: the American one. Will new empires be possible with the gradual disappearance of the abundant mineral resources of the past? Maybe not, and Donald Trump could be the last great emperor in history.

A warlord named Sargon of Akkad was perhaps the first man in history to rule a true empire, around mid 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. Before him, humans had been warring against each other for millennia, but the largest social structures they had developed were no larger than city-states. Gradually, new forms of social aggregation emerged: kingdoms and empires, structures kept together by a central government that, normally, involves a larger than life male figure, emperor or king, who keeps the state together using a combination of force, prestige, and gifts.

Sargon’s Empire went through the normal destiny of the empires that came after it: glory and plunder at the beginning, then struggle, destruction and, finally, collapse. Nothing unusual for a cycle that would span millennia of human history. Taagenpera shows how empires come and go (image source)

The rise and fall of empires looks like a chemical reaction, flaring and then subsidizing, as a reaction running out of reactants — then restarting when new reactants have accumulated. For empires, the reactants might have been mineral resources — it may well be that Sargon’s empire was the result of silver having become a standard medium of exchange in Mesopotamia.
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Declining and Falling

Are we destined for the same fate as that other empire?

At the end of World War II, the US enjoyed geopolitical supremacy unmatched since the Roman empire. Friends and foes had been devastated by the war: millions dead, thousands of towns and cities destroyed, commercial and industrial infrastructure decimated. The only conflict on US soil was Pearl Harbor. Total war casualties were comparatively light. The US had the atomic bomb. American industry was intact, could quickly be retooled for production of civilian goods, and would face limited competition in global markets.

Power corrupts in direct relation to the degree of power; absolute power corrupts absolutely. That leaves only one direction for the occupant of a summit: down. That would be the proper starting point for some future Edward Gibbon, writing a magnum opus on the decline and fall of the American Empire.

The New Deal was a motley menagerie of ineffectual statist nostrums, cover for a naked power grab. The government took control of the economy, credit, the financial system, agriculture, industry, and a much larger share of the gross domestic product. Notwithstanding its unprecedented call on American incomes, it ran record deficits. Opposition was demonized, cowed, or persecuted. The judiciary was reconstituted as a rubber stamp and the Constitution stretched beyond recognition. The New Deal paved the way for further expansion of government control during World War II.

At war’s end, America’s rulers had no intention of relinquishing that control. Conveniently, the Soviet Union, wartime ally but postwar foe, developed its own atomic bomb in 1949. Now the US government had the excuse it needed—the Cold War—to justify global interventionism as “leader of the free world,” and the military and intelligence programs and budgets needed to sustain that role. Leaving office, Eisenhower issued his famous warning about the “military-industrial complex,” but by then it was too late. The establishment would maintain its empire by fair means or foul.

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

The End Of Our Empire Approaches

The End Of Our Empire Approaches

History is clear on where we’re headed

Do you have the nagging sense that our empire is in decline?

If so, don’t be embarrassed by it. Historically speaking, we’re in very good company.  Far larger and longer-lived empires than ours have come and gone over the millennia.

This was hit home for me on a recent trip. I scored a major “dad win” by taking my youngest daughter, Grace, to England for her 18th birthday (we live in Massachusetts, USA).

All on her own, Grace developed an abiding love of mythology at a very young age: Greek, Roman, Norse, Native American, Aztec…you name it.  She’s read the Iliad four times, a different version each time, as each has the biases of the translator subtly woven throughout.

Naturally, her dream mini-vacation involved going to the British Museum where the Rosetta stone lies, along with Viking horde treasures and every possible Roman, Greek and Egyptian artifact one could hope to see.

The British empire came of age at the perfect time to muscle in and “retrieve” the cultural treasures of many different countries. Such are the spoils of empire.

Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll see sliced off segments of the Palace of Westminster on display in Cairo’s main square.  History ebbs and it flows.  Back and forth.  Victors and losers swapping places over and over again.

If the British Museum reveals anything it’s just that.  The long sweep of human history shows us that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

The treasures on display at the British Museum also show us that every race and culture has revered beauty.  The most intricate and delicate and objectively beautiful jewelry and adornments were worn by kings and queens, priestesses, nobles, and warlords alike.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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