I had an invigorating debate this evening with a gentleman who took issue with my analysis regarding the potential overthrow and occupation of the United States, per my book series, Birth Pangs. The blog entry the gent was replying to was my own critique of some Russian analyst arguing that the US is due to collapse in 2010. Apparently the vital flaw in my critique was that I didn’t reject outright the possibility that the US could disintegrate, ever. We are so big and mighty, goes the argument, that we will never be overcome by foreign foes. More likely in this gent’s view is that America descends into another civil war.
While I personally rejected the Russian analyst’s view, it is important to understand why: Igor failed to predict or specify a catalyst. This is what the gentleman who inspired this post himself overlooks: a ‘catalyst’ can happen at any time. We have no assurances for the future. Anything can happen tonight, tomorrow, next week, or next month. At that point, all bets are off. Yes, even for America, ‘big and mighty.’
My Birth Pangs series skips over the 50 to 100 years between now and then and sprinkles catalysts throughout but more importantly links actions and beliefs with consequences- consequences which a study of history and human nature render almost all but inevitable. Inevitable, that is, if nothing is done in the meantime, or when certain points of decision are reached, the ‘right’ decision is made. ‘Right’ decisions are predicated on there being people with the ‘right’ mindset. Ensuring that the ‘right’ mindset exists at that time requires groundwork be laid far earlier… say, now.
So, even though I personally don’t see an end of America in 2010 (even though I see seeds being sown for something eventual) I think it is worth correcting this really dangerous notion that we have something here in America that is unassailable. Things can change quickly: civilization is only skin deep.
Consider the riots in LA in 1992. Overnight, the city was turned upside down and a dozen were killed. Seem like a cheap shot? Well imagine all the riots and looting we’ve seen just after a sports team wins! And we can’t forget the looting and violence of Katrina, either. Take away the constraints of law and there is a large portion of the population- even in America- who will be happy to capitalize on the collapse in law and order.
We are fortunate that there are so few of these examples but perhaps it is a double edged sword. It allows us to delude ourselves into thinking that here at least, in our country, we are civilized. But the kinds of catalysts that could reveal our true nature could happen at any time. Earthquakes, hurricanes, power outtages, apparent injustices (in some cities) are some obvious examples. We hear sometimes that we are in an economic crisis nearly as bad as the Great Depression, or at least that we are on the verge of it. This kind of propoganda unfortunately is bought wholesale by people who evidently don’t know a darn thing about how bad the Great Depression really was. But there is a sense in which we are on the verge of a Great Depression at any moment, and Hitler’s Germany reveals to us what can happen when an economic tsunami washes over a nation… any kind of weed can spring up that wouldn’t have found roots before. I wouldn’t be any more surprised to see the US descend into a Great Depression than to see a massive WMD attack or a surprise assault from a foreign country.
Would we be able to rise above such a thing? Well yea, in a lot of these scenarios, sure. I don’t buy the argument that just because another country wouldn’t stand a chance at ultimate success that they wouldn’t try. (And organizations like Al Qaeda might have more limited objectives, anyway). What I’m getting at is that even if we conceded that we might be able to overcome- even easily overcome- many potential ‘catalysts’ it doesn’t mean they won’t happen. It doesn’t mean that they won’t happen tomorrow.
I think it is important that we come to terms with some of these realities because in my view, many consequences can be dampened if you have realistic expectations, and they can be exascerbated if you don’t. We have a pattern of thought in this country, deepening each year, that is not grounded on realistic expectations or an accurate appreciation of the real nature of the human creature.