The series also applies that standard of observation to the decline of the U.S. empire, or the ongoing decline of America.
One contrary viewpoint is expressed in the book "The Myth of America's Decline" written by Josef Joffe.
Mr. Joffe argues his case by citing to serious economic predictions, of various and sundry economists and whatnot, which have not come to pass.
Which begs the question, is the tracking of economic functionality the single most important characteristic to watch in terms of detecting a declining empire?
Another author we have already cited to in this series uses a similar technique, that is, he relies on economic conditions at a given time as the single most important characteristic to observe, but advances a different approach:
Hey, are you tempted to wonder if one man's "decline" is another man's "ascension" as I have been?(A Decline Of The American Republic - 2). Ok, so Josef Joffe says we derive the answer by comparing America to China, while Fareed Zakaria says we derive the answer by comparing the rise of other national economies with the stagnation of the American economy.
Perhaps that notion is what one author meant when he said:
"This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else."(The Post-American World, by Fareed Zakaria). I think we have to admit that Mr. Zakaria has learned much after immigrating to the U.S. from India, especially how to spin softly but write a big book.
The Dredd Blog argument is not based on presuming economy to be the single most important factor:
The exercise, then, is to isolate the predominate dynamic, the one which is prevalent before and during all of "a decline" events and in "the decline" --as was done in the first episode:(A Decline Of The American Republic - 2). So, the Dredd Blog argument is: once delusion becomes institutionalized, "the decline" is assured even when preceded by "a decline" after "a decline".
Who in their right mind would take off their clothes while freezing? Well, that leads to the crux of the matter.(ibid). The institutionalization of delusion is the institutionalization of official propaganda (see The Ways of Bernays and Etiology of Social Dementia - 8).
My offer in this matter is that the one thing that is prevalent in all "the declines" is the ingredient of the institutionalization of delusion.
In the final analysis, once delusion becomes institutionalized, "the decline" is assured even when preceded by "a decline" after "a decline".
When an empire begins to delude itself about itself, as well as the world around it, its perceptions are no longer a part of reality.
Of course, the notion of this type of decline assumes that influential people are the first to lose touch with reality, then they establish and institutionalize a path of decline for the rest of the empire to follow:
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.(A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA - 4). We know who those who make up that Epigovernment might be.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
In a plutocracy / wartocracy it is those who have and control wealth and the means of producing more wealth and control:
Here's a fact that will make any liberal cringe.(Half Of The World's Richest People Come From Just 2 Families). Likewise we know who they are not:
Seven of the 12 richest people in the world have names ending in Koch, Walton or Adelson, according to a new calculation by Bloomberg Markets magazine.
Of course, extreme wealth gives you a lot of political power.
The massive and growing gulf between rich and poor is one of the direst challenges facing the U.S. economy.(Everyone In America Is Even More Broke Than You Think). You may be wondering why I am focusing on economic factors, if they are not the single most important factor as I stated above.
Highlighting this gap, more than half of U.S. wage earners made less than $30,000 last year, according to an analysis released by the Social Security Administration on Tuesday. That's not far above the $27,010 that marked the federal poverty line for a family of five in 2012.
We've created this infographic to help visualize the skewed income distribution in the country.
Where do you stack up?
-If you make more than $10,000, you earn more than 24.2% of Americans, or 37 million people.
-If you make more than $15,000 (roughly the annual salary of a minimum-wage employee working 40 hours per week), you earn more than 32.2% of Americans.
-If you make more than $30,000, you earn more than 53.2% of Americans.
-If you make more than $50,000, you earn more than 73.4% of Americans.
-If you make more than $100,000, you earn more than 92.6% of Americans.
-You are officially in the top 1% of American wage earners if you earn more than $250,000.
-The 894 people that earn more than $20 million make more than 99.99989% of Americans, and are compensated a cumulative $37,009,979,568 per year.
Yes, I stated that institutionalized delusion is the characteristic to watch, and Americans have been deluded by propaganda in their economic thinking:
Our culture tells us "we are the richest nation" of all of the nations in modern civilization, which, in traditional American conversation has meant "we the people", "Americans", or the general citizenry.(American Feudalism - 7). The institutionalized delusion is that the American dream is as real as it ever was, that the middle class is solid, and that we are going to continue to be a nation of equal opportunity:
Yes, that "we are the richest nation" has traditionally meant that our system of government, with its economic tides, floated all boats, because it was designed to increasingly sustain the common good over time.
That is no longer working out for us because the worst of history is repeating itself:
... the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden....
Several Dredd Blog series, in addition to the post in the current series you are now reading, have focused on the reality (see e.g. The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy, The Graphs of Wrath, with the following general flavor ...
In the maelstrom of the shutdown, a debt-ceiling suicide attempt and the cutting off of nutrition support for poor people by Congress, it's clear that America's political class has unbounded belief in national stability.(Hubris: Politicians Overestimate America's Stability). The reality now is that America does not have the economy of a democracy, no, it has the plutonomy of a plutocracy:
When you examine the devastating effects of slashing food support for the poorest citizens, while simultaneously maintaining generous tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations that can, a la Romney, pay less than 14 percent income tax, or Apple, which is able to shelter most of its profits from taxation, you have to assume that confidence in stability is approaching "irrational exuberance."
But clearly the sum of the parts of these serial acts of national recklessness has a real impact. We can measure that effect in plummeting consumer and business confidence before, during and after the shutdown debacle.
We can also look at the super-majority of Americans who think that the country is heading in the wrong direction, and we must wonder how this acute sense of pessimism will manifest itself long-term.
The data may be a further sign that the U.S. is becoming a Plutonomy – an economy dependent on the spending and investing of the wealthy. And Plutonomies are far less stable than economies built on more evenly distributed income and mass consumption. “I don’t think it’s healthy for the economy to be so dependent on the top 2% of the income distribution,” Mr. Zandi said. He added that, “In the near term it highlights the fragility of the recovery.”(The Graphs of Wrath). Another institutionalized delusion which is at the heart of the matter is that the military is the most competent institution for Americans:
In the first post of this series, we pointed out that most Americans polled in an annual Gallup Poll think that the military is the most competent institution in America.(Stockholm Syndrome on Steroids? - 2). That institutionalized delusion is the result of decades of propaganda designed to cover up the feudalistic policies and structure which have drastically changed the American reality for the worse (American Feudalism - 7, Epigovernment: The New Model - 5), and is turning the world against the U.S. (e.g. American Death Spiral in Mideast).
In that post we perused Gallup Poll figures from 2009, as shown on the graphic to the left (red lines added).
Today in 2011, the military is still seen as the most competent American institution, according to this year's Gallup Poll, even though the wars they are prosecuting are not at all popular.
Let's take a look for reasons and realities as to how it is that the military, once considered the lackey for the tyranny of the tyrants, has come full circle to invade and occupy the hearts of a once freedom loving people.
The world around us is more aware of this reality than those in the U.S. who are dazed by media propaganda:
... In 1999, political analyst Samuel P. Huntington warned that for much of the world, the U.S. is "becoming the rogue superpower," seen as "the single greatest external threat to their societies."(Why the World No Longer Wants to Be Like US, emphasis added). The glittering generalities (a.k.a. statesmen) in the dysfunctional congress do not seem to care about our reputation in the world:
A few months into the Bush term, Robert Jervis, president of the American Political Science Association, warned that "In the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the United States." Both Huntington and Jervis warned that such a course is unwise. The consequences for the U.S. could be harmful.
In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, the leading establishment journal, David Kaye reviews one aspect of Washington's departure from the world: rejection of multilateral treaties "as if it were sport."
Becoming a treaty-worthy nation [at our founding] thus conferred multiple advantages: foreign recognition, and the freedom to act at home without interference. Hegemonic power [to the contrary] offers the opportunity to become a rogue state, freely defying international law and norms, while facing increased resistance abroad and contributing to its own decline through self-inflicted wounds.
Now we know exactly how many members of the U.S. House of Representatives care enough about American terrorism to attend a Congressional briefing about a U.S. drone attack that followed a classic terrorist pattern in killing a grandmother and wounding nine children in Pakistan. Five.(US Is a State Sponsor of Terrorism, Boardman). Five congress members, out of 435, showed up for testimony about the ongoing and habitual killing of innocents by our military, the "most competent institution" in America?
Five members of "the people's house" came to the briefing, and one of them was there for the full 90 minutes.
When one of the witnesses expressed disappointment at the turnout, a congressman reassured him: this was better than we expected. They were all Democrats.
Had any other American lawmakers joined the audience of somewhat more than 100, they would have heard some of the survivors describe the inexplicable (and unexplained, because the CIA does not explain) attack in which the first drone missile blew up a 67-year-old midwife as she was picking okra and wounded two of her grandchildren. Others came out of a nearby house to see what had happened and the second drone missile wounded seven more children.
This is a classic terrorist tactic, sometimes called the "double tap," using the first explosion to draw a crowd of first responders and onlookers as targets for the second explosion. Typically the double tap attack rings up a higher score.
In a sane world there might be more outcry against the world's only superpower using terrorist tactics on civilian populations in a half dozen or more countries, based on the rationale of a global war on terror (no longer the official name) that, so far, seems only to have added death and chaos to an already deadly, chaotic world because no one in authority seems capable of coming up with a less destructive way of defending our homeland at the expense of any other homeland we select.
Ultimate decline is something that usually hides itself in "a decline" after "a decline", which are not added up to present the total picture by those who are delusional.
Those "a decline" events end up culminating in "the decline" if delusion clouds the vision of the people long enough.
The previous post in this series is here.
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