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The Collapse of the United States

United States America Future of United States China Russia Cold War 1970s 9/11 Superpower Pearl Harbor

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#1
BarkEater93

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There's a lot of fear in the United States about what the future might bring for the country. Is American democracy threatened? Could the great socio-economic divide lead to a revolution? Could the Trump administration inflict great self-harm on the country? Do powers like China and Russia pose an existential threat to the United States? Will the United States collapse?

 

These are all valid and important questions. Important because the United States is a superpower, and whatever happens to it, whether it continues to dominate or it falls, or it transforms, will have an enormous affect around the world. So we need to look at all this as carefully and as objectively as possible. It's also very important to not let emotions and desires shape our predictions.

 

But before we can speculate on the future of the United States (if it has a future), it would be good to look at the threats the United States faced in the past and see how they compare to the ones it faces now.


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#2
BarkEater93

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The sense that America is in decline is nothing new, and in fact is a common theme throughout much of the country’s history. In the 1970’s, for example, there was a widely held belief amongst Americans that their country was in decline: The U.S. had just been defeated in the Vietnam War. There was a big social divide between the lower middle-class and those who graduated from high-end universities. Richard Nixon had tried to cover up the break-in at Watergate, triggering a constitutional crisis. The economic situation was disastrous for many, with unemployment hovering around 10% for most of the decade. The surge in the Japanese economy and in innovation made it seem like they were going to eclipse the United States. It appeared that the Soviets, expanding the Warsaw Pact, were winning the Cold War.
 
moratorium_against_vietnam_war1.jpg
 
What really happened? Just a little over a decade later the Japanese economy stagnated, while the U.S. went through an economic boom. The Soviets were actually the ones that collapsed, and the United States became the global superpower.
 
An interesting parallel can be seen today: just replace Vietnam with Iraq, Richard Nixon with Donald Trump, Japan with China and the Soviet Union with Russia.
 
The point I’m making here is that whenever the U.S. has faced hard times and thought that it was in decline, it actually emerged stronger than ever. That means the U.S. has a hard time gauging the severity of the threats it faces. More specifically, it means the U.S. tends to overestimate its threats.
 
Next, on how fear is a huge part of American culture…

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#3
Sciencerocks

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Any nation that cuts funding for infrastructure, science and education is in a deep decline.

 

History proves this with so many examples.

 

Nations that seek war over anything else with religious fascism is surely has seen its better days.


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To follow my work on tropical cyclones


#4
BarkEater93

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Any nation that cuts funding for infrastructure, science and education is in a deep decline.

 

I repeat

 

 

The point I’m making here is that whenever the U.S. has faced hard times and thought that it was in decline, it actually emerged stronger than ever.

 

Funding cuts are just a reflection of these hard times, they're not permanent.

 

 

Nations that seek war over anything else with religious fascism is surely has seen its better days.

 

I'm going to explain in detail why it's actually the opposite.


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#5
Yuli Ban

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Well there were points in American history where the sense that the nation was breaking apart were even more fervent than any time in the '70s. 

 

There's no better point than in the 1850s and 1860s, when the nation actually did break apart and engage in a Great War that we just happen to call the Civil War. I'm sure there were many people alive at that point in time who believed that there was no future for the "United States of America" and that the USA would balkanize into multiple separate states, as it originally intended to. 

 

Then there was the 1930s. Of course, the whole world thought itself to be in decline at that point. 1931-1933 was the only time frame in American history where a socialist or fascist revolution could feasibly have occurred Stateside. Far more likely than in 1968. Not to mention that the religious right in America was freaking the fuck out thinking the Antichrist had risen over in Southern Europe, what with Mussolini claiming to be restoring the Roman Empire. It's more surprising that there wasn't more unrest in the '30s. 

 

The malaise and ennui that gripped America in the '70s and today are mostly due to a sense of stagnation and distrust in the political order. Most people online who support Donald Trump do so (mostly) ironically. There's definitely a conservative strain to their opinions, obviously, but almost no one takes the "God Emperor" claims seriously except liberals and the Left, as well as those Stormfronters who seriously do believe he's the White Protestant American Messiah.

 

For the rest of civil society, there's just no real sense of a future proper. While we're talking about automation and technological unemployment, they're talking about creating coal jobs. While we're talking about blockchain, they're staffing the White House with bankers. 

There's renewed fears of nuclear war, to the point some are considering teaching their children about "duck and cover" maneuvers just in case. And there's a sense of societal moral decline due to the rapid spread of LGBT+ rights and marijuana legalization. More and more are fine with LGBT+ and weed, but the whole transgender bathroom controversy was apparently a step too far for some. That is, it seemed trivial. When it feels like the world is going to hell, the fact these blue-haired Millennials were screaming about letting transgenders choose which bathroom to go to seemed more like spoiled whining than an actual civil rights movement. The fact Donald Trump won the presidency wasn't a reaction to that, though. 

 

I feel too many Trumpettes online are completely blind to reality in this case. Millions of people have not gotten over the fact that Donald Trump, a reality TV host, was elected president. They're just seeing "MAGA!" and red caps everywhere, blind to the fact millions are disgusted at how deeply entrenched entertainment has become in our society. These same types will unironically chastise anyone who claims someone like Kanye West could become president. It's literally a different reality for them.

 

The truth is, many people— liberals and conservatives— only see a reality TV host as being president. They wonder "who next? Will it be a reality TV star in 2020?" And yes, 2020. Get over it. 

 

And yes, it probably will be someone even vapider than Trump in 2020. Get over that, too. Imagine a YouTube celebrity become our next president. That sounds ridiculous. But Trump becoming president was just as ridiculous last year. 

If we could meme our way into Trump becoming president, who's to say we won't be saying "President Kardashian" or "President Hilton" in four years time? 

 

That's another reason for this malaise. It was different with Reagan (the actor?!) because he actually was involved in politics decades before becoming president, so he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. People weren't shocked by it. If the Constitution were changed and Arnold Schwarzenegger became president in 2020, it would result in the same attitudes as with Reagan— he was an action movie star! Yes, but he was also a governor for 8 years. 

 

Whereas with Trump, it's more like if Leif Garrett became president in 1980. 

 

There's no respect for our executive office anymore. It feels like any hack celebrity could just flash da cash and get in the Oval Office for 4 years just for the lulz. That's not a sign of a healthy society. At least not to the population. 

 

If a theatre star or bard with no political experience became emperor of the Roman Empire in the 400s, of course historians would cite that as being one of the reasons for the empire's collapse. 

 

It's the zeitgeist of the era. It's one thing to fear such rapid changes; when the changes themselves beckon a response of "How the fuck did this actually happen?" repeatedly, people will instead insist that things aren't going well. 

 

All we need now is a major recession, and everything will be as it was back then. We might not get lucky as we did in 2008, of course— it was only through the most desperate measures possible that the global economy didn't collapse. And I mean "collapse ", not just enter recession. People can sense something's not right with the economy right now; there's this artificiality to it all. We need to experience a recession just to clear it up. That'll be like a face-washing session. Either we clean our faces and realize that we're on the upswing once more, or we see our face has been eaten by some bacterial infection.


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#6
BarkEater93

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Well there were points in American history where the sense that the nation was breaking apart were even more fervent than any time in the '70s. 

 

Absolutely, and you bring some very good examples. I thought I would use the 70s because some posters here would probably relate to it. Yeah, the civil war was a hard time for the states, and right after the war the country emerged more powerful than ever. After the depression and World War 2 it emerged, along with the USSR, as a great power. And today the U.S. is facing problems that can't even remotely compare to those times (at least so far).

 

 

Imagine a YouTube celebrity become our next president.

 

LOL. Yeah, it doesn't seem so far-fetched any more, eh?

 

I actually think that presidents don't have that big an influence in where the country is headed. Processes preside over presidents.


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#7
Erowind

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I think a lot of the fear comes from people being too connected to negative events and then fixating on them. The information era made this possible but it really doesn't have to be this way. We need to stress critical thought in our schools instead of the consume and regurgitate model of "learning." If the folks who freak out about terrorism, crime, poverty and job loss looked at some actual statistics they would find that things have and likely will continue to get better in the future regardless of the political ecosystem.


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#8
Alislaws

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I think a lot of the fear comes from people being too connected to negative events and then fixating on them. The information era made this possible but it really doesn't have to be this way. We need to stress critical thought in our schools instead of the consume and regurgitate model of "learning." If the folks who freak out about terrorism, crime, poverty and job loss looked at some actual statistics they would find that things have and likely will continue to get better in the future regardless of the political ecosystem.

 

I always think that stressing critical thought, and information analysis in schools just makes a huge amount of sense. 

 

Pupils are going to go through most of their future lives within 5 minutes of being able to look any question they have up on the internet at all times, the people who will be able to use this to make good decisions are the people who will be able to filter the good search results from the biased/misleading ones. 

 

On the other hand critical thinking skills make it much harder to herd people like sheep, so I guess some people in power may have a motivation to make sure "Propaganda studies: How to analyse information sources for bias, persuasive language and lies" is never taught. 


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#9
Raklian

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The 21st Century will still be American, at least from the private sector vantage point of view. All those incredibly forward-looking companies based in Silicon Valley are going to lead major innovations throughout this century.

 

Geopolitics is a whole another ballpark, though.


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#10
PhoenixRu

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Some people in my country are eagerly waiting for US collapse and counting "last months and years before..." but i'm not one of them. Though modern USA are clearly not in best shape and suffering from many problems, these problems are (still) not even close to become fatal. I ratcher expect the slow decline of US economic power and cultural influence during the next century, from "exceptional nation" to just one of few great powers. Of course, for the "exceptional nation" itself, it will not be easy to accept the new reality.



#11
Omosoap

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@PhoenixRu That seems pretty reasonable actually. It has happened many times in the past with world powers. And it won't be the last time either.



#12
Yuli Ban

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Some people in my country are eagerly waiting for US collapse and counting "last months and years before..." but i'm not one of them. Though modern USA are clearly not in best shape and suffering from many problems, these problems are (still) not even close to become fatal. I ratcher expect the slow decline of US economic power and cultural influence during the next century, from "exceptional nation" to just one of few great powers. Of course, for the "exceptional nation" itself, it will not be easy to accept the new reality.

Are Russians any more excited than us USicans at the prospect of a resurgent Middle Kingdom-dominated planet?


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#13
PhoenixRu

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Are Russians any more excited than us USicans at the prospect of a resurgent Middle Kingdom-dominated planet?

 

Well, so it was troughout the milleniums of history, now they're just returning to their normal state.


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#14
Alislaws

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Some people in my country are eagerly waiting for US collapse and counting "last months and years before..." but i'm not one of them. Though modern USA are clearly not in best shape and suffering from many problems, these problems are (still) not even close to become fatal. I ratcher expect the slow decline of US economic power and cultural influence during the next century, from "exceptional nation" to just one of few great powers. Of course, for the "exceptional nation" itself, it will not be easy to accept the new reality.

Are Russians any more excited than us USicans at the prospect of a resurgent Middle Kingdom-dominated planet?

 

 

The Chinese (at least historically) interfere with other countries much less than the USA has done, and when they do it is usually with their nearest neighbours. Obviously this could change in future, but in general i think anyone who is not currently a close ally of the USA would probably breathe a little easier knowing that the USA would need to arrange China's support each time they decide to destabilise a region of the world. 



#15
eacao

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tell that to Vietnam


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#16
Alislaws

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tell that to Vietnam

 

Vietnam the country (that is among China's near neighbours), where people are still suffering effects of chemicals dropped by the USA when it was bombed to hell by them during the US-Vietnam war. That Vietnam?



#17
Yuli Ban

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tell that to Vietnam

 

Vietnam the country (that is among China's near neighbours), where people are still suffering effects of chemicals dropped by the USA when it was bombed to hell by them during the US-Vietnam war. That Vietnam?

 

The same Vietnam that is now one of the most pro-USA countries on Earth, yes.


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#18
Alislaws

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 A) Vietnam is literally as close to china as a state can be, (they are touching!) so would be included in my original comment where i said "and when they do it is usually with their nearest neighbours so Vietnam is hardly an example that refutes my comment. 

 

B) Of all the countries china has harassed/conquered/repeatedly claimed to own, why pick the one one country that has suffered even more in recent history from the US than from china.

 

Of course the US interest in that region is now mostly over (they don't have enough oil, wars in that region would be unprofitable, and they'd confuse american voters who are busy focusing on hating Arabs and Muslims at the moment)

 

China is still sitting right on their doorstep working on dominating the region, it makes good sense for them to cosy up to the USA as much as possible and forget all about the time a couple of million people died because the USA wanted a say in their govt.



#19
Maximus

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B) Of all the countries china has harassed/conquered/repeatedly claimed to own, why pick the one one country that has suffered even more in recent history from the US than from china.

 

China is still sitting right on their doorstep working on dominating the region, it makes good sense for them to cosy up to the USA as much as possible and forget all about the time a couple of million people died because the USA wanted a say in their govt.

 

Why would China target Vietnam? Power politics doesn't care whether a nation has just recently faced hardship or not. There are no feelings in international affairs. If you are a weak or moderate power, you better pray you don't end up on the doorstep of a great power. Great powers want a sphere of influence, at the very least around their borders. This could mean interfering in those states' internal affairs in order to bring a friendly regime to power, or in the most extreme cases, invading. Think Russia and Ukraine; that was an example of a resurgent great power intervening to stop its former sphere of influence from completely eroding.

 

People may not understand the reason behind the United States' actions around the world, or its interventionism. It's really no secret; power talks. Great powers throughout history have behaved in much the same manner as the US does today. Why? Because they can. Sounds cruel, but look at history and you'll see it's true. Sure, nowadays diplomacy plays a major role in international affairs, so great powers can't just go and invade every weak power without consequences. Nevertheless, great powers will still behave in the same manner; that means using economic and cultural influence, along with diplomacy, to create and maintain a sphere of influence. In the end however, great powers will fall back on military intervention (again, look at Ukraine).

 

So for those who believe China is "different", you're in for a rough surprise. Forget all the mysterious powers we Westerners associate with China; it's a great power like countless others before it. China has enjoyed decades of stellar economic growth, and it is now transforming that economic power into diplomatic and military power. Look at the SCS, One Belt One Road, String of Pearls, and AIIB: these are examples of China's rise to regional hegemony, and the beginning of a competition for global influence with the US/liberal order.


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#20
Alislaws

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When i said "why pick Vietnam", i meant "why pick Vietnam as an example to try and refute my comment", not "why would China pick on Vietnam". I thought that was pretty obvious.

 

To restate what i clearly said in my original comment: Where China has historically interfered with other nations, it has usually been with their near neighbours, so the fact that the Vietnamese might prefer a US dominated world to one with 2 superpowers is pretty irrelevant to the point i was making.

 

(Which is that most of the world that is not allied to the USA would probably breathe a little easier with some stronger checks on US power. And might have reason to expect china to be more restrained in their messing with other peoples' countries half way round the world)

 

Obviously Vietnam would not be included in this, because of their close proximity and history of war with China.

 

If anyone has any evidence or historic examples of china operating far from their own borders, building military bases or indulging in the sort of interventionism, destabilization or regime change that the USA has been performing all over the world since WW2 please bring them up. I've already acknowledged that people who live right next to china are unlikely to welcome China's ascent to global superpower status. 

 

EDIT: The reason i think the USA is more of a military threat to the rest of the world (Aside from it's own allies) than China, is the USA's very powerful and influential military industrial complex, which means that whenever the USA stops bombing people, powerful forces will start pressuring the govt. to find a new target ASAP.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: United States, America, Future of United States, China, Russia, Cold War, 1970s, 9/11, Superpower, Pearl Harbor

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