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America’s empire is bankrupt The dollar is finally being dethroned

"We are dancing on the brink" Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

"We are dancing on the brink" Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


April 22, 2023   11 mins

Let’s start with the basics. Roughly 5% of the human race currently live in the United States of America. That very small fraction of humanity, until quite recently, enjoyed about a third of the world’s energy resources and manufactured products and about a quarter of its raw materials. This didn’t happen because nobody else wanted these things, or because the US manufactured and sold something so enticing that the rest of the world eagerly handed over its wealth in exchange. It happened because, as the dominant nation, the US imposed unbalanced patterns of exchange on the rest of the world, and these funnelled a disproportionate share of the planet’s wealth to itself.

There’s nothing new about this sort of arrangement. In its day, the British Empire controlled an even larger share of the planet’s wealth, and the Spanish Empire played a comparable role further back. Before then, there were other empires, though limits to transport technologies meant that their reach wasn’t as large. Nor, by the way, was any of this an invention of people with light-coloured skin. Mighty empires flourished in Asia and Africa when the peoples of Europe lived in thatched-roofed mud huts. Empires rise whenever a nation becomes powerful enough to dominate other nations and drain them of wealth. They’ve thrived as far back as records go and they’ll doubtless thrive for as long as human civilisations exist.

America’s empire came into being in the wake of the collapse of the British Empire, during the fratricidal European wars of the early 20th century. Throughout those bitter years, the role of global hegemon was up for grabs, and by 1930 or so it was pretty clear that Germany, the Soviet Union or the US would end up taking the prize. In the usual way, two contenders joined forces to squeeze out the third, and then the victors went at each other, carving out competing spheres of influence until one collapsed. When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the US emerged as the last empire standing.

Francis Fukuyama insisted in a 1989 essay that having won the top slot, the US was destined to stay there forever. He was, of course, wrong, but then he was a Hegelian and couldn’t help it. (If a follower of Hegel tells you the sky is blue, go look.) The ascendancy of one empire guarantees that other aspirants for the same status will begin sharpening their knives. They’ll get to use them, too, because empires invariably wreck themselves: over time, the economic and social consequences of empire destroy the conditions that make empire possible. That can happen quickly or slowly, depending on the mechanism that each empire uses to extract wealth from its subject nations.

The mechanism the US used for this latter purpose was ingenious but even more short-term than most. In simple terms, the US imposed a series of arrangements on most other nations that guaranteed the lion’s share of international trade would use US dollars as the medium of exchange, and saw to it that an ever-expanding share of world economic activity required international trade. (That’s what all that gabble about “globalisation” meant in practice.) This allowed the US government to manufacture dollars out of thin air by way of gargantuan budget deficits, so that US interests could use those dollars to buy up vast amounts of the world’s wealth. Since the excess dollars got scooped up by overseas central banks and business firms, which needed them for their own foreign trade, inflation stayed under control while the wealthy classes in the US profited mightily.

The problem with this scheme is the same difficulty faced by all Ponzi schemes, which is that, sooner or later, you run out of suckers to draw in. This happened not long after the turn of the millennium, and along with other factors — notably the peaking of global conventional petroleum production — it led to the financial crisis of 2008-2010. Since 2010 the US has been lurching from one crisis to another. This is not accidental. The wealth pump that kept the US at the top of the global pyramid has been sputtering as a growing number of nations have found ways to keep a larger share of their own wealth by expanding their domestic markets and raising the kind of trade barriers the US used before 1945 to build its own economy. The one question left is how soon the pump will start to fail altogether.

When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the US and its allies responded not with military force but with punitive economic sanctions, which were expected to cripple the Russian economy and force Russia to its knees. Apparently, nobody in Washington considered the possibility that other nations with an interest in undercutting the US empire might have something to say about that. Of course, that’s what happened. China, which has the largest economy on Earth in purchasing-power terms, extended a middle finger in the direction of Washington and upped its imports of Russian oil, gas, grain and other products. So did India, currently the third-largest economy on Earth in the same terms; as did more than 100 other countries.

Then there’s Iran, which most Americans are impressively stupid about. Iran is the 17th largest nation in the world, more than twice the size of Texas and even more richly stocked with oil and natural gas. It’s also a booming industrial power. It has a thriving automobile industry, for example, and builds and launches its own orbital satellites. It’s been dealing with severe US sanctions since not long after the Shah fell in 1978, so it’s a safe bet that the Iranian government and industrial sector know every imaginable trick for getting around those sanctions.

Right after the start of the Ukraine war, Russia and Iran suddenly started inking trade deals to Iran’s great benefit. Clearly, one part of the quid pro quo was that the Iranians passed on their hard-earned knowledge about how to dodge sanctions to an attentive audience of Russian officials. With a little help from China, India and most of the rest of humanity, the total failure of the sanctions followed in short order. Today, the sanctions are hurting the US and Europe, not Russia, but the US leadership has wedged itself into a position from which it can’t back down. This may go a long way towards explaining why the Russian campaign in Ukraine has been so leisurely. The Russians have no reason to hurry. They know that time is not on the side of the US.

For many decades now, the threat of being cut out of international trade by US sanctions was the big stick Washington used to threaten unruly nations that weren’t small enough for a US invasion or fragile enough for a CIA-backed regime-change operation. Over the last year, that big stick turned out to be made of balsa wood and snapped off in Joe Biden’s hand. As a result, all over the world, nations that thought they had no choice but to use dollars in their foreign trade are switching over to their own currencies, or to the currencies of rising powers. The US dollar’s day as the global medium of exchange is thus ending.

It’s been interesting to watch economic pundits reacting to this. As you might expect, quite a few of them simply deny that it’s happening — after all, economic statistics from previous years don’t show it yet, Some others have pointed out that no other currency is ready to take on the dollar’s role; this is true, but irrelevant. When the British pound lost a similar role in the early years of the Great Depression, no other currency was ready to take on its role either. It wasn’t until 1970 or so that the US dollar finished settling into place as the currency of global trade. In the interval, international trade lurched along awkwardly using whatever currencies or commodity swaps the trading partners could settle on: that is to say, the same situation that’s taking shape around us in the free-for-all of global trade that will define the post-dollar era.

One of the interesting consequences of the shift now under way is a reversion to the mean of global wealth distribution. Until the era of European global empire, the economic heart of the world was in east and south Asia. India and China were the richest countries on the planet, and a glittering necklace of other wealthy states from Iran to Japan filled in the picture. To this day, most of the human population is found in the same part of the world. The great age of European conquest temporarily diverted much of that wealth to Europe, impoverishing Asia in the process. That condition began to break down with the collapse of European colonial empires in the decade following the Second World War, but some of the same arrangements were propped up by the US thereafter. Now those are coming apart, and Asia is rising. By next year, four of the five largest economies on the planet in terms of purchasing power parity will be Asian. The fifth is the US, and it may not be in that list for much longer.

In short, America is bankrupt. Our governments from the federal level down, our big corporations and a very large number of our well-off citizens have run up gargantuan debts, which can only be serviced given direct or indirect access to the flows of unearned wealth the US extracted from the rest of the planet. Those debts cannot be paid off, and many of them can’t even be serviced for much longer. The only options are defaulting on them or inflating them out of existence, and in either case, arrangements based on familiar levels of expenditure will no longer be possible. Since the arrangements in question include most of what counts as an ordinary lifestyle in today’s US, the impact of their dissolution will be severe.

In effect, the 5% of us in this country are going to have to go back to living the way we did before 1945. If we still had the factories, the trained workforce, the abundant natural resources and the thrifty habits we had back then, that would have been a wrenching transition but not a debacle. The difficulty, of course, is that we don’t have those things anymore. The factories were shut down in the offshoring craze of the Seventies and Eighties, when the imperial economy slammed into overdrive, and the trained workforce was handed over to malign neglect.

We’ve still got some of the natural resources, but nothing like what we once had. The thrifty habits? Those went whistling down the wind a long time ago. In the late stages of an empire, exploiting flows of unearned wealth from abroad is far more profitable than trying to produce wealth at home, and most people direct their efforts accordingly. That’s how you end up with the typical late-imperial economy, with a governing class that flaunts fantastic levels of paper wealth, a parasite class of hangers-on that thrive by catering to the very rich or staffing the baroque bureaucratic systems that permeate public and private life, and the vast majority of the population impoverished, sullen, and unwilling to lift a finger to save their soi-disant betters from the consequences of their own actions.

The good news is that there’s a solution to all this. The bad news is that it’s going to take a couple of decades of serious turmoil to get there. The solution is that the US economy will retool itself to produce earned wealth in the form of real goods and non-financial services. That’ll happen inevitably as the flows of unearned wealth falter, foreign goods become unaffordable to most Americans, and it becomes profitable to produce things here in the US again. The difficulty, of course, is that most of a century of economic and political choices meant to support our former imperial project are going to have to be undone.

The most obvious example? The metastatic bloat of government, corporate and non-profit managerial jobs in American life. That’s a sensible move in an age of empire, as it funnels money into the consumer economy, which provides what jobs exist for the impoverished classes. Public and private offices alike teem with legions of office workers whose labour contributes nothing to national prosperity but whose pay cheques prop up the consumer sector. That bubble is already losing air. It’s indicative that Elon Musk, after his takeover of Twitter, fired some 80% of that company’s staff; other huge internet combines are pruning their workforce in the same way, though not yet to the same degree.

The recent hullaballoo about artificial intelligence is helping to amplify the same trend. Behind the chatbots are programs called large language models (LLMs), which are very good at imitating the more predictable uses of human language. A very large number of office jobs these days spend most of their time producing texts that fall into that category: contracts, legal briefs, press releases, media stories and so on. Those jobs are going away. Computer coding is even more amenable to LLM production, so you can kiss a great many software jobs goodbye as well. Any other form of economic activity that involves assembling predictable sequences of symbols is facing the same crunch. A recent paper by Goldman Sachs estimates that something like 300 million jobs across the industrial world will be wholly or partly replaced by LLMs in the years immediately ahead.

Another technology with similar results is CGI image creation. Levi’s announced not long ago that all its future catalogues and advertising will use CGI images instead of highly-paid models and photographers. Expect the same thing to spread generally. Oh, and Hollywood’s next. We’re not too far from the point at which a program can harvest all the footage of Marilyn Monroe from her films, and use that to generate new Marilyn Monroe movies for a tiny fraction of what it costs to hire living actors, camera crews and the rest. The result will be a drastic decrease in high-paying jobs across a broad swathe of the economy.

The outcome of all this? Well, one lot of pundits will insist at the top of their lungs that nothing will change in any way that matters, and another lot will start shrieking that the apocalypse is upon us. Those are the only two options our collective imagination can process these days. Of course, neither of those things will actually happen.

What will happen instead is that the middle and upper-middle classes in the US, and in many other countries, will face the same kind of slow demolition that swept over the working classes of those same countries in the late 20th century. Layoffs, corporate bankruptcies, declining salaries and benefits, and the latest high-tech version of NO HELP WANTED signs will follow one another at irregular intervals. All the businesses that make money catering to these same classes will lose their incomes as well, a piece at a time. Communities will hollow out the way the factory towns of America’s Rust Belt and the English Midlands did half a century ago, but this time it will be the turn of upscale suburbs and fashionable urban neighbourhoods to collapse as the income streams that supported them disappear.

This is not going to be a fast process. The US dollar is losing its place as the universal medium of foreign trade, but it will still be used by some countries for years to come. The unravelling of the arrangements that direct unearned wealth to the US will go a little faster, but that will still take time. The collapse of the cubicle class and the gutting of the suburbs will unfold over decades. That’s the way changes of this kind play out.

As for what people can do in response this late in the game, I refer to a post I made on The Archdruid Report in 2012 titled “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush”. In that post I pointed out that the unravelling of the American economy, and the broader project of industrial civilisation, was picking up speed around us, and those who wanted to get ready for it needed to start preparing soon by cutting their expenses, getting out of debt, and picking up the skills needed to produce goods and services for people rather than the corporate machine. I’m glad to say that some people did these things, but a great many others rolled their eyes, or made earnest resolutions to do something as soon as things were more convenient, which they never were.

Over the years that followed I repeated that warning and then moved on to other themes, since there really wasn’t much point to harping on about the approaching mess when the time to act had slipped away. Those who made preparations in time will weather the approaching mess as well as anyone can. Those who didn’t? The rush is here. I’m sorry to say that whatever you try, it’s likely that there’ll be plenty of other frantic people trying to do the same thing. You might still get lucky, but it’s going to be a hard row to hoe.

Mind you, I expect some people to take a different tack. In the months before a prediction of mine comes true, I reliably field a flurry of comments insisting that I’m too rigid and dogmatic in my views about the future, that I need to be more open-minded about alternative possibilities, that wonderful futures are still in reach, and so on. I got that in 2008 just before the real estate bubble started to go bust, as I’d predicted, and I also got it in 2010 just before the price of oil peaked and started to slide, as I’d also predicted, taking the peak oil movement with it. I’ve started to field the same sort of criticism once again.

We are dancing on the brink of a long slippery slope into an unwelcome new reality. I’d encourage readers in America and its close allies to brace themselves for a couple of decades of wrenching economic, social, and political turmoil. Those elsewhere will have an easier time of it, but it’s still going to be a wild ride before the rubble stops bouncing, and new social, economic, and political arrangements get patched together out of the wreckage.


John Michael Greer is the author of over thirty books. He served twelve years as Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America.


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J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

I reliably field a flurry of comments insisting that I’m too rigid and dogmatic in my views about the future, that I need to be more open-minded about alternative possibilities,
While I read the essay I did have the sense the author was perhaps a little too certain of his views and predictions, and that the world is too complex for such straightforward analysis.
But by the time I reached the end, I felt this essay had the ring of truth. What Mr. Greer proposes comports with everything I witness around me, from the incredible own goal of the Russia sanctions, to the remarkable advances in IT, to the author’s perfect description of the vast army of useless bureaucrats who now try to micromanage every aspect of our lives but whose real function is to support the elite.
I’m an American. It was good while it lasted. But I’m afraid we overplayed our hand, or perhaps, as the author suggests, no matter what we did or try to do, empires inevitably end.
I would appreciate an essay from this author about druidry. What is it? What relevance does it have to the current age of extreme societal change? What references would the author recommend?
Great essay from an unexpected source.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Relevance of the druids? None. Best regarded as harmless fruitcakes.
We still have a few in the UK. They were originally the priestly caste of ancient celtic culture. A few still dance around Stonehenge on the occasion of the summer solstice. The fact that Stonehenge predate druidism by some thousands of year doesn’t faze the modern druid, but it should alert you as to the fatuous nature of their belief system. By the way the druids left no written records or oral traditions, so lord knows what they thought about anything – The only knowledge that we have of them comes from Roman sources – notably Julius Caesar. It is probably the inspiration for the 70’s British movie The Wicker Man – worth a watch, particularly if you like the idea of Brit Ekland swanning around without her clothes on (I do)

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Tacitus*also provides an excellent description, which makes them sound like a Coven of LGBT activists.
Even the fabled Legions were shocked at the sight!

(*The Annals. XIV.30.)

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

Indeed, they are referred to by Tacitus. I had forgotten

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

Tacitus, who wrote about Britain (and other lands) without actually ever visiting; although, to be fair, his dad-in-law did. Tacitus, like Suetonius, is to be taken with a large pinch of salt, however, they are both enjoyably scandalous writers (I find Suetonius’ Latin easier than Tacitus’, though).

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Suetonius Paulinus seems to have “sorted them out” very efficiently. Thanks mainly to the valiant Legionaries of Legio XIV Gemina & Legio XX Valeria, plus off course the Auxilia.

We shall NOT see there like again.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago

As the article isn’t about Druidism, either ancient or modern, what is the relevance of all this ?

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

The Druids were despised by the Romans as being beneath contempt for holding human sacrifice as a cornerstone of their religion. I agree 100% with them and think them Demonic.

Romans have a history of this prejudice and never allowed it under their tolerance of subject nations religions. One of the reasons they killed every Carthage resident, tore down the buildings and salted the ground was they held human sacrifices where they burnt babies.

Druisism is another form of Satanism and I could not read the article because of this guys picture, although I know a great more than this writer on the USA Dollar from a bit of skimming, I cannot comment on the article its self.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

You just have, by claiming to be more knowledgeable about the Dollar.

Do Greer and his companions perform human sacrifices (as the Romans did in their gladiatorial games) ? No.

It is, of course, beyond absurd to claim that the Romans fought Carthage or the Druids from a holy horror of human sacrifice.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

It’s true gladiatorial combat seems to us a little like human sacrifice , but it seems likely the Romans viewed the two things as completely separate . And perhaps the superficial similarity made their hatred of ‘human sacrifice’ more intense

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

It’s true gladiatorial combat seems to us a little like human sacrifice , but it seems likely the Romans viewed the two things as completely separate . And perhaps the superficial similarity made their hatred of ‘human sacrifice’ more intense

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

You just have, by claiming to be more knowledgeable about the Dollar.

Do Greer and his companions perform human sacrifices (as the Romans did in their gladiatorial games) ? No.

It is, of course, beyond absurd to claim that the Romans fought Carthage or the Druids from a holy horror of human sacrifice.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

None.

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

The Druids were despised by the Romans as being beneath contempt for holding human sacrifice as a cornerstone of their religion. I agree 100% with them and think them Demonic.

Romans have a history of this prejudice and never allowed it under their tolerance of subject nations religions. One of the reasons they killed every Carthage resident, tore down the buildings and salted the ground was they held human sacrifices where they burnt babies.

Druisism is another form of Satanism and I could not read the article because of this guys picture, although I know a great more than this writer on the USA Dollar from a bit of skimming, I cannot comment on the article its self.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

None.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago

As the article isn’t about Druidism, either ancient or modern, what is the relevance of all this ?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

They were as truthful and accurate as the media is today. A sarcastic, off-hand remark about Incitatus – surely meant to deprecate some useless bureaucrats – became The emperor Gaius Caligula made his horse a senator! For current context, one need only hear what Governor Ron DeSantis actually says, and what the emotionally unhinged media says he says. A boulder of salt wouldn’t suffice.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Suetonius Paulinus seems to have “sorted them out” very efficiently. Thanks mainly to the valiant Legionaries of Legio XIV Gemina & Legio XX Valeria, plus off course the Auxilia.

We shall NOT see there like again.

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

They were as truthful and accurate as the media is today. A sarcastic, off-hand remark about Incitatus – surely meant to deprecate some useless bureaucrats – became The emperor Gaius Caligula made his horse a senator! For current context, one need only hear what Governor Ron DeSantis actually says, and what the emotionally unhinged media says he says. A boulder of salt wouldn’t suffice.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

You have to remember that this would have been during the Roman Warm Period, which in Britain would have been experienced like a 400 year version of a heatwave on a bank holiday weekend.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

How can that be, I thought humanity was incapable of surviving a couple of degrees warmer weather?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Vines grown north of York (Eboracum), but ‘they’ still had under-floor heating!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

How can that be, I thought humanity was incapable of surviving a couple of degrees warmer weather?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Vines grown north of York (Eboracum), but ‘they’ still had under-floor heating!

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

Indeed, they are referred to by Tacitus. I had forgotten

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

Tacitus, who wrote about Britain (and other lands) without actually ever visiting; although, to be fair, his dad-in-law did. Tacitus, like Suetonius, is to be taken with a large pinch of salt, however, they are both enjoyably scandalous writers (I find Suetonius’ Latin easier than Tacitus’, though).

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

You have to remember that this would have been during the Roman Warm Period, which in Britain would have been experienced like a 400 year version of a heatwave on a bank holiday weekend.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Great movie with a haunting soundtrack. And Britt’s little nude scene where she bangs on the wall of the virgin inspector’s room is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen on film.
As for this article, I can’t find any flaws in its analysis. My son is an actor; I wish he had taken up underwater welding, as his father suggested.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

No evidence of breast enhancement either!

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

When movies are all CGI, there will be a premium on live theatre – just as now, as recorded music becomes ever more synthetic, people are paying more and more for the live experience. Meanwhile the underwater welding will be done by robots.

Your son made a good choice.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

The Wicker Man? They used a body double, actually, a Glasgow stripper.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

No evidence of breast enhancement either!

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

When movies are all CGI, there will be a premium on live theatre – just as now, as recorded music becomes ever more synthetic, people are paying more and more for the live experience. Meanwhile the underwater welding will be done by robots.

Your son made a good choice.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

The Wicker Man? They used a body double, actually, a Glasgow stripper.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

No one knows who they were, or where they came from.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Whether or not Nigel knows the difference between feet and inches is not my problem.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

Whether or not Nigel knows the difference between feet and inches is not my problem.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

interesting…. are you proposing good old ‘kill the messenger and not the message’…?

Nick M
Nick M
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Fun fact – the fully nude scene shot from behind was using a body double as she refused to go fully nude for it. She was really annoyed afterwards as it looks like she had gone fully nude and felt her body didn’t have a body as good as hers.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick M

Typical!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Nick M

Typical!

Melanie Mabey
Melanie Mabey
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Brit Ekland used a stunt double for the nude scenes.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Tacitus*also provides an excellent description, which makes them sound like a Coven of LGBT activists.
Even the fabled Legions were shocked at the sight!

(*The Annals. XIV.30.)

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Great movie with a haunting soundtrack. And Britt’s little nude scene where she bangs on the wall of the virgin inspector’s room is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen on film.
As for this article, I can’t find any flaws in its analysis. My son is an actor; I wish he had taken up underwater welding, as his father suggested.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

No one knows who they were, or where they came from.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

interesting…. are you proposing good old ‘kill the messenger and not the message’…?

Nick M
Nick M
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Fun fact – the fully nude scene shot from behind was using a body double as she refused to go fully nude for it. She was really annoyed afterwards as it looks like she had gone fully nude and felt her body didn’t have a body as good as hers.

Melanie Mabey
Melanie Mabey
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Brit Ekland used a stunt double for the nude scenes.

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I had never heard of John Michael Greer until I read him on UnHerd. A contributor recommended his website ‘Ecosophia’ which I found very interesting. A strange mixture of ecology and Magick!
Greer edited the new edition of Israel Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn”.
Unlike Polidori and Stanhope, however luxuriant his beard he doesn’t come across as a fruit cake.

Last edited 1 year ago by Niall Cusack
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

O dear, not another humourless ‘Plastic Paddy’?

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago

Did you mean “plastic” as in explosives, Charles?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

No Niall, but as in synthetic.

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago

Ah well, that’s all right, then. But if you’re using “synthetic” to mean “affected or insincere”, I’m mystified.
I was simply answering the chap’s question about where to find some information about Greer’s version of Druidism.
As to “”humourless”, I yield to no-one in my appreciation of the double act performed by Polidori Redux and Charles Stanhope!
True reactionaries are few and far between, and not easy to counterfeit.
I suppose I just relish fruitcake with a glass of very dry sherry.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Fair enough.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

Fair enough.

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago

Ah well, that’s all right, then. But if you’re using “synthetic” to mean “affected or insincere”, I’m mystified.
I was simply answering the chap’s question about where to find some information about Greer’s version of Druidism.
As to “”humourless”, I yield to no-one in my appreciation of the double act performed by Polidori Redux and Charles Stanhope!
True reactionaries are few and far between, and not easy to counterfeit.
I suppose I just relish fruitcake with a glass of very dry sherry.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

No Niall, but as in synthetic.

Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago

Did you mean “plastic” as in explosives, Charles?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Niall Cusack

O dear, not another humourless ‘Plastic Paddy’?

shamea Vovo
shamea Vovo
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

People may condemn the US in any way they like, the US is making agreement with whoever is dealing with, it’s never a robbery and the US is playing a major role in shepherding the world for peace and humanity, syclones, hunger, HIV/ AIDS all the poor countries ask for help from the caring USAID fund.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Relevance of the druids? None. Best regarded as harmless fruitcakes.
We still have a few in the UK. They were originally the priestly caste of ancient celtic culture. A few still dance around Stonehenge on the occasion of the summer solstice. The fact that Stonehenge predate druidism by some thousands of year doesn’t faze the modern druid, but it should alert you as to the fatuous nature of their belief system. By the way the druids left no written records or oral traditions, so lord knows what they thought about anything – The only knowledge that we have of them comes from Roman sources – notably Julius Caesar. It is probably the inspiration for the 70’s British movie The Wicker Man – worth a watch, particularly if you like the idea of Brit Ekland swanning around without her clothes on (I do)

Last edited 1 year ago by polidori redux
Niall Cusack
Niall Cusack
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I had never heard of John Michael Greer until I read him on UnHerd. A contributor recommended his website ‘Ecosophia’ which I found very interesting. A strange mixture of ecology and Magick!
Greer edited the new edition of Israel Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn”.
Unlike Polidori and Stanhope, however luxuriant his beard he doesn’t come across as a fruit cake.

Last edited 1 year ago by Niall Cusack
shamea Vovo
shamea Vovo
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

People may condemn the US in any way they like, the US is making agreement with whoever is dealing with, it’s never a robbery and the US is playing a major role in shepherding the world for peace and humanity, syclones, hunger, HIV/ AIDS all the poor countries ask for help from the caring USAID fund.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

I reliably field a flurry of comments insisting that I’m too rigid and dogmatic in my views about the future, that I need to be more open-minded about alternative possibilities,
While I read the essay I did have the sense the author was perhaps a little too certain of his views and predictions, and that the world is too complex for such straightforward analysis.
But by the time I reached the end, I felt this essay had the ring of truth. What Mr. Greer proposes comports with everything I witness around me, from the incredible own goal of the Russia sanctions, to the remarkable advances in IT, to the author’s perfect description of the vast army of useless bureaucrats who now try to micromanage every aspect of our lives but whose real function is to support the elite.
I’m an American. It was good while it lasted. But I’m afraid we overplayed our hand, or perhaps, as the author suggests, no matter what we did or try to do, empires inevitably end.
I would appreciate an essay from this author about druidry. What is it? What relevance does it have to the current age of extreme societal change? What references would the author recommend?
Great essay from an unexpected source.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Speaking as a software developer myself, while I’m certain that a large part of what I presently do will be replaced by LLMs, I’m also certain that software developers will still be required and in large numbers.

The reason I say so is that I have already seen vast tracts of software developer effort automated in the 15 years I’ve been doing this and the effect has been to raise the value which a software developer can deliver at the same time as expand demand for that developer’s services.

I’ll give two examples: firstly simply the assistance of package managers, which enable a developer to install third party libraries in his/her own code instead of writing complex code (which is commonly required in most applications) from scratch. This saves huge amounts of time – well over 90% in most cases if not more – but improves developer productivity so much that the market for developer services is far larger.

The second example is Amazon Web Services, and to a lesser extent the Microsoft offering Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, which are enormously complex platforms for the provision and delivery of web applications and services, that are in the process of taking over what used to be called server administration and then later devops. They make possible a lot of advanced features and services that an individual server admin could probably never have achieved on his own but – and this is the point – it is so complex in its own right that it has simply created a demand for a new class of devops expert. This is what will happen as LLMs displace automatable segments of existing developer working patterns: the fact that the LLM cannot automate everything will require the ultimate decision-making of a software developer to perform the human task of ensuring that the application as a whole actually does what people want of it.

So software developers won’t lose their jobs as such, it’s just that the jobs will change, much as they always have – the languages and frameworks I’m presently fluent in didn’t exist 20 years ago and the systems used back then are now obsolete, yet the software developer profession is going strong nonetheless.

As to the rest, I agree with much of the analysis, but I am not certain that the USA is done yet. The loss of the reserve currency, while a genuine threat, is not inevitable at this point. The USA still possesses an innovative capacity unmatched elsewhere on the planet and it will not go down quietly.

I do hope that the parasite class accurately described in the article – there are some brilliant observations in it, I must admit – are destroyed no matter what though, and that the effect comes to Britain as well. This class of people serve no useful purpose whether or not we can afford them and the sooner we get shot of the lot of them, the better.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Mo Brown
Mo Brown
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Agree completely. Software is always evolving at a rapid pace. The software that is written today is built upon the software (and lower layer technologies) that were built yesterday. Untalented software engineers are always at risk as tech evolves, but talented engineers will evolve and be joined by new ones, and together they will continue to build the awesome new stuff that comes from the new tech. And so on.

tim richardson
tim richardson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I am a member of the parasite class.

I am responsible for the excess $600 billion that the United States spends on healthcare services administration above and beyond what comparable OECD nations spend on healthcare for no improvements in actual outcomes.

I am not a physician.

But, as long as countries and governments continue to allocate large pots of money, such as Medicare, Social Security, and other entitlement programs, there will continue to be a need for bureaucratic services to “manage“ that money.

And, I’m not even on the government side.

I am on the private side, tasked with interpreting, divining and devising schemes and routines to obtain that money in ways that are legal, ethical and non-fattening.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Well said.
I would like to add, that as a software developer even longer in the tooth than you, we used to be known as analyst/programmers.
This is important because more than 50% of my time is spent on the analysis part.
For example, even though I spend my days developing commodity trading systems for highly numerate, technical traders and their analysts, business people in general are not good at specifying exactly what it is that the system they want me to develop should do.
I foresee my role in future (and plenty of others) as being almost a translator of business type’s requests into specific language that AI code generators can work with, as well as validating that the AI generated code does what it is meant to.
For the non-techie that may read this, our code editors already have an AI-lite auto-complete feature whereby, similar to auto-correct, it will suggest completions based upon what one has already typed. Sometimes it works freakishly well, however, other times it comes out with nonsense. I believe that it will be a long time before we do away with the human element to check their output.

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Stott
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

Amen to that.

I find the static typing and autocomplete features in my code editor brilliant, mainly because although I’ve been in front of a keyboard for almost 40 years at this stage, I’m still a hopeless typist. Just the fact that the code editor knows all the possible class and method names and will complete them for me makes me happy most days.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Stott

Amen to that.

I find the static typing and autocomplete features in my code editor brilliant, mainly because although I’ve been in front of a keyboard for almost 40 years at this stage, I’m still a hopeless typist. Just the fact that the code editor knows all the possible class and method names and will complete them for me makes me happy most days.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I got some help from GPT-3.5, but the code was quite buggy. Took a bit of time to get it to work properly. Perhaps I should have iterated with the GPT solution but it was easier to rework the code. Maybe the LLM will improve but I fully expect analysts will still be needed. While GPT scraped a lot off canned solutions to generate code, some of it carries original flaws that analysts must correct. I serious doubt Open AI will ever have access to most running proprietary code bases. Perhaps Microsoft may find it useful in debugging some of their leaky code.

Rafe Husain
Rafe Husain
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

US has to start producing usable products and skip financial vaporware. Management layers especially in health care need to go

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Great to hear a coder talk about about coding.

IMHO, all this talk about AI seems to miss an important point. Intelligence—human especially—includes/works with emotion. Dare I say, no emotion no intelligence? So can this “all ubiquitous AI” we are hearing about actually be anything remotely intelligent and capable of taking over everything?

Screw you Descartes, mind is not, and never was, separate from body. Too bad so many of us believed him, or at least interpreted him in this way.

And yes, I read the part about the pituitary gland. The worst part of a very incoherent essay. And the part where he smuggled in God to make the whole enterprise remotely coherent?! Bah humbug. A pox on thee Rene.

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Agree completely. Software is always evolving at a rapid pace. The software that is written today is built upon the software (and lower layer technologies) that were built yesterday. Untalented software engineers are always at risk as tech evolves, but talented engineers will evolve and be joined by new ones, and together they will continue to build the awesome new stuff that comes from the new tech. And so on.

tim richardson
tim richardson
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I am a member of the parasite class.

I am responsible for the excess $600 billion that the United States spends on healthcare services administration above and beyond what comparable OECD nations spend on healthcare for no improvements in actual outcomes.

I am not a physician.

But, as long as countries and governments continue to allocate large pots of money, such as Medicare, Social Security, and other entitlement programs, there will continue to be a need for bureaucratic services to “manage“ that money.

And, I’m not even on the government side.

I am on the private side, tasked with interpreting, divining and devising schemes and routines to obtain that money in ways that are legal, ethical and non-fattening.

Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Well said.
I would like to add, that as a software developer even longer in the tooth than you, we used to be known as analyst/programmers.
This is important because more than 50% of my time is spent on the analysis part.
For example, even though I spend my days developing commodity trading systems for highly numerate, technical traders and their analysts, business people in general are not good at specifying exactly what it is that the system they want me to develop should do.
I foresee my role in future (and plenty of others) as being almost a translator of business type’s requests into specific language that AI code generators can work with, as well as validating that the AI generated code does what it is meant to.
For the non-techie that may read this, our code editors already have an AI-lite auto-complete feature whereby, similar to auto-correct, it will suggest completions based upon what one has already typed. Sometimes it works freakishly well, however, other times it comes out with nonsense. I believe that it will be a long time before we do away with the human element to check their output.

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Stott
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I got some help from GPT-3.5, but the code was quite buggy. Took a bit of time to get it to work properly. Perhaps I should have iterated with the GPT solution but it was easier to rework the code. Maybe the LLM will improve but I fully expect analysts will still be needed. While GPT scraped a lot off canned solutions to generate code, some of it carries original flaws that analysts must correct. I serious doubt Open AI will ever have access to most running proprietary code bases. Perhaps Microsoft may find it useful in debugging some of their leaky code.

Rafe Husain
Rafe Husain
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

US has to start producing usable products and skip financial vaporware. Management layers especially in health care need to go

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Great to hear a coder talk about about coding.

IMHO, all this talk about AI seems to miss an important point. Intelligence—human especially—includes/works with emotion. Dare I say, no emotion no intelligence? So can this “all ubiquitous AI” we are hearing about actually be anything remotely intelligent and capable of taking over everything?

Screw you Descartes, mind is not, and never was, separate from body. Too bad so many of us believed him, or at least interpreted him in this way.

And yes, I read the part about the pituitary gland. The worst part of a very incoherent essay. And the part where he smuggled in God to make the whole enterprise remotely coherent?! Bah humbug. A pox on thee Rene.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Speaking as a software developer myself, while I’m certain that a large part of what I presently do will be replaced by LLMs, I’m also certain that software developers will still be required and in large numbers.

The reason I say so is that I have already seen vast tracts of software developer effort automated in the 15 years I’ve been doing this and the effect has been to raise the value which a software developer can deliver at the same time as expand demand for that developer’s services.

I’ll give two examples: firstly simply the assistance of package managers, which enable a developer to install third party libraries in his/her own code instead of writing complex code (which is commonly required in most applications) from scratch. This saves huge amounts of time – well over 90% in most cases if not more – but improves developer productivity so much that the market for developer services is far larger.

The second example is Amazon Web Services, and to a lesser extent the Microsoft offering Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, which are enormously complex platforms for the provision and delivery of web applications and services, that are in the process of taking over what used to be called server administration and then later devops. They make possible a lot of advanced features and services that an individual server admin could probably never have achieved on his own but – and this is the point – it is so complex in its own right that it has simply created a demand for a new class of devops expert. This is what will happen as LLMs displace automatable segments of existing developer working patterns: the fact that the LLM cannot automate everything will require the ultimate decision-making of a software developer to perform the human task of ensuring that the application as a whole actually does what people want of it.

So software developers won’t lose their jobs as such, it’s just that the jobs will change, much as they always have – the languages and frameworks I’m presently fluent in didn’t exist 20 years ago and the systems used back then are now obsolete, yet the software developer profession is going strong nonetheless.

As to the rest, I agree with much of the analysis, but I am not certain that the USA is done yet. The loss of the reserve currency, while a genuine threat, is not inevitable at this point. The USA still possesses an innovative capacity unmatched elsewhere on the planet and it will not go down quietly.

I do hope that the parasite class accurately described in the article – there are some brilliant observations in it, I must admit – are destroyed no matter what though, and that the effect comes to Britain as well. This class of people serve no useful purpose whether or not we can afford them and the sooner we get shot of the lot of them, the better.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago

Its funny watching this in real time

The US is stuck now, they have to continue to sanction and oppose the Russians, but that just pushes China and Russia closer together. India, Iran, the Saudis and others will make moves to their own advantage, but not the Europeans, we will be the last to figure it out. Occasionally the US president will visit countries asking for support, the locals just smile at the old man with dementia. But not the Europeans, we will be the last to figure it out

Added to that, reform now seems impossible in the US, an honest man trying to fix the system will be opposed by the elite, the scams must continue at all cost

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

“just pushes China and Russia closer together”
China has designs on E. Russia mate. Don’t bet on that being much of a partnership. Don’t even bet on Putin’s drunken kleptocracy being around for too long after his death either. I predict a bloody power grab in the Kremlin and the inevitable secession of the Asian states.  
Generally, a little too much schadenfreude in this article; I’d like to see a counter-view from someone who knows more about economics than me.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Just read the MSM, it has everything you asked for

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The MSM is totally ignorant about economics.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

And most other subjects too.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

And most other subjects too.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The MSM is totally ignorant about economics.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Notice that Russia must get certain chips from commercial washing machines and is seeking ammunition from North Korea. Meanwhile it can’t repair damaged gear so is pulling WW2 tanks into service. Aircraft are being grounded for lack of parts. The sanctions have created a shortfall in revenue as well. So the litany of sanctions not working is a bit hasty. I’m sure the Iranians might have means to evade sanctions, but as those channels get used they become more exposed.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Just read the MSM, it has everything you asked for

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Notice that Russia must get certain chips from commercial washing machines and is seeking ammunition from North Korea. Meanwhile it can’t repair damaged gear so is pulling WW2 tanks into service. Aircraft are being grounded for lack of parts. The sanctions have created a shortfall in revenue as well. So the litany of sanctions not working is a bit hasty. I’m sure the Iranians might have means to evade sanctions, but as those channels get used they become more exposed.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Any ‘honest politicians’ will be opposed by woke & progressive pseudo-intellectuals rather than the elites (whatever they may be). While Biden has definitely seen better days, the progressives indulge in their own selective dementia.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

And of the European countries the UK will be last of all, except perhaps for Ireland

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

I’m afraid you’re right, and, as an American, I’m afraid of a lot right now.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The only elegant way out for the US is to get Zelensky to agree a ‘peace deal’, attempt to spin that as a US victory of diplomacy, and then back out of sanctions.

But in the background of that, the US leadership need to radically and urgently reverse course on the Equity and Green agendas that they’re presently embedding throughout the bureaucracy, and the financial and education systems, double speed.

Ending the self-harming idiocy around the proxy war is hugely important, but the dollar will still fall if the USA commit policy-based hari kiri via the UN’s SDGs / Agenda 2030.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

I agree, but its not going to happen, for a lot of reasons, the neocons for example

The US has painted itself onto a corner. The fish rots from the head

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Sadly, I concur.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Sadly, I concur.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

I agree, but its not going to happen, for a lot of reasons, the neocons for example

The US has painted itself onto a corner. The fish rots from the head

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

President Trump had it figured out but the Europeans laughed at him.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

“just pushes China and Russia closer together”
China has designs on E. Russia mate. Don’t bet on that being much of a partnership. Don’t even bet on Putin’s drunken kleptocracy being around for too long after his death either. I predict a bloody power grab in the Kremlin and the inevitable secession of the Asian states.  
Generally, a little too much schadenfreude in this article; I’d like to see a counter-view from someone who knows more about economics than me.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Any ‘honest politicians’ will be opposed by woke & progressive pseudo-intellectuals rather than the elites (whatever they may be). While Biden has definitely seen better days, the progressives indulge in their own selective dementia.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

And of the European countries the UK will be last of all, except perhaps for Ireland

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

I’m afraid you’re right, and, as an American, I’m afraid of a lot right now.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The only elegant way out for the US is to get Zelensky to agree a ‘peace deal’, attempt to spin that as a US victory of diplomacy, and then back out of sanctions.

But in the background of that, the US leadership need to radically and urgently reverse course on the Equity and Green agendas that they’re presently embedding throughout the bureaucracy, and the financial and education systems, double speed.

Ending the self-harming idiocy around the proxy war is hugely important, but the dollar will still fall if the USA commit policy-based hari kiri via the UN’s SDGs / Agenda 2030.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

President Trump had it figured out but the Europeans laughed at him.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago

Its funny watching this in real time

The US is stuck now, they have to continue to sanction and oppose the Russians, but that just pushes China and Russia closer together. India, Iran, the Saudis and others will make moves to their own advantage, but not the Europeans, we will be the last to figure it out. Occasionally the US president will visit countries asking for support, the locals just smile at the old man with dementia. But not the Europeans, we will be the last to figure it out

Added to that, reform now seems impossible in the US, an honest man trying to fix the system will be opposed by the elite, the scams must continue at all cost

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Putting aside the Druid’ stuff which obvious raises one’s eyebrows, does not the general contention, not only conveyed here of course, understate the strength of the US approach to capitalism which continues to ‘best’ others including the CCP? In a week where Musk sent the most powerful rocket ever into the upper atmosphere, privately developed, are we not a bit myopic on how strong the US model remains?
Now it has some deficiencies for sure, but it’s ability to attract the best and brightest from around the world and provide them with capital to exploit opportunities in a country where the rule of law counts, remains incredibly powerful. The brightest and the best do not try to get a Green card into China. They may want to trade there, but not live there.
There are threats to this model, but one still suspects the ability to replicate this at scale elsewhere has limitations. In China the biggest block to it is of course the CCP itself. Such countries biggest weakness is how they are managed by a mafia unquestioned and unchallenged. That implodes itself in time.

NCFC Paul
NCFC Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I agree here completely, it’s far too soon to write off the United States. The suggestion that America is on the brink of collapse, that other nations are just waiting to step in is without evidence. For example, reading Peter Zeihan’s recent book ‘The End of the World’ paints a very different picture. Rather than USA collapsing into disaster it is the rest who will struggle without American military protection and demographic tomebombs which will affect none more than China. And Russia.
A Druid may fantasise about living in mud huts, worshipping nature, but I think this article is actually backwards, it is the United States who are in a far stronger position than pretty much anyone else.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  NCFC Paul

Zehlin is a fool, he thinks the US has better demographics that Japan, China, Russia ect

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The ability to assimilate immigrants might forestall the demographic collapse found in other places.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The USA is attracting immigrants.

But it isn’t assimilating them.

Since there is no longer a dominant US WASP culture to assimilate them into.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

The US may not assimilate immigrants but it assimilates the children of immigrants and has been for a couple hundred years.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

By courtesy of the dominant WASP culture.

Which is no longer there. There is no longer any definition of what “”American” is and the blacks and Hispanics don’t want to be “American”

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Is that because the WASPs have lost their pioneer spirit?

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

No it’s because of LBJ and the lack of required assimilation of non Europeans and the most devastating that people aren’t having children at replacement rates.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L

A Toynbee points out that at the height of the power of Rome say, 300 BC to 200AD, barbarians wanted to assimilate into Roman culture because it was powerful and competent. Individual Romans were endowed with an incredible hardyness of body, mind and spirit combined with technical competence which made the culture attractive .
Compare the training of a young WASP with someone from the Equine or Patrician classes between 300BC and 200AD. The ability of Rome to beat Hannibal after the defeat at Cannae when 60,000 Romans were killed and 10,000 captured demonstrates hardyness of spirit.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L

A Toynbee points out that at the height of the power of Rome say, 300 BC to 200AD, barbarians wanted to assimilate into Roman culture because it was powerful and competent. Individual Romans were endowed with an incredible hardyness of body, mind and spirit combined with technical competence which made the culture attractive .
Compare the training of a young WASP with someone from the Equine or Patrician classes between 300BC and 200AD. The ability of Rome to beat Hannibal after the defeat at Cannae when 60,000 Romans were killed and 10,000 captured demonstrates hardyness of spirit.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

They have become decadent and lost their traditional Protestant faith.

So yes, they have lost their spirit.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

No it’s because of LBJ and the lack of required assimilation of non Europeans and the most devastating that people aren’t having children at replacement rates.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

They have become decadent and lost their traditional Protestant faith.

So yes, they have lost their spirit.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Americans who are born here tend to exhibit American-ness. I don’t know what you’re attempting to say. Especially about blacks and Hispanics. Sounds like classic ass chatter. The stank kind.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Is that because the WASPs have lost their pioneer spirit?

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Americans who are born here tend to exhibit American-ness. I don’t know what you’re attempting to say. Especially about blacks and Hispanics. Sounds like classic ass chatter. The stank kind.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

Many assimilate into the grievance culture. They actually assimilated best during Theodore Roosevelts day but that is because of societal pressure and as stated above the dominant population was ASP and the immigrants were mainly European; even so they stopped importing anyone occasionally. After 1965 it’s been downhill ever since.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

By courtesy of the dominant WASP culture.

Which is no longer there. There is no longer any definition of what “”American” is and the blacks and Hispanics don’t want to be “American”

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Sisyphus Jones

Many assimilate into the grievance culture. They actually assimilated best during Theodore Roosevelts day but that is because of societal pressure and as stated above the dominant population was ASP and the immigrants were mainly European; even so they stopped importing anyone occasionally. After 1965 it’s been downhill ever since.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

The US may not assimilate immigrants but it assimilates the children of immigrants and has been for a couple hundred years.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

The USA is attracting immigrants.

But it isn’t assimilating them.

Since there is no longer a dominant US WASP culture to assimilate them into.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The ability to assimilate immigrants might forestall the demographic collapse found in other places.

Eric Kottke
Eric Kottke
1 year ago
Reply to  NCFC Paul

To be fair he didn’t say the USA is on the brink of collapse. I’m an American and it seems to me like the country is on the way to becoming Brazil with nuclear weapons. A big country with natural barriers all around, messy stupid politics, and some nice things. What he didn’t mention about the end of dominating “Empire” is the attendant increase in peer, conventional war that comes with it. We’ll miss the problems we had.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  NCFC Paul

America is also suffering a demographic time bomb.

But one that is being offset by immigration, unlike Russia or China’s demographic time bombs.

But that immigration, in addition to tearing the USA politically, is changing the USA out of recognition, since the traditional WASP version of the USA won’t survive the disappearance of the WASPS, however much people pretend that it will.

Jim Bocho
Jim Bocho
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

WASPs started disappearing from the US early in the 20th century with the mass arrival of Eastern and Southern Europeans.

Jim Bocho
Jim Bocho
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

WASPs started disappearing from the US early in the 20th century with the mass arrival of Eastern and Southern Europeans.

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  NCFC Paul

Zehlin is a fool, he thinks the US has better demographics that Japan, China, Russia ect

Eric Kottke
Eric Kottke
1 year ago
Reply to  NCFC Paul

To be fair he didn’t say the USA is on the brink of collapse. I’m an American and it seems to me like the country is on the way to becoming Brazil with nuclear weapons. A big country with natural barriers all around, messy stupid politics, and some nice things. What he didn’t mention about the end of dominating “Empire” is the attendant increase in peer, conventional war that comes with it. We’ll miss the problems we had.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
1 year ago
Reply to  NCFC Paul

America is also suffering a demographic time bomb.

But one that is being offset by immigration, unlike Russia or China’s demographic time bombs.

But that immigration, in addition to tearing the USA politically, is changing the USA out of recognition, since the traditional WASP version of the USA won’t survive the disappearance of the WASPS, however much people pretend that it will.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I often see the line about America being more attractive than China for migrants being put forward as a basis for believing that America has a more superior government than that of China but I don’t think it’s a valid point, or at least not as strong as some think.
The two nations have extremely different histories that make such a comparison very weak. China, like India and Japan have been highly populated since ancient times. America has a very low population density and has been receiving a steady flow of immigrants for 500 years. Were Europeans migrating to colonial era America because it had a superior system of government ?
You may also be underestimating the level of foreign technical expertise that China does attract. I personally have met many Russian scientists (mainly military) also German and Korean technicians (mainly civilian manufacturing) during my time in China. It’s not a vast number but it doesn’t need to be given the size of the Chinese population.
The Belt and Road Initiative also comes with a large number of scholarships for student from participating countries to study in Chinese universities. Upon graduation those young people will mainly return to their homes to be a bridge between the Chinese and locals in BRI projects.
You may consider the CCP to be a mafia gang but then it’s a mafia gang that has pulled off the largest human economic development in history. Gargantuan amounts of literally concrete results, Not bad for a criminal conspiracy.
The CCP see themselves as the heirs to the very long tradition of the Confucian Imperial bureaucracy. Their “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is in reality Techno-Confucianism with Socialist Characteristics. It’s an interesting contrast with the Russian Soviet model. When the Soviet mismanagement drove the economy into the ground there was chaos and a total ideological vacuum. It didn’t happen in China because the government bureaucracy had two thousand years of Confucianism to draw upon.
Read some of the government publications coming out of Beijing, watch how their officials comport themselves in public. It’s all Confucian gentleman-scholar, Marx and Engels are long dead and buried.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

There is something in your points JD. However some further thoughts.
Currently no contest on the GDP per capital. It’s 6 times higher in the US and CCP not closing that anytime soon.
As regards the BRI, the CCP is already finding infrastructure diplomacy not as easy as they thought. Significant debt risk remains with the Chinese state. Many of the deals do not look as good to the foreign partners over time either, esp as corruption increases cost – and of course the Chinese construction companies often used are not subject to proper competition making them inevitably sclerotic and prone to cost inflation. The CCP is surfing a large debt bubble, slowing growth, major demographic challenges and it has to steal much of the cutting edge technology and science from the West (remember they also couldn’t design an effective Vaccine and they had a head-start. Xi’s almost certainly had a Western Vaccine!). These structural problems in part why Xi’s eye’s turn to Taiwan and the need for a national distraction. Of course any conflict there will quickly adversely impact on them as much as rest of the World. 40% of it’s trade goes through that bottleneck. It’d get choked quickly.
As regards Confucianism – critics might argue it just helps perpetuate hierarchies and ossification which thriving capitalism and a growing middle class will inevitably butt up against and rebel. It can be used for a while to buttress the CCP model but eventually one party rule, and the inevitable corruption that generates, corrodes itself.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Xi seems to be reversing his desire to centrally plan his world domination. Meanwhile, many are trying to decouple from China as it begins to act as a major military power. Observe that China’s military has no real world experience relying on observation of US ways of war. The US is rapidly reworking it’s military in response to China’s posture. Others have become dependent on near slave labor from China and are beginning to question how those profits are being used.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Xi seems to be reversing his desire to centrally plan his world domination. Meanwhile, many are trying to decouple from China as it begins to act as a major military power. Observe that China’s military has no real world experience relying on observation of US ways of war. The US is rapidly reworking it’s military in response to China’s posture. Others have become dependent on near slave labor from China and are beginning to question how those profits are being used.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

There are cultural issues that can differentiate nations, not the least is the ability to innovate. Cultures that tolerate failure might affect society. China seems intent of identifying genetic factors which interact with culture but they might not really matter.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

To innovate one needs freedom. Cenorship reduces the mind to think freely, initiative and ingenuity . A society whih has extensive censorship and centralised bureaucratic control innovates slowly , compare Britain with France from 1660 to 1800. Britain had a quarter of the wealth of France in 1660 yet we created the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions because we were free to think and act. Freer then, than today.Look at life of Newton, James Brindley and G Stephenson; born into poverty yet had the freedom think and act and in doing so changed the World.
What the USA inherited from Britain, specifically England, is the freedom to think and act within a nation whose rules were drafted by the people and for the people (n Anglo Saxon Laws). A people who realised that through honest hard competent work conditions could be improved which is that specified by A Toynbee in his Study of History .

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

To innovate one needs freedom. Cenorship reduces the mind to think freely, initiative and ingenuity . A society whih has extensive censorship and centralised bureaucratic control innovates slowly , compare Britain with France from 1660 to 1800. Britain had a quarter of the wealth of France in 1660 yet we created the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions because we were free to think and act. Freer then, than today.Look at life of Newton, James Brindley and G Stephenson; born into poverty yet had the freedom think and act and in doing so changed the World.
What the USA inherited from Britain, specifically England, is the freedom to think and act within a nation whose rules were drafted by the people and for the people (n Anglo Saxon Laws). A people who realised that through honest hard competent work conditions could be improved which is that specified by A Toynbee in his Study of History .

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

China had a very low base because of the destruction caused by the CCCP. The massive growth was possible by adopting and stealing western technology and by having a large amount of cheap labour. However as the wages of labour has inreased, low value manufacturing has moved elsewhere. There is a massive debt bubble. The question is whether China can innovate.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

There is something in your points JD. However some further thoughts.
Currently no contest on the GDP per capital. It’s 6 times higher in the US and CCP not closing that anytime soon.
As regards the BRI, the CCP is already finding infrastructure diplomacy not as easy as they thought. Significant debt risk remains with the Chinese state. Many of the deals do not look as good to the foreign partners over time either, esp as corruption increases cost – and of course the Chinese construction companies often used are not subject to proper competition making them inevitably sclerotic and prone to cost inflation. The CCP is surfing a large debt bubble, slowing growth, major demographic challenges and it has to steal much of the cutting edge technology and science from the West (remember they also couldn’t design an effective Vaccine and they had a head-start. Xi’s almost certainly had a Western Vaccine!). These structural problems in part why Xi’s eye’s turn to Taiwan and the need for a national distraction. Of course any conflict there will quickly adversely impact on them as much as rest of the World. 40% of it’s trade goes through that bottleneck. It’d get choked quickly.
As regards Confucianism – critics might argue it just helps perpetuate hierarchies and ossification which thriving capitalism and a growing middle class will inevitably butt up against and rebel. It can be used for a while to buttress the CCP model but eventually one party rule, and the inevitable corruption that generates, corrodes itself.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

There are cultural issues that can differentiate nations, not the least is the ability to innovate. Cultures that tolerate failure might affect society. China seems intent of identifying genetic factors which interact with culture but they might not really matter.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Dee

China had a very low base because of the destruction caused by the CCCP. The massive growth was possible by adopting and stealing western technology and by having a large amount of cheap labour. However as the wages of labour has inreased, low value manufacturing has moved elsewhere. There is a massive debt bubble. The question is whether China can innovate.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

You cannot overestimate how important the rule of law and stability actually are.
To live in a country where there is an appreciable risk that you could loose everything if you run foul of the authorities or a powerful individual is a powerful incentive to move your family and your assets, which why you see many of the wealthy in China and Russia moving their children and money to western nations

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Seconded.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago

Agreed, but that imbalance too is changing. The introduction of CBDCs in most western economies (closely followed by social credit scores) will ensure there is an ‘appreciable risk that you could lose everything if you run foul of the authorities’ anywhere in the world.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
1 year ago

Is that the US you are talking about? You can also lose everything there if you get sick. Not a pleasant place for a lot of its citizens

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

When I said wealthy I meant wealthy

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Most working people have insurance.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

When I said wealthy I meant wealthy

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Most working people have insurance.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

We are losing that here now too in the major cities.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Seconded.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago

Agreed, but that imbalance too is changing. The introduction of CBDCs in most western economies (closely followed by social credit scores) will ensure there is an ‘appreciable risk that you could lose everything if you run foul of the authorities’ anywhere in the world.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
1 year ago

Is that the US you are talking about? You can also lose everything there if you get sick. Not a pleasant place for a lot of its citizens

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

We are losing that here now too in the major cities.

NCFC Paul
NCFC Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I agree here completely, it’s far too soon to write off the United States. The suggestion that America is on the brink of collapse, that other nations are just waiting to step in is without evidence. For example, reading Peter Zeihan’s recent book ‘The End of the World’ paints a very different picture. Rather than USA collapsing into disaster it is the rest who will struggle without American military protection and demographic tomebombs which will affect none more than China. And Russia.
A Druid may fantasise about living in mud huts, worshipping nature, but I think this article is actually backwards, it is the United States who are in a far stronger position than pretty much anyone else.

Jake Dee
Jake Dee
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I often see the line about America being more attractive than China for migrants being put forward as a basis for believing that America has a more superior government than that of China but I don’t think it’s a valid point, or at least not as strong as some think.
The two nations have extremely different histories that make such a comparison very weak. China, like India and Japan have been highly populated since ancient times. America has a very low population density and has been receiving a steady flow of immigrants for 500 years. Were Europeans migrating to colonial era America because it had a superior system of government ?
You may also be underestimating the level of foreign technical expertise that China does attract. I personally have met many Russian scientists (mainly military) also German and Korean technicians (mainly civilian manufacturing) during my time in China. It’s not a vast number but it doesn’t need to be given the size of the Chinese population.
The Belt and Road Initiative also comes with a large number of scholarships for student from participating countries to study in Chinese universities. Upon graduation those young people will mainly return to their homes to be a bridge between the Chinese and locals in BRI projects.
You may consider the CCP to be a mafia gang but then it’s a mafia gang that has pulled off the largest human economic development in history. Gargantuan amounts of literally concrete results, Not bad for a criminal conspiracy.
The CCP see themselves as the heirs to the very long tradition of the Confucian Imperial bureaucracy. Their “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is in reality Techno-Confucianism with Socialist Characteristics. It’s an interesting contrast with the Russian Soviet model. When the Soviet mismanagement drove the economy into the ground there was chaos and a total ideological vacuum. It didn’t happen in China because the government bureaucracy had two thousand years of Confucianism to draw upon.
Read some of the government publications coming out of Beijing, watch how their officials comport themselves in public. It’s all Confucian gentleman-scholar, Marx and Engels are long dead and buried.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

You cannot overestimate how important the rule of law and stability actually are.
To live in a country where there is an appreciable risk that you could loose everything if you run foul of the authorities or a powerful individual is a powerful incentive to move your family and your assets, which why you see many of the wealthy in China and Russia moving their children and money to western nations

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Putting aside the Druid’ stuff which obvious raises one’s eyebrows, does not the general contention, not only conveyed here of course, understate the strength of the US approach to capitalism which continues to ‘best’ others including the CCP? In a week where Musk sent the most powerful rocket ever into the upper atmosphere, privately developed, are we not a bit myopic on how strong the US model remains?
Now it has some deficiencies for sure, but it’s ability to attract the best and brightest from around the world and provide them with capital to exploit opportunities in a country where the rule of law counts, remains incredibly powerful. The brightest and the best do not try to get a Green card into China. They may want to trade there, but not live there.
There are threats to this model, but one still suspects the ability to replicate this at scale elsewhere has limitations. In China the biggest block to it is of course the CCP itself. Such countries biggest weakness is how they are managed by a mafia unquestioned and unchallenged. That implodes itself in time.

Caroline Cullinane
Caroline Cullinane
1 year ago

I find a lot of the points you make compelling on a paradigmatic (not dogmatic) level, but there is one howler — forgive the term — that cries out for correction: you say the US dollar settled into its slot as a global default (reserve) currency in the 1970s. That is actually — to my understanding — the opposite of what happened. The dollar was effectively a global reserve currency from the inception of the Bretton Woods system of regulated international exchange rates for Western currencies from 1944 till the anarchic, unilateral dismantling of this system between 1971-1973, when the Nixon administration refused to convert dollars to gold, which was the anchor of the entire system. Dollars were pegged to gold. Other currencies were pegged to the dollar. After the oil shock in 1973, and the inception of inflation, the dollar was effectively allowed to float, without gold to anchor it, as Nixon had suspended the dollar / gold peg. So other currencies were forced to float also. The Europeans managed for about another thirty years to maintain a system of relative exchange rates fixed amongst themselves, with varying degrees of rigidity and flexibility. But the 1970s is when the dollar’s role as a global reserve currency effectively ended. The fact that it has maintained awe-inspiring privileges of seigniorage has more to do with the fact that many markets — capital markets, private equity markets, oil markets, bond markets, swaps, derivatives, equity markets, etc. — all operate in dollars, and those markets are global. The dollar remains dominant because those markets have awe-inspiring global scale and depth in terms of sheer liquidity. They have their own momentum and they make their own weather. But — and this is where your argument picks up again — these markets are now almost wholly disconnected from the standard of living and day to day economic reality of millions of Americans. That is the struggle. One brilliant answer would be unions, which dominated the very same thirty-year period in which the U.S. dollar was actually the dominant global currency. That was — not paradoxically — when unions also steered a much larger share of the US labour force. Labour and capital were not adversarial to the degree they are now. Now, they have unconsciously uncoupled and they have no prospect to reunite. That’s fairly tragic.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

Quite accurate. And much was driven by energy connections. Whether we really have peak oil has been debated since the 70’s and we keep finding more and finding cheaper ways to extract it. The Arctic remains a target for more and we are surprised that old wells thought dry are producing again. Energy abundance has allowed the modern world and while the greens oppose it their time will expire. How else can we power Bitcoin? Or more seriously, the arrival of AI which requires massive computing resources.

neil collins
neil collins
1 year ago

One key point that is frequently overlooked when discussing the dollar is that a US trade deficit is an essential feature of it remaining the world’s currency. In many (especially third-world) countries, dollars are preferred to the local currency. China may indeed become the largest economy in the world, but there is no indication that it is prepared to run the necessary persistent balance of payments deficit to challenge the position of the dollar.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

Quite accurate. And much was driven by energy connections. Whether we really have peak oil has been debated since the 70’s and we keep finding more and finding cheaper ways to extract it. The Arctic remains a target for more and we are surprised that old wells thought dry are producing again. Energy abundance has allowed the modern world and while the greens oppose it their time will expire. How else can we power Bitcoin? Or more seriously, the arrival of AI which requires massive computing resources.

neil collins
neil collins
1 year ago

One key point that is frequently overlooked when discussing the dollar is that a US trade deficit is an essential feature of it remaining the world’s currency. In many (especially third-world) countries, dollars are preferred to the local currency. China may indeed become the largest economy in the world, but there is no indication that it is prepared to run the necessary persistent balance of payments deficit to challenge the position of the dollar.

Caroline Cullinane
Caroline Cullinane
1 year ago

I find a lot of the points you make compelling on a paradigmatic (not dogmatic) level, but there is one howler — forgive the term — that cries out for correction: you say the US dollar settled into its slot as a global default (reserve) currency in the 1970s. That is actually — to my understanding — the opposite of what happened. The dollar was effectively a global reserve currency from the inception of the Bretton Woods system of regulated international exchange rates for Western currencies from 1944 till the anarchic, unilateral dismantling of this system between 1971-1973, when the Nixon administration refused to convert dollars to gold, which was the anchor of the entire system. Dollars were pegged to gold. Other currencies were pegged to the dollar. After the oil shock in 1973, and the inception of inflation, the dollar was effectively allowed to float, without gold to anchor it, as Nixon had suspended the dollar / gold peg. So other currencies were forced to float also. The Europeans managed for about another thirty years to maintain a system of relative exchange rates fixed amongst themselves, with varying degrees of rigidity and flexibility. But the 1970s is when the dollar’s role as a global reserve currency effectively ended. The fact that it has maintained awe-inspiring privileges of seigniorage has more to do with the fact that many markets — capital markets, private equity markets, oil markets, bond markets, swaps, derivatives, equity markets, etc. — all operate in dollars, and those markets are global. The dollar remains dominant because those markets have awe-inspiring global scale and depth in terms of sheer liquidity. They have their own momentum and they make their own weather. But — and this is where your argument picks up again — these markets are now almost wholly disconnected from the standard of living and day to day economic reality of millions of Americans. That is the struggle. One brilliant answer would be unions, which dominated the very same thirty-year period in which the U.S. dollar was actually the dominant global currency. That was — not paradoxically — when unions also steered a much larger share of the US labour force. Labour and capital were not adversarial to the degree they are now. Now, they have unconsciously uncoupled and they have no prospect to reunite. That’s fairly tragic.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Karl Marx’s great error was in failing to see that, as the state expands, it creates a new class more rapacious and less productive than any capitalist bourgeoisie or landed aristocracy.

It is the sheer weight of the rent-seeking class that is sinking the West.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“Iacta alea est”.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Orwell writes about those unproductive people who live of dividends and provided rentiers and flaneurs of post WW1 Britain and Paris. This group have morphed into the the large number of white collar workers who serve little purpose employed by the state and even private organisations in some form or other: local and national civil service, teaching many humanities courses in schools, academics in the humanities, bureaucrats in arts and cultural institutions, diversity and human resources personnel, etc . It is the organisational equivalent of middle aged spread.
Robert Michels saw this and C Northcote Parkins in his books Parkinson’s Law, In Laws and Out Laws and laws of The Profits made a fortune mocking the growth of administration in the late 1950s. Parkinson Book East West and Sir John Glubb’s Fate of Empire give far better insights into the rise and decline of Empires. Parkinson and Glubb combine vast and broad ranging experience with superb scholarship, both qualities tending to be lacking in most writers today.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“Iacta alea est”.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Orwell writes about those unproductive people who live of dividends and provided rentiers and flaneurs of post WW1 Britain and Paris. This group have morphed into the the large number of white collar workers who serve little purpose employed by the state and even private organisations in some form or other: local and national civil service, teaching many humanities courses in schools, academics in the humanities, bureaucrats in arts and cultural institutions, diversity and human resources personnel, etc . It is the organisational equivalent of middle aged spread.
Robert Michels saw this and C Northcote Parkins in his books Parkinson’s Law, In Laws and Out Laws and laws of The Profits made a fortune mocking the growth of administration in the late 1950s. Parkinson Book East West and Sir John Glubb’s Fate of Empire give far better insights into the rise and decline of Empires. Parkinson and Glubb combine vast and broad ranging experience with superb scholarship, both qualities tending to be lacking in most writers today.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Karl Marx’s great error was in failing to see that, as the state expands, it creates a new class more rapacious and less productive than any capitalist bourgeoisie or landed aristocracy.

It is the sheer weight of the rent-seeking class that is sinking the West.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
1 year ago

Though the article is based on sound reasoning, I expect the demise of America will be decades in the future or not at all. Though China has the potential to surpass the US, it has yet to demonstrate the reality.
America has demonstrated the ability to change rapidly like no other country. Unless China demonstrates overwhelming economic superiority and financial reserves, that will not change. None of the this will change until the world has more confidence in China than the US(COVID anyone?).

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Layman

Correct. But if you’re not Chinese ethnically, you’re only ever going to be a vassal, as an individual, or a tributary state, if you are a nation. That might not be so bad, for a while, but China’s historically long and deep roots in centralized administration includes periods of violent upheaval and chaos, because of weak change management norms. So you are right Michael, America’s main hope comes from it’s more shallow roots and its associated ability, at least up to now, to cope with change to its relative advantage.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Layman

Correct. But if you’re not Chinese ethnically, you’re only ever going to be a vassal, as an individual, or a tributary state, if you are a nation. That might not be so bad, for a while, but China’s historically long and deep roots in centralized administration includes periods of violent upheaval and chaos, because of weak change management norms. So you are right Michael, America’s main hope comes from it’s more shallow roots and its associated ability, at least up to now, to cope with change to its relative advantage.

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
1 year ago

Though the article is based on sound reasoning, I expect the demise of America will be decades in the future or not at all. Though China has the potential to surpass the US, it has yet to demonstrate the reality.
America has demonstrated the ability to change rapidly like no other country. Unless China demonstrates overwhelming economic superiority and financial reserves, that will not change. None of the this will change until the world has more confidence in China than the US(COVID anyone?).

Primary Teacher
Primary Teacher
1 year ago

An interesting read. Surely one thing everyone can agree on is that every empire eventually collapses? It does seem though that there is a type of person who is gleefully sitting back in his recliner with his oversized bucket of popcorn waiting to see the immediate collapse of the USA – I feel they might be need a few refills.

Last edited 1 year ago by Primary Teacher
Primary Teacher
Primary Teacher
1 year ago

An interesting read. Surely one thing everyone can agree on is that every empire eventually collapses? It does seem though that there is a type of person who is gleefully sitting back in his recliner with his oversized bucket of popcorn waiting to see the immediate collapse of the USA – I feel they might be need a few refills.

Last edited 1 year ago by Primary Teacher
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

“It happened because, as the dominant nation, the US imposed unbalanced patterns of exchange on the rest of the world, and these funnelled a disproportionate share of the planet’s wealth to itself.”
This statement at the start of the article begs a lot of questions. What are ‘balanced patterns of exchange’? On what basis do we ‘balance’ the raw materials used in production with the scientific knowledge and skills that turns these materials into cars and planes? It is easy to make an argument that the exporters of raw materials should be grateful that they benefit from these inventions in return.
What is ‘wealth’? I think the author means ‘natural resources’. Many metals were worth no more than the dirt in which they are buried until inventions created demand for these natural resources.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

Best comment so far.
I don’t recall the United States stealing the natural resources of other countries nor did it force the world to purchase automobiles, electronics and the entertainment it produced. The U.S. is indeed bankrupt, but in a moral sense more than economically.

Peter Craig
Peter Craig
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

How long ago was it that other nations bought American automobiles and electronics? Can’t remember anything in the last 30 years I’ve bought that was made in the USA. iPhone made in China doesn’t count.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Craig

…it does count actually Peter, because the manufacturing cost is a small component.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Craig

…it does count actually Peter, because the manufacturing cost is a small component.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Agreed – best comment so far – and also about the abides administration and the constituency “it” represents are morally bankrupt.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Yes it is close to becoming spiritually bankrupt. The spirit of the pioneer is nearly gone and the one of the victim has replaced it.

Peter Craig
Peter Craig
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

How long ago was it that other nations bought American automobiles and electronics? Can’t remember anything in the last 30 years I’ve bought that was made in the USA. iPhone made in China doesn’t count.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Agreed – best comment so far – and also about the abides administration and the constituency “it” represents are morally bankrupt.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Yes it is close to becoming spiritually bankrupt. The spirit of the pioneer is nearly gone and the one of the victim has replaced it.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

“begs lot of questions”. You are too kind. I stopped reading after that line as it clearly labels the author as afflicted with the same old retro-socialist economic ignorance as your typical liberal arts college Occupy Wall Street activist. If you don’t understand that free trade is not theft, then you have nothing to share with us.

Nicki Spencer
Nicki Spencer
1 year ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Ditto. I think Peter Zeihan’s idea that the US became rich due to free markets, lits geographical position, its fertile midwest soils providing food for the industrial coastal areas, its vast uninhabited spaces, its natural resources and not needing an “empire” as it already had everything it needed to prosper within its own borders, is far more compelling than the idea it stole wealth from other parts of the world.

Nicki Spencer
Nicki Spencer
1 year ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

Ditto. I think Peter Zeihan’s idea that the US became rich due to free markets, lits geographical position, its fertile midwest soils providing food for the industrial coastal areas, its vast uninhabited spaces, its natural resources and not needing an “empire” as it already had everything it needed to prosper within its own borders, is far more compelling than the idea it stole wealth from other parts of the world.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

Best comment so far.
I don’t recall the United States stealing the natural resources of other countries nor did it force the world to purchase automobiles, electronics and the entertainment it produced. The U.S. is indeed bankrupt, but in a moral sense more than economically.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
1 year ago

“begs lot of questions”. You are too kind. I stopped reading after that line as it clearly labels the author as afflicted with the same old retro-socialist economic ignorance as your typical liberal arts college Occupy Wall Street activist. If you don’t understand that free trade is not theft, then you have nothing to share with us.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

“It happened because, as the dominant nation, the US imposed unbalanced patterns of exchange on the rest of the world, and these funnelled a disproportionate share of the planet’s wealth to itself.”
This statement at the start of the article begs a lot of questions. What are ‘balanced patterns of exchange’? On what basis do we ‘balance’ the raw materials used in production with the scientific knowledge and skills that turns these materials into cars and planes? It is easy to make an argument that the exporters of raw materials should be grateful that they benefit from these inventions in return.
What is ‘wealth’? I think the author means ‘natural resources’. Many metals were worth no more than the dirt in which they are buried until inventions created demand for these natural resources.

Steven Targett
Steven Targett
1 year ago

The author lost me when he said it was clear by 1930 that world domination was clearly between the US, Soviet Union and Germany. In 1930 the Soviet Union was starving millions to death. Germany was a basket case and the US was locked into a period of isolationism again. So no.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Agreed. Whilst Germany had a few large international industrial champions, it was seriously underdeveloped and still largely agrarian. GDP per capita and gross (modern estimates as GDP figures were not a thing) for the period show a huge gulf between Germany and the USA. The book “The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy” provide a good statistical background for the period.

There was only one conclusion for those who’d seen the USA’s industrial capacity (even in the midst of a depression), one shared by many at the time including a certain Winston Churchill: the USA was going to be a dominant power. And so it came to pass.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Things had changed somewhat five years later.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Agreed. Whilst Germany had a few large international industrial champions, it was seriously underdeveloped and still largely agrarian. GDP per capita and gross (modern estimates as GDP figures were not a thing) for the period show a huge gulf between Germany and the USA. The book “The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy” provide a good statistical background for the period.

There was only one conclusion for those who’d seen the USA’s industrial capacity (even in the midst of a depression), one shared by many at the time including a certain Winston Churchill: the USA was going to be a dominant power. And so it came to pass.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Things had changed somewhat five years later.

Steven Targett
Steven Targett
1 year ago

The author lost me when he said it was clear by 1930 that world domination was clearly between the US, Soviet Union and Germany. In 1930 the Soviet Union was starving millions to death. Germany was a basket case and the US was locked into a period of isolationism again. So no.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago

Seems that the author actually wants these events to take place in some kind of perverse schadenfreude.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I can never spell schadenfreude

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Capital ‘S’ because nouns in German begin with capitals.

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My case rests.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The capital ‘S’ does not have to be used when using English…..

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Hun? Bosche?

rob drummond
rob drummond
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My case rests.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The capital ‘S’ does not have to be used when using English…..

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Hun? Bosche?

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

The German’s have a word for that

Nichtablespellen

neil collins
neil collins
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

You seem to have caught the greengrocer’s apostrophe syndrome

neil collins
neil collins
1 year ago
Reply to  D Walsh

You seem to have caught the greengrocer’s apostrophe syndrome

Richard Aston
Richard Aston
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

being a anti-schadenfreudist I refuse to take delight in your misfortunate spelling

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  rob drummond

Capital ‘S’ because nouns in German begin with capitals.