I know I’ve been saying for a while that we’re in the obvious last throes of the American Empire (not to mention becoming a fascist state), but I’ve never really explained my comment in an organized way.
There are a multitude of ways to look at Gibbons’ work, but just to choose one that focus on systemic labels, the factors are:
1. Decline in moral values
2. Poor public health
3. Political corruption
4. High unemployment
5. High inflation
6. Urban decay
7. Inferior technology
8. High military spending
Those are broad and somewhat ill-fitting, but they’ll do. I don’t buy #1 at all. It’s the sermonizing of a prude with sexual hangups. In any event, it can be linked to the “prosperity = lazy” theme underlying much of these (1, 4, and 7 primarily). The US obviously meets categories 2, 3, and 8. 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all on the rise (the decay is due to lack of funds due to 3 and 8, the inferior technology is due to theocratic idiots like Bush limiting stem cell research).
[T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight
H.G. Wells would agree with Gibbons here. Perhaps we are becoming the Eloi.
I tend to view Gibbons more along a continuum of likes and dislikes, but America today is solidly in the red on numerous areas that Gibbons considered to be signs of the fall. From our waste to our sloth to our focus on easy entertainment to our corruption to our out of control military spending to our increasing theological orthodoxy… it’s all right there.
Hmm. This is kind of depressing. I blame the humidity. It’s driving me crazy.