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10 Alarming Signs That You Are In An Empire In Decline – Graphic © off-grid.info. Images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0QkJNqYpFM
Empires are cyclical in nature – that’s the way it has always been; so it would be grandiose of us to assume that our own empire might perform any differently.
Here are some signals that have been shown by history to be classic hallmarks of an empire in decline – and which now seem to be reaching epidemic proportions in our own. While there will always be examples of individuals or groups displaying these characteristics at any given time, we start to see them reach epidemic proportions after an empire hits its peak and starts to cave in on itself.
1: Slacker Culture
When slacker culture takes hold, industry is frowned upon, effort is discouraged, there is an increasing sense of entitlement, of dandyism, of full-time-partying and the actual glorification of making no contribution whatsoever.
In the British Empire, by the late 19th century so much wealth had been accumulated that an entire new class appeared, known as the “Gentlemen of Leisure”. This new set of the sons of the nouveau riche of the Industrial Revolution simply did not need to work – as they had already been furnished with enough wealth to last a lifetime. But what happens to people who are essentially living off the wealth of those who went before, rather than off their own merits? There’s no need for them to achieve anything, so they don’t!
They don’t develop any merits of their own – and become feeble, useless dilletantes. Indolence replaces industry, with the ultimate result being the decline of the Empire.
Fast forward to the American Empire: American slacker culture, as far as I know, could really be said to have commenced in the 1960’s, with Timothy Leary advocating “dropping out”. This type of reactionary behavior was symptomatic of a growing disgust with the bloated empire, which was regarded as corrupt and cruel. However while “switching gears” to quitting work may leave the dropout feeling as though they “stuck it to the man”, if they transition into becoming nothing more than a full time parasite, they have in fact added to the problem.
The size of the slacker culture has grown monumentally in the last few years – with the flames being fanned by social media: Instagram “luxury lifestyle culture”, “crypto moon boys” and the endless bombardment of sleazy marketers offering get rich quick schemes, are continually and visibly promoting the ideal that it’s no longer fashionable to work hard. That’s seen as something losers do. If you work hard, you are now regarded not as a valuable individual providing an essential service, but as a mindless drone. Everyone’s now fully sold on the idea of the perfect slacker life… sitting on a boat, doing nothing for anybody except yourself (except posing for photographs, which is how you get status and “clout”).
Quitting your job and doing something – anything – else is now seen as desirable. Astonishingly, this is actually a thing now and it has a name, it’s called the “Big Resignation”. This doesn’t end well…. and to the people thinking of quitting your job, remember that you can’t have freedom without financial freedom, and you can’t have financial freedom without providing value. Even as a business owner, you have a Master to serve. Your clients. And if you don’t know how to offer them value, they will go to someone else who does.
2: Habitual Intoxication
Little needs to be said about this. Intoxication has always been a mainstay of human civilization, yet the drive towards escapism is prevalent when faith in the structure that bears us has been lost.
3: Increasing Corruption / Fraud / Financial Crime
It’s interesting to observe the knock-on effects of corruption scandals in the leadership. There is a psychological response of “If they are doing it, why shouldn’t we?” It starts at the top…
4: Sexual Depravity Normalized
Morals no longer matter, sexuality is not respected as sacred, it becomes part of trash culture. The Roman Empire became more and more debauched, with the perversion becoming more and more depraved and sexual behavior becoming more extreme. Can we see this in our own era? Certainly. Look at the progression in, for example, the availability and extremity of pornographic materials through the last few decades. We can also see the phenomenon of “Onlyfans” where millions of young women are essentially selling sexual services online as an alternative to being productive members of society. I have no judgement of sex workers, but there is the same fundamental yet hidden trait: Society itself is no longer regarded as something worth contributing to.
5: Vast, Spiraling-Out-Of-Control Debt
Most people think that government debt is a modern invention, however if we look at the history of empires, we see that it is not at all new. Empires tend to expand too far, too fast – and such infrastructure requires massive resources to sustain. It ultimately implodes. Simon Black illustrates how the Spanish Empire got so massively in debt that they defaulted on their loans five times! We also see bureaucracy expanding to disproportionate levels.
6: Odd Idealism Taking The Place Of Meritocracy
Meritocracy is healthy in any culture. A person should, by virtue of talent, training, good choices and effort, be able to “rise” and prosper. Now we see an empty shell of this, where wealth and “get rich quick” is glorified, yet steady, virtuous meritocracy is no longer seen as the golden road to wealth and is viewed with disdain.
7: “Free Money” Given Out By The State
“Bread and circuses”… an old, cheap trick of corrupt empires to win popularity (and perhaps as a distraction while enacting draconian legislation). The trick “works” in the sense that it buys popularity – but it has the disastrous effect of signalling that productivity is now considered worthless – with rewards being given whether they are earned or not. Disaster soon follows.
8: Lack Of Respect For The Rule Of Law
We can see this in various forms, for example:
a) The softening of the rule of law. How can it possibly work out well to decriminalize theft? Yet we see this currently happening in some urban areas in the USA.
b) Semi-permanent lawless zones. These could for example mean either highly dangerous locations where “there is no law” and law enforcement is unwilling to enter, or illegal encampments such as “tent cities” of drug users.
c) Inequal treatment in the eyes of the law. When the people see harsh laws applied to them, but the leaders do not appear to obey the same laws, this causes them both to despise the leaders and to partake in corrupt activity.
Put these 3 together and you have not only a recipe for civil disaster but clear indications that the civilization is in decline.
9: Heavy Metal Toxicity (And Other Pollution)
Now here’s an interesting one, I bet you didn’t see this coming! It has historical basis: One of the reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire is that their plumbing was fabricated with lead pipes. They were literally making themselves insane with lead poisoning! This is now regarded as a very likely reason for the insanity of some of the later Roman Emperors. Our own civilization has a serious problem with mercury poisoning; with gradually increasing bioaccumulation. We also now have the problem of persistent organic pollutants, the effects of which are still unfolding despite some of the chemicals being banned. Other empires have suffered from catastrophic environmental problems, which can be traced back to overconsumption, urbanization and parasitic capitalism taking the place of resource management.
10. Lack Of Pride In Smart, Clean-Cut Appearance
Even the poor were well dressed 100 years ago. Look at this astonishing and touching old film footage from 1900-1910:
Here’s another one:
You can see the smart, well presented appearance as a natural function of pride and contentment to conform with the society of which they were a part. That’s gone now, replaced by reactionary / punk fashions that are a plain statement of dissent and opposition to “normal” civilization. I am not opposed to dissent, where appropriate. I am just observing quite rightly that nobody is proud to be a part of the empire any more. The disgust is palpable and visible in people’s attire, which clearly indicates they are visibly signaling that they regard themselves as “outside the system” – and happy to be so.
Contrast this with other cultures where there is still a traditional dress code… eye opening, isn’t it?
Is This The Fall Of Western Civilization? Final Thoughts And A Question:
While human nature is always acquisitive, there’s been a cyclical process of the rise and fall of civilizations since the dawn of time.
Great wealth is a beacon for “parasitic interests” and it’s a mistake to think that an “apex cilivization” has less enemies. Rather, it is the opposite. Everyone wants a bite. The tale of the Sword of Damocles rings true for empires as well as for Kings.
Thus it is with every single empire the world has ever seen. And it happens in just a few generations. People shift from wanting to contribute to wanting to extract. Parasitism is always noticed – and once it infects the upper strata, everyone else joins in.
“Hard times require resolute, hard working, determined, skilled behavior.
Resolute, hard working, determined, skilled behavior creates prosperity.
Prosperity creates indolent, lazy, narcissistic, entitled behavior.
Indolent, lazy, narcissistic, entitled behavior creates decay.
Decay creates ruin.”
I wonder if every empire thinks that it will be the final and everlasting empire. Perhaps its a form of narcissistic denial – a way of telling ourselves that things are for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Still, there is a possibility that through technology we may create some kind of Utopia; although it does seem that the law of unintended consequences will have a hand to play, perhaps even a decisive one.
I leave you with a challenging, thought-provoking question: To what extent are these characteristics “appearing naturally” in society, and to what extent are they being deliberately instilled by outside forces that which to hasten the empire’s decline..?
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