Looking on as, all around us, the collapse accelerates.
In the distant future, as Gibbon did, some historian will stick his wrinkled finger on a calendar date and pronounce “and on this date, the United States of America fell.” If by some miracle I were to witness the event, I would not be surprised if that date was already in our past. Historians have the benefit of hindsight, but also of not living in the aquarium they spend their lives researching. Some say Rome fell in 476, as a puppet emperor was deposed and sent into retirement. Did Roman citizens know this was an ending of things? No. To them the real emperor resided in Constantinople. Since they had first drawn breath, all power resided there, in New Rome. Old Rome had been a shadow for generations, and even in Italy, rule had long been pronounced from Ravenna, itself far less important than the economically powerful East.
Justinian the Great thought himself the Emperor of the Romans and ruled over the Mediterranean shores as tightly as many of his predecessors, more than half a century after the fall. What changed, then, on that day historians marked? Symbols changed; I suppose. We see discontinuity, but there was none. We see change, but such change was gradual, the product of generations.
The point is essentially arbitrary. A finger found its way to a date on a calendar, one small event in a sequence of centuries, and thus was it pronounced: Rome has fallen.
Look out of your window and see urban gentrification, perhaps. Or peaceful suburbia. Perhaps you see farm fields, forests, or the unbroken concrete towers of the projects – those never particularly peaceful, but no worse, perhaps, than you recall in your youth. America outwardly looks like America.
On the Internet, however, it is every cyberpunk dystopian hellhole ever conceived. And worse, perhaps. The things that lie beneath on Twitter should scare anybody.
A video was posted the other day of two thieves conducting an armed robbery. One of the victims pulled out a handgun and shot one of the thieves. You could tell the affiliation of every commenter. Their cultural and moral values were so diametrically opposed that nothing could unite them. To the Leftist, this was a great tragedy, and the victim was evil for killing some presumably poor person for the crime of attempting to feed themselves and resist systemic oppression. To the Rightist, the armed robber had forfeited his life the moment he drew that weapon and attempted to steal someone else’s possessions. The shooter was to be commended for eliminating such a clearly deficient specimen.
In a way, it does not even matter which one was right, though I suspect my readers would have a strong opinion. What matters is the diametrically opposed viewpoints, the hatred and vitriol thrown back and forth between people who are theoretically of the same nation, the same cultural stew. Of course, they are not of the same milieu, not truly. We know that now. Was it always this way, and the Internet just exposed it? I do not know. Maybe.
Regardless, there is no peace beyond the wifi.
Yet the fragile peace – with its occasional flare-ups – that holds in the real world cannot hold forever. What will happen if that dam ever bursts? If all the animus, hatred, and vitriol of social media crosses into reality?
Driving down the street, look at the signs. MAGA signs never taken down. Declarations that this house or that house believes in the core tenets of Progressive Faith. Screaming matches over mask and vaccination policies. The peace in the real world stands on the edge of a knife. Everyone fears to cross the line, to admit openly what they know privately: these are not my countrymen. These are not my people. I do not like them, and they never liked me. They do not share my values, and I do not share theirs. We have nothing in common.
What happens when all pretenses are stripped away?
Someday, the historians will look back on our history, and they will find a moment – perhaps one as seemingly-insignificant as the deposition of a minor puppet ruler in Italy was to the story of Rome – and they will say “this is the day America was cleaved in two.”
Perhaps those same historians will say of the Cold War that both the USSR and the USA fell, the former due to economics and the latter due to cultural infighting. Perhaps like the ancient fall of Sassanid Persia and the diminishing of Byzantium. Or perhaps it will be seen as something entirely different. We live in the aquarium they will someday comment on. None of us will live to know.
Regardless, there is no singular America, not anymore. Only the outward appearance still exists – and only so long as the waning pretenses of peace last in the real world. Not forever, I imagine. Perhaps not even very long.
Those “waning pretenses of peace” hold solely because Real Americans, some unknown percentage of them at any rate, still want it to. It will last not one minute past the moment when the last thread of their patience has snapped, the last tatterdemalion remnant of their natural optimism and restraint has been ripped to pieces. And then, it’s Katy bar the door: open season on shitlibs, no bag limit, no ammo restrictions. Weapons free, and happy hunting!
The really remarkable thing to me is how the Collectivists, whether from arrogance or blind stupidity, insist so mulishly on keeping the pedal firmly to the metal in spite of absolutely everything. It’s as if they’re completely unaware of Dead Man’s Curve looming closer and closer just down the road, and that they’re already going much too fast to negotiate it safely and avoid a horrific crash. Human civilization has traveled this same road many times before; its hazards are known, the roadmap accurate, specific, and crystal clear. They KNOW what comes next, what has always come next. Yet still, they persist. It’s mind-blowing, is what it is.
Well, why shouldn’t they? It has worked for them so far, and as of yet there is no sign it is going to stop working. Everyone else just keeps putting up with it, keeps letting them get away with one infringement after another, one insanity after another. They are winning, winning big, and signs of resistance are essentially non-existent. Sure, there is grumbling among the masses. But no one is doing anything.
Do they? Maybe if there truly is a conspiracy with a high council of evil-doers somewhere, those vile masterminds might know some history. But your average leftist is a product of our public schools and knows nothing but the Gospel of Zinn’s false history. And that most certainly includes most of our ‘elected political leaders’ such as AOC or Maxine Waters or hundreds of others. (I am not including Joe Biden, who no longer knows anything but what his puppetmasters put on his teleprompter.) And the media is, if anything, even more ignorant than that.
No, I think they truly believe that all their nonsense is going to work. That abolishing fossil fuels will actually create millions of jobs and will “heal the planet.” That if they can just stomp hard enough on racist whitey, the whole world will sing in perfect harmony and utopia will be achieved. That importing tens of millions of unskilled, unassimilated third worlders will produce economic prosperity forever. Wakanda is real, man! Just you wait and see!
They really are that delusional/ignorant/arrogant/stupid. They really, really are. And there are tons of these people…quite possibly more of them than there are of us.
There are Leaders, people who just want to keep the free stuff flowing, useful Idiots who buy this shit, thugs that just want to beat people up protected from The Law, people who THINK they will be Leaders but who will be first up against the wall, people who just want to see everything burn down, and those who aren’t paying attention to any of this at all.
There’s overlap in those groups but basically it’s a problem of human nature throughout time. There are ALWAYS people like this susceptible to any Ideology that appeals to their inner psychosis and they can usually get a good one third of any society to support it in one way or another.
Tech, Information And Data Usage and Surveillance have advanced as both an Unequaled Good for people and as a Scourge of Evil at the same time.
In olden days a group of White Hats would form up a Posse and take care of business if The Law or The Courts wouldn’t do their job.
Forming up before they can take you out is getting more difficult nowadays.
The French are faster to complete anger than we are. As Kipling knew, we are slow to anger, but our anger is deeper and lasts longer. If this is still true, there will be an awakening, and the knives will be drawn.
We’ll see. Stop me from buying food.
They’re working on that. Which is what should convince everyone that they absolutely, unequivocally, want war.
They simply won’t take no for an answer.
“They’re working on that.”
I noticed. They are not very smart at this level.
Puppet masters & true believers. There’s always a certain percentage of each.
Plus grifters and lazy people who want things for free and crazy people who just want to see it all burn down.
The USSR was brought down by the economic power of American capitalism. The USA was brought down by cultural undermining by communists.
On my bad days, I agree wholeheartedly with Severian that it’ll be something stupid and completely out of left field: “… The Incident, when it comes, will be faster than anyone expects, and dumber than anyone can imagine.”
On my worst days, I don’t believe that there will be an Incident, and we’ll just go on sliding quickly and irrevocably into Idiocracy with no attempt to put on the brakes. Future historians? They’ll be too busy painting on the walls with their own feces to analyze anything except the texture of the corn.
Again, I cannot avoid the temptation to twist Mencken:
[They] “know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
Stalin knew what comes next and he took advantage of it.
They ALWAYS think they will be Stalin.
But for every Stalin there were thousands of Stalin Wannabes in 1917 Russia.
Heh. Looking at the crew that’s currently “in charge”…
They always think they’ll be Stalin. Reality is, they’re a lot more likely to be Yosimminy Sam.
Yosimminy Sam is a genius in comparison.
They’re more like the vulture baby who says “I’m bringing home a little bumblebee, won’t my mother be surprised at me”.