Fall of Rome
In 2021, the United States government printed $13 trillion.
World War II, our most expensive war, in today’s dollars, cost $4.7 trillion. Vietnam cost about $1 trillion. All of our useless, wasteful wars since 2001 cost $5.2 trillion. The US in a single year has spent more than our last 13 most expensive wars combined.
Gas prices up ($6.30 a gallon last I checked in California), groceries up, etc etc. The average person has seen an absolutely ridiculous rise in their cost of living over the last year. And still, the Consumer Price Index reports tell us that our inflation is under 10%. And the Federal Reserve continues to be cautious with rising interest rates, all putting more pressure on working peoples’ ability to save money.
Housing market still rising, in a bubble. Equities, commodities, securities, in a bubble. Crypto, a big dumb bubble. Consumption, all time high. What’s the new thing, what’s your opinion on it?
Wages not rising to meet demand (and how could they, really). More people resorting to gig work, or side hustles, or second and third jobs to make ends meet. More families with absent fathers or mothers, more children growing up in empty households with no restrictions. More jobs that perform useless tasks, more money circulating within metropolitan upper echelons. More people traveling to third world countries to have fun. More people putting weight on the most people, the under-people. More laborers working into their old ages, with no retirement or pension in sight. More people commuting hours to work.
A level of stupidity propagated by a godless culture and technology. A culture so dumb, it’s poisonous to touch, taste, or feel. A lack of national unity, a disturbingly erotic politic, a philosophical void. A gestalt of meaning, an impotent Venus, a mercurial Geist…
People are consuming distractions like cocktails on the beach. People are working jobs where all they do is sit at desks, email, and use ‘team software’. In the Depression, the New Deal established redundant, useless jobs just to boost the economy, like raking leaves from one side of the road to the other and then doing the reverse. But now that’s a career path.
People are consuming toxic foods and watching brain-melting media, listening to toxic music and discussing brain-melting topics. People are still dying from covid. People are losing practical skills, or never had them to begin with. People are on medications. People are distant from their families.
People are drinking champagne on the Titanic. People are learning how to bake. People are dancing in clubs and wearing jewelry made by their friends. People are working in construction sites and getting fiberglass poisoning (anybody else? just me or…) People are dyeing their hair and taking selfies. People are learning how to budget. People are trying to have sex. People are trying to add rear suspensions to their cars. People are sending memes to each other. People are ‘working on their art’. People are thinking about themselves and what they will do next.
According to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, we can read letters of senators and various intelligentsia during the clear decline of Rome (circa 350AD), and they are full of decadence. A long letter, detailing all sorts of flowery flatteries, will contain minute details as to the age of the time - Oh, I wasn’t able to see you last week because the roads were taken by barbarians. I wonder if such signs can be seen now, in this rueful age of decadence we live in.
Rome took over a hundred years to fall. It’s possible the West will take over a thousand. I don’t know what ‘fall’ means, because I don’t think countries end now in the same way as they have in the past. The last country I can think of to be ‘created’ was South Sudan, in 2011, and that came from an independence movement. The last country I can think of to be ‘ended’ was the Soviet Union, which just broke apart into a bunch of ethnic states, still in conflict to this day. And that ‘fall’ happened very suddenly, though in hindsight seemed a long time coming.
Rome was ‘ended’ by Odoacer’s barbarian invasion and subsequent deposing of the emperor. But it was clear to many long before then that the empire had fallen, though perhaps not to its citizens. And certainly not to the wealthiest, most hip citizens, taking ketamine in the clubs of Lepcis Magna and discussing the ‘radical softness’ of Aurelian.
1,000 years of decline. When would that have started, when will it end? Where are we on that slope?
Is there any way to turn it around? Is there any way to be better people, preserve a morality, sanctify the dignity of the working man or woman, improve our communities, build wealth, sustain a high quality of life? Is there any way to keep the Dream of Prosperity alive? Or shall we continue to be wasteful, decadent, live as kings and queens in our castles made of sand, live like jesters in courts of fools and eunuchs?
What type of energy, or force, can be used for good? Does it come from the top down or the bottom up, or somewhere in between? Is it economic, or spiritual, or cultural, or dynamic, or fluid? Is it masculine or feminine? Where do we begin to be our best selves? In what moment are we our best?
When will we humble ourselves?
Does any of this make you feel optimistic? It does, for me. I feel like a grinning statue, made of dust, made of particles and held together by light. I feel like a diamond, about to be borne under pressure. I feel like the pearl of great price, once found, I left all to purchase it. I feel like a sower and the seed, the soil and the fruit, the shepard and the sheep; the little baby lamb, a wooly delight.
What opportunities for DOING GOOD lie in this cesspool. What a time to be GOOD. Has there ever been a better time than to have VISION? Has there ever been a better time than to HELP OTHERS?
Has there ever been a better time to make someone smile?