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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

 America┬┤s empire ends not with a bang but with a belch

Alan Bisbort asks, "What is it about Americans that makes us think we're immune to the same physical and biological laws that have felled civilizations -- ones that make our 230 years of existence seem paltry by comparison -- before us?"
In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon's brilliant narrative power and avalanche of names and numbers is peppered with words like "dissolution," "vice," "fear," "avarice," "lust," "cruelty," "religious zealotry," and "gluttony." The empire, it's clear, was not so much conquered by barbarians as it was felled by the sheer weight of its decadence.... They believed that their status as "the world's only superpower" (is there an echo in here?) was ordained by God. Thus, they believed they could do anything they wanted -- including squander the world's riches -- without remorse or retribution. This, famously (see Fellini's Satyricon), included orgies of sex, drink, gore and food. Lots of food. Their empire, and waistlines, expanded, even as they collectively grew more weak.

Flash forward to America in 2005. The same suicidal mindset has been reborn. George W. Bush is our Nero, jogging and riding bicycles while Iraq burns. Rumsfeld is our Caligula, blood dripping from his fangs. James Dobson and Pat Robertson share the role of Constantine, religious whack jobs willing to take the rest of us down with them in their rush to the Rapture. And so on. A great writer put it this way: "There is nothing new under the sun."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the documentary "Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room" last night.

I think it captured what's going wrong with the country as a whole.

A preview of things to come?

David (WWDT)

2:15 PM  

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