Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Rise of the Post-American Empires

When the Utopians of the left talk about a Post-American world, they mean a great borderless globe ruled over by international law, where there are no more citizens or nations, just people who happen to enjoy working and living in New York, Shanghai or Islamabad. This digital jet setting globocratic version of John Lennon's 'Imagine' is their envisioned outcome of globalization. No more governments. Only one single world girdling government.

But what the Utopians have never realized is that this vision is not universal, it springs from a Western liberal messianism that is big on faith in progressive government, and disdains national and tribal identities. And that means it is a vision that most of the globe does not share. And is never likely to share. The Utopians want an end to national power and cultural imperialism, but their globalist vision is cultural imperialism backed by national power.

The United Nations is a potemkin village backed up by the armies of the United States and Europe. If the United States should fall, then its nemesis ensconced in a modernist skyscraper on Turtle Bay will fall with it. The United Nations has built itself around gathering a consensus of support for American policy or gathering an opposing consensus to restrain it. But either way it turns in response to a world power. It has no potency of its own.

The Utopians visualize a world administered through international law. Numberless UN covenants on human rights have been signed on to by the worst offenders, without any internal changes taking place. And why would they. The "international community" has only two major enforcement mechanisms, trade sanctions and armed invasion. The former leverages Western economic power, the latter Western military power. Subtract the West and even these limited enforcement mechanisms fall away.

It's not that Pakistan, China and Russia couldn't agree on a set of sanctions or send in their own troops in blue UN helmets. But their goal wouldn't be peacekeeping, it would be colonization. Subtract the West and the current facade of international law would be reduced to Lebensraum campaigns traded back and forth by world powers in conference rooms. A new era of colonialism would take place under the blue flag of the UN and with the sanction of international law. Its security council would become a loose alliance of rival hegemonies, Chinese, Russian, Islamic, Bolivarian, trading territory to each other's "peacekeeping" troops. The UN would finally become a global Hitler-Stalin pact. And everyone else would be Poland.

That is the face of the Post-American world. Either empire building or a new dark age. Or both. Take your pick.

The Utopians are too enamored of their vision of progressive government to be able to view it as anything other than inevitable. Barring some massive natural disaster, asteroid or nuclear war, they see the entire world getting more and more liberal, casting off their mores, identities and beliefs to join in one great rainbow flavored dance number. They see the triumph of their way as inevitable. Which is a natural fallacy for those who see 'their way' as the inevitable outcome of social and economic development, rather than a philosophical quirk of 19th century unemployed intellectuals and hack writers. 

The intellectuals who were wrong about an inevitable collision between labor and owners, are equally wrong about the dissolution of states into a vast body of world government. The states are indeed dissolving, but in the old Roman way. Empires and nations are decaying and falling apart because they lack any reason to go on. They have become giant bankrupt cradles overseen by men and women who no longer believe in nations or anything but the manifest destiny of a cradle globe run by themselves.

What those men and women don't understand is that they derive their power from the states, rather than from any growing awareness that their way is right. Submerge the nations of Europe in the EU. Submerge the US in the UN, and they are left in control of nothing at all except the paperwork in their own offices. The streets outside turn Third Worldian and the men and women who presume to dictate the fates of nations have to be driven in armored limousines through the chaos outside. This is how empires fall. This is how they are falling right now.

Empires derive from people, rather than people deriving from empires. The West built trading empires because its rising middle class were merchants. Now the Western middle class is increasing made up of government bureaucrats and so it is busy building them a bureaucratic world-state. The Western trading empires turned their attention to real world commodities and territories. The bureaucratic empires of the new West are obsessed with regulations and treat money as an imaginary number. That is how a degenerating empire behaves.

China isn't a rising empire because its mothers are abusive or because their science education is better, or any of the sillier notions advanced in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. It is a rising empire because it is a trade empire. Its rulers understand that their power lies in trade, not in laws. They do everything possible to build their manufacturing, take hold of mining resources and set the rules of international trade on their own terms. That is something which American leaders understood as a given until two world wars convinced them that their power lay in making rules for everyone else to follow. So far that hasn't worked out too well. And in a Post-American world, those rules will become weapons to be wielded by savage armies and new colonial empires carving up Africa for its natural resources.

While the Utopians dream up global air castles, the rest of the world is planning to grab a chunk of the post-American empire. China and the Muslim world are the most blatantly ambitious of the bunch, but there are others too. And as the collapse of the West becomes more obvious, even nations like Japan which were able to embrace the leisure of pacifism under an American umbrella, will have to go and learn war again.

Obama was the globalist messiah of the Utopians, the Post-American Third Culture president who was meant to bridge the old America with the new global order. And his failure speaks volumes about the hopelessness of the globalist vision. Not only did Obama fail to gain influence with enemies, but he won the disdain of old allies. And now the world power that he rules over stands alone with little to no influence. Obama and the globalists scramble to take credit for the 'Arab Spring', as if another set of civil wars between feuding factions in the Middle East were anything new, or signified the rise of a better world.

America is still a world power thanks to its population, its economy and its military. But no thanks to its leaders who are enthusiastic about giving up all that power in the service of a global hegemony. Even its conservatives see international law as a means of bringing human rights to all the globe. But they forget that American human rights don't exist because of international laws, but because colonial intellectuals championed a populist revolt against onerous taxation and centralized government, and prosperity and economic opportunity expanded the middle class and its legal rights along with it.

You can't export a revolution based on the rights of the individual, to cultures that don't believe in the supremacy of the individual over the system. China's Confucianism and Islam's theocratic fascism have their own definition of law, and they don't derive from the rights of the individual. While Americans rapturously praise democracy, they don't see the point. One man, one vote, is nothing special to cultures that don't believe one man counts for anything unless he dies gloriously in battle or shoveling manure on a collective farm.

In these cultures, the individual attains worth only by sacrificing for the group. A democratic vote there is a vote against the selfish individual, and for the collective identity of the group. Identity, not welfare. Collective groups are ruled over by oligarchies and the voting booth affirms their power in defense of the group identity. The individual only matters when he is part of that group. If he is not, then he is quickly stamped on and tossed aside. And the group rejoices in the sense of power that gives them. Whether they're stepping over the battered bodies of women or burning churches, the cruelty of the mob is the closest that the average individual comes to empowerment.

To the Westerner the image of a lone protester facing down a tank in Tiananmen Square is a show of moral courage by an individual. To the ambitious Chinese citizen it is a despicable act of crazed selfishness being properly suppressed by a patient and loving state which has reached its limits. We see ourselves in the protester. They see themselves in the tank. Similarly to the Westerner, the Muslim girl beaten bloody for sneaking off with a boy is a horrible indictment of the culture. To a Muslim, it is a horrible indictment of her.

Cultures such as these will not pass laws of equality. Instead their highest values are laws that perpetuate inequality in the name of morality.

The Arab Spring is not an awakening against repression. It is a call for representative repression. For the most part the protests are not driven by an opposition to dictatorship, but only to dictatorships that don't reflect their values and tribal affiliations. The philosophical European ideas about natural rights and the virtue of self-government have not made it over there. Nor will they take root in these desert sands. Not when the dominant model of belief rejects the imperfect individual for the perfection of Mohammedan law.

The Muslim world would like to use the UN to impose that perfection of Mohammedan law on the world. The progressives have their scripture and faith, and the Muslims have theirs. The vacuum of a Post-American world order means that 1 billion plus Muslims will be better positioned to impose their laws that stone women to death and treat non-Muslims as second-class citizens on the world. As Europe falls to the representative repression of migration demographics, its cathedrals will become mosques and its women will become second-class citizens.

Muslims understand what the West has forgotten, that nations are defined by their citizens. Fill up any European country with men who believe that the laws of the Koran are absolute and binding on all, and no matter how forward thinking it might have been, it will shortly be as hopelessly backward as the places that its new citizens came from.

There will be brief periods when it will seem as if the tide can be turned. The new citizens will learn the lingua franca, cheer for the local sports teams and pick up PhD's at local universities. They will appear on panel shows to explain how well they balance their two identities, and why the country could do with a few ten million more of them. And the elite riding back and forth in their armored limousines will be very impressed. At least until their granddaughters don the burka and announce that their new names are Fatma and Aisha, and that their favorite eyeshadow is black and blue. And all of it will take place under the auspices of organizations with lofty names involving civil and human rights.

If this is happening in the West, what hope is there for a world state of international law to be anything but what it has been all along, a rubber stamp for tyranny and oppression, but without the hope of relief for its victims.

The rise of Western democracy was the rise of the Middle Class protecting its rights and its interests. Now the Middle Class is dying, it is being replaced by a class of professional government workers subsidized by the slowly dying industries that once powered the commerce of a mighty nation. It cannot be exported by NGO's or replicated by global covenants. Not when the same progressives vowing to export democracy and human rights are hard at work crushing them at home.

The progressive ideal is a tragic misunderstanding ending in national catastrophe. The idealization of government is not only the second best possible route to tyranny, but also the death of the institutions that generate a nation's vitality. Reformers champion change, but their worship of government leads to static systems that make change and reform impossible. Their final vision of world government is an idealized failure from the start. Their failure to understand the nature of power and the extent to which their own ideals are cultural, rather than universal, dooms their inevitable world order to be not only not inevitable, but impossible.


Anonymous said...

knish: please. run for weiner's seat.
-- spanky

DP111 said...

P. J. O'Rourke: When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things bought and sold are legislators.

jean said...

The love affair the left and Islam has has enabled this.

I don't understand how the liberal elite that reject religion, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, happily fall in love with anything and everything Islamic and champion it.

Mark Matis said...

For jean:

Actually, that is VERY easy to understand. Islam is a Socialist dream. They merely think they will be able to control it once it HAS taken over. And SOMEONE will indeed control it. Just as they currently do in Iran, and other such states. Or do you REALLY think the Iranian leadership lives the Life of Islam?

Mary said...

This ought to be mandatory reading by the left, not that I think they could get beyond the first paragraph before their eyes would glaze over. Thank you once again for another brilliant piece I reposted on my FB wall with my usual snark - "I'd say "wake up, America" if I didn't think the writing is already on the wall. And I used to the be loudest singers of 'Kumbaya.' Now, not so much. The pseudo, lofty intellectualism of progressives will prevent comprehension of this piece but perhaps those who still possess open minds will take heed." You have the rare gift of framing complex issues in a voice that creates that "a-ha" moment the human psyche seeks - I'm so glad you're out here.

kevin said...

"Liberal" does not mean "socialist"; rather the classical definition is, an advocate of political freedom and free thought. Actually, "socialism" isn't really an accurate word for the organized initiation of force; because in the "private" sector, social relations are cordial and highly valued. Neither is "private" a good term for free enterprise, since businesses are routinely open to the public, and not limited to one person or small group.

By now, you may have noticed that "socialists" (ie thuggies) have distorted language in order to further their political and philosophical agendas. You have fallen into their linguistic traps.

Natural rights are universal. They are not one thing in Rome, and another at Athens; one thing today, and another tomorrow. Rather, the laws of nature are universal, in all places and for all time.

"states" (in the sense of monopoly sovereigns) do not exist. Governments do exist, and are simply the organization of the use of force. Those rules which all governments have in common, are the only real international "laws of nations". Thus, Jus Gentium approximates Jus Naturale.

dave s said...

Your writing gives encouragement to those of us who cannot stand aside and permit the misrulers of the West to destroy our civilisation. I am sure you are more widely listened to than you may know.
At present we are powerless and denied a voice but there is no greater driving force in a man than the desire to protect his children and grandchildren from destruction. It has always been so.
I can only understand that word freedom as that feeling that was handed on to me by my father and his brother as something inalienable and by right of birth as an Englishman. This is what I have handed on to my sons and grandsons as generations have before me.
To succeed in their insane schemes for this world they will literally have to wipe us from this land and erase all memory of our people and our way of life.
For 750 years Salisbury Cathedral has watched over my river valley .
It must survive for the next 750 years and perhaps soon enough many of us will have to decide to do what must be done to ensure this.

TBS said...

According to your thesis here, where do the bureaucrats think their future money and financial support will come from if they kill off local industries/their countries' income generating abilities?

Saudi Arabia?

TBS said...

Anbother point.
Daniel, you should record your articles and have them as MP3s.
Blind people need to know about this stuff too!

Anonymous said...

What matters to the world elite are liberal values ​​are not national values​​. It's money. They sell their soul to the devil to not lose their privileges. The Islam fascinates, because have their petrodollars. The apostle Paul said.
"Money is the root of evils"

cornholio said...

Mark Matis asked:

"Or do you REALLY think the Iranian leadership lives the Life of Islam?"

Publicly they have to as does the vast majority of the population.

I knew a Lebanese Christian who said that yes the Muslims he associated with were hypocrites, who might drink brandy privately and not despise him for being an infidel/kuffar, but publicly they towed the Islamic line WRT Israel, Christians and Jews. And, after all, a moderate nazi is still a nazi.

Alvie D. Zane said...

"Subtract the West and the current facade of international law would be reduced to Lebensraum campaigns traded back and forth by world powers in conference rooms"

Just like Orwell's 1984, comrade.

No Apology said...

Sk, why don't you deliver Sultan Knish's message through YouTube?

Seriously...every day you reach inside your gut, and pull out the truth and vision Americans want and need, why not put it on a more accessible platform?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Interesting suggestion, but it would take a significant amount of time, and articles tend to work better written than as speeches, and vice versa,

I might try to put together a video speech on youtube at some point,

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...


they think in terms of command economies and money to them is an imaginary figure that can be produced by printing more of it or setting up complex socially beneficial exchange programs.

If you don't believe that rational adults can think that way, read nobel prize winning economist paul krugman.

Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis. You need to consider demographics in this too.
The trading empires of old were built on growing demographics. The median age in Britain in the early 19th century was 15yrs. The median age in Germany and Japan now is ~45yrs. The rest of the West isn't far behind. Now consider birth rates in these countries. They are not staying at replacement level (i.e., 2.1 children per woman). Healthy societies have birthrates of 4-6 children per family. What does this say of the West's vigor and strength when it does not have the basic building blocks of culture - families and children. Watch "Demographic Winter" to see where this is going. It has vast implications for cultures, countries, economies, etc. China is not immune from this.

Median age:

Birth rates:

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