Posted on Slate, August 3, 2009.
by Josh Levin
If and when America expires, we probably won't agree on the cause of death. For proof that autopsies of empires are inconclusive, consider the case of Alexander Demandt, the German historian who set out in the 1980s to collect every theory ever given for why Rome fell. The final tally: 210, including attacks by nomads on horseback, blood poisoning, decline of Nordic character, homosexuality, outflow of gold, and vaingloriousness.
In tribute to Demandt, I've gone looking for every possible reason why America could fall. I've paged through the work of scholars who have studied the characteristics of declining and failed societies. I also collected theories from futurists, doomsayers, separatists, economists, political scientists, national security experts, climatologists, geologists, astronomers, and a few miscellaneous crazy people. The result: a collection of 144 potential causes of America's future death.
In my humble opinion, we are seeing the collapse of (small "d") democratic governance in California right now. I'm surprised Josh Levin's analysis underestimates the evils of our tiresome race-based politics. The current "leaders" of California's non-Hispanic "Whites" will never accept being a "minority" and current "leaders" of California communities of Latinos and Blacks like me will never stop thinking of themselves as oppressed "minorities." Eventually, this means disaster.
The End of America on Slate.
The End of America on Facebook.