*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.
For years, historians and other intelligent people have been issuing dire warnings to America. At the beginning of the 21st century, U.S. stores were flooded with books filled with gloomy predictions and comparisons with the collapse of the British and Roman Empires. At first, nobody paid much attention, but over time, discussions became more heated.
In a new development, Thomas Lifson, editor of the American Thinker, has published a review of an article by his former student, R. Taggart Murphy. The review was not without a hint of sadness as Lifson reflected on how quickly time passes, noting that Murphy has already become a professor. Nevertheless, Lifson concluded that his former student had published something quite intelligent. Namely, Murphy argued that the American Empire’s decline is similar, not to the fall of the Roman or British Empires, but to the demise of the Spanish Empire — the world’s first superpower. And it’s true: Rome and China, for instance, were not global empires but regional ones. Of course, the Spanish did not exactly take over the whole world, but they controlled Latin America, the Philippines and part of Europe, creating trade routes that spanned the entire globe for the first time in history. But then that structure collapsed.
One might say, “And you’re the murderer,” here because, in the late 19th century, it was America that put the final nail in the coffin of the weakened Spanish Empire, starting the Spanish-American War and taking the colonies in the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guam away from Madrid. However, in fairness, by then the Spanish Empire’s position had already been undermined by the British and indirectly by the French. Furthermore, the Spanish Empire only truly collapsed when the former colonies in South America finally declared independence.
According to Lifson, the actual value of Murphy’s work lies in the study of financial parasitism — the main reason for the death of the superpower. That is, Madrid extracted tons of silver and gold from its colonies rather than developing its industry, and it slept through the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, the industrial boom considerably lowered the prices of these metals throughout Europe, causing inflation. As a result, Spain’s former compatriots, such as Simon Bolívar, asked the metropolis a reasonable question: Why should we pay you? Who are you? This, by the way, is the same question that Americans asked London at the end of the 18th century.
Anyway, it’s a financial issue. And according to Lifson (and Murphy), the same has now happened to America. That is, the U.S. has siphoned off money from all over the world, using its dollar monopoly. Meanwhile, its production has declined, and the U.S. has gradually lost the technological edge it once enjoyed over the rest of the world. Today, the U.S. has yet to reach the state of permanently rural Spain, but the trend is evident.
Of course, while the theory is neat, it has issues. For starters, readers of Lifson’s review have immediately reminded Murphy of the Spanish Inquisition — did he forget about it? After all, it’s another crucial similarity, as the Spanish Inquisition, which stifled any dissent, is what the Democrats in the U.S. are doing today while exporting their flawed ideology around the world.
Therefore, there is much to add here since the current American equivalent of the “cultural revolution” in China and financial theory do not provide a universal recipe for the death of superpowers. For instance, the British Empire operated in an opposite way to the Spanish Empire — using the raw materials from the colonies to develop its industry; powerful, yes, but not powerful enough.
In the 20th century, America overtook the British Empire technologically. This was a direct result of the British Empire turning their colonies into parasites, denying Americans and other competitors entry into those markets. As such, following World War I, these competitors developed the principle of free trade, courtesy of Woodrow Wilson. After World War II, the U.S. finally replaced the U.K. as a global superpower and began to build its own parasitic system based on the dollar monopoly. And now it turns out that other countries, above all China, have overtaken this new parasite technologically — just as the Americans did with the British a century before.
And let’s not forget culture. After all, empires are not only economic mechanisms. The core idea of any empire is a common culture, values and lifestyle shared by different groups of people — something essential for its inhabitants and protected by the full might of the imperial power. However, if an inquisition strangles this living organism of shared culture and values, a gloomy fatigue begins, culminating in a revolt. And the empire, which fed on previous cultural achievements, falls, giving way to new, more self-confident superpowers.