The Future of Man – Part 2

The Future of Man – Part 2

Greece.  This is the First Realm of our own heritage.  It was the foundation of modern society.  The empire that provided us with the modern concepts of government, philosophy and culture was a blue print for greatness.  I will not discuss the history of the Greek nation nor why it is referred to here as “The First Realm” [Reference the series arc: “What’s in a Number” for the history of the Four Realms].  Instead we will take a brief look at the causes for its fall.

The factors that led to the fall of Greece (as well as Rome and England) are critically important to understand.  The same elements that combined to topple these nations once again face a great country – the United States.  In Part 1 of this arc, I closed by describing the American people as standing at a crossroads.  They can choose to accept and embrace the coming changes or they can fall behind the power curve of societal evolution.

Greece fell because of many reasons; however, this account will attempt to explain how four major factors coincide with the America of today.  At no point can this exposition be considered a strict recounting of historical events.  Any reader can find themselves awash with nearly countless pieces of Historical Knowledge on this topic.  However, there are very few examples of Historical Thought.  There is a marked difference between the two.

Historians are concerned with Historical Knowledge.  Facts are listed and dates are written.  Accounts of major events are given with the upmost concern for detail and accuracy.  The historian is not, however, concerned with Historical Thought.

Political Theorists are philosophers who study politics.  Most who work within the realm of political theory strictly view current events.  Their goal is to explain these events through philosophical speculative reasoning.  However, another breed of political theorist is also well versed in history.  Instead of solely looking at current events, these histo-political theorists view modern politics through the lens of history.  Every lesson has been taught throughout the centuries.  Unfortunately, not every lesson has been learned.  It is the histo-political theorist who deals with Historical Thought and the lessons we (as a Nation) should learn.  By definition, Historical Thought is the use of history’s lessons to understand the current time, and prepare for the future.

So what then are the lessons that America can learn from the Greeks?  The four most relevant factors that led to the fall of Greece are:

  1. Constant and prolonged foreign wars caused the Greek population to become disenfranchised with the judgment of their rulers. This caused an overbearing pessimism and resentment from the working class towards the ruling class.  This factor also led to inner strife and dissension among the various nation-states that made up Ancient Greece.
  1. The various nation-states had very different ideas for the future of Greece. Their individual (referring to individual nation-states, not individual citizens) goals varied so greatly that there was effectively no unified mindset within the empire.  With no commonality amongst the nation-states, the schism between them grew wider and more hostile.  In contrast, most of the competing foreign powers of the day did possess common internal goals and used them to fuel a more sound growth strategy.
  1. The Greeks desired to spread their culture across the known world. While we have much of our cultural foundation thanks to this, it did not occur in a way that bred loyalty amongst the colonies.  Greek influence reached many of the farthest societies in the [then] known world.  Methods of classical education, science, philosophy, commerce and government were “gifted” to many foreign peoples.  However, the Greeks failed to instill any allegiance from these colonies (the term “colony” is used loosely to include both formal colonies and areas more informally influenced). 
  1. The Greek citizen became complacent and lazy. As their nation-states reached the pinnacle of power the individual citizens became too accustomed to the “good life” which it allowed.  This softening of the populace caused the overall state of readiness to be weakened.  When a nation’s people become too contented with the luxuries of being a super power, they have little reason to endure the stress and hardship of innovation.

If the reader was to see these four statements with all references to Greece removed, they might easily assume that the author was speaking of the United States.  Our Nation faces these same four factors of failure.  Let’s again read the four factors of Greece’s fall in conjunction with parallel in America.

  1. Constant and prolonged foreign wars caused the Greek population to become disenfranchised with the judgment of their rulers. This caused an overbearing pessimism and resentment from the working class towards the ruling class.  This factor also led to inner strife and dissention amongst the various nation-states that made up Ancient Greece.

At the time this essay is penned, American military is engaged in action in over 40 countries around the world.  On the heels of more than a decade of war in the Middle East, the population has become disgruntled.  Strong divergences Current_US_military_deploymentsin regional opinions have caused a separation of common strategy within the Nation.  This is disenfranchisement is tirelessly exploited by the two main legacy parties (Republican and Democratic) for their own political gain.  Differences between individuals are not embraced as a positive element to be melded into a stronger America.  Instead, these differences are marginalized into political daggers to be thrown at the opposing political ideology.  This in turn causes a rift between Citizens, and encourages catastrophic levels of class warfare and internal strife.

  1. The various nation-states had very different ideas for the future of Greece. Their individual (referring to individual nation-states, not individual citizens) goals varied so greatly that there was effectively no unified mindset within the empire.  With no commonality amongst the nation-states, the schism between them grew wider and more hostile.  In contrast, most of the competing foreign powers of the day did possess common internal goals and used them to fuel a more sound growth strategy.

While the American Citizen roils in a cauldron of resentment directed at other Citizens, an informal migration of these various mindsets has occurred.  Americans have been socialized to believe that they have little in common with other Americans of different lifestyle.  Thus, Citizens who identify with one of the various “minority” (the term minority is used to refer to race, ethnicity, faith, sex, or lifestyle) groups have settled into common geographical regions.  In one area of the Nation a certain minority may be non-existent or regarded with ill will, while in others it may be the majority.  The rift between geographical regions has become a dangerous segregation amongst the citizenry.  Meanwhile, America’s competitors and opponents in the geopolitical arena (namely Russia, China, and Iran, though arguably India and Japan can be added to this list as competitors) are each executing their independent strategies to overcome the obstacle of US influence in their long term goals.  These nations – while actually competing with each other for the most part – are mostly unified internally in stark contrast to the American population.

  1. The Greeks desired to spread their culture across the known world. While we have much of our cultural foundation thanks to this, it did not occur in a way that bred loyalty amongst the colonies.  Greek influence reached many of the farthest societies in the [then] known world.  Methods of classical education, science, philosophy, commerce and government were “gifted” to many foreign peoples.  However, the Greeks failed to instill any allegiance from these colonies (the term “colony” is used loosely to include both formal colonies and areas more informally influenced). 

American culture has been spread across the globe.  You would struggle to find a human alive today that would not recognize Mickey Mouse, Coca Cola, or Baseball.  Students come to America from all around the world to attend 131024100102-puerto-rican-bonds-620xauniversities because it has shown the world that American education is desirable.  American musicians tour internationally to sold out crowds that may not even understand the lyrics.  Through capitalism, pop culture, and media America has spread its culture.  There is nothing inherently wrong or detrimental with this.  Over time, however, these “gifts” to the world sour as foreign perception begins to see the USA as a lazy, spoiled and tactless society.  The elements of American culture that were once regarded with gratitude are often seen asa braggart’s show of opulence.  Even more detrimental to our foreign standing is the opinion that America will give a people its culture whether they want it or not.  The United States control 15 territories.  Of those 15, only 5 are inhabited (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana, and American Samoa).  The most clearly seen example of the USA’s failure to build commonality with its territories is Puerto Rico.

Classified as an unincorporated territory, Puerto Rican residents (naturally born) are considered US Citizens.  However, they are not full citizens under Article 14 of the US Constitution.  They must pay federal taxes, are required to submit to compulsory military service when ordered by the federal government, and must follow US laws.  However, as they are not granted citizenship under Article 14, they are not protected under the Bill of Rights.  This means that they are afforded “fundamental civil rights” but not the same civil rights as Article 14 Citizens.  Puerto Ricans are not able to vote in Presidential elections, thought they must submit to the President’s rule.  The territory is allowed to elect Congressional Representation to the House and Senate.  However, these representatives are not able to vote on legislation [when the House is in official session.  They are allowed to vote and influence committee decisions].

Puerto Rico has petitioned for full citizenship as America’s 51st state multiple times.  Former Speaker for the Puerto Rican House of Representatives (territorial level) Miguel Garcia Mendez stated “For an American Citizen, there cannot be another political goal other than equality with his or her fellow American Citizens.  To seek other solutions – to repudiate equality – is to repudiate the natural destiny of American Citizenship.” As time progresses and the territory meets with denied requests for equal treatment, the local popular opinion has begun to swing from seeking statehood.  Whereas a large majority of Puerto Ricans once favored statehood, only 61% claimed the desire for statehood in an informal poll.  However, the US Government still continues to restrict Puerto Rico.  In 1996 the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit set a legal precedent that the federal government can – at will – repeal the Puerto Rican Constitution and replace it with any rules it may see fit.  Additionally, the federal government may – again, at will – remove any individual Puerto Rican’s classification as a US Citizen.  It is not surprising that these measures have caused an independence movement to surge within the small island.  As recent as 2007, the Puerto Rican local government petitioned the United Nations General Assembly to consider their status as a commonwealth able to determine their own status.

This is but one example of the Nation’s failure to build commonality and loyalty amongst all of those who fall under its control.  Over time this will continue to cause an erosion of American political capital amongst its territorial population.

  1. The Greek citizen became complacent and lazy. As their nation-states reached the pinnacle of power the individual citizens became too accustomed to the “good life” which it allowed.  This softening of the populace caused the overall state of readiness to be weakened.  When a nation’s people become too contented with the luxuries of being a super power, they have little reason to endure the stress and hardship of innovation.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Determine never to be idle.  It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”  Our founding fathers were notoriously industrious – even in their “down” time.  Every person must seek leisure as a respite from the daily grind of work and responsibility.  However, the leisure that American’s seek (if the Nation is to evolve into a more powerful global player) should commonly incorporate some form of self-improvement.  Thomas Jefferson was known to keep books within reach so that he could read while waiting on a guest.  Benjamin Franklin tinkered with inventions.  Others learned new skills, improved mental acuity, physical fitness or sought knowledge.  The young America was strong because of this.

In the 20th century a shift began to occur in popular opinion regarding laziness.  People began to fill their leisure time with mindless entertainment that distracted them more than it improved.  In turn, laziness began to manifest as complacency.  This propensity for distraction is politically laziness-demotivational-poster-1235454834dangerous to the individual.  More concerned with reality television and mass marketed entertainment, the individual began to pay much less attention to the workings and machinations of their government.

In George Orwell’s masterpiece “1984” he writes, “So long as they (the Proles) continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.” This statement can be easily applied to the modern American.  More voting occurs on televised talent shows than in the Presidential election.  [In 2006, Taylor Hicks received 63 million votes on American Idol.  The highest vote on a Presidential candidate was Ronald Reagan’s 56 million.]

America’s global dominance is in jeopardy.  Competing nations are concerned with their own internal improvements while America sits idle in ever increasing complacency.  American schools wallow in mediocrity.  The health system imposes incredible burdens of financial mismanagement on its patients.  No tax reforms are on the horizon despite an increasingly complicated and oppressive tax system.  Entitlement mentality has spread like a prairie fire through the population while jobs continue to be outsourced to foreign labor.  It is obvious that as time moves forward, so do America’s competitors and enemies.  If the level of complacency, laziness and entitlement is not addressed in America, the Nation will become a shadowed presence behind other nations.

Due to these same four elements of the Greek’s decline, America sits in a precarious position.  The US can nap until we are passed by those around us.  Or, We The People – as a Nation – can adjust our course and take charge of our future.  We can solidify the global preeminence of this nation in the cut throat arena of geopolitics.

-J-
418/1775/III

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