The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire remains the archetype for whenever we consider the collapse of any great structural entity. But the current entity the Decline now relates to is no longer a national or political system; it is economic.
The 20th century saw the rise and dominance of the US as a global socio-political force. It was the umbrella which covered media, military, financial, educational and political superiority. But all of those entities are now superseded by one piece of the overall puzzle – the financial system.
If there is any question in who is the dominate partner in this S&M relationship, take a look at the size and scope of the bailouts of the financial system by the governments they are suppose to serve. Just the US bailout packages total up to $4.6165 trillion dollars; that’s more than the Marshal Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, NASA and the race to the moon, the Vietnam and Korean Wars, the invasion of Iraq, and the New Deal combined after you adjust for inflation.When the financial world asks “Who’s your daddy?”, the rest of the world whimpers.
But the unfettered power has gotten to Mr. Moneybag’s head, and it’s starting to collapse under its own weight. Going back to Rome’s downfall, we can see the barbarians storming the gate today. In the 5th century, the Vandals sacked Rome. In 2001, al Qaeda sacked New York’s financial district. The economic bureaucracy can no longer protect its trade routes from pirates as a living being can’t defend its bloodstream from parasites.
Looking at the sub-prime mortgage crisis, everyone in the chain, from the poor house buyer to the fund managers turned a blind eye to the risks they were taking, because everyone else was making it too. And they can’t be all wrong, right? This shared burden of irresponsibility meant that they were all dragged down by it in the end. The markets are inept in policing itself and so the cancer eats away from the inside.
Now, you may think that this essay is just a critical look at the dangers of having just one aspect of global society dominating the rest, but its true purpose was to say I am the king of tortured mixed metaphors!