In the Footsteps of Rome: Maybe It No Longer Matters Who’s Emperor – Charles Hugh Smith (09/08/2020)

Pretense and PR are not reality, and believing the Old Normal will magically be restored with sacrifice-free Federal Reserve printing is not an actual strategy.

Quick history quiz: who was the second-to-the-last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire? 

How about the third-to-the-last? Answers: Glycerius, 473-74 A.D. and Julius Nepos, 474-475 A.D. The last emperor was the grandly titled Romulus Augustus, who reigned less than a year until the whole shebang disintegrated in 476 A.D.

You get the point: when the momentum of collapse crosses the Event Horizon, it no longer matters who claims the title of Head Snake; the collapse is beyond the control of any individual or agency.

So when I hear the most important election in history, last chance for democracy, etc. I hear blah-blah-blah because we’re following the footsteps of Rome’s collapse to a T. 

As I explained in How Nations Collapse: Disunity (8/20/20), profound disunity between classes and within power elites is the key driver of collapse, as all the energy required to make the perilous, radical changes needed to save the system are squandered on in-fighting and jockeying for control of the dwindling centralized power.

The final generation of Romans also preferred pretense to reality. The last Roman elites found solace in Rome’s past glories, as if it was inevitable that something or other would magically restore Rome’s power and stability without any sacrifices being made by the elites or the public.

Today we hear the shrill, keening cries for the pretense of unity: since actual unity has been lost, then public-relations pretense is the best the elites can manage. just as in the waning days of the Western Roman Empire, the elites got overly greedy and complacent–a fatal combination. 

America’s billionaire class and the New Nobility just below the billionaires have scooped most of the economy’s gains since 2008, and paid either zero or low taxes. (Just ask Mr. Gates how to make your fortune tax-free via philanthro-capitalist foundations that are simply other avenues for achieving the same dominance.)

Once you have a Big Tech monopoly, the political influence to protect your monopoly, and the Federal Reserve juicing stocks, junk bonds, etc., then your greed has no limit. Just as in Rome’s waning days, the super-wealthy evade taxes and indeed, any sacrifice. Whatever wealth remains is sluiced into the coffers of the super-wealthy while the citizenry pay the price via the destruction of social mobility, higher taxes and a fast-decaying real economy.

The power elites are complacent, as they believe manipulating top-heavy bureaucracies and captured central bankers is the only skillset needed. Creating value or real-world goods and services? Why bother when the real money is made in corruption, fraud and legalized looting?

America squandered its last chance to make the necessary sacrifices and radical systemic changes in the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown. 

The power elites bailed themselves out at the cost of systemic stability, and now the dominoes are finally falling. Human Wetware 1.0 hasn’t changed since 473 A.D. and so our elites are filled with the same complacent hubris as the last batch of greedy, entitled, overly impressed with their wealth and power elites of Rome.

The Fed will continue to bail out all those whose self-serving greed undermined the republic, and print trillions to distribute bread and circuses to placate the milling mob, thereby destroying the value of the bread and the last pretenses of a “market economy.” Rather than face the need for a radical from-the-ground-up reformation of the political-economic system, our elites have focused on increasing their already destabilizing wealth and power and taking down their elite rivals.

As a result, there is no way to stop the dominoes from falling. Pretense and PR are not reality, and believing the Old Normal will magically be restored with sacrifice-free Federal Reserve printing is not an actual strategy. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A Reappraisal (Michael Grant)

Recent Podcasts:The Ochelli Effect 8-31-2020: first half: Charles Hugh Smith 2nd half: Terry TappMy COVID-19 Pandemic Posts

My recent books:Audiobook edition now available:
Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World ($13)
(Kindle $6.95, print $11.95) Read the first section for free (PDF).
Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 (Kindle), $12 (print), $13.08 ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

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