The good news is renewal becomes possible when the entire rotten status quo collapses in a putrid heap.
There are two basic pathways to systemic collapse: external shocks or internal decay.The two are not mutually exclusive, of course; it can be argued that the most common path is internal decay weakens the empire/state and an external shock pushes the rotted structure off the cliff.
There are a number of dynamics shared by decaying empires/states:
1. The ruling elites lose the mo
2. The ruling elites start “fudging” reports (i.e. lies are presented as truths) and promoting narratives to mask their self-aggrandizement and the erosion of the nation/empire under their self-interested rule. In other words, the elites know the public would resist their leadership if the truth were widely known, so the ruling elites devote tremendous resources to massaging the news to distract the public from reality and reflect positively on their self-serving leadership. Since the weaknesses of the empire are being hidden, they cannot be addressed, and so rot that could have been fixed early becomes widespread and fatal.
3. Flush with the state’s wealth and power, the ruling elite splinters into warring camps which squander the empire’s remaining wealth on private battles over which camp will rule what appears solid and eternal–the empire.
4. As the elites battle it out, the nation/empire falls apart as the leadership’s focus is on internecine conflicts over the spoils of the empire, rather than on preserving the foundations of the empire’s wealth and security.
5. As the truth inevitably leaks out, the public grasps the enormity of the elites’ betrayal of the nation and the public interest. Faith in the elites and the institutions they control plummets, and the Great Unraveling becomes unstoppable.
6. In a last-ditch effort to save their wealth and power, the elites distract the public with Bread and Circuses– “free money” in various guises (Universal Basic Income, Modern Monetary Theory, etc.)–and the distracting Circus of political theater and a surfeit of entertainment. Whether the elites or the public are aware of it or not, America is well down the path to terminal internal decay: Distraction, Lies, Infighting, Betrayal. The good news is renewal becomes possible when the entire rotten status quo collapses in a putrid heap of broken promises, dysfunctional institutions, blatant lies, unpayable debts and cascading defaults.