- Oct 2020
John Glubb and Avoiding the Fate of Empires
John Glubb was an English Army officer who created a theory called the "Fate of Empires", which catalogues the typical rise and fall of hegemonic orders and attempts to explain why they fall. He wanted to understand where the North Atlantic European Hegemonic Order is in its cycle, in the hopes that we could avoid making the same mistakes as those before us.
This is the typical cycle of empires:
- Age of Pioneers
A small and insignificant nation on takes over its more powerful neighbors. This new nation is driven by a need to grow and improve, to become the power they took over. This phase is characterized by an optimistic sense of improvisation and initiative.
- The Age of Commerce
The new empire has a lot of new territory, which is safer due to recent military successes. This sets the stage for economic growth. The conquering class benefits from the merchants but aren't motivated solely by material gains.
- Age of Affluence
The ruling class look for ways to spend their new-found wealth, and because they still feel an idealistic sense of noble nationalism, they spend their money on large-scale civic and building projects and invest in art and culture.
- The Age of Intellect
Gradually this material success corrodes the values of the ruling class and material wealth replaces nationalism as the primary virtue. This phase is characterized by a defensiveness and the need to protect what they have. Wall building comes at this phase.
Often seen as a golden age, this is the phase that often comes before its downfall.
- The Age of Decadence
The ruling class is completely disengaged from the issues of the state and are focussed almost completely on sport, entertainment, and personal gain.
Empires rise, and empires fall. This fact of history—so obvious looking backwards—is all but inconceivable to those living through an empire’s peak. Human life is so short in the scheme of civilisations that we tend to overemphasise the importance and length of our own era, while past ages blur together.
Every empire in the past has fallen eventually. To the citizens living through its peak, this could seem impossible. Human lives are confined to a short period of time in which it is difficult to see beyond. Those enjoying the peak of a civilization are unable to see the seeds of their empire's destruction; they cannot see the forrest for the trees.
In early October 2020, members of the Trump campaign met with Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender in hopes of getting him to cover a new scandal that would change the campaign in favor of Trump.
The story they passed on was of alleged emails regarding Hunter Biden's business in Ukraine. They also had a former business partner named Tony Bobulinski claiming that Joe Biden was benefiting from his son's activities.
The journal didn't end up covering the story as they wanted to, instead printing a short explanation that the claims couldn't be proven.
The result was that when Trump started talking about these allegations during the final debate, most people hadn't heard of them and didn't make sense.
The final part of this article is a discussion about how this is an example of traditional media doing its job as "gatekeepers."