Foreign Policy Expert Claims U.S. At Last Stage Prior To Collapse

Cole Thomas, 'Interior of the Colosseum Rome', 1832


"Decadence is usually understood as an irreversible condition — the last stage before collapse." -James Taub

Foreign policy expert James Traub penned an op-ed for Foreign Policy in 2017 lamenting what is by all appearances the "last stage before collapse" for the United States.

Like many before him in recent years, Traub invokes the memory of Rome and compares its final days to what he sees in America's present:

The marks of imperial decadence appeared not only in grotesque displays of public opulence and waste, but also in the collapse of faith in reason and science.

  • "Perhaps in a democracy the distinctive feature of decadence is not debauchery but terminal self-absorption— the loss of the capacity for collective action, the belief in common purpose, even the acceptance of a common form of reasoning," Traub wrote.
  • "We listen to necromancers who prophesy great things while they lead us into disaster," he said, while sneering "at the idea of a 'public' and hold[ing]our fellow citizens in contempt." Anyone who fails to "pursue self-interest is a fool," Traub wrote.
  • Americans also have lost touch with truth, he observed: "A thing that we wish to be true is true; if we wish it not to be true, it isn’t. Global warming is a hoax. Barack Obama was born in Africa. Neutral predictions of the effects of tax cuts on the budget must be wrong, because the effects they foresee are bad ones."
  • And President Trump rules over this present climate as king: "It is, of course, our president who finds in smoking entrails the proof of future greatness and prosperity. The reduction of all disagreeable facts and narratives to 'fake news' will stand as one of Donald Trump’s most lasting contributions to American culture, far outliving his own tenure."

Our political elite will continue to gratify our worst impulses so long as we continue to be governed by them. The only way back is to reclaim the common ground — political, moral, and even cognitive — that Donald Trump has lit on fire.

Losing to China is hardly the worst thing that could happen to us. Losing ourselves is.

Click here to read the entire op-ed.

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