Yesterday there were a couple of great discussions about the transition America is making from a small-government Republic to, well, something else--treated in the context of what happened to ancient civilizations. Readers of this blog will know that I've been harping on this subject for the last year-and-a-half.
The first comes from Mort Zuckerman.
It is nearly a century since that gloomy German mathematician and philosopher Oswald Spengler published his 1918 classic The Decline of the West. His arguments were complex, but basically he suggested that the future of the West was not as limitless as his peers imagined after the ghastly World War I. His thesis was that civilizations had an underlying trajectory, an organic rise and fall; his metaphor was to compare the stages of this process to the stages of our seasons--but seasons of many centuries. In the 19th century we were, he suggested, in the winter of the West, witnessing the triumph of materialism, socialism, and money and that the era of individualism, liberty, and humanitarianism was nearing its end. (When the Nazis rose to power he seemed vindicated--he was a vehement critic.)
Note that he implies Nazis were socialists--it's news to people in some circles that Nazis were the National Socialist party.
The second discussion was on Glenn Beck's Fox News show. He said that historians agree ancient Rome fell for three reasons: 1) a declining moral value, 2) and extended military overstretched in foreign lands,and 3) a debt-ridden government.
He went so far as to claim that President Obama is a modern-day Augustus Caesar, something I disagree with. I see America as in the same stage today as when the Roman Republic was transitioning to the Roman Empire. Notice the future tense--it's a process. It's not something that happens overnight. The executive branch slowly gains more power, like it's been doing for 150 years. But to allow that process to continue is to abandon a government ruled by separation of powers, fundamentally changing this country from what it was, to something else.