Signs of a Failing Empire

August 29, 2013


If you study history, there are certain clear signs that a society, a socio-economic and political system, is reaching the limits of its progressive power, potential, potency, and legitimacy. I’m sure there are others, but here are some of the major ones:

* The main economic institutions are no longer willing or able to provide opportunities for the majority of individuals, families and communities to achieve a decent living, with long term unemployment, homelessness and poverty increasing exponentially. Massive cynical and criminal financial and commercial manipulations and speculations are allowed to happen and to continue.

* Economic and political power becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and moved ever upwards. Already limited openings for popular participation in decision making are steadily closed off and hemmed in.

* Social mobility becomes frozen, and sharp class divisions are deeply ingrained.

* Ruling upper strata increasingly fear and develop increasing contempt and hatred toward the poor, the unemployed, marginalized minorities, and even everyday working people, pushing for lower levels of pay and more difficult work loads and longer work periods.

* Divisions among the lower strata are exacerbated and encouraged by the upper classes on the basis of race, nationality, gender, sexual identity, age, employment status and all kinds of other false and exaggerated “differences”.

* Organizations of mutual support, solidarity and fight back among the lower social classes are attacked, weakened, destroyed, bought off and made impotent. Intensified competition among unorganized workers and functionaries for dwindling opportunities becomes rampant.

* Military and police forces are increased in size (this varies) and armed with ever more deadly weaponry. Wars become more common and ongoing, as ruling strata hunger for dwindling resources, markets, and the power to counter their rivals around the world — and to suppress periodic rebellions within their “colonies”, and increasingly within their own countries, partially through police spies, surveillance, informers, provocateurs, and agents.

* This all leads to inevitable overreach and over extension, as well as the financial strains of maintaining, replacing and constantly revolutionizing military, intelligence and police technology and forces.

* Military personnel and veterans are increasingly abused and cut off from support and their promised rights. Mass unemployment assures a constant flow of replacements — fresh blood.

* Mass arrests, convictions, and incarcerations become the order of the day. A huge prison industry further saps the falling resources of the society.

* Educational systems, opportunities for learning, social and public services, and the basic physical infrastructure are allowed to crumble and decay, and are not maintained. Access to quality health care and health maintenance possibilities become compromised, even in the midst of programs and facilities periodically implemented and provided.

* A general fraying of social and community cohesiveness sets in, and alienation increases between people.

* The physical environment is constantly and increasingly violated and trashed in the never ending quest of the ruling strata to exploit and ravish the resources of the planet — at any cost.

Does any of this sound familiar or ring a bell ? Allowing for exceptions and occasional islands of hope and glimmers of positiveness, can anyone truly doubt that the above litany of horrors pretty much describes our current state of affairs in this country and this world ? The question, of course, at least among those of us who understand the unfortunate reality of these facts, is: What can be done ? What needs to be done ? What are the possible ways forward and out of this vortex of destruction and calamity ?

I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts and conclusions ? I’ll get into mine at a later time, but soon. Take care.

Jim Griffin
1272 Descanso
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

Jim Griffin has lived in San Luis Obispo for five years.  The son of a career Air Force officer, Jim lived in many varied places growing up (Born in California but moving to Alaska at 2 1/2, back to California, to Illinois, back to Alaska, to Canada, and ending up in the Detroit area, Michigan, when he was twelve) having moved six times before the age of thirteen.  Jim lived most of his life in Michigan.  Jim has been a progressive political activist since his mid teens, taking part in anti-war movements, the civil rights movement, labor union struggles, and other movements for human, civil, and democratic rights.  He aims to be a successful writer and author and to work in some capacity as a social service professional if possible. Jim is single but “looking.”



nothing like paraphrasing the Bible. wish i knew it well enough to quote book, chapter, verse


Not a single statement in Mr. Griffin’s commentary accurately describes America. He is obviously a victim of way too much talk radio and cable “news” shows that make their living feeding negativity and fear.

Turn off Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and wake up. America is doing great…better and better everyday when compared to previous eras. And we have millions of average, good-hearted people still working hard to deal with the social and political challenges that we do face…nothing that can’t, or won’t be solved by the positive thinking and problem solving that Americans are known for.

BOTTOM LINE: Stop feeding your addiction to doomsday scenarios and fear. Life is too short. Turn off the media for a while.


i think he is paraphrasing the Bible


….naw, I would say “Times of a Changing Empire”

A fundamental missing component in this argument is the absence of any discussion about the modern age use of energy. Oil and other fossil fuels, nuclear energy and alternative energies have changed how society and cultures exist or coexist or become extinct. Energy moves dirt, operates machines, heats water and our homes and gets us moving from place to place. This Roman Candle was lit back with the invention of the External Combustion Engine, then the Internal Combustion Engine and then the discovery of nuclear fission….Society will keep this candle lit, but its up to policy makers to create a sustainable and harmonious existence that minimizes war and suffering.

The fact that the standards of living of all humans souls have never had their sufferings been mitigated so much can not be denied. Yes, there is great suffering today but because we are informed by the internet and mass media that it may seem worse than its ever been in human existence. I can’t imagine living when the Plague is running through society or a severe drought wreaks havoc on the food supply. But perhaps a new type of plague awaits our society that will correct all of our efforts to minimize suffering. …those muting damn muting bugs!

Work is a challenging term in todays existence, since harnessing, controlling and producing goods and service both commercially and domestically is phenomenal thanks to machine. We place additional needs on ourselves which contribute to our worries. Now we are faced with producing goods and services in a rapidly changing marketplace thanks to technology of the internet and technology of producing goods and services and ever increasing higher quality….generally speaking. I personally would rather have a washer or drying with a simple on/off switch and a timer than all the fancy bells an whistles that lead to failures that needs a specialist to fix.

I would say motivating people to work and live a life of contribution to society is a better cause for alarm, since our Wizards of Oz and their monetary policies are points of societies failure to provide the opportunity to live & work & coexist with your neighbor and to build societies culture. I’m not even going to start with all psychotropic meds and educational policies that are hamstringing our youth….but keeping it simple has always worked and the natural forces will bring success. Pen, pencil, paper, you know the drill. How many can do simple math, such as counting change when under pressure? Yeah..thought so, that’s a telltale.

Some of the tools we have are the media, aka 4th Estate, internet, “Hollywood”, and other forms to bring a message to “The People” and make change to our political system and the message can be in the form of entertainment…why not think outside the box?

I would think a new political party platform will eventually change this landscape coupled with monetary policy adjustments that will motivate and encourage commerce that keeps The People engaged & working.

Our capitalism have brought us unimaginable efficiencies which has replaced value added activities from developed markets to under-developed markets. However, since long standing career employment maintain a stable workforce, its a natural conclusion that Overhead has become out of balance in the workforce equations.

For instance, it shouldn’t take our government a year to “Plan Check” a residential remodel, addition or other improvement allowed by a previously approved Zoning laws. If construction is made out of compliance, then the property owner is on the hook to change etc. This is a prime example of inflating costs, since the establishment has mastered the fractional reserve banking game to its benefit and the individual and the banks are bailed out by government in the end and any white collar banking crime is nearly impossible to prosecute, thereby leading to more draconian government policies which makes the scale tip further towards more OVERHEAD and more government oversight which lead to higher and higher costs. To say the current fractional reserve banking system is a fair market tool is not quite genuine, since the policy is manipulated routinely and banks no longer need to keep in reserve any significant amount of currency to POOOF…create more money out of thin air to be borrowed and dumped into the economy.

things are different today then they were yesterday and will be different tomorrow….

Preparation is the mother of luck, know the lucky and know that any idealism keeps you in a box.


Thank you for an excellent article. It’s a little hard to write the entire story of the rise and fall of Western Civilization in a short blog but you are right on the money.

My take: unfortunately due to technology(see Citizen’s comments) it will be much more difficult to come back to freedom this time around if it is possible at all.


Where’s Ted on this one?

We wonder why we find these civilizations from the past wiped out and in ruins. Life has many cycles and ours surely is coming to some sort of closure. With the slow elimination of the middle class, we will surely be third world before the next presidency if we dont make some changes to start with our own people instead of acting like we are helping everyone else and really just slinging our own Americans into the pit for profit. Maybe if Americans stood up like some of the other countries against their politicians and clean house, we may have another chance. JMO


Lovely sentiment. Where’s yer documentation?


It’s an opinion piece.


It is indeed an opinion piece but he makes claims as if they were documented.

I would generally agree with his description of our country and world (although I think some are exaggerated.) However, many of his points are not contributors of past “falling empires” and, as others have pointed out, there are other contributing factors for which a good argument could be made.

I think his conclusion is correct and many of his reasons point toward such a conclusion but the overall argument has several weaknesses and omitted considerations.


he makes claims as if they were documented

autodidactic certainty strikes anyone at any time.


Military and police forces are increased in size (this varies) and armed with ever more deadly weaponry. Wars become more common and ongoing, as ruling strata hunger for dwindling resources, markets, and the power to counter their rivals around the world — and to suppress periodic rebellions within their “colonies”, and increasingly within their own countries, partially through police spies, surveillance, informers, provocateurs, and agents.

“Obama who promised a million man civilian army during his2008 Campaign for President been weakening the Military (not totally under his personal control) and strengthening Homeland Security forces.

Homeland Security has been armed with tanks, has been buying up the ammunition supply, and is being increased in size. They are practicing with “no hesitation” targets such as pregnant women, older white males, etc. These forces will work directly and entirely under the President–against us if the President so decides. It will be his sole decision.

Now the surveillance power of the NSA on American citizens has been partially revealed, and is much more extensive than any of us knew. These collected data banks can draw up the records of any person who uses the internet, phones, or is in the internet system.


The first paragraph is a quote from the article by Jim Griffen. Sorry, I didn’t make that clear.


Gosh, sounds like one of those radical tea partiers. ;)


bibliography/footnotes, please