“Ashes to ashes and clay to clay, if the enemy don’t get you your own folks may.” —James Thurber
Through the pages of the Politically Incorrect Guide To The British Empire, I became acquainted with Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, KCB, CMG, DSO, OBE, MC—better known as “Glubb Pasha.” Sir John was a British soldier who trained and led the Arab Legion from 1939 to 1956. He was also remarkably prescient. Glubb’s insights in The Fate Of Empires (1978) should give any American pause, considering the state of the nation, circa 2012:
- We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced. In a surprising manner, 250 years emerges as the average length of national greatness. This average has not varied for 3,000 years.
- There does not appear to be any doubt that money is the agent which causes the decline…Money replaces honour and adventure as the objective of the best young men...Gradually, and almost imperceptibly, the Age of Affluence silences the voice of duty. The object of the young and the ambitious is no longer fame, honour or service, but cash...Education undergoes the same gradual transformation. No longer do schools aim at producing brave patriots ready to serve their country. Parents and students alike seek the educational qualifications which will command the highest salaries.
- Money being in better supply than courage, subsidies instead of weapons are employed to buy off enemies...Military readiness, or aggressiveness, is denounced as primitive and immoral…The weakness of pacifism is that there are still many peoples in the world who are aggressive.
- As in the case of the Athenians, intellectualism leads to discussion, debate and argument, such as is typical of the Western nations today. Debates in elected assemblies or local committees, in articles in the Press or in interviews on television—endless and incessant talking. Men are interminably different, and intellectual arguments rarely lead to agreement.Thus public affairs drift from bad to worse, amid an unceasing cacophony of argument.
- In a wider national sphere, the survival of the nation depends basically on the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the citizens. The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse.
- Another remarkable and unexpected symptom of national decline is the intensification of internal political hatreds. One would have expected that, when the survival of the nation became precarious, political factions would drop their rivalry and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to save their country…internal rivalries become more acute, as the nation becomes weaker.
- One of the oft-repeated phenomena of great empires is the influx of foreigners…liable to form communities of their own, protecting primarily their own interests, and only in the second degree that of the nation as a whole.
- The heroes of declining nations are always the same—the athlete, the singer or the actor. The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to designate a comedian or a football player, not a statesman, a general, or a literary genius.
- History…seems to suggest that the age of decline of a great nation is often a period which shows a tendency to philanthropy…The impression that it will always be automatically rich causes the declining empire to spend lavishly on its own benevolence, until such time as the economy collapses, the universities are closed and the hospitals fall into ruin.
Our symptoms are unmistakeable, as any competent diagnostician is aware. The only question is whether the disease has advanced enough to be terminal.