Fate of Empires

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Paladin
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Fate of Empires

#1

Post by Paladin » Sat Sep 29, 2018 4:11 pm

THE FATE OF EMPIRES and SEARCH FOR SURVIVAL by Sir John Glubb

In 1976-77 John Glubb wrote this thesis about "priceless lessons [which] could be learned if the history of the past four thousand years could be thoroughly and impartially studied."
In this essay, the term ‘empire’ is used to signify a great power, often called today a superpower.
Glubb notes that key success factors in all cultures are "amazing initiative, and almost incredible enterprise, courage and hardihood."
Boys are... required, first of all, to be manly—to ride, to shoot straight and to tell the truth. (It is remarkable what emphasis is placed, at this stage, on the manly virtue of truthfulness, for lying is cowardice—the fear of facing up to the situation.) Boys’ schools are intentionally rough. Frugal eating, hard living, breaking the ice to have a bath and similar customs are aimed at producing a strong, hardy and fearless breed of men. Duty is the word constantly drummed into the heads of young people.
Key factors in the decline of superpowers are: "People make money for themselves, not for their country. Thus periods of affluence gradually dissolved the spirit of service, which had caused the rise of the imperial races. In due course, selfishness permeated the community, the coherence of which was weakened until disintegration was threatened. Then, as we have seen, came the period of pessimism with the accompanying spirit of frivolity and sensual indulgence..."

frivolity "Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The resemblance between various declining nations in this respect is truly surprising."
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.


I might debate Glubb on some aspects of his thesis (duration of the Roman Empire, role of women, etc) but I think he was on to something. Especially with the key success factors.
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Re: Fate of Empires

#2

Post by J.R.@A&M » Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:59 pm

“People make money for themselves and not for their country.”

Huh?
“[T]he liberties of the American people [are] dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box; that without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country.” Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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Re: Fate of Empires

#3

Post by Paladin » Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:15 pm

J.R.@A&M wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:59 pm
“People make money for themselves and not for their country.”

Huh?
That quote makes the most sense in the context of reading the entire article. If you have read it and are still confused I can elaborate further.
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Re: Fate of Empires

#4

Post by J.R.@A&M » Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:37 pm

Paladin wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:15 pm
J.R.@A&M wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:59 pm
“People make money for themselves and not for their country.”

Huh?
That quote makes the most sense in the context of reading the entire article. If you have read it and are still confused I can elaborate further.
Ok, having read it I agree with the author that there are patterns in the evolution of empires. But I still disagree with the statement that I quoted. I don’t think there was ever a time in the evolution of any modern non-socialist society where people had a goal of making money for the collective. Especially in the United States.
“[T]he liberties of the American people [are] dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box; that without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country.” Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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Re: Fate of Empires

#5

Post by tbrown » Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:54 pm

J.R.@A&M wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:37 pm
Ok, having read it I agree with the author that there are patterns in the evolution of empires. But I still disagree with the statement that I quoted. I don’t think there was ever a time in the evolution of any modern non-socialist society where people had a goal of making money for the collective. Especially in the United States.
:iagree:

The "Go West, Young Man" era seems to fall solidly in his pioneering period, but I argue the individuals were motivated by dreams of personal wealth, not because of some duty to God and Country. Christopher Columbus was sponsored by the Spanish Monarchy, but he spent years to get that support, motivated by the desire to become rich from the spice trade. Likewise, Radisson and des Groseilliers wanted to become rich in the fur trade, and broke the French monopoly on North American fur trading by going to Boston, and later England, for backing when their government wouldn't support their business plans.

I wonder how much of the author's viewpoint was shaped by his own upbringing and station in life. His father was a British military officer, in an era where it was exceedingly rare for a commoner to be an officer.
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Re: Fate of Empires

#6

Post by J.R.@A&M » Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:41 pm

tbrown wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:54 pm
J.R.@A&M wrote:
Sun Sep 30, 2018 3:37 pm
Ok, having read it I agree with the author that there are patterns in the evolution of empires. But I still disagree with the statement that I quoted. I don’t think there was ever a time in the evolution of any modern non-socialist society where people had a goal of making money for the collective. Especially in the United States.
:iagree:

The "Go West, Young Man" era seems to fall solidly in his pioneering period, but I argue the individuals were motivated by dreams of personal wealth, not because of some duty to God and Country. Christopher Columbus was sponsored by the Spanish Monarchy, but he spent years to get that support, motivated by the desire to become rich from the spice trade. Likewise, Radisson and des Groseilliers wanted to become rich in the fur trade, and broke the French monopoly on North American fur trading by going to Boston, and later England, for backing when their government wouldn't support their business plans.

I wonder how much of the author's viewpoint was shaped by his own upbringing and station in life. His father was a British military officer, in an era where it was exceedingly rare for a commoner to be an officer.
Agree that modern civilizations (post 1492) are essentially different from before, being oriented around trade, technology, and all the iinnovations that support that (banking, insurance, financial markets, and political theories). All of which enable individuals to “rise above their station.”
“[T]he liberties of the American people [are] dependent upon the ballot-box, the jury-box, and the cartridge-box; that without these no class of people could live and flourish in this country.” Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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Re: Fate of Empires

#7

Post by Paladin » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:04 pm

I think what Glubb was attempting to say was that individuals along the lines of the fictional Gordon Gekko or the real life Jordan Ross Belfort (aka The Wolf of Wall Street) who are out for personal greed at everyone else's expense aren't helpful to society and that Civic virtue is vital.

Individuals motivated by civic virtue, like Nikola Tesla, who wasn't in it for the money, have been extraordinarily helpful to society.

Civic virtue, not the quest for personal profit, drives this website.

Civic virtue, not the quest for personal profit, drove Tim Berners-Lee not to patent the World Wide Web that enables us to have this website and correspond.

Nicola Tesla, Tim Berners-Lee, and the many people who make this website amazing were/are not focused on personal profit, but civic virtue, the dedication of citizens to the common welfare of their community even at the cost of their individual interests. They are willingly sacrificing time, effort, and even money for the common welfare. There is nothing wrong with making a living, but great societies are not built on internal unenlightened self-interest (e.g. exploitative greed). A country full of Jordon Ross Belfort's trying to rip each other off, regardless of the consequences, is going lead to collapse.

I'm not certain what Glubb's view on Enlightened self-interest were.
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Re: Fate of Empires

#8

Post by Paladin » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:27 pm

Like Glubb, President Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader of history and gave a lot of thought to the same subject. President T. Roosevelt clearly laid out his own opinion regarding The Duties of American Citizenship in this 1883 speech.
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Re: Fate of Empires

#9

Post by C-dub » Sun Sep 30, 2018 9:46 pm

Many of the "barons" in this country's history might have been doing business because they knew it was going to help the country and all that, but I think ya'll have pretty much realized that they were also in it for the money and personal wealth and power. There's no doubt in my mind. There's really only one person that comes to mind that was not doing it for the money and he ended up penniless when he died and shut out by those doing it for the money.

I'm thinking of Nicholas Tesla.

Anyway, this country is different than any other in history. I hope it survives and stays as close as it can to its intended form as it was founded. I know we've already veered some, but how could it not eventually? I just hope it won't veer too much and become totally unrecognizable or completely disintegrate into something else.
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