04 July, 2011

Farrenkopf on the fragility of the Pax Americana

Exactly ten years ago (and, it is worth noting, before the Outrage of 11 September 2001), John Farrenkopf wrote a lengthy analysis of the philosophy and works of Oswald Spengler, Prophet of Decline. I read it when it came out and was quite impressed however, picking it up again after the passage of a decade, I am pleased to see how well it has stood up. In commenting on Spengler's prediction of a twenty-first century Pax Americana, roughly synonymous with the Pax Romana of the first and second centuries AD. Farrenkopf uses his knowledge of current events and Spengler's method to produce this remarkably prescient prediction of what has actually happened in the last ten years:

The decline of American hegemonic power is inevitable as twilight begins to spread its shadows over the Pax Americana. The American neo-imperial world order will prove in the twenty-first century to be a transitory affair. In its home country the signs of sociological decay are already unmistakable in the break-down of the family structure and growing social pathologies, the spread of quasi- pacifism, and the unabashed excesses of our sensate culture. Despite the remarkable economic prosperity of the 1990’s, causes for anxiety abound. The fiscal burdens of the welfare state compounded by and aging society, the massive current-accounts deficits, frenzied speculation, and the recurrent instabilities of the global economy portend an eventual economic crisis for the United States. Effective governance already facesthe multiple challenges of interest groups subverting the public interest, plutocratic tendencies, the necessity of coping with unprecedented ethnic diversity, and growing political apathy, if not disgust. The erosion of America’s ability to exercise leadership in world affairs and manage world order is only a matter of time. The fragile Pax Americana will not have the impressive staying power of the Pax Romana.

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