Too Big to Fail: The Decline of the American Empire

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

By Radheesh Ameresekere | Canada

The United States of America is one of history’s greatest empires. Their knack for colonialism, interventionism (Iran, Korea, Vietnam, Libya, etc.), slave-labour, and economic dominance is reminiscent of Greece, Rome, Spain, England, and the like at their primes. Even at its roots, the modern American ’empire’ is built on the premise of territorial acquisition. With influence in every country on the planet, it is difficult to ever imagine such a creature’s decline. Nevertheless, the same was said of Rome, England, and kin; they now comfortably reside in the books of history. Can the same be said about the United States of America?

The fundamental cause of the decline of any Empire is the failure of central state authority. The core American empire is decaying, both at a collective and individual level. The states are completely partisan at this point in time, with an overwhelming majority of the politically active aligning themselves strictly with either the Republicans or Democrats.

The entire nation is divided in half. And regardless of the man in the White house, there seems to be a lack of faith in any leadership. The four most-recent “American Emperors”, though both Dems and Republicans, have all held a shockingly low average-approval-rating of between 42-45%. The figureheads of the state have largely lost any legitimacy and credibility.

Beyond the Executive branch of government, there is a history of Judicial failure. At the time of writing, all fifty states are protesting police (a state institution) brutality – in other words, the most unity this country has seen in the last century is against the state. This is the byproduct of those positions of power having gone long unchecked, failing on both a legal and moral ground.

A chunk of the prison system has been privatized for nearly 40 years, effectively legalizing modern slavery. It’s no surprise then, that the incarceration/conviction rates of POC (namely Black Americans) are disproportionately high compared to their white counterparts (when prorated). A state built on slavery and racial supremacy will not be so quick to forget its heritage, nor will its Judiciary. Consequently, given growing numbers of progressive thinkers, many POC themselves, America’s judicial failures are at the crux of civil tension.

Click here for a report on American Sentencing Demographics.

However, the problem is not just at home. Post WWII, America was the biggest fish in the pond. With other modern Empires declining, the America quickly filled the power vacuum. In recent history, however, the gap between Uncle Sam and his competition has slowly been closing. Russia and China (and Iran), arguably the world’s entire Eastern bloc of power, is quickly rising in terms of both military prowess and economic dominance. Not to mention the bad-blood between the Eastern powers and the Western powers has decade long roots in the Cold-War. Any alliance between these Eastern nations has the potential to completely re-balance the structure of power. The biggest threat to most of history’s empires, beyond themselves, were not-so-friendly neighbours. Balance of power is crucial to the sustenance of power – imbalance is a threat. 

America is no longer America. As Jeff Daniel’s character, Will McAvoy, put it in The Newsroom, “We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest.”

Whether or not this was ever true, it’s no longer on the agenda. Perhaps this, then, is the ultimate failure of the American Empire: it lost its purpose, and its moral conviction. America too, will take its place in the annals of history, alongside its predecessors.

Other works by this writer: Capitalism vs Socialism: The First Works, the Latter Doesn’t


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#economy #colonialism #empire #power #civilrights #military #america #policebrutality #leadership

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