The Passing of the Second Imperial Age? Likely Not

The Passing of the Second Imperial Age

The author concludes:

The US’s hegemonic period, now shrinking, often looked like empire, especially the British version, which it mostly replaced. Imperial Britain decreed a “Pax Britannica,” which America then sought to duplicate as a benign “Pax Americana.” Like Britain, the United States established bases and supply stations across the globe and promoted free trade. But it had an “informal empire”—that is, it controlled countries without either occupying them or (usually) choosing their leaders, as Britain did for Egypt and Argentina, among others.

Except there is scant evidence of this…

The empirical evidence shows the US economic, cultural, and military hegemony is bigger and stronger than ever in spite of Russia and China. I believe the US will not suffer the same fate as Britain. People made similar predictions in 2008 that the financial crisis and the quagmire of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would weaken America’s global economic dominance , but the opposite happened: since 2008, the US has pulled way ahead of the rest of the world by many metrics: low inflation, inflation-adjusted stock market returns, tech innovation, geopolitical stability, overseas Hollywood blockbuster sales (as evidence of America’s unshakable cultural influence), strong dollar, etc. Look at the post-2009 tech boom, as further evidence of US economic dominance.

Major US tech companies such as Tesla, Microsoft, and Amazon are bigger and more influential then ever, too, whereas Europe and the rest of the world lack such equivalents, with the possible exception of China (such as the immensity popular app TikTok ). In 2010 after its IPO, Tesla traded at just $20/share. Now it’s at $1500/share and a global obsession. Amazon at $3300/share and taking over retail, and everything else.

Unlike in the 19th and early 20th century, power is not through physical control of land (such a colonialism) but through technological, economic, and cultural influence, and America is unrivaled in that regard.

America’s power is in its geopolitical and economic stability (which is why the US dollar is so strong), it’s strong private sector which is largely insulated from the less competent and indecisive (but not necessarily weak, as operation Shock and Awe showed) public one (compare sloth of Congress to the hyper-efficiency of Amazon or the innovation of Tesla), state’s rights (for a country as large as the US, it is more efficient to delegate governing to states than try to centralize everything), and ever-present threat of overwhelming military retaliation against anyone or any entity that threatens its interests. No other country can match America in this regard. As evidence of the latter, a top Iranian general was drone-striked without any warning and with razor-like precision, showing that the US can still flex its power if needed.

It is Woodrew Wilson and possibly also Teddy Roosevelt, the legacy of whose centralized, federalist polices lives on in both parties whether it’s big government conservatism or big government liberalism, who set a precedent for America transitioning from being an observer in world affairs to an active participant, and then later, a dominant player, and who enshrined and consecrated liberalism in it America’s institutions.

China’s apparent success at containing Covid early on may may have raised its national profile, possible human rights abuses notwithstanding, but the US still leads much of the world in testing.

Overall, I generally side with Fukiyama in that liberal democracy, despite its flaws and resistance to it, is likely the final state of evolution of government and is not going away. Trump, according to the liberal media narrative, is supposed to be an affront to such democratic values, yet the inability or unwillingness of the administration to enact any sort of sweeping reforms on immigration (or anything else without it being struck-down by a judge, failing in Congress, amended to a weaker form, or simply forgotten), is a ‘win’ for the status quo. Trump’s executive orders pack as much punch as an open can of soda that has been left out all night.

>We are now perhaps living through the passing of the second imperial age, often referred to as one of hegemony, a term better suited to the self-image of a state established in defiance of imperial Britain. But the United States’ commitment to its hegemonic position is waning, and as it retreats from global policing, Europe, lulled by the sense of security America hitherto provided, has neither the capacity nor the will to take its place. The new rising imperial power is China, and its malevolent ally, Russia. The vacuum is already being filled.

Russia is very weak, so I dunno why it even merits inclusion as a threat. Its economy has suffered greatly since 2008 due to plunging oil and natural gas prices. And just because China seems dominant now is no guarantee it will stay that way. In the late ’80s Japan was seemingly poised to take over the world, until it all came crashing down around 1992 or so, and Japan has been in a malaise ever since. There is no guarantee China will not meet a similar fate, although I don’t think it will.