How long will the United States exist?

Mudassir Ali
Apr 07, 2020 09:17 AM 0 Answers
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How long will the United States exist?

Mudassir Ali
- Apr 07, 2020 09:18 AM

I honestly think that we’re wrong to argue about the inevitability of a fall in a classical sense like Rome or Egypt or the USSR or any other go-to powers. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re entering a period of human history in which the concept of nation-state subsides to more useful geopolitical configurations. Globalization and technology, potentially combined in the far future with interstellar travel, are going make the concept of nation-state obsolete before America collapses.

Several factors contribute.
First, rise of western liberal democracies has corresponded to a decline in wars of aggression, as have nukes and other weapons of mass destruction. Great powers no longer fight each other and I would be surprised if any large developed nation were to be conquered by another ever again on earth barring spectacular circumstances. Moreover, economies are so interdependent now that there’s no incentive for two economic powers to fight each other until one submits.

Second, many large empires throughout history managed to last for a millennium. The United States is less than 250 years old and arguably the strongest power yet seen on Earth. I agree that it would be naive to suggest that it would never fall were humans to be technologically stagnant for millennium after millennium. However, the technological revolution precludes stagnation, and I bet that the United States only has to make it another few centuries to see a paradigm shift unlike any other in human history.

I’m not sure what it will be, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of several of these happens:
(1) energy becomes practically limitless – we ace fusion technology or renewables become crazy efficient or we figure out something even more radical – which therefore significantly reduces inequalities and removes incentives for warfare (no more resource wars, political instability caused by poverty, etc),

(2) humans begin uploading their minds into computers and virtual reality – with less emphasis on geopolitics and nationalism and nation states than exists in the status quo – supplants physical reality to the extent that nation-states become obsolete, (3) the continued expansion of economic and political unions culminates in an effective one world government (perhaps borders dissolve, but more likely nation-states exist nominally but cede sovereignty) that renders our conceptions of what it means for the United States to fall meaningless because every other nation will have also “fallen” to the next step in political evolution.

Again, these are developments that I would not be surprised to see happen in the next few hundred years, and considering that it’s not uncommon for empires to last a millennium, the United States will almost certainly make it. Now, you could argue that the ceding of sovereignty counts as a “fall,” but I think that OP is asking when the US will fall relative to other nations, and therefore a situation in which most/all nations cede sovereignty doesn’t count.

The only really feasible way that I see the United States falling before a unifying event like one-world government or virtual reality or whatever else I can’t foresee, is if another system of government emerges that replaces representative democracy (technocracy).

It would have to be a combination of :
(1) a radical new proposed form of government (which is why I suggest technocracy – replacing voting with decision-making computers would be such a shift) and
(2) an incredibly displeased populace.

Some people in this thread suggest that current inequality and increasing automation might prompt a revolution.

The problem with this theory is two-fold:
(1) overthrowing our current government to replace it with democratic socialism or whatever they suggest is unnecessary. Democratic socialism and more radical wealth redistribution are completely compatible with representative democracy and if enough people agree, then it can easily be resolved by the ballot. The republic would continue to exist. The only way I see a true end of the republic as we know it would be the introduction of a completely foreign system of governance, e.g. technocracy, that voids massive swaths of our Constitution.

(2) despite what people will say on reddit, the standard of living in America is still much too high to foster a USSR-style collapse of our political system or a bloody revolution.

War is uniquely disincentivized in the 21st century compared to the rest of human history, meaning that most large developed nations will probably continue to exist in essentially their current form until something subsumes the concept of nation-state; the concept of nation-state probably only has a few more centuries of usage, and its fairly reasonable to assume the US can make it that long.

Life Cycle of a Country
About the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior.

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

“The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence :

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage”

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota believes the United States is now somewhere between the “complacency and apathy” phase of Professor Tyler’s definition of democracy, with some 40 percent of the nation’s population already having reached the “governmental dependency” phase.

I also like using the Copernican principle for these kinds of predictions. The gist of it is, lacking any other information, in predicting the lifespan of an entity, we can assume with 90% certainty that we are not witnessing the entity at the first 5% of its life or the last 5%.

So if we consider 1776 to be starting date of the US, then it is 240 years old. We can say that the first 5% of US history has passed, but that we have not yet reached the last 5%.

Therefore, we can predict with 90% certainty that the US will last between 12 and 4,780 years. Finally, it’s not a highly precise prediction tool.

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