“Knowledge advances, funeral by funeral.” ~ Paul Samuelson
Samuelson is right. Most intellectuals, especially those who occupy influential positions in universities, research institutions, and think tanks, tend to extreme conservatism. They stick to their theories with the tenacity of bloodsucking leeches sticking to their prey. They use their influence and power to prevent the analysis of new evidence and the acceptance of new theories. Until they die, and a new generation takes over, the advancement of knowledge is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
The phenomena of advancement happening funeral by funeral applies to the empires too. It is the fate of all empires to become ossified and decadent—they lose their zeal to conquer, build new infrastructure, conduct scientific research, create new technological marvels, organize new philosophical movements, and create new institutions to transform the global economy and politics. There is decline in their moral values, work ethic, and political and artistic standards.
When such ossified and decadent empires accumulate too much geopolitical power, they have a pernicious impact on the entire planet—because they use their military and technological might to hinder progress and push humanity deeper into the abyss of tyranny and nihilism. The decline of such empires is generally in the long term interests of mankind, as this clears the space for the rise of new empires which could prove to be more energetic, creative, and innovative.
I see the West (primarily America and Britain) as an ossified and decadent empire. Since the eighteenth century, the West has been exercising a disproportionate amount of power on global economy and politics. The Western empire started declining after 1930. Between 2030 and 2050, I expect it to fall. Until the West falls, or is radically transformed, there will be no further progress. The funeral of the West will be the biggest event of this century—just as the fall of the Soviet Union was the biggest event of the last.
The post-Western world will be a new world—I believe, a better world.
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