Richard Lamm, the former Governor of Colorado, has warned that multiculturalism in our nation is very likely to bring about the failure of our future. See here.
A friend, Axel Grabowsky, argues that the Roman Empire did not fall (as per Gibbon) solely because of the dilution of the Roman populus
by the huge and continued influx of mongrel citizens from the Roman provinces and, therefore, Lamm’s argument is suspect. In fact, Grabowsky claims that there were as many as fifty reasons for the demise of this and other great empires. He adds, “I do not entirely agree with Toynbee. The empires of the world, ‘all the great civilizations,’ as Toynbee puts it, did have a hand in both their rise and fall, of course. But the outside reasons for both the rise and fall were at least as important as the internal ones.”
This avowal has gotten me to thinking about what does contribute to the rise and fall of empires? I have compiled below the following thoughts (roughly in order of importance):
- Geography – country’s absolute size, number/size of abutting nations, degree of geographic isolation, country’s shape (area relative to border length), number, size and dispersion of satellite territories, mean height above sea level
- Natural Resources – energy sources, mineral resources, amount and fecundity of arable land, timber resources, harvestable animal/fish populations, water resources, pestilence frequency
- Weather – rainfall/snowfall amounts, temperature/seasonal variants, predilection to natural disasters, sunshine amounts
- Demographics – proportion of young vs. older people, gender balance, life expectancy rates, infant mortality rates, immigration/emigration rates
- Infrastructure – quality and number of roads, rails, airports, ports and other public and private buildings; communication systems; other public transportation systems; infrastructure maintenance rates, sanitation facilities; gas/electric utility build-outs
- Cultural Ethos – clear and reinforced national goals, work ethic, morality baseline, stability of institutions, family values, religious faith, innovativeness, a sense of history/traditions, a commitment to the arts, the degree of a population’s hybrid vigor, the degree of cultural integration (salad bowl vs. melting pot, ala Lamm)
- Civil Freedom/Democracy – government guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; a swift and effective justice system; freedom of movement, assembly, expression, and privacy, a non-confiscatory taxing system
- Common Cause/Hegemony – a national identity, a common language, a forward purpose/resolve, a sense of history, a general dearth of prejudice, quality of leadership
- Economic strength – stability of monetary system, size of middle class, trustworthiness in commercial transactions, strength of financial institutions, world-trade effectiveness, health-care quantity and quality, degree of entrepreneurship
- Educational System – breadth, depth and general affordability of educational opportunities, openness to new ideas, a quest for natural truths, scientific/logical rigor, innovativeness encouragement
- Terrain –ease of movement of citizens/merchandise, number of alternative commerce routes, barriers (mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) to potential enemies (These factors were much more important a century ago, before the age of airplanes, steamships, and motorized surface travel).
Each of these bullet points could engender a whole paragraph of exposition (or perhaps even a book.) But note, that in my opinion (and I assume Axel’s), such mongrelization as Lamm describes is not
at the top of the list. But … it is not insignificant either, particularly when it can (and often does) impact so many other of the above bullet points.
It is an interesting and enlightening exercise to grade our country on these metrics relative to other world powers … to judge for yourself how much longer we may be around.