When Empires Start to Collapse


Yeah, I think if you look at history, it’s really interesting when empires start to collapse, when you start to get such a breach between how the elite lives and how the rest of the country lives. There are usually two options: you can either start to placate and appease the vast majority of the country who are living in deprivation — some symbolic gestures of social programs just enough to keep them mollified so they don’t go out into the streets — or you can decide, “You know what, we don’t really care how angry the citizenry gets. What we’re going to do instead is ‘paramilitarize’ the country, we’ll put them under a massive surveillance system.

“We’ll keep a really close eye on everything they’re doing, we’ll listen to their communications and we’ll crush, first by demonizing and then, criminalizing and, then, censoring any form of dissent so that they have absolutely nowhere to turn. So, they can get as angry as they want. We’ll just make ourselves so powerful and so opaque, no one will know what we’re doing — but we can see everything they’re doing, that there’s nothing they can do about it anyway”. Amazingly, it is the American left who has become the main ally in imposing that.

— Glenn Greenwald

The only part of this I take issue with is that I don’t think there’s any need to “placate and appease” anyone to keep them from taking to the streets. In America, this is done with mindless entertainment and gadgetry, i.e., “I’d like to revolt against the government but I’d have to miss my TV programs.”

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