Friday, 11 October 2013

Will October 17 be the day?

Reading history can be quite fun if only for leisure. One of the most fascinating lessons that anyone can draw from reading history books is that there isn't a single national or state entity that will not go over the dreaded 'rise and fall' hill. In fact, I dare say, one could easily summarise human history as a sequence of civilisation 'bubbles' that eventually burst into exceedingly smaller bubbles or disappear into nothingness altogether.

We're all descendants of other, sometimes bigger, historical bubbles. The birth of these smaller bubbles however usually involves tumultuous changes that can sometimes result in human misery not excluding bloodshed. Isaac Asimov's wonderful Foundation series illustrates the process in a fictional setting beautifully while offering us a scenario of just how we might be able to shorten the periods of anarchy.

Without divulging too much of the plot for those who have not yet read the aforementioned series, one of the signs given by one of Asimov's characters that points to the story's primary state entity's fall is the lack of significant scientific progress in the realm. This could further be attributed to economic decline. Sounds familiar
The resignation of Romulus
Augustus to the Germanic soldier Odoacer
traditionally marks the end of the Western
Roman Empire. (Commons) 

Although it is obviously difficult to determine when nations officially go kaput (the Roman empire is thought to have declined over a period of four centuries though historians take the resignation of Romulus Augustus in September 4, 476 as the moment of the western empire's fall), what is easy to ascertain is when they do, things can go sour very quickly. Take the U.S. right now with its looming debt crisis; if they indeed fail to repay their debt by October 17 this year (a little more than a week from now), it will leave a lot of creditors hanging. And in this globalised world, the knock-on effect of an unprecedented event like a U.S. debt default will leave the entire world devastated. Not to mention the fact that default will make it more difficult for America to borrow more money in the future, stifling the country's already sluggish growth rate. 

Can this be defined as the beginning of America's end (if it hasn't begun already)? And what will happen to all of us in the meantime? I wish we had Hari Seldon's psychohistory to figure that one out! But if it happens, October 17 will most decidedly be the date that future historians will choose to mark the beginning of the end of the U.S.A. They might very well also scour the ancient archives for insightful analyses written during this time period and they might probably find this one and judge it either as useful speculations or prophetic writings, depending on what happens in the next few days.