Europe and beyond

Has Anyone Noticed the Anglo World is Collapsing?

Why Britain and America Are Both Imploding in Eerily Similar Ways

Theresa May e Donald Trump

Disponibile anche in: Italian


Here’s a tiny question. What would you say a social collapse is? A society about to run out of food and medicine? A country unable to provide the basic necessities of life to people anymore? A place whose government doesn’t function anymore? Fractured and riven peoples — who can’t agree anymore on the basics of social contracts…so there aren’t any?

Now take a look across both sides of the Atlantic. Tell me what you see. Isn’t it eerily, weirdly, frighteningly similar? There’s America — its government shut down for a month now. There’s Britain — paralyzed, broken by Brexit. Both these societies appear completely unable to function in even the most basic ways anymore. Wait — doesn’t all that resemble the list we just made?

(If it doesn’t, let me make it sharper. Britain is literally planning on running out of food and medicine immediately after Brexit. It will. Just how out of touch with reality does a society have to be to furiously cheer on…running out of food and medicine? But that’s where America’s been for a long time now. Shortage of basics, like medicine, education, and decent food, prop up the profits of monopoly predatory capitalists — and for a very long time, Americans, too, have cheered on their own self-destruction.)

So here both great Anglo speaking societies are. They are collapsing now, in eerily, weirdly, hauntingly similar ways. Isn’t that strange? Yet that is because, I think, their mindsets, their attitudes, have never really matured — and now they are obsolete. They cannot really handle the world of the 21st century — having treated the world as their plaything for so long — that they are now having something like one massive psychotic breakdown, retreating into fantasy worlds. Let me draw out the parallels — and then the social psychology behind them — and you can judge for yourself.

The first thing you might notice is that neither of their governments function anymore. At all. In even the most basic ways a government should. America’s, which doesn’t provide anyone basics, like functioning healthcare and retirement anymore, has literally disappeared — all that Britain’s is capable of is pushing for Brexit, instead of dealing with any other priority in society whatsoever.

Now, what’s caused their governments to stop functioning? In both cases, a wall. In America’s case, it is a literal, physical wall. In Britain’s case, it’s Brexit — a wall made of laws and barriers, but a wall nonetheless. So the second thing you might notice is that the cause of total breakdown in both cases is the very same thing: the belief that building a wall will restore the fortunes of these declining societies. Will it? We’ll come back to that question. Let’s continue with the parallels.

In both cases, a set of extremists are now holding their countries hostage over the building of these walls. The third thing you might notice is that the leaders of these societies — people barely worth of the word — are willing to literally destroy everything their societies might achieve for the sake… a wall. In America, a gang of fascists which seized power has shut down the government…and appears utterly disinterested in reopening it, ever. That doesn’t just cause government unemployment, which ripples out and causes stagnation — though it does: it also makes America a global laughingstock, which can’t accomplish anything at all, from tackling climate change to defense, let alone leading the world.

Or think about this. In Britain, the wall is more important than all the following: food, medicine, healthcare, retirement, education, jobs, savings, housing…anything and everything. The wall, in both cases, is the first, last, and only priority of government left — anything and everything is to be sacrificed for the wall, like in some dystopian novel: the old, the young, the harvest, the future, history.

But what is left inside a society that will sacrifice everything for a wall? Do you see the problem? Now, here’s the thing. The majority of Americans don’t want Trump’s wall. The majority of Brits don’t want Brexit anymore. Never mind — nobody cares. None of that is enough — but a majority has never been enough to stop a social collapse. So a wall made of steel — or one made of drones, or one made of uniformed fascists putting babies in cages — the point of Anglo society has now become building walls. Do you see the point? An Iron Curtain is falling across the English-speaking world now.

The fourth thing you might notice is that the wall is about “a deal” — on both sides of the Atlantic. Trump wants a “deal” to reopen government. Brexit is about getting a better “deal” from the EU — and playing a game of chicken with a country’s food and medicine to have it. Somehow, both these nations have ended up fetishizing “the deal” as the first priority of society — not, say investment, climate change, education, healthcare, or life itself. Just…”the deal.”

That tells us something important, I think. A “deal” is a transaction, and it indicates the approach Anglo nations have always taken towards the world. Everything has been a deal — hasn’t it? It has been a transactional, instrumental approach — where these societies are interested in maximizing what they can get, without regard for anyone else, really. The future they have made has always been a series of “deals” — and this approach characterizes the Anglo world above others. First there were the “deals” of slavery. Then there the “deals” of colonialism. Then the “deals” of empire. Then the “deals” of “free trade.” And so on. The Anglos, being an instrumental, transactional culture — people who prioritize money over relationships, power over respect, fear over love — have always worshipped the deal.

You see, we Anglos have a problem. We cannot coexist. We must reign supreme. And that trait is what lies at the roots of the Anglo world’s collapse. Because the 21st century requires all the “co” stuff — cooperation, commitment, partnership. But we do not know to do that — because we are empire builders, gunslingers, sword-swingers. We are not equipped mentally for this century, my friends. We are obsolete — because all we really want is supremacy, not prosperity. Let me explain.

This fetishization of the “deal” has deep roots in Anglo history. Feudalism was a long series of deals. Pledge your fealty to me, and I will protect you. Arise, I dub thee Sir Ownalot — these lands are all yours, and these peasants are all yours to have. This was the model Anglo nations developed — an attitude of what we might call supremacy. It blossomed later, of course, when other races were encountered, into white supremacy. But see the point: it was always about who was on top, who had the most power, who owned whom. Who was that? Inevitably, the one who could do the most violence. From Macbeth to Dubya — what marks the Anglo leader out is his propensity for extreme violence. How else to get the best “deal”? You can hardly have it as an equal.

And that brings me to what the collapse of the Anglo world is really about. Supremacy. Anglos have always believed they are different, special, superior — entitled to own the world, to possess it like a promised land. It’s true that other societies, like India, had castes. It’s true that Europe tried to build empires. But mostly, it failed to rival those of Anglos — because supremacy was never really so much a linchpin of its identity, and it rejected it wholly and fiercely after the last war. It’s Anglos who have always been, and remain the most individualists, instrumental, transactional culture in the world — always looking for ways to maximize their advantage, selfishly, with whatever they can get away with. And that desperate, cloying need for supremacy, which is what made them slavers and colonialists yesterday, is precisely what is undoing them now.

Anglo culture has always been driven by this belief: we must be the best. You can still see it today. I must live my best life, be my best self, do my best work. Then we will be a nation of the best. What other kind of nation is there worth being? Don’t only the best — the strongest — survive? I must be better than everyone else. In the whole world. They must admire and respect and fear and desire me. I must be the dominator. I must own them, or at least control them. I must have the most. I must be supreme. That is the Anglo mindset, my friends. It is all we do, really, in Anglo societies, if we are honest.

But what happens when a culture whose deepest underlying belief is that they must reign supreme over the whole world finds, one day…they can’t? That the world doesn’t want aggressive, selfish, violent empire-builders anymore? Bang! Implosion does. And that is what this special moment in Anglo history is really about. The collision of this deep seated need for supremacy with the reality of a world in which Anglos are no longer supreme. No longer the best at…anything.

The world’s best food comes from Europe. The best cars, Germany. The best democracy, maybe Switzerland. The best art and fashion, France and Italy. The best literature, maybe Japan and France. The best economies and societies, Scandinavia. What are Anglo societies best at anymore? Nothing, my friends. Nothing at all. But the more interesting question is what were they best at? The unfortunate answer is: violence. They conquered the world through violence. Through armies and navies and drones and bombs. If they hadn’t had those things…would the world have fallen at their feet? Would it really have bought British goods in the industrial age if Britain’s navies hadn’t forced China to sell its silks, for nothing? Would the world really have bought so much American cotton and tobacco if slaves hadn’t been around to pick it, for free? You see my point. The rise of the Anglo world has everything to do with violence. It is how they attained supremacy (and when I say supremacy, I don’t just mean “racial”, I mean “needing to dominate others and control them”, I mean superiority in all aspects.)

So the primary need of Anglo culture, its social psychology, is supremacy, being above everyone else. And the only way we know how to get it, how to achieve it, when it can’t be had so easily, is through sudden explosions of violence. Think of the fake war in Iraq. Think of the long centuries of slavery and colonialism. Think of the strange histories we tell ourselves in America and Britain — that our rise had nothing to do with our violence, our cruelty, our weapons, but only with our kindness and ingenuity, even while we were the last slavers in all the world. Do you see how the lie reveals the truth?

So now here we are — throwing a very special kind of tantrum. We cannot have what we need most anymore. To reign supreme over everyone else. To have the very best “deal” of all. Why won’t you give us a better deal, cry the Brits to the EU? We’re special! The EU laughs. I won’t open this government until I have a better “deal”, bellows Trump. I’m special. Nobody knows what to do. Aren’t we special, after all?

In both cases — when we can’t reign supreme, we will throw a massive tantrum. We will build a wall. We will close our eyes tight as we can, to shut out a world in which we are not the rulers and masters anymore — just equal partners, if we would like to be. But we would not like to be equal, you see. To a mind which needs supremacy for validation, for self-worth, because it believes otherwise it is nothing at all, to be treated as an equal is the most horrific thing of all. I cannot be equal if I need to be supreme. Then I am the greatest failure of all — just like you. But you are my slave, my possession, nothing. The mindset of supremacy can never accept equality. The wall is the only thing defending us from this difficult truth — so what happens when we can’t even have that? Bang! Meltdown.

So if we can’t have the wall, we cry, then we will simply burn it all down. We will let our societies run short of food and medicine. We will shut down the government. We will throw hundreds of thousands out of work. We will let everything fall apart. We will set fire to the house of democracy, to the pillars of democracy, to the rafters of history. Nothing will be left — but that is alright. At least we will have our wall to protect us. We need these foolish, foolish walls to defend us from the truth that Anglos can’t reign supreme anymore. That our identities are forged solely on supremacy. We need protection from the truth, my friends. We need it so badly, that we’ll burn our very own houses down just to have those walls.

The world is not our plaything anymore. And such a world has no place for supremacists anymore. For Brexiters politely pretending they are not white supremacists and Trumpists proudly declaring they are. For walls and Iron Curtains. The world is not happy to be exploited by violent empire-builders for beads and trinkets anymore (it never was, my friends.) Such people, such mindsets, such attitudes are obsolete. It isn’t just they who don’t want to be part of the world — the world doesn’t want, them, either. That is why the EU is not riding to Britain’s rescue — much to Britain’s shock. That is why nobody much cares about Trump’s wall, but mostly just laughs at how foolish Americans are to let all this go on.

The world does not want people who sneer, shout, and build walls when they cannot have grand empires to exploit anymore — so that they can protect themselves from the uncomfortable truth of their own inability to have supremacy. It wants mature people, grown-ups, adults, who are willing to treat others as true equals, as genuine partners, in authentic relationships — not just transactional “deals”. It wants countries and nations it can rely on, count on, be with. So we can all come together and solve the great problems of a new century. Climate change, capitalism, inequality, stagnation.

Go ahead and build a wall, the world laughs, entertained mightily by the karmic spectacle of the tantrum-collapse of the very nations who enslaved, exploited, colonized it for so long. LOL! Could anything be more fitting, ridiculous, and satisfying than the colonizers and slavers locking themselves in the basement — while their very own house is on fire? Ahh, sweet justice, at last.

Perhaps it says, too, in its gentler moments, something like this. Don’t you understand that building a wall around a collapsing society is like building a flood barrier around a house on fire? All it means is that no one and nothing can help douse the flames. All it is is a prison for those inside. All it is is a way to keep grandiose, narcissistic fantasies of eternal supremacy alive — you can admire yourself in the glow of flames, and pretend they don’t cost the wood of the house of prosperity. But what happens when all that’s left is ashes? What do you with a wall built around cinders, anyways?

But we don’t understand any of that. Not enough of us, not fast enough, and certainly not with enough passion and fury to change much of anything. And that, my friends, is because we do not even understand ourselves. We are the eternal supremacists, us Anglos. And until we surrender to equality, there will be no mercy for us from a future made of dust.

Umair | January 2019 |