Article Review: The Fate of Empires

by Elusive Wapiti on October 25, 2010

Sir John Glubb’s Fate of Empires and Search for Survival is a fascinating read for students of history and for those who wonder what the future will hold. In other words, nearly everyone who reads this post. While not a long read, we are all busy people, thus I will summarize the article below and offer an observation or two about its implications.

Key Quote: “The simplest statistics prove the steady rotation of one nation after another at regular intervals“.

Executive Summary: Glubb notes an eerie pattern emerging when it comes to the durability of human empires: From the Assyrian Empire (859 – 612 BC), to the Arabic Empire (634 – 880 AD), to the British Empire (1700 – 1950), each seemed to last roughly 10 generations, or about 250 years. Glubb posits that each empire goes through six predictable phases, outburst/conquest, commerce, affluence, intellect, and finally decadence and fall. This rise and fall pattern is independent of governmental system (despotism, monarchy, republic, democracy), and the idiosyncratic qualities of the race that begat the empire (African, East Asian, European, Central Asian). This pattern is not affected by the technologies of the time (the wheel, horseback riding, seafaring, gunpowder, electricity, etc) and, while the pattern of the rise of great nations appears to be uniform, the pattern of their breakups is diverse, meaning that while all empires are birthed and live in roughly the same manner, how they die varies greatly.

Discussion: Glubb makes much use out of the word “emprire’ in his tract. As ‘empire’ and ‘imperial’ are words that carry with them some significant semantical freight these days, Glubb defined his use of the term ‘empire’ to refer to a great power, one that we would today consider a superpower. Said empire may or may not include overseas possessions, and most did not, as most of the empires in history were land empires, not naval powers.

Glubb observes that all empires throughout history travel in roughly the same arc, go through the same stages, and last roughly the same time: ten generations, our about 250 years, give or take.  This duration appears to be driven by human behavior, surprisingly uniform across cultures, and also surprisingly independent of the available technologies of the time (transport, communication, and warfare).  The six sometimes overlapping life stages of empire are outburst/conquest, commerce, affluence, intellect, decadence, and fall.

Duration of Empires

Duration of Empires. Click here to enlarge.

Phase I: Outburst and Conquest. In the first phase of great empire, small nations, thought to be insignificant by their neighbors, explode to dominate large swathes of land. This initial explosion is characterized by extraordinary displays of energy and courage; the people, accustomed to hardship, are poor, hardy, entrepreneurial, and above all, aggressive, and little will dissuade them in their desire to rule. The decaying empires or minor states they subsume are comfortable and wealthy, but are hobbled in their timid and defensive attitude.  This lends the advantage to the aggressive upstart nation, the members of which can be bold and aggressive in their outlook; they have little to lose except their lives. But it is not just military advantage this up-and-coming nation this conquering nation enjoys; rather, because they are hungry, because they are not bound by staid tradition, but by an intense focus on their goal, the outbursting nation exhibits great dynamism across the entire spectrum of human endeavors: science–technology, government, cultural. Nothing breeds success like success, and the outbursting nation’s self-fulfilling confidence leads them to be believe that they are meant to rule and rule forever, perhaps even chosen by their god(s) for dominion over man.

It is interesting to note that it is here, in the beginning, where the seeds for imperial destruction are sown, as each nation, upon its ascendancy, attributes its good fortune to its hereditary and natural superiority. Having become dominant, this nation thinks itself naturally better than those they conquered or those foreigners they employed as slaves or soldiers. Yet it is this hubris that becomes the catalyst for the society’s own destruction, as the culture does not guard itself against the coming diversity that will wreck the stock that built the nation.

Phase II: Commercial expansion. Merchants and the whole of the people benefit from the peace and security and streamlined bureaucratic processes that such a large empire secures. The transition from outburst/conquest to commerce is marked by a shift in attitudes, in that a premimum on martial glory and honor gives way to an emphasis on boosting the bottom line. However, as the memory of where they came from is still fresh, the people and the culture is still hard.

The first half of the ‘Age of Commerce’ is particularly splendid…virtues of courage, patriotism, and devotion to duty are still in evidence. Boys are required…to be manly, [and] boys’ schools are intentionally rough.

The age of commerce is also marked by exploration for new forms of wealth, and the securing of wealth is the catalyst for the transition to the ‘Age of Affluence’.

Phase III: Luxos. The abundance of wealth and comfort begin to injure the qualities that made the nation successful. For example, the pursuit of individual success replaces honor and adventure as the objectives of the best and the brightest of the youth. Gradually, this pursuit of gold displaces the pursuit of duty. Furthermore, education undergoes a similar shift in priorities, as educational institutions focus not on producing brave patriots but minting those who will command high salaries. This phase represents the apogee of a society; it’s all downhill from here, as the people transition individually “…from service to selfishness”, and the nation as a whole shifts from offensive aggression to defensiveness, interested not in acquiring more wealth but in hanging on to what it has.

This shift in national attitudes toward greater dovishness and pragmatism during this phase is reflected in the nation’s foreign policy stance :

…money being in better supply than courage, subsidies instead of weapons are employed to buy off enemies

Various psychological devices are employed to deem this shift noble, not cowardly:

Military readiness…is denounced as primitive and immoral. Civilized peoples are too proud to fight. Conquest…is declared to be immoral. Empires are wicked. ‘It is not that we are afraid to fight’, we say, ‘but we should consider it immoral’. Nations who proclaim themselves unwilling to fight are liable to be conquered by peoples in the stage of militarism.”

Also, during this phase, prosperity and wealth also bring an influx of foreigners to the urban centers of the empire. Native Romans complained about the multiplicity of Asians and Africans in Rome, as did denizens of Baghdad, which itself endured a huge influx of Persians, Turks, Arabs, Armenians, Egyptians, Africans, and Greeks. Today, London is known in some circles as “Londonistan”, New York long ago ceased to be peopled chiefly by Angles, and Washington DC itself sports features an international population (one need only hail a cab in that area to convince themselves of this).  The result of this migration is that the stock that created the empire is relegated to the hinterlands, the frontiers, and the rural areas, while the foreigners come to dominate the cities and eventually the politics of the entire realm. Thus we see that there is really, truly, nothing new under the sun, as this “diversity” repeats itself over and over again in history, and the solidarity and comradeship that comes with ethnic and cultural homogeneity–the qualities that built the empire in the first place–first erodes, then disappears entirely. This diverse polyglot mass is peopled by (im)migrants that often fail to assimilate fully, leading to issues of in-group/out-group loyalty and an overall unwillingness to sacrifice for the host country when the wave of prosperity gives way to hard slogging. Grubb notes:

[W]hen decline sets in, it is extraordinary how the memory of ancient wars, perhaps centuries before, is suddenly revived, and local or provincial movements appear demanding secession or independence

This lack of cultural coherence combines with the aforementioned shift in values from fighting to rationalization, and eventually a feeling of moral superiority, to set the stage for the infighting that is characteristic of the next stage, the ‘Age of Intellect’.

Phase IV: Intellectualism.  The Beginning of the End. The people, no longer martially minded and, their lives not often visited by privation, become unconcerned with the acquisition of wealth and being to fancy themselves intellectuals. This period is marked by the proliferation of institutions of learning and a rapid expansion in the knowledge base. Intellectualism leads to discussion, debate, and argument, and as such the culture loses its homogeneity.  Internal political rifts between camps ossify and become unbridgeable. With many captains vying for control of the helm, the ship of state begins to drift:

Thus public affairs drift from bad to worse, amid an unceasing cacaphony of argument…amid a babel of talk, the ship drifts on to the rocks. Internal differences are not reconciled…internal rivalries become more acute, and the nation becomes weaker

It is important to note here that the empire is still strong at this time and enjoys a sort of Golden Age. But the exterior sparkle and shimmer obscures a rot on the inside, as the empire hollows itself from within. In essence, the empire is living on borrowed time–no longer producing, conquering, expanding, it instead feeds off the stored fat of its own past greatness. Still thinking themselves exceptional, the nation relaxes and enjoys the fruits of their labors; this latent voluptuousness results in more and more time spent in leisure.

Furthermore, an empire in this stage, while no longer acquiring territory, still fancies itself smarter than its neighbors and continues to sponsor cultural expansion of its empire. But the motivation for this expansion is not military–which is ‘evil’–but is for the welfare of others, which is deemed ‘good’, and thus excused, the empire continues to extend its influence. This shift in motivation is key…as the head (reason) comes to dominate the heart (passion), the great empire wants to ‘help’ those less ‘fortunate’ to share in its prosperity. Glubb, however, takes a dim view of this shift:

Perhaps the most dangerous byproduct of the Age of Intellect is the unconscious growth of the idea that the human brain can solve the problems of the world

This idea leads the empire to over-extend itself, as there is literally no limit to problems to be solved in an effort to enhance the welfare of foreigners. Thus exhausted, the rusted, neglected socio-cultural-economic scaffolding supporting the edifice of the State begins to break down. The center fails to hold.

Phase V: Decadence.

[D]ecadence is a moral and a spiritual disease, not a physical one, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power. The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is worth saving

An empire in decline is marked by several characteristics, first among them a strong prevailing (and self-fulfilling) sense of pessimism among the people, frequently accompanied by frivolity, where the people exchange their hopes and future orientations for a focus on the now…a “let us eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” sort of attitude. Grubb also notes that the empire’s heroes change in declining civilizations according to this focus on frivolity…the actor, the singer, and the athlete–all entertainers–replace the general or the statesman or literary genius as role models for the young.

Another characteristic of the decline is degeneracy and a generalized laxity of discipline during this time. An increasing materialism, the retreat of morality, the advent of feminism, and the appearance and influence of women in public life are all hallmarks of a civilization in decline. An indifference to religion also appears among the culture and, as Glubb attributes to (expansively defined) religion the motivating force for the desire to expand, conquer, subjugate, or extinguish, the spirit of service, of heroic self-sacrifice for the cause also disappears.

A third characteristic is one for which the foundation was laid in the Age of Intellectualism…the Age of Decline is associated with philanthropy, generosity, and sympathy for other races and nations. The culture assumes an attitude of ‘noblesse oblige‘ toward those less fortunate; the notion that it will be always be rich impels the imperial state to spend lavishly, to confer privileges and rights and benefits on all comers. Citizenship rights, once a sign of status, a valued asset, are debased as the State gives them away…in some cases sells them for revenue…again to confer the benefits of prosperity to all. State assistance to the poor is equally generous. At least until the economy collapses, that is.

What are the causes of decadence? Glubb lists these four: (1) too long a period of wealth and power, (2) selfishness, (3) love of money, and (4) the loss of a sense of duty.

Glubb does not discuss Phase VI, the end or fall of empires, because such ends vary widely and his study of them yielded no regular pattern meriting discussion.


It is interesting to consider that Glubb wrote these words nearly 35 years ago; he could be describing the trajectory of the present-day United States to a tee. The decadence, the indifference to religion, the focus on materialism, the swollen welfare state, living (literally) on borrowed time and money, all are there. Applying the 250-year rule of thumb to the USA, it seems that the approximate end of our imperial life span is somewhere around 2025. What fate awaits the USA come that time, I don’t claim to know, nor can I hazard a guess. It could die from violent overthrow, fractured by internal political division from within–as in the case of Rome I transitioning to Rome II. It could break up more or less peacefully into more politically manageable components, along religious-cultural-ethnic lines, as was the case with the British empire, or it could be subjugated by a culturally more aggressive invader(s), as was the pattern followed by the majority of empires in the past.

Some would be tempted to split hairs and claim that the USA will not follow historical precedent, noting that America’s outburst period was spent not consuming the remnants of a pre-existing empire, but on acquiring vast swathes of largely uninhabited land across a single continent. “America is exceptional”, they may claim, “she’s different” they may object. Glubb pre-emptively pours water on that notion, noting:

The United States arose suddenly as a new nation, and its period of pioneering was spent in the conquest of a vast continent, not an ancient empire. Yet the subsequent life history of the United States has followed the standard pattern…the periods of the pioneers, of commerce, of affluence, of intellectualism, and of decadence

According to Glubb, the USA is following the same pattern as before–he even places the Wilson administration as our national apogee, when our country’s trajectory peaked in the Age of Commerce and started downward into the Age of Intellectualism–and there is no reason to believe that America will be the exception to the pattern. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary…consider the present-day political strife, the swollen welfare state, the far-flung military adventures conducted not for territorial acquisition but for the ‘good of the invaded’ and/or for American cultural expansion (installing British-style parliamentary democracy and American-style feminism at the point of a gun). Consider also the post-Christian, secular humanist polity, the focus on material acquisition, the normalization of sexual immorality, and the prominence of women in public affairs, and the reducing prominence of men in domestic affairs. All point one way: that America is marching inexorably toward the same end as those who have gone before.

I was also struck by the similarities between the America of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century and the Arab decline in the last half of the ninth century, as described by Glubb. The Arab historians at that time, just as do many hand-wringing curmudgeons in the conservative commentariat do today, deplored the indifference to religion, the increasing focus on material acquisition, the spread of sexual immorality, and the extraordinary influence of popular entertainers, singing lewd and suggestive songs, amongst the youth. Even more interesting to me as an MRA was Glubb’s finding that feminism is a key and telling marker of a civilization in decline, for both the Roman Empire and the Arab Empire in their latter stages featured deep female penetration into spheres and occupations previously closed to them. Perhaps the appearance of women in the public spaces is an objective symptom of the nation’s growing political defensiveness, a sign that the nation valued comfort and security over uncomfortable risk-taking.  Whatever the reason, the appearance of women in politics counter-intuitively did not result in an increase in societal security, for “soon after [these periods]“, Glubb notes, “government and public order collapsed…the resulting increase in confusion and violence ma[kes] it unsafe for women to move unescorted in the streets”. Given these historical examples, it is not difficult at all to imagine the coming disarray that will afflict the feminism-afflicted West when the levees give way and it is every man and woman for him-/her-selves.

Seeing feminism called out in this way may warm the hearts of some. But while I suspect Glubb is correct in identifying feminism as a sign of a great civilization in decline, he does not offer perspective on how long it lasts until feminism kills its host culture. Clearly, in some cases, the feminist-infected feminized empire is snuffed out by a more aggressive masculine culture. In other cases, the defensive, feminized, and feminist culture merely withers away and is slowly subsumed by a resurgent, more masculine one. However it goes, Glubb is clear that an irreligious culture of intellectualism and dissipation is replaced by a renewed sense of mission, purpose and zeal:

[A]t the height of vice and frivolity the seeds of religious revival are quietly sown. After, perhaps, several generations (or even centuries) of suffering, the impoverished nation has been purged of its selfishness and its love of money, religion gains its sway and a new era sets in

The cliche says that the kanji character for crisis is a mash-up of the characters for opportunity and danger. In the dangerous and tumultuous times we have ahead, we men may have the opportunity to make the world anew in our image as the American empire craters and potentially breaks apart…a weak and alienated government located in the swamps of Virginia cannot hope to maintain control over the culturally heterogenous states further west or south, particularly those with options and resources, and especially those with coastlines and ports.  One thing is clear to me, as I consider Glubb’s words: that we men will suffer longer if we sit on the sidelines and do nothing in an attempt to “wait out” the feminist train wreck, with an eye toward picking up the pieces afterward, for we could be waiting a very long time. Better, I think, to attempt to shape our future in a manner agreeable to us, our brothers, and our progeny.

About the author: EW is a well-trained monkey charged with operating heavier-than-air machinery. His interests outside of being an opinionated rabble-rouser are hunting, working out, motorcycling, spending time with his family, and flying. He is a father to three, a husband to one, and is a sometime contributor here at Spearhead. More of his intolerable drivel is available at the blog The Elusive Wapiti.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Ragnar October 25, 2010 at 04:52

Thanks E.W. great summary.

Add a helper to a man and he is free to create community. Both men and women understand the mechanism of this order.

Remove the necessity of this order by enough wealth and it immediately crumbles.

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Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 06:21

Glubb’s thesis is certainly true for secular empires (i.e., nations), but the picture is muddier for religions. Those last thousands of years and counting.

The trillionaire (or quadrillionaire?) money interests, who appear to run large parts of the planet, seem intent on doing away nations and empires, as we have come to know and love them. Unite the planet under global organizations who leverage suvelliance and control technologies (unknown to previous empires) to impose their will on the planet. Nations will become counties or precincts of the global govt. America is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get this all into place now. All in the name of freedom and safety.

Once all nations are at more or less the same level (e.g., consumption patterns, standard of living, media viewing, 12 months per year State education, etc) a unifying religion will be released as psychological superglue. As noted above, religious empires can last forever, because they can avoid the incentive traps and self-defeating feedback loops of secular empires.

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IurnMan83 October 25, 2010 at 06:34

It’s always seemed to me as I was growing up and learning of history that the United States had its day coming. I’m quite sure that in those ancient civilizations there were many people who quite genuinely thought that their nation would never fall, that it was too great and too powerful of a beast to die. Similarly to someone who has cancer being in denial about the whole disease even to their death beds.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6
Indomitable Thoughts October 25, 2010 at 06:39

My question is – what will the nation/world look like when it’s “every man (and woman) for themselves?” Will it be a type of situation where you have to defend your domocile at gunpoint? How will you acquire food? Resources? Will you be vulnerable to roving gangs with more manpower and firepower than you? I predict a lot of people will die when this happens.

Also, you say this describes the US, but to me a closer approximation of what Glubb is describing is Europe. The intellectualist, anti-military culture is much more deep-seated over there than over here. Though the US is headed in the same direction.

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barbarossaa October 25, 2010 at 06:45

it seems that America has believed itself unsinkable like the titanic for a while now. I think that there is a difference between “military readines” and the perpetual warfare, that america has been under for the past few decades (cold war, vietnam, war on drugs war on terror etc.) Americas overinflated militarism coupled with its moral relativism and immorality will surely bring it down. the question is when not if

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Mr. N October 25, 2010 at 06:54

I’ve wanted someone to expand upon this essay of his.

If other people are willing to cowrite perhaps many of us can expand upon this, each focusing on a different historic empire, illustrating with details, primary source quotes, and original documents.

Then again that may just be the “intellectualism” in me.

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finndistan October 25, 2010 at 07:02

I felt like I was reading about Europe. The conquests, the rise, the economic strength, the need to put others’ benefits over the natives’, self hatred and guilt.

The year, 2025 you mentioned coincides with The fifth Horseman’s singularity and also Europe’s demagogic suicide, that should come to full fruition between 2020 and 2030.

What happens then, I do not know.

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Wulf October 25, 2010 at 07:05

Eastern Han 22-220 198
Tang 618-907 289
Western Xia 1038-1237 199
Ming 1368-1644 276
Qing 1644-1911 267

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thehermit October 25, 2010 at 07:11

Also, you say this describes the US, but to me a closer approximation of what Glubb is describing is Europe. The intellectualist, anti-military culture is much more deep-seated over there than over here. Though the US is headed in the same direction.

Don’t fool yourself, US is similar to Europe in many ways. We are on the same boat. Judeo-christian culture circle.

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IronLowrider October 25, 2010 at 08:02

I’d like to propose the following simple empirical principle of History (for the common folk).

First Principle: A Great Power will rise if a nation has a significant population and – at the same time – a thriving economy. This condition is necessary and sufficient.

Actually, this principle can be used to predict some of the observations of Sir Glubb, without utilizing arguments that involve the workings of the human society.

Age of Pioneers, Age of Conquest: We have a nation that has significant manpower, and an economy that is powerful enough to allow military conquest. By the First Principle, the nation will expand, subjugate its neighbors in the process, and the result will be an empire.

Age of Affluence: When a nation expands, the native population starts to thin and spread out over a wider area. Expansion becomes impossible (the First Principle is not satisfied as the population is not big enough for more expansion).

250-year rule: The 250-year rule does not follow from the First Principle. I have the firm belief that the 250-year observation is true in so many cases because it is an artifact of the Earth’s geography or human biology. However, it is a pretty crude observation. The article conveniently “forgets” all the examples that do not fit the observed pattern at all:
Eastern Roman E. – a stunning 1000 years, with various changes in territory, but at least 700 years of relative prosperity until the arab conquests
Frank State – 600 years of constant expansion
Holy Roman E. – A main power for at least 700 years (until end of the 30 years’ war
These are just the obvious counterexamples to the 250-years rule!

I believe that while most patterns observed by the author are pretty much correct, Glubb uses too much hand-waving and comes to the wrong conclusion. This happens because Glubb’s arguments involve social and cultural factors.

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Beltain October 25, 2010 at 09:10

There are three important concepts missing from Glubb’s theories. One being the sociological theory of velocity which embraces the speed at which societies move today. Also closely related though to date I don’t know if anyone has connected them is the contribution of the oil age. Personally I believe the oil or cheap energy age is what fuels (pun intended) this velocity and does in fact create a different ending. Lastly the onset of complexity is another sign of decline among empires.

Cheap energy has been the enabler that has allowed Western society to embrace a much harsher form of feminism and diversity influx than any other nation or empire has ever had to struggle with in the past. It also has enabled a connection in world economics that is also unique to any other empire collapse by allowing foreign money interests more power within the empire in decline. It also allows more control and therefore more complexity.

The sheer size of the U.S. and the complexity that the urban areas force unto the more rural areas will create a situation of sectionalism much like Rome when it lost the support of the rural latifundia.

Technology and petroleum are wild cards allowing decline and complexity to move faster than seen before hence the huge gains of feminism and social welfare/engineering. Yet as we are even seeing today with States and cities allowing non-citizens to vote and courts allowing foreign governments to bring law suites the whole house is on fire.

We are seeing the effects as foreign governments and their feminist allies take more control of the urban areas while the traditional values retreat to the rural areas. Growth has ended, housing expansion and suburban sprawl has met its end so the lines have been drawn. Whats left is just practice for what is to come.

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Corban October 25, 2010 at 09:28

I have read about an alternative version of empire cycles: The warrior, scholar, priest and merchant…not necessarily in that order. While this aligns pretty well with that, I noticed the priest cycle was omitted. Was that omission deliberate?

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tom47 October 25, 2010 at 09:39

I’m confused here. Are we waiting for the “system” to collapse so we we can be free of feminist oppression or are we preserving the “empire” so we can drown with honor on the next Titanic? Are we radicals or reactionaries?

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Coastal October 25, 2010 at 09:59


Women dig the bad boys:

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Rebel October 25, 2010 at 10:01

Thank you very much for this very interesting document. It is going into my personal library.

I have a keen interest in History.

For those who might be interested, I would like to suggest a list of books that I consider as classics. They help understand the present.

*The Evolution of civilizations- By Carroll Quigley.

*Tragedy and Hope (free on the net on PDF) by Carroll Quigley

*A study of History -By Arnold Toynbee (highly recommended)

*The Decline of the West- By Spengler.

*The Rhythms of History- By Stephen Blaha. (includes lots of math functions)

*The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire- By Edward Gibbon. (2400 pages). Can be downloaded free (PDF).

*A Theory of Civilizations – By Philip Atkinson (free on the net)

I believe that those are “must read” books if one is to understand the situation we find ourselves in. We are the continuation of the past.

-Those who ignore History are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

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Keyster October 25, 2010 at 10:12

I agree with your analysis of the analysis Beltain.
The scale of time is much shorter now than ever before.

I see the USA breaking up into more managable sub-sets of territory. The scope of the economy has gotten to unwieldy for a few “intellectuals” in Washington DC to comprehend fully.

I don’t think most Americans realize that the bulk of the spent stimulus money went to certian states that did not manage their budget shortfalls. It was “redistributed’ to keep teachers, police, firemen and other state government workers employed, for a while longer. There were no “shovel ready” jobs created.

I live in Texas where there is a growing grass roots movement to sucede. There are plenty of resources (oil, natural gas) here, a busy port (Houston) and an independent spirit. Texan’s have never been comfortable with federal rule of Washington DC, from the beginning.

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Tim October 25, 2010 at 10:47

Great article. Does the author have any thought on what is going on in Europe? Geert Wilders? The Chancellor of Germany’s recent claim that multiculturalism is a failure?

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Beltain October 25, 2010 at 11:03


Actually I believe the Social theory of velocity was Wallersteins but it has been a while. Regardless it is very obvious to see it’s effects around us today and it creates a unique gap between rural and urban which is why feminism has gone well beyond a point it was ever allowed to in the past.

The succession movement in Texas and (I think) New Hampshire along with the court fights by other states against gun control, obamacare, etc are the beginnings of the sectionalism. Even the tea party is an aspect of it.

My prediction is that the rural states will become the “barbarians” of the Roman times in the end. Yet I doubt any of us will live to see its final conclusion. The progressive states will embrace foreign control and ideologies and try and use that leverage against the more rural ones until something sparks the flame. Until then we men must fight the fights we can and endeavor to not support the feminist/progressives as much as possible.

Then again I am only guessing at the outcome. Foreign powers entering our courts is a bad omen. What happens next when they decide to support their “own” people inside our borders in other ways?

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CashingOut October 25, 2010 at 11:41

I have to ask, when people write articles, are they driven by what they see in the news, or is it just a hell of a coincidence that I see something in the news that relates to what is being said here:

Citizenship rights, once a sign of status, a valued asset, are debased as the State gives them away…in some cases sells them for revenue…again to confer the benefits of prosperity to all.

No, I am not making this up, this was on my front page not 10 minutes ago.

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universe October 25, 2010 at 12:14

To: anonymous, 2nd comment @ October 25, 2010 at 06:21

The trillionaire (or quadrillionaire?) money interests, who appear to run large parts of the planet, seem intent on doing away nations and empires, as we have come to know and love them. Unite the planet under global organizations who leverage suvelliance and control technologies (unknown to previous empires) to impose their will on the planet. Nations will become counties or precincts of the global govt. America is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get this all into place now. All in the name of freedom and safety.

– I find it incomprehensible that for many people, this (your comment above) escapes the attention as being legitimately possible and part of the over-all picture.
I’m not disputing Glubb’s theory, or those who adhere to the reasoning, as it may be more descriptive of pre-electronic eras. But astronomical wealth, whether it be inter-generationally produced and concentrated or individually developed, could not have effectively mass influenced and shaped any previous era to the same degree in which our electronic era is today.
Considering this and other MRA blogs wish to discuss men’s issues and related social works, the idea of a macro-influence upon society may be part of the spectrum that could de-mystify seemingly baffling societal events. That is, for those who wish to participate in such matters. Otherwise, I’m content with participating in the de-mystifying of the micro and personal interests of the common man today, even though there’s more to what meets the eye or happens on the surface.

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Keyster October 25, 2010 at 12:18

I think the take-away here is that feminism is just another symptom of an empire starting to decline. It serves as a guide post toward the downward spriral. The stronger it becomes the closer you know you are.

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Traveller October 25, 2010 at 15:25

That work is rather famous.

Reading it, it seems the sole way of expansion is the physical expansion, ie acquiring new territories. The growt of a civilization stops when there are no more places to conquer.

Following this theory, it is impossible today a new civilization arises, because the whole planet is all taken. Wars are demonstrated too destructive for the population so they do not leave room for a force capable of growth in front of surrounding people. Nuclear war is an option, being the sole global war possible today, reducing the population so a new Exploration Age could start.

In other words, do we are doomed to combat against ourselves forever in this little ball spinning in the void?

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Simon October 25, 2010 at 15:26

I think the takeaway for me as a black man is to leave the country before the fall. I live in the south and plenty of rednecks here would love to re institute slavery.

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Beltain October 25, 2010 at 16:31


I seriously doubt that. White men have learned their lesson with slavery and even if some dumbass voiced it as an option the smart ones would shut them down fast. I think you would see racial warfare long before you saw any form of slavery and every race is just as guilty of race violence as the next.

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Anti Idiocy October 25, 2010 at 17:12

Keyster: “I live in Texas where there is a growing grass roots movement to sucede. ”

We need an amendment to the US constitution enabling states to peacefully secede.

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Lovekraft October 25, 2010 at 18:19

I explained to a young woman a few years back how empires work and used this analogy:

two tribes. One on fertile plain, the other up in the rugged mountains. What do you think the mountain-folk would be thinking, seeing all that fertile land?

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Elusive Wapiti October 25, 2010 at 18:27

“Does the author have any thought on what is going on in Europe? Geert Wilders? The Chancellor of Germany’s recent claim that multiculturalism is a failure?”

Hello Brother Tim.

I do not at this time, as I haven’t been following what’s going on in Europe to much extent. Except to note the inevitable hand-wringing about the “far right” coming to power in Austria. And to be cheered by Merkel’s public declaration that multikulti is a failure and migrants are expected to adopt German ways, not the other way around. I suspect that it is too late for the country of my forefathers, but I will break out the popcorn and watch.

“I have to ask, when people write articles, are they driven by what they see in the news, or is it just a hell of a coincidence that I see something in the news that relates to what is being said here:”

No, that was just a happy coincidence. My reference to the state selling citizenship for revenue was referring to the late Roman empire, where citizenship could be purchased, and also to the pre-Bismarckian German confederation, where nobility and title could also be purchased.

CorkyAgain October 25, 2010 at 18:52

Some additions to Rebel’s excellent booklist:

Pitirim Sorokin, “Social & Cultural Dynamics: A Study in Major Systems of Art, Truth, Ethics, Law and Social Relationships”

Robert Prechter, Jr., “The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior & The New Science of Socionomics”

For a good survey of many of the various theories that have been proposed to describe and explain the cycles of civilization, see B.G. Brander, “Staring Into Chaos: Explorations in the Decline of Western Civilization”

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Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 20:20

Taking a wider perspective, also note the symptoms listed in the hindu final age of the KAli Yuga (revenge of the goddess & feminine let loose upon the world) match entirely with the attributes of our current day falling empire. AN esoteric reading no doubt, but then its short-sighted to simply restrict analysis to a narrower, materialistic western-centric lens. Theres a much larger cycle coming to end now than just the fall of the West. MUCH larger. We are cycles within cycles

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Anonymous October 25, 2010 at 20:27

‘in the Kali Yuga, feminine energy is by definition manifest in its most negative and distorted forms. Just like hell hat no fury like woman spurned, there is no force more vicious & destructive than the mischanneled feminine.’

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Troll King October 25, 2010 at 20:42

This is why I joke about voting for women only candidates. I am kinda joking but i am not going to do it unless everyone else in the mrm does. Women consume and men create resources. Instead of waiting it out lets speed up it’s decline. If women controlled politics, now that they control the vote, then they would speed up the decline of the age of decadence. They would raise taxes even more(remember the swedish man tax?) to continue their luxory. Continueing the rot.

I am curious to what measuring stick we are using here. It seems to me we are still conquering nations…what do you call the internet, automobils, computers, our medicine and so on? Now this isn’t taking land, but there isn’t much land left to take. But then again we do us US AID to export democracy…hmm.

Great article and thanks for the link.

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Troll King October 25, 2010 at 20:59

God damn. I just got done watching todays show of Colbert. He went after, what I thought was maybe MRAs and this article talking about “america going the way of rome” and then launched into a attack against rep women politicians using ‘man up’. Then his guest goes on about giving laptops to other poor countries to help and steven says, “what about america, we have poor people in america.” and the guy responds, “Nationalism is a disease.”

Talk about a mindfuck.

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amfortas October 25, 2010 at 21:34

Nice one EW.

I recall raising the subject of Glubb Pasha’s treatis on the forum several years ago. For anyone in the MRM it is crucial reading.

Sir John makes firm mention of the faces of Feminism that have arisen in all ‘Empires’ since the Roman, and contributed to their downfalls. Feminism is just one expression of the lacidaisical thinking that strikes at the ‘intellectual’ stage. In our era it has taken on its most virulent form compared to other eras and Empires. Today the Princess of Lies outdoes old Beelzebub.

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Ubermind October 26, 2010 at 00:17

The way I see it MRA movement still lives in intellectualism/scholar phase. We are talking a lot, observing a lot, discussing a lot, complaining a lot, yet we are not taking shovels in our hands, we are not building houses independant from central heating/electric provider, we are not rioting, we are just slowly creating a new patriarchal paradigm, we are not riding our bare-mounted horses and climbing the wall of Rome with our battle-axes in teeth.

The agony and decline will continue slowly and painfully and the more we just sit and wait for the death of current system, the longer we will sit and wait.

He who wants to see the advent of a new era in his lifetime or at least in the lifetime of his children, must act now, he must not surrender to conformism.

If we cannot persuade ourselves to act now, the suffering of men and the pain will grow and it will persuade us later, but it will hurt a lot more.

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universe October 26, 2010 at 07:36

Quote from: “The Passing of the Modern Age” , by John Lucacs
Taken from the chapter: ‘The Faithlessness of Religion’

“Our world has come to the edge of disaster precisely because of its preocupation with justice, indeed, often at the expense of truth. It is arguable, reasonably arguable, that there is less injustice in this world than a century ago. Only a vile idiot would argue that there is less untruth. We are threatened not by the absense of justice, we are threatened by the fantastic prevalence of untruth. Our main task ought to be the reduction of untruth, first of all – a task which should have been congenial to intellectuals who, however, failed in this even more than had the worst of corrupt clerics. Of justice and truth the second is of the higher order. Truth responds to a deeper human need than does justice. A man can live with injustice a long time, indeed that is the human condition: but he cannot long live with untruth. The pursuit of justice can be a terrible thing, it can lay the world to waste – which is perhaps the deepest predicament of American history”.

– Think there is no hope? On the contrary. And we’re just getting going (again).

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K.K. October 26, 2010 at 09:33

A very illuminating, if not inspiring article. A lot of people probably have this ‘decline’ model in their subconscious right now.

I for one am very grateful to have spent the majority of my existence in the ‘age of affluence’ spoken of. No plagues, no wars (at least not fought on our soil), no life-or-death struggle to raise crops, astounding communication and travel technologies, birth control, etc. The conveniences we have now would’ve blow our ancestor’s minds.

Still, I don’t think our future is written in stone, though. There ARE movements in place, or growing, to halt or reverse this decline. Think about it, there is a Men’s Rights movement now, there was practically nothing five years ago.

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Rollory October 26, 2010 at 13:46

Yes, Glubb’s piece is very important. I have been passing it around to everyone whose opinion I respect.

Also, anybody who finds his work fascinating really should go get themselves a boxed set of “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. The themes one finds in Glubb will be echoed, much more strongly and deeply.

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greyghost October 26, 2010 at 18:43

Let’s say Glubb is right. The masculin tribe that takes over the weakened state could be and should be us.

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ThousandMileMargin October 27, 2010 at 04:35

It’s worth looking at life in some of the other empires that are past their peak – the British Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, France etc.
Life today is still pretty decent (for some) in Vienna, Barcelona, Paris and London. When London was the centre of the world, there were parts of London where people lived in misery and parts where people lived in splendor. And that is still the situation. We could say the same about Vienna, Paris etc.

The decline of an Empire does not necessarily result in the end of a civilisation. It may take the form of stagnation and dwelling on past glories while a younger upstart carry the baton of progress forward.

When England was top of the heap young gentlemen would take the Grand Tour of the continent to see the relics of the previous great powers in Italy and Greece. When America came out on top it’s college students started going to London and Paris for the summer.

Likewise, fifty years from now, the citizens of a Chinese superpower may have holiday apartments in New York and Paris and San Francisco.

Europe is full of places that were once at the centre of power – Athens, Rome, Venice, Florence, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Lisbon, London, Amsterdam, even Bruge and Ghent and Bayeux. History moved on but the monuments are still standing and it is still possible to have a pleasant life in these places. Not necessarily easy, but it wasn’t easy during their glory days either, most were serfs or labourers.

My personal expectation is that if globalisation is allowed to continue for another few decades it will result in every country looking similar to Brazil – some countries will rise to Brazil’s standard of living, and some will decline to get there. America seems set to follow the path of Argentina – choking in debt and corruption over the decades as the economy goes to shit.
But Argentina never actually collapsed, there are still some very nice parts of Buenos Aires.

I expect real wages to come down to levels that allow Europe and the USA to compete with China (Chinese wages will rise to meet them), this will happen through steady inflation. It means a dramatic drop in standard of living, at least by half.

The Chinese won’t conquer the USA, they’ll just buy up the best real estate, like Americans in Mexico.

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nothingbutthetruth October 27, 2010 at 06:22

“Likewise, fifty years from now, the citizens of a Chinese superpower may have holiday apartments in New York and Paris and San Francisco.”

Sorry, but I find this unlikely. People travel to Paris, London and Rome not because they were the center of past empires (nobody cares about the former powers), but because these past empires left some amazingly beautiful architecture.

What is there in America that is comparable to Notre Dame, the Vatican or the Piazza de Sant Marco? Skyscrapers? Wal-marts and McDonalds? There are lots of these around the world.

When it comes to beauty, New York and San Francisco are not comparable to European cities. America is the center of the world now, because it is the current superpower. This is why tourism flows to these cities, because the power gives them a thriving life. There is a lot to praise about America. The ugly functional architecture is not something to praise. Nobody would want to go to a declined empire with ugly architecture two hundred years from now.

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john thames October 28, 2010 at 08:50


Dan Abrams, the legal analyst of NBC, is writing a book called “Man Down, How Women Are Better At…” One can just imagine the reaction were Dan Abrams to write a book entitled Blacks Down, How Whites Are Better At…” The reaction would be instantaneous. The book would be labeled racist, vile and untrue by definition. The facts on white superiority would count for nothing. One cannot believe that whites are superior to blacks but one can believe that women are superior to men. We may be sure that Dan Abrams does not discuss Alcohol Prohibition in his paean of praise to female superiority. The fact that women were the driving force behind the most disastrous social reform movement in American history might present difficulties for Mr. Abrams contrived thesis. Thus, we may be sure that he deletes it. Dan Abrams shall also be predictably silent on how women are treated in his real country called Israel. Thus, “Danny Boy” shall not be describing how women in Israeli busses are required to ride in the rear as the bus passes through Orthodox neighborhoods. Nor shall he discuss the vast Jewish controlled sex slave trade and the thousands of women kidnapped to the Tel Aviv brothels each year. “Danny Boy” may mention Israel’s 1953 law granting women full civic, political and economic rights. But, if so, he shall surely delete the exception for family law and what it entails. Thus, “Danny Boy” shall not mention that a wife cannot get a divorce without her husband’s consent or that a wife whose husband dies while she is still childless must offer herself in marriage to his bother – or buy her release through forfeiture of the community property. Still less shall he mention that if a woman has a child born from adultery the child shall be termed a mamzerim, a bastard, and shall be forbidden to marry, except to another bastard. A woman whose husband goes missing in war or who otherwise disappears cannot remarry unless she has absolute proof of his death. Abortion, in Israel, is a state decision, not a personal decision. A Jewess must obtain government permission for an abortion. The decision shall be made based on the state’s need for more Jewish babies and the danger of a higher Arab birth rate, counterbalanced by the woman’s financial ability to care for the child. Traditionally, in Israel, a woman’s testimony has no standing in family law court. In the Orthodox synagogues until recently a woman cannot qualify for the minyam, the minimum number of Jews necessary to form a quorum. Only male Jews so qualify. The free love, no-fault divorce system that has caused so much grief in the United States is virtually unknown in Israel. Divorce has been severely restricted in the Zionist state. When divorce does occur, it is exclusively under the control of the religious authorities, not the civil authorities. There is no civil divorce in Israel.

“Danny Boy” Abrams knows these facts on his real country perfectly. But like the deceased Jewish Communist Ashley Montagu/Israel Ehrenberg who wrote “The Natural Superiority of Women” back in the 1960’s, he is not about to mention them as he lies through his teeth.

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J. Durden October 28, 2010 at 13:43

deep female penetration

I lolled. Other than that, well-done sir. I’ve been a fan of that Glubb piece ever since Charles Martel brought him up back in January.

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Lee Raconteur November 2, 2010 at 07:12

Where are the mentions of the Indian and Chinese Empires? China barely rates one sentence:

“In 1211, Genghis Khan invaded China.”

Both are merely afterthoughts mentioned as the conquered. What, exactly, were they doing for those thousands of years before anyone bothered to, or could, conquer them?

China and India have comprised 60% to 80% of global GDP for 9 of the 10 centuries that human civilization has existed.

While I agree with this post, the repost at The Elusive Wapiti and Sir John Glubb’s book / pamphlet, to omit these two cultures severely weakens his thesis.

Perhaps it was the academic bias of the time. In 1976 China was not even open to the West asides a literal handful of diplomats.

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anon March 16, 2011 at 16:06

Hang on a second. Has anyone said correlation does not imply causation?

I can give very good reasons for the falls of each of these empires. It’s very simple. It’s called unpopularity.

The majority of people are not evil. They might not always know best, but they will recognise a good leader when they see one.

Now, here comes the reasons:

1. Population pressure. It’s very simple, empires do not cover everywhere, there are rival empires as there are rival tribes. The Romans NEVER subdued the Germanic tribes, and were in the end defeated and overrun by the Germans. The Germans quickly expanded throughout Europe and populated the entirety of Western Europe.

Likewise, the British NEVER subdued the Indians or the Chinese, and inevitably the Indians united together to overthrow the British. Inevitably the Chinese united together to reunify China. It was simply a matter of time and the British could not have held on even if they had used massive firepower.

2. Unpopularity. Governments are not always popular, sometimes a mistake is made, sometimes the wrong person takes power. Corruption is always a problem, and inevitably the government will at some point become unpopular. This leads to a revolt which may also collapse the empire. Depending on the new government, the nation may or may not regain the lost territories.

3. To be continued.

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anon March 17, 2011 at 04:25

Actually there are more valid criticisms of his theory:

3. Sir John Glubb seems to have cherry-picked his empires, because a most empires do not last exactly 250 years.

First of all, he separates “Roman Republic” from “Roman Empire”. This is an entirely arbitrary decision undertaken just to fit the “250 year” hypothesis.
Even allowing for this, can the Western Roman Empire be separated from Eastern Roman Empire?
Even allowing for this, the Eastern Roman Empire alone lasted from approximately 306 AD to 1453 AD, over a millenium.
The Ottoman empire lasted from 27 July 1299 to 29 October 1923, over 7 centuries.
The Mongol Empire lasted from 1210 to 1315, barely a century.
The Soviet Union lasted from 1922 to 1991, less than 70 years.

4. The Inherent Weakness Of The Empire

By the normal definition, an empire is a territory under which peoples are involuntarily ruled by those who do not represent their best interests.

For example, the British empire was ruled by Britain, and represented only the interests of Britain, not the interests of Canada, North America, Australia, Africa or India. This is why America revolted – No Taxation Without Representation. The British thought of themselves first, they thought of their subjects as unworthy slaves, and this is the underlying cause of the dissolution of the empire.

Behind the concept of the empire is the idea that peoples are not equal, the idea of the “master race” and the “inferior races” whose purpose is to serve the master race. The Nazi 3rd Reich, based upon this idea, lasted from 1933 to 1945, only 12 years.

The same can be said of any other empire. The Mongol Empire, for example, treated non-Mongols as second-class citizens and discriminated against them. Even though Genghis Khan’s original vision was to have a state where people of all races and cultures are to be treated fairly and equally.

5. Wealth causes decline in discipline

Now, I will discuss the most important point behind his work. What I have gained from this book amounts to this: a race of people is basically like a spoilt child. Hardship and punishment makes a race disciplined and honourable, Wealth and ease makes a race weak and decadent.

Is this supported by the evidence? If this is the case, one would expect Blacks, having been impoverished for centuries if not millenia, to be the most disciplined and honourable race in the world. The reality is that Blacks commit over five times more murders, robberies and rapes than Whites in the USA. South Africa has the highest crime rates in the world.

On the other hand, Whites, who have been enjoying wealth for at least 3 centuries, should be the least disciplined and honourable race in the world. Is this the case? We might also talk about parallels to late Rome, how the “barbarians” increasingly made up more and more of the Roman legions.

Those who serve in the American military tend to come from the wealthier neighbourhoods, American soldiers are on average more educated than their peers, and Whites are proportionally represented in the military.

6. To be continued.

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anon March 18, 2011 at 14:12

6. “…from service to selfishness”

This is perhaps the most significant point in this piece.

Sir John Glubbs states that people who pursue wealth are selfish and not serving their country.

Is this true? Is self-interest antithetical to common interest?

We can immediately think of various individuals who have amassed huge fortunes, including Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, American industrialist Henry Ford, American programmer Bill Gates.

Have these rich people contributed anything of value to society, or are they just selfish leeches – from service to selfishness?

One might argue that mankind has not really benefited from the inventions of Alfred Nobel. After all, people still use ANFO instead of dynamite, and the Nobel Prize is a waste of money.

You could argue that people didn’t really need Henry Ford. Sure, he made cars cheaply available to millions of Americans, and was perhaps the first to implement mass production. But surely someone else might have done that without asking for so much money.

You could argue that people didn’t really need Bill Gates and his Microsoft. Sure, he wrote some programs, but others could have wrote the same programs for free. Sure, Microsoft invented Windows, but there is also Linux which is free and open-source. One might argue that Microsoft needs money for customer support, patches, updates, and creating new software, but then many people do all this for free. You could argue that Microsoft is unfairly asking money for services and goods that should be free.

We might point to the Serbian engineer Nikola Tesla as someone who has the spirit of service over selfishness. When faced with the choice between gaining massive profits from his AC generator patent, and making electrical power cheaply and widely available to the American population but at the cost of his royalty, he chose the latter. Nikola Tesla died in poverty.

Scientists and researchers are often poor, it is a very small proportion of them who become rich. However, criminals are often poorer, both materially and spiritually.

Did all rich people become rich because they are selfish?

Does the market economy favour those who are selfish over those who are not?

The market system rewards those who supply what is in demand. The intentions behind supplying what is in demand is irrelevant altogether. If a selfish person, obtains wealth by supplying what society demands, that still does not harm society as much as it benefits it. If a selfish person obtains wealth by robbing it from society, then that harms society, and is illegal.

If a person becomes a wanted criminal, then society might demand his capture and arrest, and so other selfish people might obtain wealth by capturing criminals and bringing them to justice. This does not harm society.

If a selfish person offers to do something for a high price, and an unselfish person offers to do something for a lower price, then society will choose the unselfish person over the selfish person, and the selfish person will become impoverished.

It is possible for a selfish person to create a monopoly through various means, making it impossible for others to compete. Under such circumstances, the selfish person can abuse his monopoly to make unreasonable profits, because nobody else compete with him. This is particularly true in public services where people have no choice but to buy the services, even if they become very expensive.

There are, therefore, laws in place to prevent companies from abusing the power of monopoly. AT&T as well as Standard Oil were forcibly broken up by the U.S government into smaller companies which were then able to compete with each other. There are also laws in place to prevent companies from colluding with each other to raise prices.

Whilst the market system needs to be regulated, it is far superior to the communist system that has been tried out various times in history and always failed without exception.

Whilst Sir John Glubb considers the pursuit of glory to be very beneficial for society, in many cases it is not. Rabid nationalism such as Nazism creates wars yet it does not seem to benefit mankind in particular. Peaceful trade, on the other hand, seems to be very much more profitable for all parties involved.

After all, people live on bread, not medals.

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Rob Mich December 18, 2011 at 10:50

I read John Glubb’s essay and found it very interesting, though think he could have structured it a little better, and summed up and emphasize again his main points (on human nature, as well as empire; in general he get’s too bogged down in his own details).

One troubling part for me though is his empire longevity chart where he has dates for the Roman Republic and Roman Empire at respectively 260-27BC and 27BC-180AD. It is commonly assumed among historians that the dates are more along the lines of:
500BC-27BC, and 27BC-476BC. These give timelines of about 500 years each for these two periods, far greater than his “law” of 250 years. This seeming disregard for facts, though arguable, that don’t fit his tale, makes me skeptical of claims he makes on other empires which which I am not so familiar.

So I would not look to this essay as a necessarily good summary of the history of the countries and empires he writes about, just one lay person’s opinions, admittedly one with a colorful work background. I would read from a variety of professional sources (i.e. historians) to get different perspectives and come to your own conclusions. His general ideas on human nature and empire though are interesting discussion starters.

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Anonymous June 9, 2014 at 23:02

It was a very well written analysis of the Fate of Empires up until the agendas kicked in; thanks for that.

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SirJohn July 15, 2014 at 02:05

Broken URL
The URL at the top of this article no longer leads to Glubb’s text. Here is one that works:
Posted on the University of North Carolina Wilmington website.

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