Sunday, July 3, 2016

The fall of empires and peoples

In his chapter "The Fall of the Hunnic Empire," page 365, Peter Heather writes, "In contrast to the Roman Empire, which as we have seen, attempted to keep population levels low in frontier areas so as to minimize the potential for trouble, the Hunnic Empire sucked in subject peoples in huge numbers.  The concentration of such a great body of manpower generated a magnificent war machine, which had to be used -- it contained far too many inner tensions to be allowed to lie idle.  The number of Hunnic subject groups outnumbered the Huns proper, probably in a ration of several to one.  It was essential to keep the subject peoples occupied, or restless elements would be looking for outlets for their energy and the Empire's rickety structure might begin to crumble."

Rather than the wave of the future which many, including the current American president, seem to believe, the European Union is experimenting with itself and its rippling may fall far short of a wave.  It is importing "a great body of manpower" into its very vitals and isn't particularly interested if this "body" hates it.  Over here in the U.S. by contrast (at least until recently) if you wanted to become a citizen, you had to swear that you loved us (or words to that effect).  Not so in Europe.  At present the "body of manpower" being imported isn't being used to fight wars, just do work -- if it feels like it, other wise it is given welfare.  Is it "looking for outlets for its energy in the Empire's "rickety structure"?  We see photos of burning cars and rioting & read reports of bombings and shootings. 

We aren't immune from some of that here in the U.S. under a European-like administration which is importing a like (but not as numerous) "body of manpower" to do some shootings and bombings over here (as well as work -- that is, if it feels like it).  California's European-like Governor seems to believe he is solving this problem by ignoring the concept of Islamic anti-everyone-else and cracking down on gun ownership. 

Attila had the charisma to dominate a great number of divergent populations and keep them busy conquering Europe.  When he died these peoples revolted and the Hunnic Empire, and indeed the Huns as a distinctive people, disappeared.  Europe after WWII has never had a leader like Attila.  It instead has a couple of ideas, to ban together as in the UN and subsequently the EU to oppose another Hun-like Nazi threat and to demonstrate that the creation of wealth through a Capitalistic union will keep the nations happy and peaceful.  We note that its financial well-being is based upon a Ponzi scheme and needs an ever increasing "body of manpower" to pay for welfare promises. 

Meanwhile in volume 2 of the Foundation series, Isaac Asimov (who before writing these novels read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire twice) describes the Galactic Empire as still existing in a technical sense after a couple of centuries after Hari Seldon predicted its fall.  We who have read the end of the series can see its decrepitude and consequent weakness, but those living in the empire have convinced themselves that all is still as it was in the early days when it was young and strong.   If the European Empire is falling into that sort of decrepitude, will it fade away has the Hunnic empire did, or will someone like Asimov's Mule (or Europe's own Hitler) take over and make it strong again for as long as he lives and retains his own strength. 

Short of multiple nuclear explosions it doesn't seem possible that the various nations of Europe could disappear as the Hunnic nation and many of its subject nations did in the middle of the fifth century.  We have computers and records; surely mankind would keep track of any modern nation from now on.  Beyond that we have records of DNA.  We know who we are and who we have been -- not all of us but a significant and growing number. has mine.  I am "52% Western Europe, 22% Ireland, 9% Scandinavian, and 4% Italy/Greece."  As to my DNA details, doesn't have the money to get into that.  I know I have alleles that make me lactose tolerant, give me pale skin, but not as pale as those with more Scandinavian influence.  If there is an allele that makes one happy to live in a large city, I don't have that one.  I'm not sure I can wait until my son is ready to move me to Sandpoint.  I am getting antsy.  If the European Empire falls, I suspect the American won't be far behind?

Tomorrow, July 4th, will be the first anniversary of Susan's death -- so there's that as well.

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