Polybius stood beside Scipio Africanus as the general surveyed the burning carcass that was Carthage. As Rome’s greatest enemy went up in flames Scipio wept and grasped his companion’s hand. “It is a glorious sight,” the General explained, “but I confess a dreadful foreboding that the same fate will someday befall our country.”
He was right and if Polybius had not been an historian, we may never have known of Scipio’s moment of prescience.
His words are more than a famous example of ‘I told you so’, they are an immutable law of nature. Just as generations grow old and pass away, so do civilizations. Whether it is the Aztecs, the Babylonians, the Egyptians or the Romans; all great civilizations carry their ultimate doom within their genetic makeup.
The same is true of our current system.
Our economic systems are rotten at the core and the only thing our elected leaders can think of is to pour more money down the hole. They gave bailouts to the big corporations, allowing the chief executives to protect their hefty bonuses while the public get nothing. Meanwhile, Greece teeters on the brink, French banks tiptoe around the word ‘run’ and Germany is printing deutsche marks so they can be ready to leave the Euro at a moment’s notice.
The rampant consumerism that has propped up the system is grinding to a halt. Most of the driveways in my city are filled with the owner’s vehicles. This is because their garages are filled with jet-skis, ATV’s weekend motorcycles and last year’s LCD TV’s (gotta have LED now…). How much of that was paid with cash and how much involved a payment plan that still bleeds money from their accounts?
When the system finally falls apart, how far will we be knocked back?
I ask that question every time I look at my children.