Why historians will see this date as the moment that sealed the fate of the West.
Back in 2016 the inevitable consequences of requirements-free representative democracy were manifested first by Brexit and then by the election of an infantile halfwit to the White House. But just as with Hitler’s accession to power in 1936, a lot of people failed to understand the significance of these two events. The sun kept rising in next morning, people kept going to work, couples kept arguing over all the things couples always argue over. Life, it seemed, would go on much as before.
Today, January 31st 2020, is different. Today is the day Brexit officially occurs and it is also the day on which the USA ceased to be a Republic. Although the huge negative impacts of Brexit won’t be felt until after the eleven-month transition period and although most US voters will remain blithely indifferent to what’s just happened in the US Senate, the fact is that these two events are definitive indicators of the end of Western Civilization. Historians will date the final collapse and descent into horrors from today, as a matter both of convenience and of causality.
Let’s look at Brexit first, as it’s the simpler self-inflicted harm of the two.
By leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom has irrevocably set itself on a path to both irrelevance and fragmentation. As a shrinking medium-sized economy it has zero chance of negotiating trade deals with the USA, the EU, and China, that are bilaterally favorable. Already US corporations are looking to acquire UK assets at knock-down prices and the UK government’s desperation for any deal that can be dressed up and presented as a “quick win” will ensure that the UK gives away the store in return for counterfeit coins. The UK has already sold off its most important defense asset to the USA and is eagerly appeasing China by buying Huawei 5G network equipment despite its evident spyware.
As Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain within the European Union (and was promised as much by a former UK Prime Minister) and as UK debt will balloon in consequence of borrowing to fund massive bribes (sorry, “investments in the future of Britain”) for regions that voted for Brexit, it seems likely that the Scots will vote to devolve from the Union. The incoherent Brexiteer response will be “We can leave the EU but you can’t leave the UK” and that of course will simply lead to civil strife. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland the Protestant majority will likely come to view reunification with Eire as the lesser of two evils now that they’ve been symbolically abandoned by Westminster in order that Boris Johnson could (by betraying his most earnest pledge) pretend he’d “won concessions” from the EU.
In other words, as the UK has given away for free all the things Brexiteers claimed they’d never cede, and as the UK’s future will be as an increasingly indebted and enfeebled nation, there’s little reason for the Scots and the Northern Irish to remain in what is largely a sham union.
Of course the UK government will pretend unto the very end that everything is wonderful, Brexit is a total success, and the fact that everything is going to shit is the fault of the EU. But it doesn’t matter what repulsive lying politicians say and simple-minded ignorant Brexit voters believe; reality always wins in the end.
With the gradual collapse and dissolution of the UK, the EU itself will initially receive a boost as the UK acts as a horrific example of the folly of leaving the world’s largest trading bloc. But over time the absence of the UK will enable Russia to further destabilize the EU by encouraging ever-more bad behavior in Hungary, Germany, Italy, Austria, and whatever other countries it can subvert cheaply through social media. As the US continues to neglect NATO and as the UK economy contracts sharply, the UK’s contribution to mutual defense capability will evaporate. Even today the UK cannot deploy forces without significant US support; tomorrow it will be less than a shadow of its already-enfeebled self. This in turn will embolden Putin to reclaim the Baltic countries and further destabilize Ukraine. No doubt Georgia is also on his menu.
As the EU fragments under Russian influence, memories of days long gone will be resurfaced as Russian-inspired nationalism (which the feeble-minded will imagine to be “patriotism”) will ensure that Europe once again falls into mutual suspicion and hostility.
The European Union will therefore be officially dissolved sometime around 2050.
Turning now to the USA, we can see that a replay of the collapse of the Roman Republic is happening in quick time. The Republican Party’s decision to shit all over the US Constitution in order to acquit an obvious criminal means that the USA has now entered the same condition as Rome under its succession of dictators. The outward trappings will remain, but they are now nothing more than a hollow sham. People will still vote and pretend they have a “democracy” but the reality is that the USA is nothing more than a kleptocracy run by paid-for Republican politicians who do the bidding of the rich and influential. Tax breaks for billionaires and large corporations plus theocratic laws to appease the Evangelical community are now cemented into core Republican policy and will thus drive the USA ever-onward to civil war.
The Democratic Party will remain clueless and obsessed with ever-more-pointless virtue signaling to an increasingly irrelevant but extreme base. This will ensure the Republican Party, unopposed, can henceforth dominate US politics and, increasingly, ordinary public life.
There’s a chance some of the States will elect to secede but it’s unlikely they will be permitted to do so. This will, as with the problem of Catalonia in Spain, result in even greater tensions that will turn State against State. Russia meanwhile under Putin’s perpetual rule will continue to use social media to foment more and more tension, leading to large-scale clashes between ultra-right and those who oppose them. These clashes will result in many deaths, which the media will sensationalize in order to boost ad revenues, and thus a feed-forward loop will drive the USA eventually to another civil war.
As the USA has nearly 400 million small arms in circulation it’s easy to see that civil strife will not be peaceful but rather a matter of ever-greater atrocities that ultimately lead to Martial Law, which in turn will lead to the sort of thug-based society imposed on many South American nations by their caudillos.
Of course not every nation will collapse. China will likely continue under an increasingly authoritarian and repressive rule with Xi Jinping remaining as Emperor for life. Russia will collapse in on itself as its infrastructure falls apart, its economy plummets (no more EU to buy exported Russian gas, and fewer buyers for its weapons as China increasingly dominates the defense equipment market). South American nations will likely stumble along under a series of incompetent “strong men” much as they have so regularly done.
Just as Roman civilization clung on for centuries after the center had rotted, so too will vestiges of the West. Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries, Australia and New Zealand may hold themselves together for many decades after the USA and Europe have descended into squalor. The vitality, however, will be gone.
Who knows how long the next Dark Ages will last? A handful of decades? A century or two? It’s salutary to remember that it took the West over one thousand years to recover from the collapse of Roman civilization.
There are only so many parallels one can draw from history. There’s no infallible guide to charting the future. There are so many variables that the barest sketch is possible. But just as a prescient few really did foresee the true import of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, we today can see the true import of the two events that mark today as the end of everything we imagined we cared about.
Western civilization is dead. Long live barbarism.