Sunday, October 14, 2001

Is the fall of the Roman empire a guide to understanding the fall of the American empire? One of the problems of being the sole empire is that you don't have the option to take a reasonable, cautious approach to attack. Since you are expected to immediately counter-attack and win, failure to act precipitously is regarded as a weakness and in fact may encourage further attacks. On the other hand, fighting back in a foolish way starts an empire down the long road to destruction. I have felt that much of the sadness about the terrorism is a reflection of the knowledge that the empire is starting to come apart. For all the evil things that empires do they also represent the high points of human civilization, and we all feel a sadness and a personal loss to see them go. I wonder if we will see a burst of creativity as was seen in the Mannerist movement at the end of the Italian renaissance when artists like Michaelangelo expressed their personal feelings about the end of empire in their art.

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