Isaac Asimov wrote his Foundation stories to show that every Empire, even the most powerful one,
has to fall eventually. Everyone knows that America achieved its' peak power and world
influence in the twentieth century. But how much longer is it going to last?
It is hard to predict while it is still alive and reasonably well. But, as Asimov observed,
there are certain signs that may give early hints that the end is approaching. One of them is a loss
of technological knowledge. Couple of years ago I have learned from one of NASA's engineers
that the know-how to build the rockets that took people to the Moon was lost. Repeated attempts
brought failure after failure in spite of closely following blueprints. I knew that this time the funeral
march is being played for the United States of America...
I thought that it might be worthwhile to look at other great powers of the past, that were similar to the United States and see how and why did they vanish. Long, long time ago - hundreds of years before America was discovered, there was a huge country in the heart of Europe. It was known as the Republic of Both Nations. Between fifteen and eighteen century Republic was the largest country in Europe - extending from the Baltic Sea all the way across the Continent to the Black Sea. It was very different from its' neighbors. Unlike other kingdoms, ruthlessly ruled by royal despots, it was a democratic monarchy, where personal freedoms were respected and enforced by the law. For over six hundred years it was the safe haven for all people persecuted for religious or political reasons elsewhere. It was the first country in modern Europe to open public libraries, to establish the ministry of education and culture, to assure a freedom of religion and to adopt a modern democratic constitution. Citizens were not only allowed but obliged by the law to revolt against the King/Queen if he/she was not fulfilling his/her duties towards the Nation. Every citizen had a chance to become a King in popular elections. It became the second home for Jews - allowing for flourishment of Jewish culture and science unprecedented in the previous history of the Israel. It is not a science-fiction story. But it would cost you some time and effort to find it in history books - it doesn't belong to the official version of the history taught in the Western World.
Republic has been also known as a "Defense Wall of Europe" since all barbarians invading from the East had to face it first. That responsibility started with Mongol invasions in the 12th century and did not end until the demise of the Republic. A good example of how it worked: in 1683 The Ottoman Empire was on the successful quest to conquer Europe. Southern Europe was already in Turkish hands. The Ottoman armies attacked Republic, but after a couple of bloody battles they were forced to back off. Then they looked for an easier target -and they have found one: Austria. Western armies were not a match for the enemy - they have been plagued by the lack of discipline, poor training and a shortage of talented leaders. Outnumbered and demoralized by a string of defeats in the war with Muslims they were not able to stop the progress of the enemy. Ottoman armies reached Vienna. Fall of that city would open the way to the heart of Europe and would mean the end of Christianity and the Western culture as we know it. Austria and other European countries begged Republic for assistance. King Jan III brought his armies to rescue Vienna and was offered the command of united European forces. In a spectacular battle, the coalition defeated the Ottoman armies. To this day one can admire Turkish flags, tents and jewels captured after the battle and donated to the Vatican. Republic's armies didn't return home until Hungary was also freed from Turkish invaders.
The death of Republic in eighteen century gave a rise to a huge emigration waves from the whole Continent - there was no place anymore in the Old World to hide from the terror of absolute rule, religious persecution, witch hunts and pogroms... Fortunately a new, democratic country was being born while Republic was dying: the United States of America. And America proudly carried on the legacy of the Old Republic.... at least for a while.
Why did the Republic of Both Nations fall? The answer can be found right now and right here: in Washington D.C. It is hard to overlook corruption of the rich, legalized bribery, (nicknamed "lobbying"), demoralization of politicians shamelessly selling American secrets to foreign governments as soon as they resign from their office. Anyone can see growing divisions between poor and rich, white and black, native and alien... as well as growing national debt, inadequacy and incompetence of politicians, loss of influence and power on the world arena, decline in quality of life of an average citizen, social unrest. The list can go on and on... That is only one side of the coin. The Republic had also one important legal flaw, that turned against its' creators. "Liberum veto" - a constitutional amendment that was designed originally to protect democracy and individual freedom. It was supposed to assure that no law could be passed in the parliament unless there is total consensus, i.e. each representative had a power of veto. As a result, there was no laws passed in the last two hundred years ofthe Republic.
America has also an equally lethal flaw: the design of the whole justice system. It was initially conceived to facilitate fair and speedy execution of the law. It ended up as a monstrosity allowing criminals to go unpunished, promoting the fall of the health system as well as rise of racism. America is the only place on this planet where one can sue and get sued for anything - and win, irrespectively of the truth, if one has a clever lawyer on his/her side. A new society, based on distrust and greed was born. Where can we escape in search of freedom and justice now?
The Old Republic is gone forever, but its' story still lives in a memory of its' descendants. They live dispersed through the ten countries that cover vast areas of the central and eastern Europe. But you might meet one of these proud people right in your own neighborhood. And if you'd like to read more about the spiritual predecessor of America, look it up in history books under Poland and Lithuania....