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Rapid decline of the US empire?

In this video, David Murrin, Chief Investment Officer of the hedge fund Emergent Asset Management, says the US will decline sooner than expected, and China will emerge as the superpower to fill the vacuum.

This is the thesis of Murrin's book, Breaking the Code of History, in which he argues that America's decline is actually the end of a long-reigning Western Christian empire. I have not read the book, but based on the interview, I'm not impressed. Theories based on a supposed cyclical nature of history lack historical specificity, deny human agency and fail to recognize progress.

However, it is the case that there has been much more talk recently about American decline. Many are wary of expressing out-and-out despair, as they note that the US went through a bout of self-doubt in the 1980s, with discussion crystallizing around Paul Kennedy's Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, only to emerge stronger relative to other major countries. But it is starting to come out more. Here is David Brooks, New York Times op-ed columnist and one of the more perceptive observers:

I'm beginning to be infected with pessimism. A friend who lives in India told me the Indians consider the Chinese their rival for the top nation this century. They regard us as already buried. Recent polls have shown that Americans too believe that China will surpass us in global importance. It's true I see no way we will avoid a fiscal catastrophe, and I hear smart economists debating how bad the catastrophe will be: Rome or merely Spain? Can this be true? Is the nation of perpetual youth really on the path to old age?

There are, of course, counter-voices. For instance, Joel Kotkin, fellow at the New America Foundation, recently wrote: "India and China are more likely long-term competitors, but both suffer from a legacy of poverty and underdevelopment that will take decades, if not generations, to overcome." 

This is a discussion worth keeping an eye on.

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