January 31, 2021


"The sun never sets on the British Empire." Well, in the fullness of time, it did. For eventually, it sets on all empires, and our turn is now. At least from the point of view of an historian, this is nothing to get excited about. It's essentially a neutral process; no civilization has escaped this fate. But evaluating an empire, a civilization, or even a nation, is not a neutral thing. The great historian, Marc Bloch, claimed that the way to make such an evaluation was to ask whether that empire etc. "delivered the goods," i.e., made its citizens happy. Which citizens? I suppose we might ask. The majority? And how are we to decide what "happy" means? Did America succeed? Did it make its citizens happy (whatever that means)? In the waning years of American civilization, it might be useful to sit back, and take stock.