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The History of the Decline and Fall of America: A Semi-Fictional Satire Paperback – March 16, 2018
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"Erickson's newly released semi-fictional satire of American history and subsequent decline into deepening pits of despair is asure-fire treasure trove of Americana, at its best. It's a page-turner par excellence, rich in accurate textured American history and jam-packed with imagery of a dystopian future that is simply unavoidable based upon America's character and development over the past two centuries. The die was cast long before onset of dystopian existence." -Counterpunch
"This is excellent history, comparable to a textbook, as well as a peek into the future shaped via trends rooted throughout Americana. Erickson's lessons in American history are genuine and accurate, which gives the book depth and a powerful sense of significance well beyond similar treatises that try to lay the challenging groundwork leading to how a nation turns sour into a dystopian society." -UK Progressive
"The section on 'Crisis Management' is particularly savvy. 'The reasons for America's collapse,' Scott tells us, 'are rooted in the core concepts of what it meant to be an American.' To wit: the focus on individual self-importance, the quest for material wealth, and the desire to avoid thinking." - Morris Berman, author of Why America Failed and The Twilight of American Culture
"We have to cut back radically on consumption, production, and wealth. That's all of us, not just Americans. That is a daunting prospect. The prospect of not doing it is even more daunting. The first step is for a few people to understand. Hopefully they will start a conversation. This is where books like Scott Erickson's The History of the Decline and Fall of America are invaluable." -Andrew Ravensdale, author of The City That Walked Away
About the Author
- Paperback : 286 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0989831175
- ISBN-13 : 978-0989831178
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.72 x 8.5 inches
- Item Weight : 12.4 ounces
- Publisher : Azaria Press (March 16, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,621,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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1. The guy is funny. He really has a wicked sense of humor. For example, when the final collapse of America occurs, in 2051, Americans render their cannibalism somewhat palatable through the use of Heinz ketchup.
2. Scott makes no attempt to "save" the country at the eleventh hour. He knows we're finished, and makes no bones about it. In fact, an advertising card stuck into the copy he sent me reads: "[This book] will allow you to stop worrying and enjoy America's downfall." Probably good advice, although I would add: Leave the country *now*!
3. That the US is finished is so obvious as to barely warrant comment. Yet only a tiny handful of Americans realize this, while the remaining 327 million do not. Why? Because, says Scott, Americans are stupid--"profoundly stupid." Jesus, I've been saying that for years, and I welcome Scott's agreement. He and I stand in the tradition of H.L. Mencken, George Carlin, and Gore Vidal, all of whom used the word "morons" quite liberally.
One aspect of this stupidity--hardly limited to people with low IQs, by the way--is that Americans did not believe that the country *could* collapse. They may have learned in school that every previous civilization went the route of birth/efflorescence/decay, but somehow, America was going to escape that historical pattern. Another aspect was Americans' inability to connect the dots. They actually didn't understand, for example, that the result of destroying an ecosystem is a ruined ecosystem, or that "basing an economy on an immense pyramid scheme is a bad idea." Along with this, they were not merely an anti-intellectual people; they were also a people hostile to intelligence per se. They *embraced* stupidity, says Scott; for them, it was "a badge of honor."
The section on "Crisis Management" is particularly savvy. "The reasons for America's collapse," Scott tells us, "are rooted in the core concepts of what it meant to be an American." To wit: the focus on individual self-importance; the quest for material wealth; and the desire to avoid thinking. Americans were hustlers, he goes on; they could never have enough. "Having no thoughts or creative pursuits, and being self-absorbed and having no relationship with the world, was perfectly acceptable [to them]." (The Greeks had a word for such individuals: idiots.) America was biased toward people who were aggressive, skilled in self-promotion. Shyness was seen as arrogance; lack of self-promotion as pretentiousness. Artists were regarded as time-wasters, producing nothing of importance. For the overwhelming majority, every aspect of life was organized around the goal of economic gain, seen through that prism.
Our world view, Scott concludes, was the cause of our downfall. Material reality is the only reality; progress is defined in terms of consumer possessions; questions of worth boil down to questions of profit. The nation had no higher purpose at all; greed and ego were its guiding motifs. "While America was willing to fight against real or imagined enemies, it proved to be totally incapable of identifying anything positive to fight *for*." Americans were little more than spoiled adolescents, trapped in a faulty world view that ate them alive. Scott calls this condition "anti-wisdom." I can think of a better word for it: hell.
While many of us like to focus on DC politics, Erickson opens with what will prove (and is proving) to have the most profound effect on American civilization: the unsustainable assault on our environment. He continues next with America’s addiction to economic growth which is hailed as our foremost pursuit--even after it stops working. A kind of “poverty engineering” has been at work since the 1980s, underscoring one America’s core values: the poor have too much. Near the midway point, much of what the author describes is the recent past and present so that reader forms the impression that the “decline and fall” is not some far off event but happening right under our noses. The end is not near. It’s in progress.
“The Benefits of Empire” traces the origins of America’s self-proclaimed “exceptionalism” and despite past and “future” repudiation by annoying facts and reality, America’s failure to grasp this paves the way to wanton self-destruction. There are two applicable analogies here involving frogs. There is the frog in the water very slowly being boiled so as not to notice. Secondly, “An experiment with frogs some years ago demonstrated this quite clearly. They were wired up with electrodes in the pleasure center of the brain, and could stimulate that center–i.e., create a “rush”–by pressing a metal bar. Not only did the frogs keep pressing the bar over and over again, but they didn’t stop even when their legs were cut off with a pair of shears!” (Morris Berman, A Question of Values).
In the “Decline of American Politics,” we are presented with one of the willful ignorant, denying science, not by attempt at counterargument, but by failing to acknowledge it as real. Later in the book, the slogan “Dumb and Proud” emerges. Here, an “American survivor” is interviewed: “I asked whether she believed in the existence of a field of human endeavor that uses fact-based evidence to inform an increasingly accurate means of understanding the physical universe.” The reply: “There’s no such thing.” We’re not there yet but we’re on our way. Another term for this is “magical thinking.”
When we come to “America Goes Fascist” the author makes perhaps the most important point in the book: “The common tendency is to associate fascism with an oppressive political system. Stormtroopers, jackboots, and overt repression,” where we conjure up images of Nazis and swastikas. If we buy the notion of “fascism-lite,” the merging of the State with corporate interests. we’re already there. Morris Berman in Dark Ages America cited the terms of Bush/Cheney as a period of “soft fascism.” And then we see the real tipping point in the 2016 election where now the death spiral of democracy is hiding in plain sight and elements of fascism and oligarchy are clearly in play.
In “The End,” the author introduces a diary written by a certain survivor named Miles Bennel (perhaps a reference to the character in the film, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956). What has been “snatched” is Bennel’s critical thinking. Bennel’s commentary reads like dialogue from Mike Judge’s Idiocracy (2006).
The last section, “In Search of Explanations,” is a kind of post-mortem. The latter portions of the book, like the latter stages of America, report events, decisions that range from the horrific to something out of the theater of the absurd. Today we can feel the future echoes of this all about us.
At the end of Morris Berman’s Why America Failed (note past tense), the author states that at the end of books like his, authors are expected to provide solutions, a way out. Sadly, Berman says he can’t do that. His book along with Scott Erickson’s and others are not likely to convert “magical thinkers” but they reinforce and confirm what those of us already know. Attempts at conversion are likely to result in responses like “Why do you hate America?”
Save your money, avoid this book.