Stephen Speicher

What if the United States disappeared?

45 posts in this topic

True, but the American sense of life is much better than that of Europe. Inspite of the beating it has taken in the two centuries of America's existence, I think it is still very prevalent.

Better than in Europe, yes - but closer to Europe than to 18th Century America. The policies and laws don't happen in a vaccuum. They reflect the prevalent philosophical outlook.

What has kept the American institutions to go the way of the European ones is only in small part the American sense of life, I'm afraid. Much more important in my opinion is the inertia caused by:

1) their attachment - unreasoned attachment most of the time - to their Constitution,

2) the quasi mystical appeal of the Founders,

3) the structural inertia of the political system (in particular the role of the Supreme Court),

4) the repulsion (again, unreasoned most of the time) against anything that can accurately be characterized as "Socialist". In fact the Socialist label in the US is the kiss of death, as is the label Fascist in Europe. This stems back to the Cold War and in most cases doesn't have a strong philosophical reasoning.

An easy way to test my theory is to discuss with people how they would change the US Constitution if they could (or in what ways they would have liked it to be different). I predict that you would see either people injecting more Statism and Altruism, or having an un-reasoned, knee jerk reaction against changing anything in the Constitution. Very, very few will propose consistently rational changes in favor of reason and individual rights.

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Joss,

Much more important in my opinion is the inertia caused by:

1) their attachment - unreasoned attachment most of the time - to their Constitution,

2) the quasi mystical appeal of the Founders,

3) the structural inertia of the political system (in particular the role of the Supreme Court),

4) the repulsion (again, unreasoned most of the time) against anything that can accurately be characterized as "Socialist". In fact the Socialist label in the US is the kiss of death, as is the label Fascist in Europe. This stems back to the Cold War and in most cases doesn't have a strong philosophical reasoning.

I at the same time want to seriously thank you for that list, as I hadn't thought of many points in it, and also at the same time would like to seriously disagree with you that those points you listed are bad. In fact, I would say a lot of those points are great, and it's the genius of American founding and subsequent culture that it has them while other modern nations do not. These points are important, not trivial or unwelcome. But I suspect you and some of the others might disagree, nor is this a thread to talk about America, so I'd just like to state my disagreement, and endorsement of those points, and leave it at that. :)

Of course, to bring it together with the aim of the thread, a lot of the things distinctly American would vanish -- that wonder for the ages-the American Constitution, the distinctly American sense of life, etc. Other cultures may experience resentment against all of these qualities, but there's an unstated sense of optimism about America, that keeps people coming here, or dreaming to do so. Once that's gone, it's like the dream will be gone, the not quite stated, not quite believed to be real, "quasi-mystical' as Joss put it, sense about America as the place that is so good that is to be almost beyond imagination. I don't think most Americans who only live in America really understand this 'quasi-mystical' draw America has upon most nations and people of the world. Once that's gone, it's like a subconscious presence of the only thing to admire in all of life will be gone, although outwardly business in the rest of the world will go on as usual. So I would say that the impact of America's disappearence will be psychological, severely so, more than anything else. I think for understanding this it helps to have the experience of being an immigrant in your past, which I just might have in mine :D

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Better than in Europe, yes - but closer to Europe than to 18th Century America.  The policies and laws don't happen in a vaccuum.  They reflect the prevalent philosophical outlook.

What has kept the American institutions to go the way of the European ones is only in small part the American sense of life, I'm afraid.  Much more important in my opinion is the inertia caused by:

1) their attachment - unreasoned attachment most of the time - to their Constitution,

2) the quasi mystical appeal of the Founders, 

3) the structural inertia of the political system (in particular the role of the Supreme Court),

4) the repulsion (again, unreasoned most of the time) against anything that can accurately be characterized as "Socialist".  In fact the Socialist label in the US is the kiss of death, as is the label Fascist in Europe.  This stems back to the Cold War and in most cases doesn't have a strong philosophical reasoning.

An easy way to test my theory is to discuss with people how they would change the US Constitution if they could (or in what ways they would have liked it to be different).  I predict that you would see either people injecting more Statism and Altruism, or having an un-reasoned, knee jerk reaction against changing anything in the Constitution.  Very, very few will propose consistently rational changes in favor of reason and individual rights.

Those points are actually a result of the American sense of life. American's repulsions and attachments are certainly emotional, but not necessarily irrational (or "unreasoned" as you put it). That's why it's called a sense of life, not an explicit, consciously understood philosophy. A sense of life is EMOTIONAL. Americans are constantly inundated with irrational ideas and government policies by their leaders and intellectuals, and will no doubt bring those up as solutions when asked to provide some.

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Maybe I should start a separate thread - I don't want to derail this interesting discussion.

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But with the U.S. gone, why would China or Russia care? If they wanted something from the Middle-Eastern nations, they would just take it. 

However, clearly you are correct in that Israel could not withstand a global assault, not against what both China and Russia could deliver. But I still think that Israel could decimate its Middle-Eastern enemies.

Israel supposedly has several hundred nuclear devices, I doubt anyone would try to invade them. It is highly likely they would develop ICBM's to deliver these warheads to China and Russia. If they can't do that, they can keep the weapons at sea, drive them across the porous border of China and detonate them in or next to a major Chinese cities. Either way the Israelis are capable of considerable retaliation.

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I have been reading news reports, analyses, etc. about how the United States is hated and despised, and about how Americans, their way of life and culture, are denigrated in many parts of the world. What would happen to the world if these haters got their wish? Let's say that, magically, a God swoops down and wipes the United States off the face of the Earth. The people are gone and the land is restored to how it was a thousand years ago.

What would be the effect of this on the rest of the world? What might happen, and  in what time frame would it occur?

Great issue Stephen. This issue should be an ARI high school essay competition getting kids to understand our value to the world.

I didn't read all of the post as I was excited to post myself so pardon me if I included redundant ideas.

First of all the French would probably applaud. Seriously, I’m glad I wouldn’t be around to see the utter collapse of civilization as I knew it.

Second, if an equivalent population to the United States of any population disappeared off the face of the Earth it would be devastating very quickly in that there would be 300 million less people buying or consuming products and services. Also there would be a shortage of labor and production associated with that population loss, all of these negatively affecting the world’s economy.

But more to your point, this scenario would be similar to “Atlas’” the mind on strike, only 10 fold. Not only would a large part of the world’s men of the mind disappear, but also that sense-of-life of the American people would as well, which is like none other and from which developed the brains that have moved the world forward--a population which consists largely of the independent, can-do, self-sufficient, innovative, profit-motivated, productive type.

In short, it would be a mess simply with the loss of a large population. Long term, without the United States to help the world recover with the above mentioned virtues including the world’s police and only superpower I think it would bring on another Dark Ages.

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Hi, I'm new here! Plese be kind!

It would depend on the situation in Europe. Like Turkey, Israel acts as a major buffer and intelligence source against the Islamisc idiots. If Europe was still solvent and powerful, I would say Britain and some other countries (including Russia) might bail out Israel.

If no bail out, I would give Israel about a two weeks, a month at the most. The Israeli's have the 'Samson' plan, where they fall back to Jerusalem, and them 'bring down the walls' around them by nuking themselves and their attackers. THe sheer numbers of the Muslim invaders would force the Israeli's back to Jerusalem.

They can't hold out forever....they would go until their oil supplies ran out.

When the oil is gone, their air power would be gone. Once their airpower is gone, Israel will fold and they would launch what they had.

At that point, every country not affected by the nuclear fall out would make a rush for oil, probably starting small wars all over the ME as everyone clamors for the leftovers.

As for the rapture-like disappearance of the US, I would envision a major war between Russia and China. Both of them would push through Siberia to get a bridge across to the North American landmass across the straits.

Russia has a LOT of natural resources in Siberia, so I would figure China would probably invade north and hold the Russians out of Siberia. This would give China control over Siberian mineral and oil deposits, and control of the North American continent.

The Russians would stay out unless they nuked China, which wouldn't surprise me if they did.

I could honestly see, in the collapse or disappearance of America...a new stronger Russia, initially bolstered by arms sales (the AMerican competition would be gone) long enough to get the technology to tap their natural reserves in Siberia. If you take those technology transfer and apply them to the ME, and give them a year to catch up (should Russia begin to oppose Israel) then you have a much more formidable force facing Israel capable of matching it militarily.

That if the ME had the money...the loss of America would drastically reduce their purchasing power...perhaps barter for weapons with oil. Arabs like to barter.

The collaspe of the USA would be nothing new to Mexico...they already come here freely every day biggrin.gif

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... if an equivalent population to the United States of any population disappeared off the face of the Earth it would be devastating very quickly in that there would be 300 million less people buying or consuming products and services.

I don't think the number of people involved is anywhere near as important as what those people are capable of doing. Would the disappearance of Bangladesh and Pakistan (which combined have approximately the same population as the United States) be devastating as would the disappearance of the United States? How about the entire continent of Africa, which has maybe three times the U.S. population? In fact, I suspect that 300 million in population gone in many parts of the world would be virtually insignificant as compared to the devastation caused by the loss of the population of the United States.

Long term, without the United States to help the world recover with the above mentioned virtues including the world’s police and only superpower I think it would bring on another Dark Ages.

I essentially agree, but I think the New Dark Ages might occur well before the long-term. With all its current problems I still see the United States as the moral compass of the world, and were the U.S. not here that compass would swing in every direction but good. The best of Europe would be swallowed up in short time, and every gangster and despot would try to take whatever they want. Given a decade or two there would be little left in pickings for the vultures. Whatever is left after the nuclear explosions will run on animal power, with the likes of horses and oxen pulling the shells of automobiles. If the minds on strike can make the lights of New York City go out in short time, the loss of the American spirit would darken the entire world.

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I don't think the number of people involved is anywhere near as important as what those people are capable of doing. Would the disappearance of Bangladesh and Pakistan (which combined have approximately the same population as the United States) be devastating as would the disappearance of the United States?  How about the entire continent of Africa, which has maybe three times the U.S. population? In fact, I suspect that 300 million in population gone in many parts of the world would be virtually insignificant as compared to the devastation caused by the loss of the population of the United States. 

Of course you're right. I was limiting my thoughts to the populations that are actually producing and purchasing what they consume. In fact, I would think that the non-productive populations that are parasitical of the U.S. would, if gone, improve the lot the U.S. and of the world. Does anyone know, off hand, how productive the average U.S. working individual is compared to the rest of the world? Our growth rate recently has been 3 times that of Europe.

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Hi, I'm new here! Plese be kind!

Welcome. We're all pussycats here. :)

If no bail out, I would give Israel about a two weeks, a month at the most. The Israeli's have the 'Samson' plan, where they fall back to Jerusalem, and them 'bring down the walls' around them by nuking themselves and their attackers.

Is this from Seymour Hersh's book? What is meant by "nuking themselves?"

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What, indeed, would happen if the United States disappeared? It seems that some are looking forward to that possibility. I'm too cheap to subscribe to Variety, but, here's what has been reported by Drudge:

"Says Fox exec VP Craig Erwich: "The creative community appears to be really inspired this year," he says. "It was an exciting time to be buying. I came away pretty encouraged about network TV.""

Neal Boortz has an interesting take on the issue:

"The networks have part of this right. The end of America as we know it could well be on the horizon. The networks just wouldn't dare present the end as it very well may happen. The death of America will more likely come from the advancement of the American welfare state."

The kicker comes at the end of Boortz' post!

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...  and every gangster and despot would try to take whatever they want.

I hope not to drop any context with this snip. I know that Stephen's main point was the immediate nature of the next Dark Age which would follow the disappearance of the American sense of life from the earth.

But what would be the motive of the gangsters and despots? Over what would they torch the world? Hint: it's not oil. Far from it.

In the immediate term the biggest crown jewel of the both the world's thugs and the remaining civilzed men would be America's now unguarded nuclear arsenal, ripe for the picking to whoever can crack the fail-safe codes and turn the keys. What strange alliances would form in the battle for Minot AFB? Do the Russians want nuclear parity with Cuba? China with North Korea? France with Zimbabwe?

The Chinese supposedly have a curse: "May you live in interesting times." And this would certainly be interesting writing. In a screenplay, I can see bands of brigands boarding abandoned U.S. Navy vessels only to walk into nuclear booby traps left for them by the Americans. Just, no LED displays counting down to zero! :)

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This is a precise inversion of Stephen's original question, but you might be interested in Eric Flint's novel 1632. It examines the opposite scenario: what would happen if a chunk of the United States appeared in Europe in 1632, dropped into the middle of the 30 Years War? (The brief answer is that the American Revolution starts about a hundred and fifty years earlier and on the other side of the Atlantic.) There are sequels, but they're of lesser quality, replacing the focused storytelling

of the original with a sprawling and naturalistic narrative.

With respect to the original question, one obvious thing I think would happen that nobody has mentioned is a crash project by the better people in other countries to figure out where the United States went and how to get it back! (Even the would-be power-lusters would want to know what made the United States vanish, in the hopes they could do the same thing to their remaining enemies.)

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That reminds me of a good series of science fiction novels by William Forstchen - various titles containing "The Lost Regiment." He's both a novelist and history professor, with a specialization in the U.S. Civil War. The basic theme is a world populated by humans from many different eras in history, that have been transported there by some kind of wormhole that periodically appears on the earth (that's the main stretch of the whole thing.) On this world, also, are very tall (10+ feet), intelligent, nomadic creatures who feed on human beings in an ongoing cycle as they travel around the world on what counts for horses. The series begins when a Union civil war regiment is sucked into a wormhole, with their ship and weapons, and transported onto this world. It so happens that they have the most advanced weapons, but they also have an American sense of life, especially of individual rights and freedom, and proceed to fight and then organize the various pockets of humanity into an organized battle against the monsters, that spans many books.

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My apologies to Joss and any other America loving French who took offense at my comment about their reaction to the U.S. disapearing.

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I hope not to drop any context with this snip. I know that Stephen's main point was the immediate nature of the next Dark Age which would follow the disappearance of the American sense of life from the earth.

But what would be the motive of the gangsters and despots? Over what would they torch the world? Hint: it's not oil. Far from it.

In the immediate term the biggest crown jewel of the both the world's thugs and the remaining civilzed men would be America's now unguarded nuclear arsenal, ripe for the picking to whoever can crack the fail-safe codes and turn the keys. What strange alliances would form in the battle for Minot AFB? Do the Russians want nuclear parity with Cuba? China with North Korea? France with Zimbabwe?

The Chinese supposedly have a curse: "May you live in interesting times." And this would certainly be interesting writing. In a screenplay, I can see bands of brigands boarding abandoned U.S. Navy vessels only to walk into nuclear booby traps left for them by the Americans. Just, no LED displays counting down to zero!  :)

Actually, the situation was that the US territory returns to what it was 1000 years ago; i.e., it's not just Americans that disappeared, but everything in the United States , including the buildings, the roads, the bridges, the damns, etc. (except the land, of course).

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My apologies to Joss and any other America loving French who took offense at my comment about their reaction to the U.S. disapearing.

No problem. I over-reacted myself, so my apologies to you.

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Actually, the situation was that the US territory returns to what it was 1000 years ago; i.e., it's not just Americans that disappeared, but everything in the United States , including the buildings, the roads, the bridges, the damns, etc. (except the land, of course).

Oops! It looks like Tom Clancy keeps his job security. :)

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I have been reading news reports, analyses, etc. about how the United States is hated and despised, and about how Americans, their way of life and culture, are denigrated in many parts of the world. What would happen to the world if these haters got their wish? Let's say that, magically, a God swoops down and wipes the United States off the face of the Earth. The people are gone and the land is restored to how it was a thousand years ago.

What would be the effect of this on the rest of the world? What might happen, and  in what time frame would it occur?

Read Atlas Shrugged!! :)

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This is a precise inversion of Stephen's original question, but you might be interested in Eric Flint's novel 1632.  [...]

I've read this, and it was an excellent book.

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