|The American Nations as They Exist Today|
These are Nations Based on Culture
In the early second century, I'm sure it would have been hard for anyone in the Mediterranean coast lands to imagine the fall of the Roman Empire. Rome had reached the zenith of it's power and influence. It's territory stretched from as far north as Britain, to as far south as Egypt, from the coasts of Spain, to the Persian Gulf. Not only did it have no equal in military strength (it was an ancient superpower), but nothing compared to it culturally either. Rome was, at that time, the unparalleled "standard" of civilisation.
But in just two centuries, all of that would come to an end. The empire was divided in half, voluntarily, between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Byzantine Empire. The Empire in the West officially fell in AD 480. In the East, it lasted until AD 1453. The Western Empire enjoyed a brief resurgence under Christendom as the "Holy Roman Empire," which lasted from AD 800 to AD 1806, but none of that compared to the glory that once was Rome.
During the 2016 election cycle, I came to a startling conclusion. Looking back on the last sixty years of American history in the 21st century, I saw striking parallels with the early days of the Roman Empire. While I'm certainly not the first to see such parallels, I think I'm one of the few to pinpoint exactly where we are in that parallel history.
I see American history as progressing along much faster than Roman history. We're going through similar experiences, but at a much faster pace. For example; the American Civil War could be comparable to Roman-Gallic Wars that created the early territories of the empire. Since the end of the Second World War, however, America has been gradually heading toward an imperial state. It's run mainly by an oligarchy of banks, money cartels, oil companies and large corporations. Yet, like all empires, power is slowly consolidating into one man -- the President of the United States.
For decades the oligarchy (comparable to the ancient Roman Senate) has held a restraining leash on the president, preventing him from gaining too much power, and simultaneously controlling many of the decisions he makes. The democratic process is very easy to understand once you know who funds it. You see, presidential campaigns are very expensive to run, but not to worry, there are a handful of big-money donors who will be more than happy to foot the bill. It's just business you see, because all they expect to get out of it is a good return on their investment. Thus, the presidential winner is already bought and paid for before he ever puts his hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office. However, in this last election, with the emergence of Donald Trump, I recognised a paradigm shift should he win. Donald Trump is comparable to Julius Caesar in the American-Roman comparison. He is attempting to "Make America Great Again" by wrestling the office of the presidency away from the banking-corporate oligarchy. It does not matter if he succeeds or not. Nor does it matter if he survives his presidency. Because you see, he has set a new paradigm. Future presidents, in order to gain the support of the people, will have to prove that they're willing to stand up to the oligarchy. That means the president will need more power, and he will get it. If Congress doesn't give it to him, the people will demand it. Trump has just become the first, in an upcoming dynasty, of American Caesars.
Right now, in the first year of the Trump administration, Americans on the Right are going through their honeymoon period. Granted, it's a honeymoon the Leftist mainstream media and liberal judges would like to cut as short as possible, but it is a honeymoon nonetheless. The mantra of "Make America Great Again" is just a Right-wing version of the Left's "Hope and Change." Ultimately, both mean nothing, other than to serve as rallying cries around the change of power from one hand to the next. In the end, "Make America Great Again" will prove just as empty as "Hope and Change" did. The only real change we're seeing now is the rise of billionaire presidential candidates, who parallel the military Caesars of ancient Rome. The ancient Caesars conquered their enemies on the battlefield. The modern Caesars (Billionaire Presidents) will have vanquished their enemies in the business world. Americans, like Romans, will love them for it, and elevate them to the highest office of the land. Who's to say we won't someday see a President Jeff Bezos, or a President Bill Gates, or a even a President Mark Zuckerberg! It's all within the realm of possibilities now. These are the American Caesars. For these are the undisputed power brokers in American politics today. There will be a long line of them, and they will show the world the glory of the American Empire before it eventually and inevitably must fall.
So the good news is this. As bad as everything seems, I think the United States of America is going to stick around for a while, at least another several decades. I also think it's possible to take the Republic back, if the states will step up to the plate and rob Washington DC of federal powers through a Convention of States. So don't think for a second that we are prisoners of fate. We are not. We Americans can change our future, if we're up for it, and only time will tell if we are.
Regardless however, I think all good things come to an end eventually, and America is no different. I believe one of the reasons why so many Americans, particularly religious Americans, are convinced we are living in (or near) the end of the world is because, like the people of previous civilisations, we cannot imagine a world beyond what currently exists. A good number of American Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, equate the fall of America with the end of the world, and in that sense they are no different than the ancient Jews concerning the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. They could not imagine a world without the Temple, and so they assumed the destruction of the Temple would signal the end of the world.
Yet history tells us another story. History tells us that life goes on. Empires rise and empires fall. In God's eyes, it's all just a puff of smoke or a leaf in the wind. As far as the real end of the world, Jesus told us that will come in God's timing not ours. We cannot gauge the the end of time by the political affairs of this empire or that. Yes, we are given signs to look for, but none of those signs are dependent on the success or failure of any man-made empire.
The United States is, and has been for a long time, a political empire. The American Civil War established that beyond the shadow of a doubt. Any political union that one may easily enter, but not so easily leave, is by definition an empire. The case of the recent Brexit from the European Union proves that the EU is not yet an empire, because Britain could unilaterally leave. However, the American Civil War proved that this is not possible for any American state. No state could ever leave the American Union (USA) without gaining permission from at least 27 other states in a Constitutional Amendment, and even then it's sketchy as to whether or not Washington DC would still allow it. After all, Washington DC controls the army, so who's to say that the president won't nullify a state secession even if it's granted permission by 27 states? Yes, there is no question that America is an empire, but it has been one only with a puppet emperor (president) for a century and a half. Trump (America's Julius Caesar) will soon change that, and we'll finally get an emperor with some teeth. If not him, then the one who follows him for sure, just like Augustus was the undisputed "emperor-god" of Rome, following the adored (and hated) Julius who wanted the same adoration for himself. If Trump gets what he wants, then he will establish unquestionable American imperialism. If he doesn't, then the one who follows him will. Like I said, only a Convention of States can stop this domino effect now. Only that can return us to something a little closer to the Republic envisioned by America's Founding Fathers.
All empires, and republics, come to an end eventually. What follows them is what I find to be most interesting. The word "nation" is a bit misunderstood in American vernacular. We tend to think of "nations" as political entities. But in fact, the word "nation" is defined as: "a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory." This means that multiple nations can inhabit one country or political union. Political statehood or empire is not the same as a nation. Nations are common peoples. States or empires are political jurisdictions. They are not always one in the same. Case in point, the Roman Empire was made up of numerous nations. Each nation consisted of people who spoke different languages, practised different religions, and identified with different cultures. The same is true with the American Empire (USA). Don't believe me? Go ask the members of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma what they think. They'll tell you their people constitute a separate and distinct nation within the political jurisdiction of the United States, regardless if their members live on the reservation or not.
Common sense will tell you this as well. A native of New England is entirely different than a native of Arkansas. Granted, we all speak the same language (English) but New Englanders and Arkansans are radically different when it comes to culture and worldview. The question however is this: is this cultural difference really defined by state lines? In other words, is an Northern Arkansan really all that different from a Southern Missourian? Is a New Englander really all that different from a Michiganite? On the West Coast, is an Oregonian really all that different from a Washingtonian? Etc. I think the answer should be fairly obvious. National boundaries are all together different from state jurisdictions. In other words, when it comes to culture, state borders really mean nothing. What really matters is who your parents are and how you were raised. That determines your language, religion, culture and worldview -- your real nationality!
The above map shows twelve distinct North American nations, based entirely on the actual definition of a nation. These consist of groupings of large numbers of people based on language, religion, culture and worldview. When we talk about the United States, Canada and Latin America, this is who we really are. We speak three major languages: English, Spanish and French. That is our linguistic heritage. However, when it comes to religion, culture and worldview, it breaks down into even greater details, and more distinct characteristics. For example, while the Francophone people are pretty much contained to one province of Canada (with a small colony in Southern Louisiana), the Anglophone people and the Hispanophone people are divided into more than one subset "nations" based upon culture and worldview. The Hispanophone people are divided into two "nations" in North America: El Norte (meaning "The North") and the more southern Spanish Caribbean peoples. Meanwhile, the Anglophone people are probably the most divided, consisting of no less than seven distinct "nations."
Right now these "nations" really don't mean a whole lot outside of academic interest and regional pride. It's fascinating to study, and it does help us understand election patterns in the United States, but under our current political reality, they don't mean all that much. In the United States, we all consider ourselves "Americans" and so long as the empire remains, that is exactly what we shall be. Yet when the American Empire (USA) falls, and someday it will because history demands it, what will North America become? I think the above map gives us a good idea of what a Europeanised North America might eventually look like. Just as the Roman Empire fell, and fractured into multiple nation-states based entirely on the nationalities of its parts, so too the American Empire (USA) will one day do the same. Will there someday be a Nation of Appalachia, a Nation of Dixie (Deep South), a Nation of Cascadia (Left Coast), a Nation of New England (Yankeedom), a Nation of Midland, and a Nation of El Norte? I couldn't say. Knowing that requires a crystal ball, and I don't presently own one. But some of these peoples already identify themselves in distinct ways. For example; a number of people in my area of the Ozarks have identified themselves as Ozarkians for a long time, and in doing so, they don't just mean the area they live in, but rather an actual identity of some kind. Still yet, a growing number of Ozarkians are starting to identify themselves more with their ancestral and cultural kinsmen from Appalachia, and there is a growing Appalachian identity movement. It even has its own flag, believe it or not...
Produced by the Appalachian Flag Company
Personally, I wouldn't mind flying one of these beauties from my back deck as I culturally identify with Appalachia thanks to the strong influence of my mother who was raised there.
Likewise, there are many people on the West Coast identifying themselves as Cascadians, and they too have their own flag identifying the region that spans multiple states, as well as the British Columbia province of Canada. The same could be said of other regions of the United States and Canada as well.
I don't know exactly what the future holds for North America, because I can't know. I do know this however, when the United States falls (and someday it will -- guaranteed), life will go on. People will reorganise and start over, with new nations, new flags, and new governments to replace the old. This is the way of history. It's the way it's always been, and it's the way it always will be, until the end of time. I write this essay primarily for my fellow Americans, many of whom seem to be stuck in an apocalyptic mentality. The United States of America is a great union, a magnificent empire, and a grand experiment. But all good things eventually come to an end. That's just the way the world works. It may not come to an end in our lifetime, but someday it will. It helps to start thinking outside of the traditional "American identity" box, and figure out where you stand culturally. What is your real cultural nationality? Who are you really? Yes, we know you're part of the American Empire (USA) and therefore an American. I am. So is my whole family. But we are more than that. My family is Appalachian by cultural nationality. What's yours?
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.
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