Monday, October 03, 2005

Days of Future Past

As little as a year ago, I might have considered this futuristic fantasy by Chelicera a total piece of paranoid bunk. Now, I think it's time to pay very close attention to these sorts of concerns.
The decline of the United States was due to several factors which are obvious from the perspective of the 22nd century. However, even at the time, the weaknesses were well known; political and financial leaders chose to ignore the warning signs.

Just because you're paranoid…


  1. I've been saying for some time that greater empires than ours have fallen. You only need to hang out on a college campus for a few hours to see why and how.

  2. Ariadne,

    Can you expand on the college campus thing when you get a chance?


  3. When Karen asked me about this before writing it, I told her I really hadn't given much thought to writing futuristic dystopias.

    Funny thing is, she only ventures into the extrapolative stuff near the very end. Most of what she writes about has already happened.

    As for me, I would have put in a collaboration between government black ops and mind-controlling aliens who parasitize us with extraterrestrial earwigs.

  4. I think I've mentioned that in my version, the secret wielder of all power is a giant reptile who lives in a bunker miles beneath the White House named "Palmer Gross."

  5. Anonymous1:22 PM

    Ariadne, I'd be interested in hearing more about what's happening on college campuses, too. I had a young reader who swung by my political blog last spring, she tried to explain why she, a former "liberal," now believed in neoconservatism. Problem was, she couldn't really articulate her thoughts so she sent me over to "Cinnamon Stillwell," a young lady who writes for SanFrancisco Gate. It would appear Cinnamon has quite the following among the younger set. I think we dismiss the appeal of this "neoconservatism" at our own peril.


  6. Kerstin and Jeff,

    I teach English courses at a large state university (working on my phd). My connection to the fall of the empire is on the decline of American education. For the most part, the international students I've met and worked with are more motivated than American students, more knowledgable about basic American history (not to mention other cultures), and, yes, even better formal writers of English.

    I believe that our weaker student output will only increase the number of jobs that are outsourced and (big brush stroke here) will add to other factors that will weaken our economic dominance. The US is already way behind in education, compared to most developed countries.

    Also, I've noticed that writing and reading skills have decreased in the 7 years I've been teaching here (other colleagues have as well). My education majors, most of whom are barely competent writers themselves (busted one of them for plagiarism), tell me that they will have to "teach the test" when they graduate, and that leaves every child behind because they're not learning how to think critically. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might just believe that one of the goals of No Child Left Behind is to dumb down the population at large so they will be more easily controlled.

    There is definitely an ambient sense of fear ever since Ward Churchill was made a neoconservative scapegoat and David Horowitz started his campaign to legislate when and how professors can use politics in their classes. I don't doubt that there are professors on the left and right out there who do grade down on political beliefs, but there is a sense that we have to watch what we say.

    At least half of the students in each class show little ability to question their sources of news or anything else, little willingness to learn basic rhetorical skills, along with an increasing ignorance of other cultures. For instance, only two of my current class have passports.

    I could go on about this forever, but I don't want to monopolize Jeff's comment section. But here's a closing thought: each semester I teach something--book, movie, etc.--to do with the Vietnam War. Maybe one student in each class knows something--anything--about the war. So one of my real worries is that we're raising a generation who will be doomed to repeat the mistakes.

    Anyway, I'd be interested in talking about this more if you all are. Thanks for asking.

  7. I usually brag about my home-schooled 9-year-old son (who's going on 30). He's fairly advanced scholastically so we allowed him to choose homeschooling over a conventional public school. As a result, we've taught him to question authority and think critically about the answers he's given.

    At this point, 1:49 pm on a Monday afternoon, he's close to driving me over the brink of madness. Everything is questioned and a thorough and a logical answer is required to EVERYTHING.

    Really teaching a child is a difficult and time-consuming process. Most people are unable to give their children a rigorous education either at home or in public schools. As a result, I think we are replacing true education with a watered down curriculum which produces barely functional individuals.

    I usually love to do my superiority dance but today's a bit exhausting for me.

    P.S. Thanks for the shout out, Jeff.

  8. Anonymous10:06 PM

    I clicked on the link, and it returned me right back to this blog. Is it possible some gremlin changed the link? It seems others were able to get the correct redirection.


  9. Lurch,

    I fixed the link.


    Thanks for the excellent analysis. You're welcome to dominate here anytime you like. ;-)


  10. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Oh, durn burn, Jeff. Thanks so much. TL: thanks for a really interesting article. I'm still cheewing it over.

    Ariadne: what Jeff said. You make it seem so transparent.