As any long-time reader of this column knows, we routinely draw from historical lessons to highlight that this time is not different.
Throughout the 18th century, for example, France was the greatest superpower in Europe, if not the world.
But they became complacent, believing that they had some sort of ‘divine right’ to reign supreme, and that they could be as fiscally irresponsible as they liked.
The French government spent money like drunken sailors; they had substantial welfare programs, free hospitals, and grand monuments.
They held vast territories overseas, engaged in constant warfare, and even had their own intrusive intelligence service that spied on King and subject alike.
Of course, they couldn’t pay for any of this.
French budget deficits were out of control, and they resorted to going heavily into debt and rapidly debasing their currency.
Stop me when this sounds familiar.
The French economy ultimately failed, bringing with it a 26-year period of hyperinflation, civil war, military conquest, and genocide.
History is full of examples, from ancient Mesopotamia to the Soviet Union, which show that whenever societies reach unsustainable levels of resource consumption and allocation, they collapse.
I’ve been writing about this for years, and the idea is now hitting mainstream.
A recent research paper funded by NASA highlights this same premise. According to the authors:
“Collapses of even advanced civilizations have occurred many times in the past five thousand years, and they were frequently followed by centuries of population and cultural decline and economic regression.”