Is an asteroid impact America’s only hope?

by Alfred Burdett

Fred Reed believes that short of the total destruction of Washington, DC, America is doomed. In a piece entitled “Why we need an asteroid strike” he writes … societies are like people in that they get old, clot, lose flexibility, and then croak. They can’t get better. Like most things, they just get worse. A rule of thermodynamics says that rivers don’t flow backwards, plaque does not voluntarily leave arteries, and governments do not become more reasonable, efficient, or interested in the well-being of their populations.

Carroll Quigley, Bill Clinton’s history mentor, said pretty much the same thing about the inevitable decay of complex societies in his book The Evolution of Civilizations. But Reed’s account is shorter.

Where these authors differ is in the end game. Reed thinks that The best hope is that a patriot will learn how to impel some unused interplanetary object, Phobos or Deimos or Ganymede maybe, into Washington at ninety percent of the speed of light.

Quigley acknowledged the certain eventual death of every civilization, but by conquest, not an extraterrestrial impactor. However, he was optimistic enough to believe that a declining civilization can sometimes be revitalized through either the invention of a new method of wealth creation, which leads to a new phase of productive social development, or the formation of new institutions to fulfill the functions of those that have become corrupt beyond the possibility of reform.

Today, in America, can be seen many efforts to bypass corrupt institutions by creating new institutions that serve the same purposes as the old: for example, home schooling, state immigration laws to deal with the Federal government’s failure to implement national immigration laws, and the creation of local money systems and systems for payment with precious metals, while the Fed turns the dollar to worthless paper.

Overall, though, Reed’s pessimism about the US being long able to evade the doleful consequences of the second law of thermodynamics is hard to dispel.