In 1980, a Norwegian sociologist published a book that predicted the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would crater to internal contradictions and tension in a matter of 10 years. As is now commonly known history, the USSR did collapse, in 1989, and Johan Galtung was propelled into academic stardom.
Galtung, now faculty at the University of Hawaii, also made waves in 2009 when he published a book predicting a similar fate for the United States by 2025. His 15 potentially catastrophic points of contraction now eerily align with social and cultural conflicts surrounding Donald Trump’s election to the presidency. The professor told Motherboard earlier this week that Trump fits the bill of what his book refers to as the “strong leader”, and predicted a major decline in US power over the next ten years, possibly including a Soviet-style collapse.
“The collapse has two faces,” Galtung told the website. “Other countries refuse to be ‘good allies: and the USA has to do the killing themselves, by bombing from high altitudes, drones steered by computer from an office, Special Forces killing all over the place. Both are happening today, except for Northern Europe, which supports these wars, for now. That will probably not continue beyond 2020, so I stand by that deadline.”
Here are a few examples of how Galtung’s 2009 contradictions, as outlined in Motherboard, are playing out since the election. This isn’t intended to be an exercise in sociology, but rather a current, fresh look at some of the many contradictions as they have emerged over the last few months.
Trump promises to save middle-class jobs from outsourcing, then uses his vice president to arrange tax incentives for a company (Carrier) that will lay off 800 people anyway.
Trump demands that NATO pay the U.S. for its participation in the military alliance, but threatens to escalate conflict and military deployment in the Middle East.
Trump lambastes established political leaders, including Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, during his campaign, then turns to them for help filling his cabinet.
Trump promises to build a wall and deport millions of illegal immigrants, then tells Time magazine, in an interview about young immigrants currently somewhat protected under President Obama’s executive action, that he is going to “to work something out that’s going to make (them) happy and proud.”
Trump campaigns and is elected on the back of largely middle-class Americans without college degrees, then appoints as labor secretary a fast food executive who has actively opposed improvements to minimum wage and labor laws that hover below 1968 levels.
(For the more sociologically accurate explanation of these points, read Galtung’s interview.)
The silver lining in this unmitigated disaster? Once the U.S. Empire falls, Galtung says, perhaps the U.S. Republic will stand a chance at achieving its promises.