Well, normally I’m against big things. I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things. Too many things can go wrong when they get big. — Pete Seeger (on how he felt about attending his big 90th birthday bash last year)
All empires fall, eventually. But why? It’s not for lack of power. In fact, it seems to be the opposite. Their power lulls them into comfort. They become undisciplined. Those who had to earn power are replaced by those who have known nothing else. Who have no comprehension of the need to rise above base desires.
Assyria soon discovered a painful truth: empires are like Ponzi schemes: financial frauds in which previous investors are paid returns out of new investors' deposits. The costs of holding imperial territory can only be underwritten by loot and tribute extracted by constant new conquests; empires must continue to expand if they are not to collapse.
erhaps it was the difference in age between the countries—America with its expansive youth, building all those drive-in movie theaters and cowboy restaurants; Italians living in endless contraction, in the artifacts of generations, in the bones of empires.