A sociologist who correctly predicted the fall of the Soviet Union has made another bold claim: The United States as a global superpower will fall into fascism, and eventually collapse under the leadership of Donald Trump.
Johan Galtung, a Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii, is known for correctly predicting several historical events. These include the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Tiananmen Square revolt, and the September 11th attacks in New York City. In 2000, Galtung said that the US would fall as a global superpower by 2025. Due to the militaristic nature of the regime under the Bush administration, he pulled his shocking prediction forward to 2020. Now he claims that his estimates are beginning to come to fruition, with the US electing a wealthy populist as President.
According to Motherboard, Galtung said that “Trump would continue this trend of decline, and may even make it happen quicker,” but cautiously added that he'd “wait to see what his policies are before voicing a clear verdict.”
The model that Galtung developed to make these predictions relies on structural contradictions in the nation’s practices and policies, that eventually lead to a collapse. He based it on the rise and fall of 10 great empires throughout history. In 1980, Galtung used his model to detect five social contradictions within the Soviet Union and said that unless the power underwent a complete transformation, the USSR would fall. In this case, the contradictions identified were as follows: peasants demanded more freedom to migrate and settle; scholars wanted more freedom of choice and expression; minorities wanted more autonomy; working class citizens faced constant oppression and were unable to form labor unions; and rich Russians ran out of things to purchase (due to a lack of domestic manufacturing and availability), leading to stagnation of the economy.
The greater the identified contradictions deepen within a society, the better chance there is for an uprising that could lead to disaster for the ruling power. In a nutshell, this is how the model works. In 1996, Galtung began to focus his efforts on the United States, releasing a scientific paper published by George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution. In his paper, he stated that “the USA will soon go the same way as [previous] imperial constructions… decline and fall.”
In the scientist’s 2009 book The Fall of the American Empire – and then What?, Galtung predicts a rise in fascism in the United States prior to its collapse. With the election of Donald Trump, who campaigned heavily on anti-immigration laws and keeping “America First,” the US may be on its way to hitting this final benchmark before falling as a global superpower. The book outlines 15 “synchronizing and mutually reinforcing contradictions” currently taking place in the nation, which Galtung says will lead to the demise of US global power by 2020. He warned that a rise in fascism would be the final straw that breaks America’s back.
Galtung states that fascism in the US would rise from the vision of American exceptionalism; the capacity for violence on a global scale; a belief that there is a final battle to be fought between “good and evil”; and a strong leader in power with a cult of personality. The book outlines how the inability for the US to resolve its structural and social contradictions will lead to a rift in American political power, both domestically and globally.
The book also highlights overproduction relative to demand, rising unemployment, and the negative effects of climate change as playing roles in weakening the US economy.
In terms of international policy, Galtung also predicted that tension between the United States and NATO would contribute to the loss of power, along with the increasing costs of American military and leading the world into global conflicts. He said that “The collapse has two faces,” adding that the US is forced to do the grunt-work in war efforts, while other allies simply watch the carnage occur with mild approval:
“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.”
Multiculturalism in the US and the deteriorating relationship between Christian and Islamic ideologies have created cultural contradictions domestically, which could harm the cohesion of the nation. Galtung said that this could potentially change the shape of borders in the US, with minority groups seeking their own freedom from oppression. “As a trans-border structure the collapse I am thinking of is global, not domestic. But it may have domestic repercussion, like white supremacists or even minorities like Hawaiians, Inuits, indigenous Americans and black Americans doing the same, maybe arguing for the United States as community, confederation rather than a ‘union.'”
Galtung claims that if Trump is able to apologize for all of the hurtful things he’s said about minorities, then perhaps he will be able to win approval from the American public:
“If he manages to apologize deeply to all the groups he has insulted and turn foreign policy from U.S. interventions…and not use wars (killing more than 20 million in 37 countries after 1945): A major revitalization! Certainly making ‘America Great Again.’ We’ll see.”
At the very least, Trump must unify the nation under one banner to keep things calm domestically. A leader cannot parade on the world stage with intentions to shake up international policies, while tensions rise between people of different cultures and ideologies on the homeland. America needs to believe in their leader as a majority, not the 50/50 split that’s currently plaguing the country. Many in the electorate that voted for Trump did so out of spite to the establishment alone or were at best single-issue voters- they didn’t vote for him based on a love for his rhetoric and outlandish claims. If the President-elect can’t get Americans marching to the beat of the same drummer, we could experience a breakdown in society – a tree that’s rotting from the inside is certain to die.