America’s decline follows a familiar arc: ‘gradually, then suddenly’

You’ve likely never heard of Scottish mathematician John Napier, but his invention of logarithms in 1614 revolutionized the scientific world by making complicated calculations a thing of the past. 

In a recent essay, Simon Black, the founder of financial/political website Sovereign Man, discussed Napier’s concept of logarithmic decay, which he noted “models many real world phenomena.” According to Black: 

[S]omething [a society or even one’s bank account] declines very, very slowly at first. But, over a long period of time, the rate of decline becomes faster… and faster… and faster.

If you look at it on a graph, logarithmic decay basically looks like a horizontal line that almost imperceptibly arcs gently downwards. But eventually the arc downward becomes steeper and steeper until it’s practically a vertical line down.

Black explained how “the rise and fall of superpowers are often logarithmic in scale” and pointed to the “gradual, then sudden” fall of the French monarchy in the late 1700s as an example. He warned that we’re seeing the same signs of “logarithmic decay in the West today, and specifically [in] the United States.”

It didn’t happen overnight. The slow, gradual decline began decades ago. But there’s no question it has accelerated over the last decade and, most notably, since President Joe Biden took office.

Remarkably, many Americans don’t perceive the Democrats’ censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story and other damaging news as evidence of America’s move away from democracy. But considering its sole purpose was to influence the 2020 presidential election, how can it be otherwise?

Likewise, as Democrats ramp up their efforts to influence the 2024 election, they are indicting the party’s most formidable opponent for minor infractions and covering up evidence that the current president allegedly traded his political influence for cash. How can this possibly be considered the representative system our Constitution’s framers had in mind?

Or consider Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, which quickly devolved into a clown show. The greatest sound bites from the spectacle came from the repellent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who repeatedly cut off each of Kennedy’s attempts to explain himself. That was after her failed motion to take the hearing to an executive session. 

After accusing Kennedy of “float[ing] a baseless conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was bioengineered to target caucasians and black people, but spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people,” she barked, “You do see that, yes or no.”

Kennedy replied, “You’re misstating -”

Following a frustrating exchange during which he tried to explain he was citing a National Institutes of Health-funded study, Wasserman Schultz snapped, “The time is mine. Ask the witness to stop talking. … Reclaiming my time. … I’d like about 10 seconds back.”

Media coverage of the astonishing display took over the news cycle for days. The legacy media, naturally, portrayed Kennedy as crazy. Conservatives, on the other hand, saw Democrats’ questions as an attempt to “censor the censorship hearing.”

And they have a point. When a government censors information it disagrees with, works with its agencies to cover up the illegal acts of favored citizens, and tries to jail its political opponents, it loses the right to call itself a democratic republic.

In a January 2022 speech, Kennedy spoke about “turnkey totalitarianism.” The relinquishment of citizens’ rights in the name of the pandemic, he said, had put us on a slippery slope. He warned that once we surrendered those rights, we would never get them back.

What makes it easier today than ever before for governments to control people, he argued, is technology. 

They are putting in place all these mechanisms of control. … It’s been the ambition of every totalitarian state from the beginning of mankind to control every aspect of behavior, of conduct, of thought, to obliterate dissent. None of them have been able to do it. They didn’t have the technological capacity. … Today the mechanisms are being put into place that will make it so none of us can run and none of us can hide.

We’ve heard this term before. Shortly after the Edward Snowden story broke in 2013, Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and the CIA, described a scenario under which the government could justify collecting tons of data on Americans. Prefacing his remarks by emphasizing that this was “no one’s proposal,” Hayden said:

But you got this metadata here. It’s now queried under very, very narrow circumstances. If the nation suffers an attack, there are other things you could do with that metadata. There are other tools. So in that kind of an emergency, perhaps, you would go to the court and say, ‘In addition to these very limited queries we’re now allowed to do, we actually want to launch some complex algorithms against it.’

So the government is essentially collecting all this data for the proverbial rainy day? 

The camel’s nose is now “under the tent,” and soon its whole body will follow. We’ve reached the “sudden” point on the arc of logarithmic decay. The question now is whether America can claw her way out of the abyss.


A previous version of this article appeared in The Washington Examiner.

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