Everything is in flow and you cannot step into the same river twice, as the old Greek saying goes. What now is, once was not and, one day, will be not again. Whether it is riches or fame, happiness or pain, good life or bad life, all of these and everything else is governed by the law of change. And so are the Empires. – Or are they?
Allegedly, there is a Chinese curse which translates into English something like “May you live in interesting times.” Although it seems to be but a good wish or a blessing, in fact, by interesting times are meant those periods in history, when many important events and changes are taking place, usually accompanied by social and economic disorders, pandemic diseases or riots and even outright wars. Life is, for sure, much more happier and enjoyable in the times of peace and social cohesion, which however, can by no means be termed as “interesting”.
But what do you call the times, when all major banks in the western world are on the verge of collapse? When riots in the streets and outbreaks of (civil) wars are our daily news. When the whole world is being dragged down by the pandemic of Covid19? When people are being stripped of their economic and other freedoms practically overnight, with no hope of any considerable improvement in the foreseeable future? Yes, these most certainly are interesting times; and curse or not, we all may live to see some huge changes taking place in a not so distant future.
We, here in Europe, tend to have short memory. And naturally so, for, in the grand scheme of things, European civilization is fairly young. It certainly is considered young when compared to that of the faraway China (or the East Asia, as such).
We have had dozens of empires and hundreds, if not thousands, of kingdoms, all of which followed the same script as any other empire in the world – they came into existence, they reached their peak, and then they decayed and disappeared in the abyss of history. And if there is one thing that all the empires in the modern human history have had in common, it is this – once they fell, they fell for good, and never did they rise up to power again.
It is but a few centuries ago that China was a strong and rich empire, with vast riches and sophistication which we in Europe could have only dreamed of. Porcelain, gunpowder, silk, paper are but few inventions discovered in those parts of the world. The time has shown that of those mentioned, the invention of paper is the deadliest of all.
In connection with the invention of paper, China is the birthplace of yet another creation – paper money. Kublai Khan (the grandson of Genghis Khan) decreed the paper money to be used as the means of commerce under the penalty of death. He supplied the paper money to his realm in exchange for gold, silver and precious stones and thus became fabulously rich in no time. Over the years, people had grown used to the use of this paper money, but as the administration expanded and more money was needed to upkeep it, the more money was printed as a result. And the printing never stopped, not until the time, when the wider population realized that the paper money they were using had been continuously losing their purchasing power. Panic ensued and popular masses were discharging of their worthless paper money buying up anything that could be bought, which in turn caused the general rise in prices and what we now call “hyperinflation”, thus utter and complete destruction of the paper money’s value.
Practically overnight, whole dynasties went bankrupt and were wiped out. Ancient families lost their power, social standing and disappeared in the years of famine and wars that followed. The paper money, was the beginning of the end of Chinese empire of that time. And make no mistake, the Chinese remember their lesson very well.
When in 1971, the USA decided to take their dollar off the gold standard, it did not go unnoticed in the far East. China knew very well that the USA and the western world as such have taken up the road to ruin. They knew that this road does not go on forever, and they very well understood what at the end of it awaits those who are foolish enough to walk it.
And so they laid their plans. In the 80’s, China opened up to the world as the source of cheap labour force, which immediately lured the American and European corporations to their shores. In over few decades, at the huge cost of their own peoples’ welfare, who toiled in factories like slaves only to survive the day, China managed to suck in an enormous margin of the world industry, thus becoming the sweatshop of the word with the end result of everything being “made in China” nowadays.
They also knew, as explained above, that the international commerce conducted in fiat paper dollars (backed by nothing) would not carry on for ever. So they bent their backs and manufactured anything we asked for in millions, raking in huge profits, in reward. For the past forty years, they have been turning these into gold, gold mines and other minerals mines, closing contracts in Africa and South America for various resources needed in production. They have been in constant preparation, and now, unlike us, they stand prepared.
In 2008 Great Financial Crisis, the China stepped in to “save” the world or rather “buy” more time, but she will not do the same thing this time. Nobody will. We are at the end of that paper road, and the whole world knows it.
The world is drowning in debt which goes into trillions (or hundreds of trillions if counting in various financial instruments). And the old truth comes to our mind: debt which cannot be paid, will not be paid. The day is coming, when the debt will not be paid, and we all shall see that what have called “money” is nothing but an illusion and air. Poverty, misery and famine will follow. Riots and wars will erupt. Destruction in every sense of that word will be widespread and unheard of in modern history.
In the end, however, when the dust has settled down and the whole world is on their knees, the long lost Chinese Empire will make its return to the stage. The sleeping dragon, thought to have been dead, will raise its head again; and shining its face, be it kind or terrible, upon the world, it will have achieved the unachievable: unlike any other empire in the human history, China will rise up from its imaginary grave and become for the second time what it once was – the Empire of the world.
… interesting times, indeed…