“The king is dead! Long live the king!” These words have been used in both history and literature as a powerful means of reassurance. The populace is reassured that even in the face of crisis represented by the death of a king, there is an orderly transition of power: one king follows another, without interruption. (Whether the populace should find such an announcement reassuring is another question.) In neither history nor literature can I find this declaration: “The empire is dead! Long live the empire!” Why this lack, this lacuna, even though empires rise and fall and are succeeded by other empires in their turn? This question is on my mind as I watch in real time what I believe is the accelerating decline and impending demise of the American empire.

Read this essay at New Oxford Review.