Empires are like humans who become great political leaders: they are born, grow and develop like everyone else, but a good part of them, of empires, when they reach their fullness, full of pride, begin to believe themselves eternal , capable of imposing their will on others, until old age, like humans, comes the time of decadence, with its crises, its stagnation and its need to moderate. And beyond their specific differences in power and size, what most distinguishes some empires from others is the way they assume that inevitable decline and collapse that ultimately leads to death. Because some assume it with dignity by giving space, others simply disappear because a younger and rising empire submits or replaces them, while most of them stubbornly shut themselves up in continuing to believe that they have the power of before, without seeing that they are going away. hand in hand every day, so they end up making their decadence and collapse a sad sequence of useless threats, often accompanied by ridiculous and shameful acts that only provoke laughter or contempt because they no longer scare anyone.
Alexander's empire, the product of his victories, a huge empire that included Egypt, Syria, Babylon and part of Persia, and that ran from Macedonia and Greece to the borders of India, was torn apart by his sudden death. Alejandro does not leave children and the violent conflict that occurs between his potential heirs lasts for decades. This is what usually happens in those cases. Its most prestigious generals vie for power and several smaller empires survive, although large and powerful, empires headed by Diádocos, Seleucid, Lagidas and Ptolemy, which survive for two centuries and end up subjected and unified by the ascendant Rome, which was building theirs. The most famous case is that of the Greco-Egyptian empire. Everyone knows his abrupt end marked by the loves of the sensual Cleopatra, who had previously seduced Julius Caesar, and the Roman Marco Antonio, rival of Augustus, concluding everything with the battle of Accio, Antony's refuge in Egypt, his suicide, and a little later the death of Cleopatra, being stung by an asp. Insensitive to the charms of Cleopatra, Augustus annexes Egypt to Rome, which soon becomes an empire.
This immense Roman Empire, the largest in antiquity, superb and proud, always in extension, reached its fullness in the first centuries of our era. Then, amid the ups and downs, it slowly declined until the western part, the properly Roman part, which encompassed all of western Europe, collapsed at the end of the XNUMXth century, while the eastern part, the Greek one, centered on Constantinople. , remained and expanded until its fall, a thousand years later, in the hands of the Ottoman Turks. One of the most repeated topics of study of classical and ancient history has been for centuries to determine the causes of that crisis and that surprising collapse. The usual explanation, which was maintained until the middle of the XNUMXth century, and which explained it as a result caused almost exclusively by the so-called barbarian invasions, was abandoned for the most part then, because the barbarians were not so barbarian, since they had all been Romanized and for the most part they were already Christian, although sometimes Arian, and also because the Romans themselves, less civilized than they pretended to be, had become more barbarized than necessary between corruption and dictatorship. Roman slavery had entered a deep crisis, had no way out, and was increasingly brutal. The subject peoples were fed up with it and opened the doors of the hitherto impregnable Rome to its invaders.
The Carolingian Empire, founded by Charlemagne in 800, brought together a good part of medieval Europe for nearly two centuries, but was soon exhausted by internal feudal rivalries and threatened by new invasions, such as those of the Normans. It enters into crisis and collapses in parts, in the hands of mediocre leaders, and thus opens the way for new leaders to create new kingdoms, some of which fail invaded while others endure as the beginning of future European real powers.
The Spanish Empire, a huge Spanish work of the XNUMXth century, was divided by Carlos V into two parts, the smallest for the Austrian area, and the largest, which in addition to Spain, encompassed all of America and the Philippines. That Empire went into decline in the seventeenth century, although under Charles III the Bourbons revived and restructured it in the eighteenth century. This imperial, Spanish part of the empire is the one that interests me now, because it was against their colonial rule that our liberators fought. United at last, in Ayacucho, with the leadership of Bolívar and Sucre, America was liberated from Spanish colonialism.
But, except for them, no one understood that to remain free we had to remain united. Lesser, ambitious and blind caudillismo, made the homeland great small and rival homelands that spent the rest of the nineteenth century clashing for power and territories, which made it easier for our countries to fall under English rule and for the United States to take over at the end of that century. to Great Britain to impose its dominion on us, from which, disunited as always, we have not been able to free ourselves until today.
The British Empire, which ruled the world in the XNUMXth century, declined in the XNUMXth century and entered a definitive crisis with the Second World War. It frees India, but provokes its war with Pakistan, which causes millions of deaths. He massacres in Kenya the patriots whom he calls Mau mau and describes as terrorists. At least not being able to subdue the Greek rebels, he passes the baton to the United States and retreats. This one will massacre them. In those years his power of domination and military destruction were reaching their fullness.
Of the current American Empire, I only wish here to highlight the ridiculous arrogance with which it tries these days to cover its growing decadence. Because today the United States is the best model of empire that continues to proclaim itself the master of the world, capable, as is its custom, of threatening others, while the current decadence and crisis that are gnawing at it are evident to all. The crisis in the United States is not only external but internal. It is not just the disastrous failure of their mighty wars that Afghanistan is the latest and greatest example of, but what happens on a daily basis in the country. Just look at its millions of poor people, its cities full of tents, its rebellious states thinking of secession, its social and racial hatred unleashed, and its enormous population mired in drugs, alcohol and armed violence. And meanwhile, its leaders threaten wars and sanctions. Yesterday Trump did it daily, today Biden does it, a faded copy of him, only that he screamed non-stop and he fell asleep between threat and threat.
There is no dignity or greatness here, only arrogance and ridicule. That ridiculous reminds me of an old popular song that was in fashion decades ago: Manacho's shoes, in which there was talk of an exhibitionist guy proud of his tremendous shoes, but just starting to rain he was forced to take them off in a hurry. and walking barefoot because the tremendous shoes were made of cardboard. One could imagine Biden, asleep in the middle of a speech in New York, with his tremendous shoes, and Blinken, his secretary of state, approaching him to say:
—Manacho, wake up!
It's raining hard. And this is going to flood us.
You have to take off your shoes.