"America's Oh Sh*T Moment" by Niall Ferguson

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“America’s ‘Oh Sh*t!’ Moment”, written by Niall Ferguson, a historian who teaches at Harvard University, in 2011, explores why civilizations collapse, and how America can avoid this. He does not focus only on America, but many civilizations in the past that have collapsed. Niall Ferguson is the author of Civilization: The West and The Rest. The article is creatively and cleverly written using the metaphor of modern technology to describe the way in which the societal collapse occurs. This shows that the article was written for adults who are highly educated and understand and relate to technology. The article discusses the possibilities of what complete collapse would look like in American society. I believe the author successfully demonstrates and explains the very real possibility of America’s societal demise.

The article, “America’s ‘Oh Sh*t!’ Moment” is about the rapid collapse of civilizations, and how America is at risk to meet a similar end. The author gives reasons as to why America is at risk for an imminent collapse, and how they can stop it. He proves this sudden collapsing of a civilization by giving many examples of civilizations that have collapsed in the past, such as, Machu Picchu; the lost city of the Incas, the Roman Empire, Ming Dynasty’s rule in China, the Soviet Union, North Africa and the Middle East. All civilizations share similar characteristics that eventually led to their sudden downfall. For example, they all once had strong social systems supporting their economy and government, and then suddenly collapsed as a result of internal division and external invasion. The thesis of the article was not openly stated, but it was implied pretty clearly. The author states, “In my view, civilizations don’t rise, fall, and then gently decline, as inevitable and predictably as the four seasons or the seven ages of man. History isn’t one smooth, parabolic curve after another. Its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite...
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