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updated 3:57 AM CET, Nov 19, 2019

Will the “USA” disappear from the history books?

Will the “USA” disappear from the history books? Aaron Burden

Names are changing.

Giving names and baptising are exciting and sometimes selfish daily tasks of every one of us. Think about naming and denominating our children, pets, poems, articles, products, recipes, websites, Facebook posts, pictures. Giving names is recording sounds and contents for the eternity, capturing the essence of something or someone, merchandising, raising awareness, and the combination of all these considerations.

It brings magic occasionally.

They keep us thinking from time to time for days and weeks while we waver between the alternatives and choices. In a stimulating verse from the beginning of the Bible God asks Adam to name all the animals of the ground and the sky (Genesis 2:19).

In natural sciences our hands are more tied. In astronomy, giving names to stars, planets, comets has been subject to strict sets of rules. Nonetheless, someone could call an asteroid 9007 James Bond in the 80s. As we zoom in, procedures get more vague, like in case of the surfaces of planets (volcanoes, craters and so on), but still, the hills on Titan (a satellite of the planet Saturn) can be baptised only using characters from Middle-earth, the fictional geography of the famous book Lord of the Rings and other writings of its writer, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Yes, there are Gandalf hills on Titan.

But, if you are good or lucky enough, in the 21st century you can still achieve that stars bear your name.

In social sciences and social theories, and more specifically in history, scientists (and generations of scientist) many times need to name and rename retrospectively wars, ages, periods, dynasties, empires. No one knew in 1762 that the one of the first “world wars”, the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) would last seven years. In addition, in many countries, this war is called completely differently. What about the Middle Ages, the thousand years between the 5th and 15th century? Obviously, no one used this term until the 17th century. For those who lived then, their age was the “new” or “modern” one. In Asia, does this term have any significance? No.

As perspectives become broader and historical trends become visible with time, better solutions come up as naming conventions, so the core characteristics of an age or historical event can be described and grasped easier.

Something similar happened to the “House of Habsburg” and the “Habsburg Empire”, the royal family (1273-1918) and their global empire that reached their zenit in the 16th and 17th century when the principal branch of the dynasty, the Spanish Monarchy ruled over vast territories, armies and huge revenues all over Europe and the globe, being the smaller branch, the monarchs of big Central European lands. However, at that age no one called them “Habsburg” (which is a small fortress in Switzerland, and represents the origins of the family). The dynasty was called “House of Austria”, and the corresponding language variants (Domus Austriaca in Latin, Casa de Austria in Spanish, Haus Österreich in German or Maison d’Autriche in French), and

I haven’t seen a single source from those two centuries that would refer to the family as Habsburg.

That was a later development in the 18th century.

Said all this, what will happen with the Unites States of America? The alternatives are endless. Let’s imagine (based on the examples of former empires) that the USA will disintegrate or dissolve in 200 years into smaller, competing states or that Australia, the EU and the USA will merge into one state to face the power challenges coming from Africa and Asia, or that new empires will emerge elsewhere in the world, fuelled by still unknown centres of assets and resources. A big change is a likely scenario, anyways. Who would have imagined in 1490, before the rediscovery of the Americas that in 300 years a world empire would emerge in the West?

I give 50-50 chance of a future when in 2300 or 2400 a regular world citizen wouldn’t know that a state called the USA had ever existed. By that time historical books will probably have described a First Modern American Empire, following the Aztec and Inca Empires and followed by a Second or Third (Mexican or Brazilian) Empire. Or it will appear as one of the composite states of a “First World League”, including Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan. It depends also on who will write those history books. I don’t rule out that if the hegemony of the USA will end in a sharp and rapid way and cannot be recovered or maintained at a lower, but significant level, even the strength of their former splendor and financial and military dominance will be questioned by an age when bias determines the directions in history. Sometimes the winners write the history.

What I think that most likely will happen is

the formation of a Second United States of America or a Second Empire,

after the First gets weaker and immersed in internal conflicts, economic, ideological, moral, environmental and political crisis, which happens with all empires sooner or later.

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