Man, that right there has been the cause of civil wars all by itself. See China during it’s ‘warring states’ period or fudal Japan during and after the ‘Kamakura’ period ~1200ad. The breakdown of central/imperial control inspires a bunch of Shoguns and Daimyo to try their luck and taking over all the fiefdoms around them and uniting Japan under a new [their] imperial rule.
I think of it as the diplomatic model of “We will have peace just as soon as you all shut up and do as I command you!”
It’s fun to speculate how things might play out and there are stacks of good ideas. At this point however I think the future is still to murky to predict much. There are just too many unknowable factors involved.
Does America finally fall due to financial collapse? or civil war? Does one cause the other? Is it purely an American collapse, or how many other systems/countries/economies does it take with it? As has been said by some about the US economy and the petro-dollar being such a big pivot point for the world economy: “When the US coughs, the whole world catches a cold…”
It just feels like such a big choose-your-own-apocalypse of possible scenarios. Is all of this compounded by a war abroad? How about a massive natural disaster?
Then there are outside influences that could mess about. I’m sure there are at least a few revolutions through out history that are purely ‘grass-roots’. The final straw comes and a bunch of oppressed serfs stand up with one voice and yell ‘We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!’
But how often does this attitude really develop from the ground up (I ask rhetorically, I really don’t know for sure)? Perhaps the embers of revolt were there, but as soon as another nation gets wind of it you can bet they had agent-provocateurs in place to fan the flames of such a revolt and direct it as it might benefit them.
It’s happened internally too, usually when somebody wants to stage a coup. The Streltsi were a semi-regular military force and sort-of political class in Russia around the 17th century. They were called upon to put down several uprisings and fight opposing political power structures several times, and at others discontentment grew great enough they themselves revolted against their government. I think it was Peter I that finally put a stop to that.
I have more thoughts but this seems to be turning into a bit of a ramble so I’ll leave it here. I guess I’m kind of thinking out loud about what sort of examples do we have of large nation-states and their empires collapsing through history, and does any of their experience reflect what we might see? We know what came out the other side of the breakup of the Prussian and Soviet empires. What similarities could we see in our own time?