As the great Roman Empire wound down and collapsed, it could look back on its great cultural contributions to the world and its powerful military. Finally, all it really had was a military. Fast forward to current America...
The U.S. has had a few cultural moments in the sun, but has proudly strutted its economic and military power. What's left now? Even as we hold onto the world's most powerful military functions, these are tied down in the midst of a backward area of the world where the military might of terrorists with hand grenades and rifles make a mockery of our "might." And our greed-capitalism has fallen on its face begging for a socialist-like government life preserver. America's moment in the sun has not been long-lived, has it? Or has it?
How do we measure success among nations? The arts and humanities in the U.S. have never been given much attention, and now they are falling like poorly constructed stage scenery. Do we care? Not much. The economy and the military get our attention. Americans think this is the way it should be. But even during the darkest days of the London blitz in World War II, when England was alone and suffering bombings daily without much hope for the future, Winston Churchill ordered the arts to continue to be subsidized. He said in effect that especially now [then] the people need the arts. When dark days come to America, the arts are being forgotten.
Theatre groups are folding. The arts are almost non-existent in many U.S. schools. Symphony orchestras are failing to find young audiences. The movies find success in contrived gimmickry and exploding things in science fiction films. Brad Pitt gets "artistic" merit for standing around like a statue dressed in make-up; unless he has a cigarette in his hand or prop ["Oceans Eleven"], he looks stiff. Leonardo DiCaprio looks like he is wearing his father's clothes. Recently lauded American authors may have defined a certain segment of American society [e.g. John Updike], but where are the universal themes in American literature?
American music? Oh, it is popular all over the world. The good thing is that you don't have to be literate to enjoy American music, it is simple enough for especially young people to "understand." In fact, current hip-hop and rap are not even music at all, just simple word rhyming and one-note cadence. Musical theatre? Don't make me laugh. The most recent type of popular theatre with music [e.g. "Cats"] is not musical theatre but a musical revue without anything remotely resembling a literary plot-line.
But boy, do we have military weaponry! And it is at the ready to invade powerful nations like Greneda, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Nothing is too expensive for the spooks and geniuses at the Pentagon.
A warning as you enjoy all the corporate greed and military over-kill: don't get sick because the government cares not if you can afford to get well or save your child from dying of expensive illnesses.