The biggest threat to America? Americans.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond explains why some nations make it through epic crises and why others fail.

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  • "A country is not going to resolve a national crisis unless it acknowledges that it's in a crisis," says Jared Diamond. "If you don't, you're going to get nowhere. Many Americans still don't recognize today that the United States is descending into a crisis."
  • The U.S. tends to focus on "bad countries" like China, Canada and Mexico as the root of its problems, however Diamond points out the missing piece: Americans are generating their own problems.
  • The crisis the U.S. is experiencing is not cause for despair. The U.S. has survived many tragedies, such as the War of Independence and the Great Depression – history is proof that the U.S. can get through this current crisis too.
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The only way to 'build a wall' without destroying the U.S.

There's more than one kind of wall that we can build. Building the right kind of wall might even be good for the U.S.

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  • In times of crisis, we often 'build a wall' that separates the part of our lives that feels out of control from the parts that are more in control.
  • This is healthy and can help us maintain perspective.
  • Nations, too, build walls during times of crisis. But those walls can't be designed to isolate ourselves from others; rather, they need to delineate what is working and what isn't.
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Is nationalism ever a force for good?

The lack of it can also be a problem.

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  • Nationalism isn't always a bad thing. When a country doesn't have self-confidence, and a collective sense of identity, that is also a problem.
  • The optimal situation, in the case of nationalism, is that a nation's citizens have a healthy amount of it. For instance, as Jared Diamond points out in this video, Finland seems to have a nationalism based in reality — and largely founded on their unique language. It imbues them with an innate pride but doesn't compel them to conquer the world.
  • Also, nationalism that is used to be inclusive, rather than exclusive, can help a nation transcend its darkest moments.
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How America could become a dictatorship in 10 years

Are we witnessing the end of democracy in America?

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  • Much like in marriage, you also have to have political compromise in a country.
  • During the last few decades, American elected representatives and our electorates succeeded in reaching compromise about difficult issues. However, political compromise seems to be breaking down today.
  • This breakdown, Diamond posits, is the "most serious" problem the United States faces because it could preciptate the rise of a dictatorship in the country.
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