Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Why Did Rome Fall—And Why Does It Matter Now? [Victor Davis Hanson]
pajamasmedia.com ^ | February 11, 2010 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 02/12/2010 5:58:58 AM PST by Tolik

Count the ways

A German scholar twenty years ago listed, I recall, some 210 reasons for the collapse of the Western empire. Readers, you have heard many of them, plausible and otherwise—corruption, civil strife, Germanic barbarians, Christianity, lead in the pipes of the elite, etc.

Any such discussion is also predicated on two other twists: the Eastern Empire at Constantinople went on for nearly another 1,000 years until the 1453 sack by the Ottomans. And for the last twenty years, revisionists have disputed Gibbon’s notion of a dramatic “fall” in the West, and argued instead that it was a “transition” as the “barbarian” “other” was insidiously assimilated into what would emerge in the latter Dark Ages as “Europeans”.

The East certainly had more defensible borders with the Danube and the Hellespont. Constantinople was far better fortified naturally and artificially than was Rome; the defense of Byzantium could rely to a greater degree on naval forces. And greater wealth was to be had in Asia and Egypt than in the northwestern provinces.

How could Christianity have caused the Western ‘fall’ when a very Christian East survived? (So I postpone here discussion of that crux of why the East enjoyed another 1000 years (e.g., larger population, greater wealth, less civil strife, more defensible borders, fewer Germanic enemies, etc.), given it shared many of the same pathologies of culture as the West.)

Them and us

My concern, however, is instead with the indisputable decline in material culture in Britain, Iberia, Gaul, Italy and North Africa from the 4th-5th century AD onward, with the end of strong government that had resulted in everything from secure borders to internal calm (the sort of world that St. Augustine in Tunisia saw ending at his death).

Rather than rehash Gibbon, or review the spate of recent books on Rome’s decline and our own supposed end, I throw out a few general notions.

Luxus

The Romans themselves by the first century AD (cf. Horace to Livy to Petronius to Juvenal) felt that the enormous influx of unearned wealth from conquered provinces had undermined the old republican virtues of small farmers and merchants (e.g. the old yeoman with four kids and a wife on five acres of grain now either devolved into the urban unemployed spectator in the Coliseum at Rome on the dole or evolved into the sterile estate owner with 50 slaves and 200 acres of wine grapes and an expensive pasture with a herd of beef cows.)

So the rise of latifundia, and the influx of unheard of wealth and slaves, gradually, in the ancients’ own view, created a dependent class on the dole and corruption among the elite. “Decline” as seen in the ancient mind was not inevitable, and was almost seen as a moral question—material progress resulting in ethical regress.

A Pretty Slow Fall

Yet Rome did not fall for four centuries after its moralists wrote of its decadence and decline. Why the resilience?

Entitlements and official corruption were for centuries subsidized by the profits accruing from global standardization and Romanization—brought about by the implementation and imposition of Roman law, order, and commerce throughout the Mediterranean. As long as the empire was cohesive, it brought in thousands yearly into its sphere of influence.

Those from the Black Sea to the Nile and from Portugal to Iraq were now subject to habeas corpus, a standard official language, regularization in weights and measures, and security on roads and the seas. The centuries-long result of such Romanization is easily discerned in the later historians from Ammianus to Zosimus, who remarked on both widening prosperity and a persistent moral crisis, rather than the dangers of material impoverishment.

We Are All Romans Now

So such global uniformity created real wealth in newfound places faster than such bounty could corrupt the citizens in the old Italian core to the degree to bring down what was now a world system. In other words, the creation of entirely new cities like Leptis or the growth of Asian centers such as Ephesus, brought previously unproductive tribal folk into the Roman system at precisely the time old Romans were no longer doing the things that had once created their own vibrant culture that swept the Mediterranean—the ancient version of the Chinese youth working 10 hours in an Adidas factory while an American counterpart is still “finding himself.”

One can see the resultant transition in the center of power— emperors mostly were born in the provinces, wealth centers were increasingly found in Asia and Africa, and good soldiers were no longer native Latin-speakers. The West taught the East, and the East soon became not only the more productive hemisphere of the empire, but also the more enthusiastic upholder of being Roman itself.

Petronius’s Satyricon (ca. AD 60) is a glimpse into the world of tough-minded Asian immigrants who had created fortunes in business—and who were desperately (and crudely) trying to buy into the snotty aristocratic and bankrupt world of fossilized Old Rome.

Americanization

The point? We see something like this today. What made American culture boom through much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were traditional American values like the Protestant work ethic, family thrift, limited and stable government, equality of opportunity rather than result, lower taxes, personal freedom, opportunity for advancement and profit, and faith in American exceptionalism.

But the cloning and spreading of this system after WWII (“globalization”) did two things: literally billions of non-Westerners adopted the Western mode of production and began, in economic terms, becoming far more productive in creating valuable manufacturing goods, food, and exporting previously unknown or untapped natural resources; in addition, the vast rise in population added billions to the world’s productive work force.

Two, this influx of imported goods and inclusion of hundreds of millions into the American orbit enriched the United States in unimaginable ways. In my own life, the very notion that I would have a tooth implant rather than one of my grandfather’s poorly constructed false teeth is mind-boggling. We once huddled around a 19-inch fuzzy black and white TV to watch 4 days of the JFK funeral in 1963 in a small 800 square foot house; now today I have 2 plasma 500-chanel cable TVs. Poverty, as I saw it as a boy in Selma in 1960, might be defined by occasional homes with outhouses in the back yard, gravel rural roads, no TVs and rampant illiteracy among those over 30.

Today, the “poor” as I see them daily at Wal-Mart and Food-4-Less in Selma (a poor town in a poor county in poor central California) buy blue-ray DVD players, have to buy food-stamp subsidized sirloin rather than rib-eye (as I can attest watching 5 carts ahead of me in line tonight), and drive used 2000 Tahoes and 2001 Yukons rather 2010 Honda Accords. Government subsidies for housing, food, transportation, etc., coupled with cheap Chinese and Indian imported consumer goods, have for a time been substituted for the old manufacturing jobs or resource-based work (e.g., we don’t make steel, we increasingly curtail farming, we don’t drill, etc.). In other words, we are enjoying a lifestyle undreamed of by our grandparents who had values quite different from our own—a result of globalization, advances in technology, and massive borrowing and debt.

The Tab

But as in the case of Rome, there is a price for all these sudden riches. Just as the Iberians, and Libyans and Thracians were hungrier and more enterprising than Italians back in the bay of Naples, so too we, the beneficiaries of this wealth, lost the values that were at its heart, in a way that the Indians, Chinese, and others have not–yet. Our youth in schools are not so excited by the notion of creating 100 new nuclear power plants, creating new mountain reservoirs, building new railroads and highways, or eager to rebuild the steel industry, or dreaming of increasing food production or eager to mine more ores—instead the emphasis in our schools is more on race/class/gender engineering, regulation, redistribution, etc, all of which in classical terms is not necessarily wealth creation.

We are now borrowing nearly $2 trillion a year to do things like ensure the 84-year old has a hip replacement—nearly half of it from the Chinese where 400 million have never been to a Westernized doctor. We spend $45,000 to incarcerate the felon in California, to meet utopian court-ordered mandates. As imperial Romans, we are felt to be owed a standard of living, even as our own daily habits would no longer necessarily translate into such largess, even as those on the periphery have learned what made America so wealthy from 1950 to 1990.

Where does it all end? I have no idea, but offer only competing scenarios: 1) as our debt becomes unsustainable, we react and increase the retirement age, cut spending and entitlements radically, and renew our work ethic (impossible by choice, made possible by necessity), and enjoy a renaissance; 2) we become a UK-like museum, with witty cynical observers, as the new giants in Asia produce the next Microsoft, Exxon, and Ford, and we fade; 3) India and China discover that they too have a rendezvous with suburban blues, environmentalism, consumer regulation, and a pampered citizenry, and there is some sort of shared global postmodernism.

We inherited a wonderful infrastructure from our parents. A superb system of politics and economics was likewise given to us at birth. Many of us try to copy our grandparents and parents whose values and work ethic we increasingly eulogize. But against all that is that Roman notion of luxus, untold wealth and leisure that we see juxtaposed with shrill cries and accusations that we are too poor, exploited, and in need of someone else’s income. The wealthier we become, the louder and angrier we become that we are not even more wealthy.

In short, what ruined Rome in the West? Lots of things. But clearly the pernicious effects of affluence and laxity warped Roman sensibility and created a culture of entitlement that was not justified by revenues or the creation of actual commensurate wealth—and the resulting debits, inflation, debased currency, and gradual state impoverishment gave the far more vulnerable western empire far less margin of error when barbarians arrived, or rival generals marched on Rome. For a while the Romanization of the wider Mediterranean subsidized this ennui, but eventually the old western and southern provinces neither could protect what they had created nor could continue to be as productive as in the past nor believed that being Roman was any better than the alternative.

A State of Mind

The strange thing is that these wild swings in civilization are at their bases psychological: decline is one of choice rather than necessity. Plague or lead poisoning or famine did not destroy Rome. We could balance our budget tomorrow without a great deal of sacrifice; we could eliminate 10% worth of government spending that is not essential; we could create our own energy with massive nuclear power investment, and more extraction of gas, oil, and coal. We could instill a tragic rather than therapeutic world view that would mean more responsibilities rather than endlessly more rights. We could do this all right—but too many feel such medicine is worse than the malady, and so we probably won’t and can’t. An enjoyable slow decline is apparently  preferable to a short, but painful rethinking and rebirth.


TOPICS: Editorial
KEYWORDS: americanempire; godsgravesglyphs; history; romanempire; rome; statism; vdh; victordavishanson; welfarestate
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-114 next last

1 posted on 02/12/2010 5:58:58 AM PST by Tolik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

Victor Davis Hanson:

Just a partial list: http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index:

Why Fear Big Government? The more of it, the more dangerous and creepy our lives become
The Trouble With Elitist Theories. Nobody likes to be lectured by those claiming superior wisdom but lacking common sense
Victory — How Quaint an Idea! Defeating Islamic terrorism is not only definable and possible, but closer than ever before
Partisanship, Then and Now
Civilization’s Lies [Victor Davis Hanson on the West embracing noble lies not squaring with reality]
America Rides Off into the Sunset. The only people excited about the “change” in America's foreign policy are the world’s bad actors
Mr. President, Words Matter. Obama, the rhetorician, forgot that people might actually take seriously what he said
Our Obama Saga [Victor Davis Hanson dissects Obama, painfully, again]
The Obamarang. [Victor Davis Hanson dissects, deconstructs, ridicules and demolishes Zero’s lies]
Trashing the Job Makers. The Obama administration’s tax-talking frenzy has left business owners feeling uncertain
Post-election Thoughts (Liberals do not understand populist outrage. Bloodletting will Continue)
Our Philosopher-King Obama. He doesn’t mind pushing noble legislation that most people oppose
Why The Great And Growing Backlash? What Scott Brown’s election portends for the Obama agenda
"Let me be perfectly NOT clear" & "Make lots of MISTAKES about it" [Victor Davis Hanson on Obama's lies]
Truths We Dare Not Speak. Five propositions that simply have become taboo
2010: Our Year of Decision
Beating the Dead Terrorist Horse. September 11 taught us many lessons. To our peril, we have forgotten them
A Humpty-Dumpty View of the World
2009 Chickens and Their 2010 Roost
Where Did These Guys Come From? The Origins of Obamism
The War Against the Wannabe Rich. Why attack the productive classes who want to be rich?
The Long March From California to Copenhagen [Hanson on debate between capitalism and socialism]
The Palin Wonder
Why Are We Tiring of Obama?
If Iran Refuses To Cooperate, Block Its Ports
Riding the Back of the Tiger [Victor Davis Hanson on Obama not understanding What Causes Wars...]
What Bush Inherited, and What He Left Left Behind
Who Are ‘They’? To Obama, “they” are responsible for all our troubles. Problem is, “they” are most of us
Afghan Mythologies. We have everything we need to defeat the Taliban.
The Discreet Charm of the Left-wing Plutocracy
Truman and the Principles of U.S. Foreign Policy. Jimmy Carter rejected the postwar consensus. President Obama appears to be following a similar path
Dr. Barack and Mr. Obama - The backlash is sharp as voters learn that Obama is not the man they thought he was
Obama and "Redistributive Change". His real agenda
The War Against the Producers
President Palin’s First 100 Days. Imagine if Sarah Palin had Obama’s record
Thoughts About Depressed Americans
Our Battered American [gets angrier - Must Read Rant]
Just a partial list. Much more at the link:  http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
2 posted on 02/12/2010 6:00:11 AM PST by Tolik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem; Lando Lincoln; SJackson; dennisw; kellynla; monkeyshine; Alouette; nopardons; ...

 

  Ping !

Let me know if you want in or out.

Links:   

FR Index of his articles:  http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
NRO archive: http://author.nationalreview.com/?q=MjI1MQ==
Pajamasmedia:  http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/
His website: http://victorhanson.com/

3 posted on 02/12/2010 6:00:41 AM PST by Tolik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv; LS

You might be interested - PING


4 posted on 02/12/2010 6:02:27 AM PST by Tolik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik; Deb
VDH is:


5 posted on 02/12/2010 6:03:40 AM PST by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Once again, outstanding insight and analysis from VDH.


6 posted on 02/12/2010 6:04:34 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik
-- wild swings in civilization are at their bases psychological: decline is one of choice rather than necessity --

Quite true. Not that the choice is "I want to decline," but rather, the choice is to abandon what should be immutable values and principles. See, in the US, the wholesale abandonment of the principles meant to be shored up by the Constitution. Rather than a weak central government, we have a strong one. See too, as James Burnham pointed out in Suicide of the West - when a civilization (and I submit this applies to countries as well) stops asserting itself as superior over other - when diversity is embraced as a strength - then there WILL be declines in order and in standard of living.

7 posted on 02/12/2010 6:07:09 AM PST by Cboldt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik
Duh! Rome fell because the people lost interest in governing and became interested in what they could get out of government...as Juvenal said in his Satire X.
The people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now concerns itself no more, and longs eagerly for just two things - bread and circuses!
Juvenal, Satires
Roman poet & satirist (55 AD - 127 AD)

8 posted on 02/12/2010 6:08:35 AM PST by Sudetenland (Slow to anger but terrible in vengence...such is the character of the American people.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Socialism, or rather, the type of cultural thinking, decline, and weakness that Socialism brings. The Romans had their own brand of socialism. Bread and Circuses...


9 posted on 02/12/2010 6:11:51 AM PST by Paradox (ObamaCare = Logan's Run ; There is no Sanctuary!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Great!!! I always find it interesting how the Western Roman Empire lasted so long with all the instability and deadly infighting at the top. It would be nice to be Emperor but the minute you were on the throne you had a big bulls eye on you and your life expectancy would be measured in months.


10 posted on 02/12/2010 6:11:54 AM PST by C19fan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

The Romans themselves by the first century AD (cf. Horace to Livy to Petronius to Juvenal) felt that the enormous influx of unearned wealth from conquered provinces had undermined the old republican virtues of small farmers and merchants (e.g. the old yeoman with four kids and a wife on five acres of grain now either devolved into the urban unemployed spectator in the Coliseum at Rome on the dole or evolved into the sterile estate owner with 50 slaves and 200 acres of wine grapes and an expensive pasture with a herd of beef cows.)
___________________________________________________________

Were they more productive than we are today? Because a rancher in Texas with 200 acres is not exactly able to support 50 slaves and be a sterile estate owner.


11 posted on 02/12/2010 6:13:16 AM PST by Woebama (Never, never, never quit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik
Read this and find out:


12 posted on 02/12/2010 6:24:38 AM PST by frogjerk
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe 6-pack

I agree, I think this is the most insightful thing from a contemporary writer that I’ve read this year.


13 posted on 02/12/2010 6:26:30 AM PST by Liberty1970 (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/lydiablievernicht)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Hammer meets nail.


14 posted on 02/12/2010 6:27:46 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Thanks for posting. VDH is always a good read.


15 posted on 02/12/2010 6:31:32 AM PST by Crolis ("Nemo me impune lacessit!" - "No one provokes me with impunity!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Liberty1970
VDH is good when he comments on current events, but his forte is in classical studies, so I truly enjoy when he correlates an event or circumstance from Greco-Roman history to our society.

Many (especially on this forum) decry the study of liberal arts like history, literature, aesthetics, etc., but the problem is not the discipline, merely the way they are currently taught. They are in many ways the underpinnings of our civilization, and Hanson's body of work echoes Santayana's famous admonition that, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

16 posted on 02/12/2010 6:33:58 AM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Tolik
Where does it all end? I have no idea, but offer only competing scenarios: 1) as our debt becomes unsustainable, we react and increase the retirement age, cut spending and entitlements radically, and renew our work ethic (impossible by choice, made possible by necessity), and enjoy a renaissance; 2) we become a UK-like museum, with witty cynical observers, as the new giants in Asia produce the next Microsoft, Exxon, and Ford, and we fade; 3) India and China discover that they too have a rendezvous with suburban blues, environmentalism, consumer regulation, and a pampered citizenry, and there is some sort of shared global postmodernism.

I hope for Option 1!

17 posted on 02/12/2010 6:33:59 AM PST by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sudetenland

But still your quotation is hundreds of years before the final fall of Rome. The Western Empire survived into the 400s because it was still Roman. It fell when the peninsula was flooded with those who did not consider themselves Roman but yet had the defacto status of freemen.

Do we have more and more citizens who do not call themselves Americans?


18 posted on 02/12/2010 6:35:43 AM PST by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Good analysis, but I would quibble with one small point - “The East certainly had more defensible borders with the Danube and the Hellespont”

The Danube was no barrier. The Goths crossed it with ease, and the Bulgars used it to hit the Byzantines time and time again.


19 posted on 02/12/2010 6:41:44 AM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (We bury Democrats face down so that when they scratch, they get closer to home.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

VDH does some really fine writing sometimes. This isn’t one of those.

About here: “One can see the resultant transition in the center of power— emperors mostly were born in the provinces...” I lost patience waiting for VDH to mention the Roman military, which deserves mention and most of the credit for the situation he’s exploring (including the origins and stations of numerous emperors).

By the way, Mr. H., if you’re reading: please don’t preface your commentary with so much disclaimer about what you’re NOT about to comment upon. We’ll figure that out.


20 posted on 02/12/2010 6:44:06 AM PST by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (STOP the Tyrananny State.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

A storehouse of knowledge! Thank you, and bookmark.


21 posted on 02/12/2010 6:45:08 AM PST by BlueStateBlues (Blue State business, Red State heart. . . . .Palin 2012----can't come soon enough!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

There is a very ironic lesson to be learned from the Byzantine Empire, the Emperor Justinian I and Empress Theodora, the Nika Riots, that almost overthrew their empire, the factions involved, and the results of having a strong leader.

To start with, there were four major political parties/gangs/gambling leagues in Constantinople. They were called the Blues, the Greens, the Reds and the Whites. While Justinian favored the Blues, the Blues had ambitions to politically achieve rule over the empire.

In this they were joined with the more radical Greens, who wanted to violently overthrow Justinian and seize power. The Reds and the Whites were loyal to their empire and their emperor.

Justinian I was a very able administrator in running the business of the Empire, but he was not a popular favorite. In this he was complemented by his wife, Theodora, who had been a prostitute or dancer, and who had a deep understanding of the mob, and was popular in her own right. She was also a very strong person.

The Nika riots began with the arrest of some of the Blue and Green leaders for murder. And while Justinian was willing to commute their sentence, the Blue and Green factions demanded their full pardon, which would amount to royal approval of the murders they had committed, putting them above the law.

In demanding these full pardons, they laid siege to the palace for a time, and burned almost half the city, then decided to crown their own emperor to replace Justinian and Theodora, in the great Hippodrome (coliseum).

Justinian lost his nerve and decided to flee, but Theodora put her foot down and refused to leave. So other arrangements were made.

With the Blues and Greens assembled in the Hippodrome for the coronation, a single slave of the Emperor appeared, carrying a bag of gold. He went to the section where the Blue leaders were sitting, and offered them the gold. Accepting the offer, the Blues got up and filed out of the Hippodrome. They had been bought off.

Puzzled by this, the Greens attitude was “More for us! Now we will rule!”, not realizing that two large military units with loyal generals had been deployed, surrounding the Hippodrome.

At a signal, then entered the Hippodrome, and the Green faction, about 30,000 of them, were no more.

By this action, the slaughter of traitorous rebels, the life of the Byzantine Empire was extended by perhaps 200 years. To this day, the Empress Theodora, this strong woman, is considered a saint of the Orthodox church.

Once again, it is interesting to imagine the parallels with today’s Blues and Greens.


22 posted on 02/12/2010 6:47:52 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Bookmark


23 posted on 02/12/2010 6:50:52 AM PST by Flycatcher (God speaks to us, through the supernal lightness of birds, in a special type of poetry.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

I’ll throw out another possibility. The rest of the world became wealthier and more advanced militarily — so the Romans with a small population couldn’t surpress other people as effectively anymore.


24 posted on 02/12/2010 6:51:25 AM PST by Woebama (Never, never, never quit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Woebama

Or the Roman military, discerning a vacuum in leadership, strove to fill it and made the classic blunder of diversifying into a product line that they knew jack about.


25 posted on 02/12/2010 6:55:07 AM PST by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (STOP the Tyrananny State.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Woebama

Applying what you said to the modern world. If America’s enemies become very powerful militarily, again, I am sure that it will shake us from sleeping. If the opponents become more powerful economically, but otherwise are in various form of democracy, then America can continue slumber, but the American legacy will live on through these newcomers who became rich by emulating America.


26 posted on 02/12/2010 7:01:38 AM PST by Tolik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Tolik
So the rise of latifundia

Sent me to the dictionary for that one!

When I first saw it I thought it was latintifada and Hanson was making up a clever new word, but I guess I'm the one who made it up?

ML/NJ

27 posted on 02/12/2010 7:02:53 AM PST by ml/nj
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

America has fallen. Scott Brown has heard the call and will start on the way to recovery.

That said, it’s up to the rest of us to make sure we are back on track to be the great country we were.


28 posted on 02/12/2010 7:03:32 AM PST by Carley (Are you better off now than one year ago? HELL NO!!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Great article.


29 posted on 02/12/2010 7:14:00 AM PST by iowamark
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Monterrosa-24
TRue, but it was prescient in it's statement and it was the fall of the Republic to a series of dictatorial emperors to which he was referring and though the empire continued, it was never the sort of republic it had been.

I was being somewhat cavalier, but it was a combination of a loss of interest in self-government/pre-occupation with hand-outs and the huge influx of non-citizens to do the work that the citizens wouldn't do...sort of sounds familiar doesn't it.

I am once more reminded of how happy I am that I have no children to worry about. I greatly fear for the future of the progeny of those who have.

America is probably lost forever. How do you get a populace addicted to governmental largess to renounce their addiction? Certainly not through education, that is already destroyed and become indoctrination into statism.
30 posted on 02/12/2010 7:23:02 AM PST by Sudetenland (Slow to anger but terrible in vengence...such is the character of the American people.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Tolik
The strange thing is that these wild swings in civilization are at their bases psychological: decline is one of choice rather than necessity. Plague or lead poisoning or famine did not destroy Rome. We could balance our budget tomorrow without a great deal of sacrifice; we could eliminate 10% worth of government spending that is not essential; we could create our own energy with massive nuclear power investment, and more extraction of gas, oil, and coal. We could instill a tragic rather than therapeutic world view that would mean more responsibilities rather than endlessly more rights. We could do this all right—but too many feel such medicine is worse than the malady, and so we probably won’t and can’t. An enjoyable slow decline is apparently  preferable to a short, but painful rethinking and rebirth.

What is never mentioned is that automation and computerization have made many workers redundant and not needed and I also white collar workers too such as accountants and lawyers.. Many fine and skilled people are in this category. Future development is not automatic bliss due to some capitalist theories of an ever expanding economic pie that I hear Rush Limbaugh and other talking up.  Great in theory and I like it on an emotional level

We could bring back all manufacturing from China/Asia and we would still be stuck with not enough blue collar jobs by a long shot. All due to computerization, robotics and automation
So the next question is -- What to do with those who want to work and love to work but whose labor is not needed
Another problem is that wealth gets more concentrated as we have a surplus of workers because wages/salaries plummet
Only exception is gubbermint workers/layabouts and very highly skilled workers

31 posted on 02/12/2010 7:29:16 AM PST by dennisw (It all comes 'round again --Fairport)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Cacique

bookmark bump


32 posted on 02/12/2010 7:30:13 AM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sudetenland
“...How do you get a populace addicted to governmental largess to renounce their addiction? Certainly not through education, that is already destroyed and become indoctrination into statism...”

If we had even 60 percent of the productive types as ethical, strong, wise, and patriotic we would have a chance but it is very disheartening to see a Yankee state like Iowa which is still at least 92 percent White go heavy for a man like Obama. So many hardworking Whites have gone completely clueless, have no sense of self, and of course in some areas there are huge numbers of Whites on welfare.

The hillbillies of a place like Hancock County, Tennessee were poor but proud and independent in the old days. Today they have satellite dishes, food stamps, and are knowledgeable of all things Hollywood.

33 posted on 02/12/2010 7:39:42 AM PST by Monterrosa-24 (...even more American than a French bikini and a Russian AK-47.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Sobering reading. Thanks for the post.


34 posted on 02/12/2010 7:40:33 AM PST by reagan_fanatic (The liberals are asking us to give Obama more time. Is 25 to life enough?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Yah, but now that I’m a father, I want freedom here and for my daughter, not somewhere else as a legacy of this nations impact on the world!


35 posted on 02/12/2010 7:41:54 AM PST by Woebama (Never, never, never quit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

BTTT


36 posted on 02/12/2010 7:46:53 AM PST by spodefly (I have posted nothing but BTTT over 1000 times!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Woebama

Amen to that!


37 posted on 02/12/2010 7:54:15 AM PST by Tolik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Thanks tolik - great read.


38 posted on 02/12/2010 7:55:27 AM PST by GOPJ (There could be no honor in sure success, but much might be wrested from a sure defeat-TE Lawrence)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: frogjerk
Augustine was the last great Roman writer. Yet he understood the Empire was doomed and could never be restored.

The City Of God written as an answer to why Rome would pass into history and the world be created anew.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find only things evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelogus

39 posted on 02/12/2010 8:01:32 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

The strange thing is that these wild swings in civilization are at their bases psychological: decline is one of choice rather than necessity.

Yes it is...try telling the welfare piker with an SUV, 3 squares a day, nice clothes, free rent, and a flat screen TV that they need to provide for themselves. Their answer is they deserve or are entitled to such luxury - that working will not pay as well as welfare. We are too stupid to discriminate between those that can’t work and those that can but don’t. We are a stupid venal people and will soon be a second rate country - just as bammy has foretold.


40 posted on 02/12/2010 8:21:35 AM PST by equalitybeforethelaw
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

I think VDH is aware of some new studies that essentially pin most of the blame for Rome’s fall on the decline of the military, both in terms of training, funding, and above all, cohesion by allowing in mercenary units.


41 posted on 02/12/2010 8:26:24 AM PST by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Paradox
Socialism, or rather, the type of cultural thinking, decline, and weakness that Socialism brings.

I think VDH's point would be that socialism is the symptom, rather than the cause, of the decline.

In our case, there is an understandable belief that our incredible wealth carries with it a duty toward those who are less fortunate. And to an extent that is correct.

The pernicious part comes when our sense of duty is coupled with a tolerance of, and making excuses for, the abdication of responsibility on the part of those whom our duty calls on us to help. And along with that, there is the expectation on the part of those "helped," that they deserve such help, without questions or requirements.

Add in also the fact that our wealth has given us tremendous leisure time, and the ability to spend money on expensive pursuits and toys and gear for our kids ... and the kids begin to have expectations of deserving rather than earning.

Now you can add in folks who are ardent enough on the topic to make such considerations a governmental issue -- that's where the socialism comes in. But it's only enabled by that cultural sense and expectation of "deserving" help, rather than earning it.

42 posted on 02/12/2010 8:27:29 AM PST by r9etb
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Tolik; NattieShea; PowerBaby
Liberty Follows Virtue: How Personal Values Ordained the Rise and Fall of Rome

By FReepers NattieShea and PowerBaby

43 posted on 02/12/2010 8:34:37 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The RINOcrat Party is in charge. There has never been a conservative American government.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

How ‘bout this? Within a generation of the Marian reforms, the Roman Army invaded Rome at least twice [I think three times]. The Roman Army, even with good emperors had to be bought. It both held the state together, and, increasingly, tore it apart, with various armies and legions proclaiming [for a good payday] their general as ‘Caesar’.

And by the late Empire, Romans were not stepping up to serve in the Roman Army. Increasingly, barbarians were, sometimes in whole tribal units [ Alaric was a Roman general, and Chief of the Visigoths]. This had three serious effects for the Western Roman Empire. First, the barbarians learned the Roman military system. Second, the same group that defended the Empire was best positioned to bring it down. Third, they had learned the Roman Army’s tradition of interfering in the government of Rome for personal benefit, and of being separate, both in allegiance and outlook, to the society they were to defend. And when the politicians didn’t pony up the lands and other ‘gifts’ on their lists, the tribes took matters into their own hands.


44 posted on 02/12/2010 8:39:03 AM PST by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe 6-pack

VDH Bump. Always worth reading.


45 posted on 02/12/2010 8:40:27 AM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Sudetenland

“Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. … Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful good society’ which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean ‘more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.’” –Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)


46 posted on 02/12/2010 8:51:33 AM PST by griswold3 (You think health care is expensive now? Just wait till it's FREE!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: Tolik

Mixed up in all of this, especially in Europe, has to be the decline in birth rate (to native stock) (which at least in part stems from a loss of serious, demanding religion). As has been observed (Mark Steyn among others), how do you convince a retired childless couple that their government benefits should be cut for the future benefit of unrelated future generations of countrymen? The US birthrate is higher than Europe’s but the concept is the same. Along the same lines is the decline of the family, by which perceived obligations to future generations are also strained.


47 posted on 02/12/2010 8:52:45 AM PST by Stingray51
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: r9etb
But it's only enabled by that cultural sense and expectation of "deserving" help, rather than earning it.

I'd agree with that. I also think that socialism eventually "creeps up" the socio-economic latter, to the point where virtually everyone believes they are entitled to things, either material goods, or "lifestyle" choices. Then decadence and sloth set in, a kind of cultural malaise. You have fewer and fewer Peters to rob from.

48 posted on 02/12/2010 8:52:51 AM PST by Paradox (ObamaCare = Logan's Run ; There is no Sanctuary!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
Excellent adddition to the historical lesson from the article. Thanks for sharing it!!

(And would you agree that today's parallels for the Blues and the Greens would be the Blacks and the Greens?)

49 posted on 02/12/2010 8:56:16 AM PST by Teacher317
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
The Danube was no barrier. The Goths crossed it with ease, and the Bulgars used it to hit the Byzantines time and time again.

And really, they didn't have more defensible borders at all. What they did have was enough riches to buy mercenary armies to defend them, and to bribe hostile barbarian hordes into heading West. And later, they had a heartland (Thrace, Isauria, and Anatolia) where hearty warriors could still be recruited internally in large numbers.

The West had none of these luxuries. The western heartland (Italy, Africa, Gaul) had been steadily denuded of its warrior class during the crises of the 3rd and 4th centuries. The massive western armies that went east under Constantine and Julian in the 4th century could no longer be raised by the 5th.
50 posted on 02/12/2010 8:58:11 AM PST by Antoninus (The RNC's dream ticket: Romney / Scozzafava 2012)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-114 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson