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Editorial

Rome v. America: when nations die

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Julius Caesar said if you offer bread and entertainment, you can do anything.

It is said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. While listening to the details about Congress’ latest financial deal, along with all the hype regarding the Newtown tragedies, several similarities between ancient Rome and these United States came to mind. I then decided to do a little research into the reasons Rome fell – thinking that the similarities between the gladiator games and our violent entertainment, along with our out-of-touch bureaucrats and Rome’s notoriously out-of-touch Senate would take center stage. I was not prepared for what I found. The list of similarities nearly knocked me off of my chair.

St. Peter's Square, Vatican City (within Rome)

St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City. Wide-angle view. Photo: Francois Milan. CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License

The debate about all the issues that lead to the collapse of Rome is still going on and probably will be for some time. The truth is that there were many issues that contributed to the fall of Rome. The ones listed below are the ones that most historians agree with and the ones that bear disturbing similarities to conditions in America today. Read them and weep – or get mad and do something to change the road we’re on. Everett Hale once said: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do and, with the help of God, I will do!”

Table: Parallels between ancient Rome and modern America

Factors that contributed to the fall of Rome

Similar factors that exist in America today

Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor Antagonism between the President and Congress, as well as between our two major Parties
Economic factors included:

  • Trade deficits
  • Inflation
  • Poor management by government
  • Poor leadership in government
Economic factors include:

  • Trade deficits
  • Inflation
  • Poor management by government
  • Poor leadership in government
Decline in morals – especially in the rich upper class. Decline in morals – especially within the entertainment and sports industries.
Political corruption was rampant Political corruption is rampant
Constant Wars Constant Wars
High unemployment within the working class, resulting in increasing dependency on government Rising unemployment within the working class, resulting in increasing dependency on government programs.
High cost of the “Dole” which was government supplied bread and entertainment for the non-working poor. High cost of government dole, including food stamps, Medicaid, extended unemployment insurance and other government entitlement programs.
Unrestricted trade agreements with foreign nations, resulting in Roman citizens not being able to compete with foreign trade. Free trade agreements that have resulted in loss of American jobs, since Americans cannot compete with foreign low wages.
Class warfare between the rich and the poor. Government inspired class warfare between the rich and the poor.
Increased government subsidies enabled citizens to live comfortably without working. Increased government entitlements allow citizens to live comfortably without working.
The mob and the cost of games – the roman government provided circuses for the unemployed. Government now supplies cell phones and many perks for those living below the poverty line.
Decline in ethics and values – the decline in Roman ethics and values is well-known and needs no further explanation America has experienced a decline in ethics and values that cannot be argued and needs no further explanation.
Decline in morals led to the destruction of families. It was not common to have two parent households. Decline in morals is leading to the destruction of families. It is now common to have single parent households.
Barbarian Invasion For America, this can be considered to be Islamic terrorists.
Expansion of government – Ralph Martin Novak, author of “Christianity and the Roman Empire,” stated:“…whereas at the start of the third century A.D. the Roman emperors employed only about 300 to 350 full-time individuals in administering the Empire, by 300 A.D. this number had grown to some 30,000 or 35,000 people.” Expansion of government. It has been said that today you will work for the government one way or another.
High taxes were instituted to fund growing government and its programs. High taxes are being instituted to fund growing government and its programs.
Government ceased being the servant of the people and became its nanny. The Nanny State is increasing exponentially.
Practices of infanticide were justified and legal. Abortion is justified and legal.
Gladiator games, chariot races, and forms of violence were considered entertaining. Violent games of all kinds are considered entertaining.
Paganism and religious tolerance ruled – except for Christianity. Religious tolerance rules – except for Christianity.
Decline of the military and reduced incentives to join, including lack of respectable leadership. Attempts to disrespect and underfund the military have thankfully been unsuccessful.
Citizenship granted to foreigners Amnesty and disregard for immigration laws.
Romans became globalists instead of nationalists. Americans are encouraged to become globalists, abandoning patriotism.
Decline in education, which had previously been conducted privately within homes. Prosperous Roman families began to hire Greeks to teach their children. The Greeks taught humanistic and godless philosophies. Decline in education by government-run schools. Our government-run schools teach secular humanism and evolution, which portends that supernatural creation did not occur.

Resources:

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http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/romefallarticles/a/fallofrome_3.htm

http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman-empire/reason-why-the-roman-empire-fell.htm

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1907

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RoseAnn Salanitri is a published author and Acquisition Editor for the New Jersey Family Policy Council. She is a community activist who has founded the Sussex County Tea Party in her home state and launched a recall movement against Senator Robert Menendez. RoseAnn is also the founder of Veritas Christian Academy, as well as co-founder of Creation Science Alive, and a national creation science speaker.

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Michael Alan Kline Sr

Michael Alan Kline Sr liked this on Facebook.

Fergus Mason

“Prosperous Roman families began to hire Greeks to teach their children.”

Yes. In about 400BC.

nicosb

Ignoring the basic error that Rome was an EMPIRE not a Nation:

“Another theory that has been propagated about the “Fall of the Roman Empire” is that the Empire never actually fell in some dramatic course of events, and instead slowly transformed itself into a rudimentary form of what we would call “Medieval Europe”. Indeed the actual toppling of the Western Empire as a political structure was simply the last step in a long period of social change. The Empire had become less and less “Romanized” as time passed, and the Germanic peoples that had been the Empire’s neighbors slowly assimilated themselves. Scholars point to the continuation of Christianity, Roman Law, and the sustainment of the Eastern Roman Empire in the form of Byzantium, as well as other examples.

Since the time of the Emperor Constantine, Christianity had been the official religion of the Roman Empire. The church, with imperial support, began to establish its own structure and hierarchy. The church added a new dimension to Roman society, in which spiritual matters began to take precedence over their political counterparts. Indeed, “the theologians preached doctrines that minimized the importance of serving the state” (Grant).

Henri Pirenne has argued that the “Roman empire, in the economic, political, and cultural senses, survived and even prospered throughout the period of the barbarian invasions.” He claims it was the rise of the Islamic faith in the east which culturally divided the empire and led to its eventual breakup. He claims that the empire ended sometime during the seventh or eighth century when Islam “destroyed the unity of the Mediterranean and turned it into a Moslem lake.” During this time, the disunity of the Roman empire rendered it powerless against this movement.

In summary, scholars have argued that the Roman Empire did not end abruptly for a specific reason, but rather underwent a gradual transformation. These scholars see change as inevitable and look at “The Fall of Rome” as simply “time running its course.”

The above is taken from the first link quoted in the original post.

http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=ancienthistory&cdn=education&tm=73&f=00&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//web.archive.org/web/20040411190830/http%3A//www.acs.ohio-state.edu/history/isthmia/teg/Hist111H/issues/rome1.html

The sort of simplistic notions of the “Fall of the Roman Empire” expounded by Ms.Salanitri have long been discarded by serious scholars. May I suggest reading ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ by Peter Heather for a take on the ‘gradualist’ school of thought and ‘The Fall of Rome’ by Bryan Ward-Perkins, a proponent of the ‘catastrophic’ school of thought? Both should be available in the USA and will quickly disabuse the reader of the idea that the ‘Fall’, if it can be even called such, can be considered such black and white terms as displayed in this article.
As to comparing Rome to today’s America… it’s a complete nonsense. The differences in technologies and information available to both the governors and the governed, just for starters, make any such comparison a totally pointless exercise.

JT

You forgot to compare the cumulative lead poisoning from their plumbing, to the fluoridation of today’s water.
It’s about as relevant as the rest of your points.

Of course, after the fall of Rome, came the Dark Ages, where the Church suppressed science and the spread of knowledge – kinda like the religious right want to do in the US right now. So there’s another example for you.

nicosb

The whole point about the “Fall of the Roman Empire” is that modern scholarship now generally accepts that it wasn’t “marauding bands of scavengers” that took over in one catastrophic event, as Ms Salanitri implies, but rather a gradual evolution as one system of governance was replaced by an alternative one. The new model was no longer based on a strong empire-wide civil and military authority but rather on a series of strong regional civil and military authorities. Certainly there was disorder as the transformation occurred but there is serious scholarly debate as to the extent of this disorder; for most people it was probably ‘business as usual’. Given Ms Salaitri’s previous writings and her penchant for decrying the centralised US government, I would have thought she would have welcomed such a process.

nicosb

“Sadly, the witnesses from that lawless period are no longer alive, nor does anyone bother to read any of the literature of the period. If either of those conditions obtained today, modern scholars would not be so quick to dismiss as mere hiccups the disorders that occurred.”
Considering Ms Salaitri’s article was about events that took place 1500+ years ago it’s not surprising the witnesses are not alive. However, to suggest that no one bothers to read the literature of the time and if they did their views would be different is absolute nonsense. I mentioned two books previously: Heather and Ward Perkins. A brief look at their bibliographies shows that Heather (Professor of Medieval History at King’s College, London) refers to 42 different primary sources and Ward-Perkins ( Lecturer in History, Oxford University ), in a much shorter book, some 25 different primary sources; hardly a case of not bothering to read any of the literature of the period. One wonders how many primary sources Ms Salaitri consulted in producing her article.

The resources of the Roman Empire and the technologies you describe, running water, aqueducts etc. did of course exist. But, and it’s a very big but, they were concentrated in the larger towns and cities and on the estates of the landed elites. The majority of the population of the Empire in the west at the time of its dissolution, lived, as the majority population of the empire had always done, in the countryside and access to the technologies you describe was for them, limited in the extreme, if it existed at all. That such technologies disappeared when the empire was dissolved is not in dispute but bear in mind the Roman City as a an economic and political entity had been in decline, particularly in the west, for several hundred years prior to 476. (See: Integrating Late Roman Cities, Countryside and Trade. Harmut G.Ziche at: http://academia.edu/955594/Integrating_late_Roman_cities_countryside_and_trade )

I’ve got no particular comment to make on your statements about the modern American situation; I don’t know enough about it. I do, however, know enough about Late Antiquity and the period of the transformation of the Roman Empire to realise that Ms Salaitri’s article is historically incorrect, as I have tried to demonstrate.

Vwery well thought out article. Thanks

Better thought out than my previous spelling!!

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duffylovesfreedom

Not much difference at all between our nation and an empire:
“The term empire derives from the Latin imperium (power, authority). Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples”

alex

No offense Terry, you freaked out way too much about hurricane sandy….Basically you lost power (and thus some phone and water access) for a bit, something anyone from the north has come to accept as a way of life during the winter. Want a good example of a natural disaster that cut people off from the large networks of society?

Try Hurricane Katrina. Which did a whole heck of a lot more than inconvenience people. Those were people thrust into a world of butchered law and order because of a fallen government (essentially)

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