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Parallels between the Collapse of Rome and the Contemporary United States


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Seldom do I get to use my college major, but now is one of those times.

 

The Roman Empire collapsed due to myriad reasons that I will fit into 5 categories (which are incomplete summaries that I draft such that this isn't TL;DR).  The current United States draws some eerie parallels.

 

(1) Rome: Overpopulation by non-Roman ethnic (barbarian) peoples.  As Rome expanded, Rome incorporated the subjugated peoples into its population and particularly its military.  When the Germanic invasions of the 400s took place, Roman military forces had virtually no ethnic or cultural ties to the motherland, and were more sympathetic to the invaders than the army it served.  As Rome was over-expanded, there was no resistance in the interior to keep the Germanic tribes from sacking Rome over and over again.  United States: Influx of non-native population due to tepid, ineffective immigration policy.  As the United States ceased its expansion in the 1950s, immigration from the second-world of Latin America increased substantially.  From essentially the Clinton Administration onward, there has been no reasonable plan offered to grant immigrants a speedy, holistic, and universal path to citizenship that fosters a sense of belonging to the greater whole.  It's akin to Lucy trying to eat chocolates coming off the conveyor belt.  What has resulted is a population that has virtually no ethnic or cultural ties to the motherland, and is more sympathetic to the nation whence it came than the one it currently shares with others.  It's one of many types of fracturing.

 

(2) Rome: Generational economic stagnation and over-reliance on slave labor.  Rome was not only under attack from the outside, but it was rotting from within.  Constant military activity and runaway overspending choked the imperial economy.  Inflation and taxation evasion widened the gap between rich and poor.  Rome typically relied on slave labor to tend its agrarian economy, but the lack of expansion ground it to a halt.  United States: Beginnings of generational economic stagnation and lack of a qualified workforce.  The United States has had incomprehensible overspending, particularly on the military budget, since the Reagan years (2 generations).  Inflation has greatly out-stepped the rise in wages.  Coupled with inadequate corporate taxation and far too many tax loopholes for the ultra-wealthy, the middle class in America is disintegrating into dust.  American capitalism relies much too greatly on underpaid menial labor to support itself, and that portion of the workforce is now voluntarily excluding itself.  There is a substantial labor deficit combined with "stagflation".  

 

(3) Rome: The schism of the Western Empire hastened the collapse of the Eastern Empire.  Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into East and West.  This was penny wise and pound foolish.  East and West worked together very poorly and often squabbled over resources and imperial defense.  The Greek-leaning West experienced prosperity, while the Latin-leaning East dissolved.  United States: Europe is kicking our ass and we don't have the political and ideological infrastructure to keep up.  The United States spends about 3x the money on healthcare per capita than its European counterparts, yet lags significantly behind them in life expectancy.  According to the Social Progress Imperative, the United States ranks 18th of 128 countries based on 3 criteria: (1) availability of basic human needs, (2) access to information, and (3) personal rights / freedoms and access to education.  The Top 5?  Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland.  Europe is prospering, the United States is not.

 

(4) Rome: Corrupt government and political instability.  Being the Roman Emperor sucked.  During one period spanning between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, over 20 Emperors reigned in the span of barely 75 years.  The Praetorian Guard would even auction the spot at times to the highest bidder.  The Roman Senate was weak and feckless against the corruption.  Romans essentially lost trust in their government.  United States: Corrupt government and political cronyism.  The same two parties have controlled American political discourse for 160 years.  Essentially, that complacency has led the enterprise of becoming the President amounting to opening the coffers to pay for slick media production and presentation, hoping the middle 10% of the country chooses "your guy".  Congress is weak and feckless against the political machine, and is all to happy to abdicate anything resembling a check/balance on the executive.  The middle 60% of Americans have lost complete trust in the federal government.

 

(5) Rome: Christianity and the loss of traditional values.  The decline of Rome ran parallel with Constantine's proclamation of conversion to Christianity.  The Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in 313, and it became the official state religion in 380.  While this was a long-term net positive, ending the barbaric persecutions of antiquity and laying the foundation for the advancements to be made a millennium in the future, in the short term, monotheism displacing polytheism fractured the social fabric by shifting focus away from the state and toward a divine deity.  Further, Popes and clergy, who were not seasoned in managing and building a nation, took an increased role in political affairs, often making disastrous decisions.  United States: Wokism and the loss of traditional values.  The decline of the United States is running parallel with the rise of wokism and the assault on classical American values.  While in the long-term, a nation without persecution for living an alternative lifestyle must be obtained before the goal of freedom can be obtained, progress needs to be gradual and sustained.  Wokism is determined to scorch and salt the earth to remove any and all traces of people or ideas that do not fit the woke agenda.  Ironically, for many adherents of Wokism, this includes Christianity, which displaced the traditional values of Rome.  Wokism is ripping social fabric along urban/rural and socioeconomic lines.  Those who espouse wokism are those who are not seasoned in managing and building a nation, and they often advocate for disastrous, untenable positions.

 

Is this list perfect?  Of course not.  I typed this in under an hour, so it's not meant to be a dissertation.  But I hope it stirs some thoughtful, meaningful discussion.

 

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The only squabble I have is the 'traditional American values ' line. I think the issue is politicians catering to the small but extremely vocal outliers of each politician persuasion at the expense of most Americans who traditionally fall pretty center on the spectrum. The entire two party system is such a disaster, neither party has any backbone or dignity. The left sold out to woke big tech and the right let Trump and his brand of political firebombing take over. Growing up, the ACLU I supported defended Nazis and NAMBLA because they understood civil liberties extend to everyone, not just people we like, because we can't let a government stifle our freedom and now they're denouncing women who worry about their safety as bigots bc they don't want men masquerading as trans women in their prisons to assault them. Matt Taibbi does an excellent job on SubStack, his recent piece about the legal case (which should interest UVAO) in CA, Chandler v. CA DOC, is illuminating.  

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On 6/18/2022 at 11:46 PM, BigWinners said:

The only squabble I have is the 'traditional American values ' line. I think the issue is politicians catering to the small but extremely vocal outliers of each politician persuasion at the expense of most Americans who traditionally fall pretty center on the spectrum. The entire two party system is such a disaster, neither party has any backbone or dignity. The left sold out to woke big tech and the right let Trump and his brand of political firebombing take over. Growing up, the ACLU I supported defended Nazis and NAMBLA because they understood civil liberties extend to everyone, not just people we like, because we can't let a government stifle our freedom and now they're denouncing women who worry about their safety as bigots bc they don't want men masquerading as trans women in their prisons to assault them. Matt Taibbi does an excellent job on SubStack, his recent piece about the legal case (which should interest UVAO) in CA, Chandler v. CA DOC, is illuminating.  

I use "traditional American values" in the sense that America, throughout its history, has been socially conservative to a level that is beyond what we would normally consider.  My favorite example is California in 2008.  As a collective, African-Americans and Latinos are significantly more opposed to homosexuality and alternative lifestyles than the "general public" (Pew Research).  The turnout was so strong for Obama in 2008 (almost 80%) that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages, passed 52%-47%.  There were peculiar bedfellows there: the "State of Jefferson" Northern Californians with the aforementioned groups.  As people might imagine, that lit the socially liberal factions like a Roman candle.  The Republican failure since Reagan to capture minority votes, when those groups are tailor-made for your exact brand of social ideology, is just insanity to me.  But I digress.  Wokism is being shoved down America's throat, and the vast majority do not appreciate it.  Take the term "Latinx", as a simple example.  According to Pew Research, only 20% of the Latino/a population had ever even heard of the term, which should really tell folks something.  Of the 20% who have, 6 in 7 of Latino/as do not use the term themselves.  It's a perfect example of the extreme social liberals inventing a problem that does not exist; foisting it upon a community that largely does not care; and seeing those who do care be openly hostile to it or reject it.  

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On that point, I'm seriously considering the idea of writing a science fiction/dystopian novel.  As a brief summary:

 

A group of scientifically adept SJWs in modern times have discovered a way to harness antimatter, and they discover that the collision between matter and antimatter creates enough of a reaction to open a time-travel portal.  The stronger the reaction, the deeper the portal and the greater length of time they could travel.  Through experimentation, they calculate the strength needed to travel back to the United States in the early 1800s, to cure what they deem to be the greatest injustice in American history: the institution of slavery.  They create the reaction, and they end up in 1818, on the doorstep of the Missouri Compromise.  They use modern SJW media manipulation tactics to stoke the anti-slavery fires, with the intent to create enough anti-slavery fervor to abolish the institution, or at the worst, to hasten the Civil War.  Their tactics work to the extent that the nation comes to war regarding the expansion of Missouri.  Deeming their jobs done, they reenter the portal to the modern day.  What they find, though, is a world unrecognizable to the present day.  With the war being one of an almost religious cause to the "Confederacy", fresh off military success in the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson's "Confederacy" won the Civil War, which leaves the United States carved into 2 countries based upon the boundaries of the Colorado, Green, Missouri, Ohio, and Susquehanna Rivers.  The "Confederacy" resembles an apartheid South Africa, while the "Union" is a shell of itself economically and militarily.  The course of world events is significantly changed as well.  The "Confederacy" joins the Triple Alliance (Germany et al.) in World War I, while the "Union" joins the Triple Entente (Britain et al.).  This impacts World War II, where emboldened by its alliance with the "Confederacy", the progeny of the Nazis fight to a stalemate with Britain in Europe.  So on and so forth.  Seeing the error of their ways, the SJWs must take it upon themselves to develop the technology once again to create a new portal, this time leaping to just before their first 1818 endeavor, to stop themselves from making the same mistake again (and not changing things, just as leaving a warning to murder Hitler, etc. [though I might feasibly make it a series if I have them toy with certain historical hypotheticals]).  After 15 years of living in their newfound Hell, they do so.  All is right with the world again.  Finis.

Moral of the story: Sometimes it's best to let change happen organically as opposed to forcing it upon unwilling segments of the population.  

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1 hour ago, UVAObserver said:

I use "traditional American values" in the sense that America, throughout its history, has been socially conservative to a level that is beyond what we would normally consider.  My favorite example is California in 2008.  As a collective, African-Americans and Latinos are significantly more opposed to homosexuality and alternative lifestyles than the "general public" (Pew Research).  The turnout was so strong for Obama in 2008 (almost 80%) that Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages, passed 52%-47%.  There were peculiar bedfellows there: the "State of Jefferson" Northern Californians with the aforementioned groups.  As people might imagine, that lit the socially liberal factions like a Roman candle.  The Republican failure since Reagan to capture minority votes, when those groups are tailor-made for your exact brand of social ideology, is just insanity to me.  But I digress.  Wokism is being shoved down America's throat, and the vast majority do not appreciate it.  Take the term "Latinx", as a simple example.  According to Pew Research, only 20% of the Latino/a population had ever even heard of the term, which should really tell folks something.  Of the 20% who have, 6 in 7 of Latino/as do not use the term themselves.  It's a perfect example of the extreme social liberals inventing a problem that does not exist; foisting it upon a community that largely does not care; and seeing those who do care be openly hostile to it or reject it.  

I'm not sure that in the most successful points in modern American history that we were vastly more socially conservative than the rest of the world on the whole. There will always be a few smaller European countries that are incredibly socially liberal but I think on the average, post WWII that the US has been at least pretty centrist. Race relations have been pretty abhorrent at times but I don't think it's fair to lump that together with conservative views. Treatment of gays, expansion of social programs that are def not conservative, etc....have all moved in a way that doesn't align with traditional conservatism and we've seen this during some pretty huge times of American prosperity. 

 

The black community and to a larger degree Hispanic community are absolutely less socially progressive and more opposed to the more liberal ideas around sexuality and religion (esp Hispanics bc of their deep bond with Catholicism) but until recently both groups were out numbered quite handily by white Americans  and even then, other areas of progressive or liberal ideals (well supposed progressive ideals that until the last year or so were supposed liberal ideals) like reworking large portions of the criminal justice system and expansion of social programs targeted at the poorer demographics are pretty popular in both communities (maybe one more so than the other)

 

I've said for years if the GOP hasn't failed so horribly, they would DOMINATE the Hispanic and Asian demographics. Both demos have a strong sense of social conservatism and could easily be swayed to vote right if the right didn't go so hard against immigration and did more to cater to each. It makes zero sense, we all can see that white Americans are reproducing at a much lower rate than almost every other demo so the GOP needs to be trying to find ways to expand their reach but instead have seemingly done the opposite, they've went even more insular in an effort to appeal to a shrinking and aging demographic. 

the Dems have failed hard at securing the black vote as well, each party has had massive missteps in not expanding their base. That's why it's time for the entire two party system to be thrown out and let us start from scratch without the insane amount of dark money that has its grip on every faucet of American politics. 

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