down we go

Huckleberry Finn is being whitewashed while black birds fall from the sky.

I don’t subscribe to the “end of times” theory, but I am thinking that civilization is heading for a big fall — very much like the one that overtook that major power that was once the Roman Empire.

There are quite a few parallels between, say, a country like America, and ancient Rome, looked at in the context of their specific historical times.

The United States of America occupies 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and has a population of over 310 million. [go to] In its heyday, the Roman Empire consisted of some 2.2 million square miles (5.7 million sq. km), and its citizenship numbered as many as 120 million people. [go to]

Let’s face it. In the context of their times, America is, and Rome was, a power to be reckoned with.

From here:

Rome started out as a small settlement in the middle of the Italian boot. By the time it was an empire, it looked completely different. Some of the theories on the Fall of Rome focus on the geographic diversity and extent of the territory the Roman emperors had to control.

Think about America, with its diverse geography and diverse population and diverse regional needs. And think about America with its 50 states and their governments having conflicting agendas. Sounds a bit like Rome, doncha’ think?

Now, historians pretty much agree that Rome fell for a variety of reasons –reasons that echo into our times. From here:

There was the economic decay that accompanied the political decay. Some add Christianity to the mix of causes, and some add paganism. These aside, the political system was geared for occasional failures in competent leadership. And one might want to throw in an increase in population among those living outside the Roman Empire.

And from here:

Many historians believe that a combination of such factors as Christianity, decadence, financial, political and military problems caused its demise. Very few suggest that single factors were to blame. Some even blame Rome’s fall upon the rise of Islam, suggesting that the Fall of Rome happened at Constantinople in the 15th Century. Edward Gibbon, an English historian and Member of Parliament in the 18th Century, wrote a number of books, by far his most famous being “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (written in six volumes between 1776 and 1788). This author placed the blame for the Roman Empire’s demise upon the loss of civic virtue among its citizens.

Gibbon’s famous “History” did conclude that the loss of civic virtue and the rise of Christianity were a lethal combination……..

One definition of civic virtue, from here, is
interested in having the government work for the common good

Wikipedia says this:
Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community.

TeaBaggers have replaced the kind of civic virtue that informed the creators of the Constitution with it’s opposite — a focus on its own small fundamentalist agenda to the detriment of society as a whole.

America has fallen before, (e.g. between the 1870s and 1890s).

A new economic superpower undermines established economic leaders. The collapse of complex financial instruments turn a boom into a bust. Banks fail in waves. Unemployment reaches up to 25% in some areas. A global depression holds on for more than two decades. Class warfare breaks out. Transportation networks stall—along with industries dependent upon them—as the main “fuel” for transportation disappears. Pandemic disease exacts a terrible toll. Religious fundamentalism skyrockets. Totalitarianism rises around the world.

If we generalize a bit from the 1870s-1890s, a handful of key issues emerge as likely to have echoes today:

# Aggressive self-interest on the part of states, despite clear potential to damage the overall economic/political structure;
# Desperate need to find scapegoats;
# Embrace of religious extremism as a way of finding support and solidarity;
# Heightened conflict between economic classes and political movements.

Rome did not fall in day. It was in decline for centuries before the final boot dropped.

I can’t help thinking that we’re on the same trajectory as Rome.

2 thoughts on “down we go

  1. There have been comparisons similar to those presented here over the years.
    Your iterations of why Rome fell helps keep the comparisons in mind for those who care.
    As you relate, those who today want to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when
    the Lone Ranger rides again, think they hear those hoof beats of Silver. Unfortunately, most are not acquainted with the history you present. Good presentation, Elaine.

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