More than 1500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E., a new empire has risen - the American empire. Only 240 years old, the U.S. has begun to realize that the 1300 year gap between itself and the ancient empire is not much of a gap at all. The similarities between these two civilizations are chilling and call into question whether the inevitable fall of the American empire will mirror that of the Roman Empire.
History repeats itself. Historians date the founding of Rome at 753 B.C.E. when the ancient Romans overthrew the Etruscan monarchy and began work on building a republic. A similar event occurred in 1776 C.E. when American colonists overthrew British rule in order to create their own government, one which was modeled after Rome's republic.
(Comparisons between the Roman Empire and the United States by Kaylynne H at helium.com)
Rome enjoyed 12 centuries of rise and fall before the barbarians began overwhelming the gates in the fifth century. During that time it became a prosperous and sometimes virtuous republic and then a dissolute and corrupt empire that was destined to be mined for contemporary lessons by historians.
(Lessons for America, courtesy of the Roman Empire by Walter Isaacson Published: Friday, May 11, 2007 at nytimes.com)
The decline of Rome came in many forms — in military power, in civil order, in eloquence, in philosophy, in architecture, in trade. Going back to those shipwrecks, they fall off sharply after 200 AD and after 400 drop to the levels of half a millennium earlier. It would be a thousand years before seaborne trade returned to the Augustan level. Infrastructure started to degrade. All told, decline-of-Rome explanations fall into two broad categories: either the empire killed itself (internal weaknesses) or it was killed by something else (external factors). Historians tilt one way or the other, but they also tend to cite the interplay of inside and outside forces rather than attributing Rome's demise to a single simple cause.
(Excerpt from Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America by Cullen Murphy. Copyright © 2007 by Cullen Murphy.)
Success came with expansion and both Roman and American civilization reached a time when they became the centers of their worlds. Rome became the center of the Mediterranean, dominating trade throughout the empire, building public buildings and roads to increase the speed of communication and the military. America has become the center of the modern world, with the U.N. and (prior to 9/11) the World Trade Center located in New York, and it leads the world in diplomacy and economy.
Even though both civilizations came to a point in time when they discontinued their physical expansions, they continued to impose upon various peoples culturally. The Romans homogenized and distributed their culture by offering luxuries such as baths, running water, and gladiatorial battles just as Americans do today. However, the U.S. offers more modern luxuries to every continent. And all of these cultural gifts' were paid for with the dominant currency, in Roman denarii and American dollars. One cannot help but realize that with the spread of these material goods sent throughout the ancient and modern empires, languages have been passed along as well. Just as almost all Romans spoke Latin, extremely large numbers of people around the world speak English.
(Comparisons between the Roman Empire and the United States by Kaylynne H at helium.com)
The achievements of the Roman Empire were unmatched at its time. Many things it accomplished are ideas and ways of life that did not become widespread until after its fall. The Roman Empire would have made the advancement of people in Europe much faster.
The Roman Empire was the most modern ancient empire. It made much advancement in the arts and sciences. It had many great poets, philosophers, artists, and engineers. The Romans encouraged learning and supported any who endeavored to make discoveries or technological improvement. If the Roman Empire had not fallen, the world, from a scientific stand point would be very different today. The Roman Empire would have made discoveries and scientific advancements before the Dark Ages. During the Dark Ages no scientific studies or appreciation of the arts took place. For almost an entire millennium humans made no advancements. The barbarians, who destroyed Rome, destroyed it to take its wealth not its knowledge. The knowledge that was lost was not resurrected until the Renaissance. Technological improvement was at a standstill. If the Roman Empire had lasted, Europe would not have fallen into that dark period. Rome would have kept modernizing. Today, we could be at a technological level we may not reach for many years. The Romans made advancements in the field of medicine. Today we could have had cures for many diseases had the empire not fallen.
After the fall of Rome, anarchy took place in the parts of Europe that it occupied. During this anarchy, civilization deteriorated to its most basic level. People had to fight for survival and tribal wars ravaged the populous. Culture was absent and the standard of living was horrible. This period of chaos would not have occurred if the Roman Empire had continued to exist. Europe would not have fallen behind other nations such as the Arabs and Orientals in technological advancement. These cultures were far more advanced than European culture during the Middle Ages.
The word of the hour is empire. As the United States marches to war, no other label quite seems to capture the scope of American power or the scale of its ambition. "Sole superpower" is accurate enough, but seems oddly modest. "Hyper power" might appeal to the French; "hegemon" is favored by academics. But empire is the big one, the gorilla of geopolitical designations - and suddenly the US is bearing its name.
The most obvious similarity is overwhelming military strength. Rome was the superpower of its day, boasting an army with the best training, biggest budgets and finest equipment the world had seen. No one else came close. The US is just as dominant - its defense budget is bigger than the military spending of the next nine countries combined, allowing it to deploy forces almost anywhere on the planet at lightning speed. Throw in its technological lead, and the US emerges as a power without rival.
More to the point, the US has military bases, or base rights, in some 40 countries - giving it the same global muscle it would enjoy if it ruled those countries directly. According to Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback, The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, these US military bases are today's version of the imperial colonies of old. Washington may refer to them as "forward deployment", says Johnson, but colonies are what they are. On this definition, there is almost no place outside America's reach.
Rome even had its own 9/11 moment. In the 80s BC, Hellenistic king Mithridates called on his followers to kill all Roman citizens in their midst, naming a specific day for the slaughter. They heeded the call and killed 80,000 Romans in local communities across Greece. "The Romans were incredibly shocked by this," says the ancient historian Jeremy Paterson, of Newcastle University, England. "It's a little bit like the statements in so many of the American newspapers since September 11: 'Why are we hated so much?"'
Look closely at how the US is perceived amongst the rest of the nations of the world; you would see that it is not entirely out of hate. It is out of a dreaded disappointment that they are not living up to the idealistic nature their Founding Fathers helped cement for them. They are a good people. It's just that they have not always acted like it.
They as a people have been so divided down the middle since the turn of the century that they feel more like a Disunited States of America than the originally conceived. Yet their desire is national, to do well. So when we hear people speak, not of judgment and vengeance, but of bipartisanship and reasoning, they rally together as one to see that true justice prevails. The best of intentions is usually marked by the one who has the most to lose. There is no such thing as a perfect race, human, or nation. There are only perfect intentions, devoid of all greed, lust for power, and indiscretions that hurt rather than heal. Passion without logic is extremist zealotry. And logic without passion is an empty hole where good men, who lack the courage of their convictions, plummet to the depths of and are lost forever. If America cannot find that BALANCE between good and evil then they must.
(Comparisons between the Roman Empire and the United States by by Kevin C. Carr at helium.com)
The Romans were fond of telling their heroes: “Sic transit gloria mundi.” This (worldly) glory passes. Roman history proves it. Rome is not alone, ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Persia, all have found: Gloria transit. Rome had its comeuppance. So did Egypt, Greece, Persia and the rest. Some say America is due for a comeuppance. Are we witnessing it today? Unless you are totally blind or live on a desert island, the answer is clearly: yes. Babylon lasted four thousand years, ancient Egypt lasted three thousand, and Rome lasted about a thousand. America has lasted, so far, two hundred and forty. It can be concluded that an empire’s lifetime is inversely proportional to the date the empire began. The earlier the empire, the longer it lasts.
America stopped being a country and became an empire during the nineteenth century. A result of America’s imperial expansion is Midway Isl., Wake Isl., Hawaii, Panama (canal), Puerto Rico and much more. America’s euphemism for territorial conquest is liberation. The Soviets used the same word in acquiring territory. While on that subject, the Soviet Union, the most recent empire to decline, lasted 75 years. The Third Reich lasted only eleven years.
An empire generally evolves from a country or a federation of states, goes through an expansion, becomes an empire and then … the inevitable decline and fall. The resulting mess left from a fall usually leaves a period of decay. Such was the dark ages after the fall of Rome. The recent fall of the Soviet Empire is just now resulting in a bleak period in Russia. The people of the country left behind after a fall does not resemble the original imperial citizenry. Just as the Italians bear no resemblance to the Romans, or the modern Egyptians to the ancient Egyptians, the remnant American will bear no similarity to the founding fathers of America.
(The Decline and Fall of the American Empire And The Death of American Liberty by ROBERT MURRAY at the-decline-and-fall-of-the-american-empire.com)
Dr. Carle Zimmerman in 1947 wrote a book called Family and Civilization. He studies the decline of several civilizations and empires. He discovered eight patterns of domestic behavior that signaled the decline of a civilization:
1. The breakdown of marriage and rise of divorce.
2. The loss of the traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony.
3. The rise of Feminism.
4. Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
5. Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity and rebellion.
6. Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept their family responsibilities.
7. A growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
8. Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions (homosexuality) and sex-related crimes.
Between 1960 and 1990, out-of-wedlock births in the USA increased more than 500 percent (from 5.3 percent to 28 percent), single-parent families tripled, about 50 million babies were murdered in the womb, and violent crimes increased 500 percent. About 16,000 crimes occur on or around school campuses each day! In 2005, 37 percent of births were to unwed mothers, up from 36 percent in 2004 and 28 percent in 1990. The report stated that “The overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or are living together without getting married.” Are these the “Healthy Families” that the amoral campaign of that name is building by supporting abortion?
Homosexuals not only flaunt their sin in public, they are fêted, wooed, indulged, and thanked by politicians for their votes. It’s Sodom and Gomorrah again––or worse! In January 2007, Christian Vanneste, an MP in France’s ruling party was fined nearly $4,000 for saying that homosexuality is “inferior to heterosexuality” and would be “dangerous for humanity if it was pushed to the limit.” Of course, these are the facts. But daring to express the undeniable truth unleashes the wrath of police and courts in their zeal to protect the feelings of a favored class that complains of being offended
(Source: American Daily at maranatha777.wordpress.com)
There’s an amazing resemblance between America’s current situation and the ancient Roman Empire. The Roman Empire fell due to various reasons--three of them are worth mentioning: the decline of morality, culture and politics from within; the overly self-confident army and various wars to extend borders; and the financial irresponsibility of the central government. Don't these sound familiar?
"One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse," warns anthropologist Jared Diamond in "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or succeed." Many "civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society's demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power."
Throughout history imperial leaders inevitably emerge and drive their nations into wars for greater glory and "economic progress," while inevitably leading their nation into collapse. And that happens suddenly and swiftly, within "a decade or two."
With a fascinating metaphor, Harvard's Niall Ferguson, one of the world's leading financial historians, said, "There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than 'The Course of Empire,' a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hangs in the New York Historical Society. Cole was a founder of the Hudson River School and one of the pioneers of nineteenth-century American landscape painting; in 'The Course of Empire,' he beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day. Each of the five imagined scenes depicts the mouth of a great river beneath a rocky outcrop."
If you're unable to see them at the historical society, they're all reproduced in Foreign Affairs, underscoring Ferguson's warnings that the "American Empire on the precipice," near collapse.
"In the first, 'The Savage State,' a lush wilderness is populated by a handful of hunter-gatherers eking out a primitive existence at the break of a stormy dawn." Imagine our history from Columbus' discovery of America in 1492 on through four more centuries as we savagely expanded across the continent.
"The second picture, 'The Arcadian or Pastoral State,' is of an agrarian idyll: the inhabitants have cleared the trees, planted fields, and built an elegant Greek temple." The temple may seem out of place. However, Cole's paintings were done in 1833-1836, not long after Thomas Jefferson built the University of Virginia using classical Greek and Roman revival architecture.
As Ferguson continues the tour you sense you're actually inside the New York Historical Society, visually reminded of how history's great cycles do indeed repeat over and over. You are also reminded of one of history's great tragic ironies -- that all nations fail to learn the lessons of history that all nations and their leaders fall prey to their own narcissistic hubris and that all eventually collapse from within.
"The third and largest of the paintings is 'The Consummation of Empire.' Now, the landscape is covered by a magnificent marble entrepôt, and the contented farmer-philosophers of the previous tableau have been replaced by a throng of opulently clad merchants, proconsuls and citizen-consumers. It is midday in the life cycle."
'The Consummation of Empire' focuses us on Ferguson's core message: At the very peak of their power, affluence and glory, leaders arise, run amok with imperial visions and sabotage themselves, their people and their nation. They have it all.
But more-is-not enough as greed, arrogance and a thirst for power consume them. Back in the early days of the Iraq war, Kevin Phillips, political historian and former Nixon strategist, also captured this inevitable tendency in Wealth and Democracy:
"Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out." We sense the "consummation" of the American Empire occurred with the leadership handoff from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.
Unfortunately that peak is behind us: Clinton, Bush, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and all future American leaders are merely playing their parts in the greatest of all historical dramas, repeating but never fully grasping the lessons of history in their insatiable drive for "economic progress," to recapture former glory ... while unwittingly pushing the empire to the edge, into collapse.
The Destruction of Empire
Then comes 'The Destruction of Empire,' the fourth stage in Ferguson's grand drama about the life-cycle of all empires. In "Destruction" "the city is ablaze, its citizens fleeing an invading horde that rapes and pillages beneath a brooding evening sky." Elsewhere in "The War of the World," Ferguson described the 20th century as "the bloodiest in history, one hundred years of butchery." Today's high-tech relentless news cycle, suggests that our 21st century world is a far bloodier return to savagery.
At this point, investors are asking themselves: How can I prepare for the destruction and collapse of the American Empire? There is no solution in the Cole-Ferguson scenario, only an acceptance of fate, of destiny, of history's inevitable cycles.
But there is one in "Wealth, War and Wisdom" by hedge fund manager Barton Biggs, Morgan Stanley's former chief global strategist who warns us of the "possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure," advising us to buy a farm in the mountains.
"Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food ... well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson." And when they come looting, fire "a few rounds over the approaching brigands' heads."
"Finally, the moon rises over the fifth painting, 'Desolation,'" says Ferguson. There is not a living soul to be seen, only a few decaying columns and colonnades overgrown by briars and ivy." No attacking "brigands?" No loveable waste-collecting robots from Wall-E?
The good news is the Earth will naturally regenerate itself without savage humans, as we saw in Alan Weisman's brilliant "The World without Us:" Steel buildings decay. Microbes eat indestructible plastics. Eons pass. And Earth reemerges in all its glory, a Garden of Eden.