The Fall of Ancient Rome and the Collapse of America By Chris Knight (Florida)
There have often been comparisons made between modern America’s decline and the fall of Rome, with Internationalman.com, giving an interesting take. The parallels are mass immigration of “barbarians’ (as the Romans called them) or more kind, people who are ethnically and culturally distinct, spiralling taxation, unsustainable welfare, imperial overshoot from military adventures, and general cultural decline.
What occurred in ancient Rome, was that cultural decadence was produced by too much abundance, as argued by Lewis Mumford in his book, The City in History (1961). It was a case of the great quote by author G. Michael Hopf, that “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” The quote, from a sums up a pervasive cyclical vision of history, and the West is a part of this, not immune from the same forces.
“Ancient Rome was the world’s most powerful empire for 500 years.
At its height, Rome boasted of roads, public baths, and much else that was close to miraculous for the rest of the planet. Then came the Great Fall, and what happened has lessons for the world TODAY.
In his book The City In History (1961), Lewis Mumford explains how Rome went from “Megalopolis to Necropolis.”
This great city set up its own demise in two ways: Panem et circenses (or “bread and circuses”). Mumford says, “Success underwrote a sickening parasitic failure.”
As ancient Rome became prosperous, it became an unsustainable welfare state. Mumford writes that “indiscriminate public largesse” became common. A large portion of the population “took on the parasitic role for a whole lifetime.” More than 200,000 citizens of Rome regularly received handouts of bread from “public storehouses.”
Lewis Mumford also wrote the desire to lead an industrious productive life had severely “weakened.”
So what did people spend their time on? Distractions, which meant circuses.
The Roman people, not working for their livelihood but living off of the prosperity of their city, became numb.
Mumford writes, “To recover the bare sensation of being alive, the Roman populace, high and low, governors, and governed, flocked to the great arenas” for games and distractions.
The entertainment in Rome included “chariot races, spectacular naval battles set in an artificial lake, theatrical pantomimes in which lewder sexual acts were performed.” Today it is social media and porn.
Out of 365 days, more than 200 were public holidays and 93 were “devoted to games at the public expense.”
Consuming entertainment became the primary priority of Roman citizens in Rome’s decadent phase. As Lewis Mumford writes, “Not to be present at the show was to be deprived of life, liberty, and happiness.”
Concrete concerns of life became “subordinate, accessory, almost meaningless.”
Ancient Rome could put half of its total population “in its circuses and theatres” at the same time. A new public holiday was declared to celebrate every military victory. But the number of holidays kept rising even when Rome’s military prowess began to fail…
Mumford writes that no empire had such an “abundance of idle time to fill with idiotic occupations.”
Even the Roman emperors who privately despised the games had to pretend they enjoyed them for “fear of hostile public response.”
Bottom line: The very power and prosperity of ancient Rome set the stage for its collapse.
As welfare states expand around the world today and entertainment options get ever more immersive, we are forced to ask a question: Is this Post-Industrial Civilization Rome, Part II?