Imperial Pretensions

May 28, 2001

A cottage industry has developed comparing modern America with ancient Rome and its decline. While I share some of the adherents views, I'm much too good of a historian to believe the past repeats itself exactly. Certainly, trends and results are clearly visible between the decline and fall of Rome and current events in the United States of 2001. However, those who believe monetary debasement, political stupidity and military adventurism automatically cause a society to collapse are misreading the evidence. Cultural decay is more like cancer than the bubonic plague in my opinion. Without a doubt, the long term, multi generational effect of monetary, moral, political and spiritual debasement will destroy any culture. The only issue is the timing.

The historical record shows ancient Rome was just as corrupt in Nero's reign in 65 ad as it was in 409 and 456 when it was sacked. I think the historical record shows Rome "fell" several times in the intervening centuries. The key to Rome's survival was the ability to pull itself together and go on. The Roman Humpty Dumpty did indeed fall off the wall, but he was able to reassemble himself several times and climb back up. The key to a culture's survival lies in this ability to pull together and to get its act together so to speak. It's precisely this ability to get its act together that the above mentioned vices attack and eventually destroy. Eventually, the selfishness, arrogance and greed of a corrupted populace and elite prove fatal to the concept of self sacrifice, patriotism and moral virtue vital for the cohesion and survival of a culture. I imagine both the Roman elite and populace, by the late 300's, felt their Legions defending the Empire were for fools and chumps too stupid to get out of military duty. The business elite pursued profit at all cost and the political elite sought to extort taxes to continue their Imperial lifestyle. In fact, much like the America of today.

It's clear to me that many of the same moral, political and economic vices of ancient Rome are flourishing in the United States. No doubt about that at all. The only issue in my mind is the timing. Exactly when the rot will reach critical mass is something that a mere essayist for gold-eagle.com cannot be sure of. I simply look at the historical record and ask myself if the same trends that destroyed Rome are in full flower now as then. The answer is yes. The American people are making exactly the same bad choices the Romans made, although we are dealing with different types of information, technology and cultural bias. I do not believe you can draw a straight line and say "the Romans did this and it led to that, so if the Americans do the same thing the results will be the same." For instance, I think homosexuality had very little impact upon the Roman Empire. Rome didn't fall because of Sodomy; it fell because it was unable to repel a military invasion.

To say that moral virtue will save America is also historically shaky. The blunt truth is that people can be very corrupt and evil, can live in a society that is very corrupt and evil and be around for centuries. Read history and you will see what I mean. The Roman word for virtue, virtus has nothing to do with what we think of as modern virtue. The Latin word means "manly vigor" and relates to the ability to stomp Barbarian ass among other things. The point being the religious right is naive if it thinks moral virtue alone will save America. What will save America is a conscious choice by the American people to reverse the folly and seek wisdom. Platitudes won't do much good against Osama Bin Laden I'm afraid. America needs to seek wisdom, be humble and stop screwing the rest of the world through our arrogant multinational New World Order banks and corporations. If we fail to do this, then I'm afraid we are on the fast track to disaster. The lesson of Rome is that eventually moral, economic, political and military corruption will bear fruit. In Rome's case it took several centuries; in ours the time line is speeded up.

Rome made four fatal errors in my opinion that over a 400 year time frame rotted it from the inside. The United States is making the same four fatal errors in my opinion and although I'm unsure if they will have the same result.

The first Roman error was economic. The Romans over a several hundred year period debased their currency and taxed the populace into poverty. The United States has done what it took Rome several hundred years to do in less than a century. Mr. Magoo and the Federal Reserve are now in the late stages of a near 100% devaluation of the dollar since 1913. Mr. Magoo has over the last few years done more damage to the fiat currency than generations of desperate Roman Emperors did. Mr. Magoo has launched a speculative bubble of asset inflation beyond the scope of historical reference. The only issue is when it will end and can the global economy put itself together after the impending collapse? As for the income tax, the working poor and middle class of America have been raped and looted to fund the imperial pretensions of a globalist military and corporate oligarchy. Monetary debasement and oppressive taxation were the trademarks of late stage Roman economics. They are also the trademarks of the United States in 2001. The only unanswered question is whether we have another century or two of decline, go down faster or restore the Constitutional system. Rome could not change; America still can, although we may need another Revolution to do it.

The second Roman error was the creation of a standing, professional army not supported by a total draft. The resulting economic dislocations bled the economy for generations prior to the final military defeat. By cheapening the concepts of patriotism and duty, Roman citizens eventually came to regard joining the military as "going Barbarian." By 409 Rome was incapable of military defense. The legions of Julius Caesar were full of Italians; the later legions were full of people who were Roman citizens in name only. When the waves of barbarians hit Rome, the generations of contempt towards military service, budget cutbacks, inferior technology and tactics finally bore fruit. The fruit was the swift collapse of Rome in the face of large, well organized and equipped barbarian hordes. In fact, when Rome was sacked in 409 the degenerate populace didn't even know what a sword looked like, much less being able to use one. They relied upon one Legion, the Praetorian Guard, to defend them while they partied at the Coliseum.

Likewise, America has had its economy destroyed by excessive defense expenditures trying to defend its Imperial Business empire. America has also purposely ignored the Constitutional prohibition against both a standing and professional Army. The result is we now have a military cut off from normal American life. Like Rome, America's middle class despises an enlisted military career ; the idea of going into the Infantry is seen as a sign of insanity. Our military debasement isn't as complete as Rome, since the middle class still produces officers. But give us another fifty years and that will fade.

The third Roman error was in allowing both the concentration of power and the unbridled ambition of its Senators, Tribunes and Legion commanders. As the centuries went by, Rome became in effect a despotic dictatorship at the whim of Caesar. This increasing despotism slowly drained the populace of any concern about politics, civil life and the greater good of Rome. Our American motto of "Let the government do it" reflects the Roman version of "Caesar will take care of it." After several centuries of wealth redistribution, mob freebies and debased cultural entertainment, the Roman people were incapable of dealing emotionally with the concept of a barbarian invasion. Earlier generations would have simply formed into legions and kicked ass, but later ones simply sat and watched as they were overwhelmed. The effect of multiple generations of government was to destroy individual initiative and self reliance. The effect was to destroy the concept of being accountable, the concept of taking individual action and even the idea of anybody but the government doing anything. The government will take care of the barbarians; I don't need to do anything. See any resemblance to current American life? America differs from Rome in the role of media in modern life, but the media concentration and control rule applies.

As for the unbridled ambition of the Senators, Tribunes and Legion commanders in ancient Rome, there is no doubt in my mind this is what proved lethal for the Roman Empire. In the later centuries, time and time again barbarian armies would be allowed access to loot and pillage while the Legion commanders were fighting amongst themselves to become Caesar. The Senators were allowed to tax with impunity in the areas they administered, crushing all economic life. Caesar's sat on their throne lightly, worried about ambitious Senators and Legion commanders trying to overthrow them. This went on for generations, especially after 200 ad, with the result of political chaos and instability for decade after decade. Caesar after Caesar was a Legion commander who gained the prize for a while until the next Legion commander decided to take his shot.

In American parlance, we come to Senator Jeffords, a Senator, and Bill Clinton, the child caesar. Gold-eagle.com readers surely know my deep contempt for ambitious politicians. We are now seeing the result of the American populace's unwillingness to discipline our insolent would be Caesar. Bill and Hillary have now borne fruit. There will be more, many, many more in the years ahead. Senator Jeffords is a political opportunist, much as the ambitious Legion Commanders were. Senator Jeffords is the first fruit of a new generation of power mad political hacks seeking to sate their lust. What's left of the American Republic will now be buffeted by waves of political chaos fomented by individuals seeking glory and fame. This is what happened in ancient Rome. This is what eventually led to dictatorship; after dictatorship came despotism. America is now on the slide towards dictatorship. Political opportunists like Jeffords, a liberal shit lawyer from Yale, are merely greasing the skids. The Clinton era atmosphere of blackmail, extortion, intimidation and physical violence will now gather speed and dominate American politics for decades to come. Assuming we have that long of course. I'm just waiting for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to figure out they control the troops and get rid of the moron politicians. That's what happened in Rome and the pattern is staying true to form. The precise point at which the professional American military gets tired of its corrupt political masters is unknown. They are no fools though and will make their move when they feel the time is right. The apathetic and dazed populace, both Roman and American, will either not care or join the military in its revolution. Roman citizens were disarmed and Americans are not, at least not yet. This is another reason linear progression is not possible. We are different than the Romans were and hopefully we will have a different fate than they did.

The fourth error Rome made was in devaluing citizenship and allowing excessive immigration into the empire. Likewise, America has allowed the New World Order to overwhelm the United States with tens of millions of immigrants. The cultural cohesion of the United States is very much in questions these days. The definition of a country is its ability to control its borders. Since the United States hasn't controlled its borders for the last 25 years, it's a safe bet that the ruling elite doesn't take the idea of the United States very seriously. If we did, we wouldn't have allowed the current situation to happen. The ability to get our act together in a national crisis will be severely tested with tens of millions of undigested foreigners amongst us. It's likely the United States, just as Rome did, will descend into ethnic, economic, political and class distinctions when the rubber hits the road. Buffeted by powerful, vicious external enemies, drained by excessive taxation; dealing with a debased and increasingly worthless currency, oppressed by insolent and corrupt leaders, distracted by mindless entertainment called popular culture, America, like Rome, is dealing with many of the same issues and making many of the same choices. However, Americans still have the option of change. And if change is not still possible; we slide into a New World Order tyranny- at least we have the option of dying on our feet and not on our knees.

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