The Parallel of the Roman Empire and other Civilizations

Discussion in 'History' started by Bowser, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I watched a video today that explored the fall of the Roman Empire. The video is extremely long, so I won't post it here. In short, the author built the case that over taxation and the debasing of the Roman denar were responsible for a growing welfare state that eventually couldn't support it's own security. Of course the video provided more historical background for the events that delivered the empire to a slow death, but the nails in the coffin were the ruling powers who abused their power in an ongoing effort to support the welfare system and the military, eventually collapsing the whole system.

    Yes, the author made the parallel with western society, western currency, and western welfare systems. I think there is something to learn from ancient cultures, how they flourished and how they died. Do you agree with the notion that we are following the same path of the Roman Empire and are spending our way into the trash can of history? Will we be a chapter in future texts regarding great civilizations that came and went?

    I believe all things come to an end, and sometimes ponder the end of western culture.
     
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The most striking parallel would be with the military. The "welfare" expenditures in Rome, as in the US, were comparatively trivial and had large beneficial paybacks. The military gutted their economy.
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Ergo, my disdain for Hillary warmonger Clinton.
    W need someone from outside the mic to curb this disease.
     
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    If you would examine the Russian past you'd see it failed because of those same reasons. When it was the USSR it couldn't bear the weight of trying to keep everyone happy even though it gave away way more than it took in. So it too collapsed and with American dollars to help it out and it becoming a Democracy it has done better but it is again facing the same problems it had just as America is having as well.
     
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Too late for the Presidency.

    There are several possibilities in the current Senate and House campaigns - Russ Feingold next door to me in Wisconsin, people like that.

    Obama had a chance initially, and apparently the lean, but was unable to get support from the military-associated voters - especially white male southerners, who packed the House and Senate against him, forestalling action. So that opportunity, if there, was wasted.

    Before him, Al Gore had a handle on it by all appearances - we all know how that turned out. Once again the military southern voter rejected the candidate with actual military experience and demonstrated competence, in favor of a nincompoop with evil advisors. This asshat was re-elected, by the military white male vote, after he did this: Has any President more thoroughly and publicly humiliated the US citizenry than that guy, when he did that?

    So we probably have to wait until the Republican Party has disintegrated, and the Dems have split off their liberal faction into a recognizable entity, and the media have somehow purged themselves of the Sean Hannitys and Hugh Hewitts and Joe Scarboroughs at least somewhat - then the libertarians of the left and right can make common cause, so when the current crop of anachronistic Confederates dies off (not too long now) they'll be ready. Twenty years?
    The Soviet military gutted the Soviet economy - that was partly the consequence of deliberate US strategy, risking war to force the Soviets to bankrupt themselves meeting threats.

    This had nothing to do with the Soviets "giving away" anything to anybody. Their economy was a disaster because it was centrally controlled and subservient to a military industrial complex, not because it was generous to a fault. They didn't run out of food because they gave away too much of it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    A president with enough balls could use the veto combined with the bully pulpit to curb the lavish military spending.
    The problem with congress is the donations and lobbyist. They authorize purchases that nobody wants to satisfy their donors.
    Trump ain't carrying that sort of political baggage. Of course when he stands up to the mic, they will assassinate him, then we get Pence.
    One of the military exercises was more or less a pool--------how long will x survive after y---ie: marine leader after hitting the beach---
    Anyone wanna start a death pool on Trump.
    How long will he survive after curbing military spending?

    “I hear stories,” Trump said in a speech before the New Hampshire primary, “like they’re ordering missiles they don’t want because of politics, because of special interests, because the company that makes the missiles is a contributor.”

    In terms of Hillary Clinton, O'Hanlon said, she is "less intent on sounding like a hawk but she actually is somewhat more hawkish, ... than Trump. As such, she may need to be for a slightly larger/more expensive military than Trump would favor."
     
  10. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Well it's much more complicated than that. Rome didn't fall because of social programs or funding its military. The military was largely successful for Rome's success.

    What failed Rome was its leadership. Corruption and a series of poor decisions by a series of bad leaders caused Rome to fall. Roman leaders made some very poor decisions. It wasn't a very inclusive society. If failed successfully assimilate the people it conquered and those people eventually rebelled. That's what caused the Roman empire to crumble.

    Two, you cannot compare the US to Rome. The Roman Empire wasn't a democracy. The US is. That's a very big difference.

    Normally, I would have summarily dismissed your comparison. But that was before Trump. Trump is symptomatic of a sickness, the same kind of sickness which led to the downfall of Rome. Trump is the kind of leader which lead to the downfall or Rome. The Republican Party is a clear and present threat to the nation.

    If this goes as I expect, Trump will be resoundingly defeated this fall. So things will be fine for a time. But we still have a very toxic Republican Party. The Republican Party created The Donald. That should be of concern to everyone, especially Republicans. It it weren't The Donald, it would have been someone else equally if not worse e.g. Canadian Ted.
     
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Um, NO
     
  12. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    Well unfortunately for right wingers, facts do matter.
     
  13. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    According to the author of the video, Roman taxation became so burdensome that people found it more advantageous to abandon their profession and live on state welfare. Also, the Roman empire had so thoroughly debased its own currency that even the empire started demanding gold as payment for taxes. Near the end they were so broke they couldn't even pay their army of mercenaries and started partitioning land as payment. As far as assimilating other people into Roman society, they were excellent at adopting other peoples and very inclusive, bringing many under the umbrella and security of the military and civil law. It was later in their history where they had trouble with outsiders who wanted Roman protection but couldn't adopt Roman culture.

    When the Roman denar was introduced, it contained 99% silver; near the end of the empire, the denar contained less than 1% silver. When the Empire was young, the average citizen had to work two days a year to pay their taxes; near the end they were forced to remain in their occupation, and their descendants also had to follow the same profession.
     
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    I think he'd be easier to bribe than Clinton. He's more motivated by greed.
    Do you believe that? And why do you think the burdensome taxes were needed? (hint: armies are expensive).
    Or to put it in simple terms: the military gutted their economy.
     
  15. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    The history of the Roman empire seems to be a Rorschach test where people can see what they want in it. The fact is the Roman Empire never died, it became the Holy Roman Empire, and ruled over Europe until the 19th century.
     
  16. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    Another interesting point made in the video was that the Roman military, when not fighting, would be used to construct various infrastructure--roads, canals, etc. The Romans were highly organized for some time.
     
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  17. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    And?
     
  18. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    When I was in the military, we were either training or sucking down beer in the local pup. I just thought it interesting that the Romans utilized their resources in a very efficient way.
     
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  19. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    There is a lot of truth in that. Rome has been used by monetarists to justify their beliefs as demonstrated in this thread. But it's a false comparison. First, the collapse or fragmentation, of the Roman Empire had nothing to do with monetary policy. It had everything to do with Roman politics. Let's remember Rome's decision to fragment was a conscious and intentional decision. It was felt the empire had become to big for one person to manage. It was a strategic decision to break up the empire into parts. That's what led to the political breakup of the empire - a strategic decision that went bad. That resulted in less cooperation, and when threatened by "barbarians" the empire was ill equipped politically to address those threats. They paid tributes, but eventually, that didn't work. They made alliances and they broke them. They failed to assimilate cultures, something they once did very well, and eventually those folks alienated by Rome took up arms against Rome e.g. Alaric.

    The bottom line here is Roman leadership failed and that's a vulnerability no one culture or civilization can avoid. It's a constant risk. It goes with being human. But the risk can be mitigated with democratic institutions and a well educated and informed electorate.

    Rome's failure has nothing to do with monetary policy. Rome's finances were stretched, but it wasn't because of "social" spending. It was because it was being forced to pay huge tributes to barbarian tribes and the rampant corruption which ate away at Rome's institutions. People lost faith in Roman leadership, and that had nothing to with Roman monetary policies. To blame Roman monetary policy for Rome's decline is analogous to blaming your nose because you got a cold.

    The value of currency doesn't depend upon the amount of precious metal behind it or in it. The value of currency depends upon the faith people have in the government and the economy behind the currency.
     
  20. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    When I was in the military I was always working. I was trained for 2.5 years and I worked for 1.5 years.

    There wasn't an infrastructure back then, especially on the Roman frontier. If you wanted a road you couldn't put out a bid. You had to build it yourself. The US military does have construction battalions. The Army and Navy both have construction battalions to build roads, bridges, airports, etc.



     
  21. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    It would be difficult to draw such a parallel due to the tiny yet still shrinking military expenditures of the US (in terms of GDP and fraction of government revenue).
     
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Your notion of "tiny" and mine varies considerably.
     
  23. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    US defense spending is about 3.5% of GDP. It's estimated Rome spent 2.3% of its GDP on defense.
     

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