Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rome And The USA

Having completed over half the book "The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire", I have struggled to articulate the parallels with Rome and America.  Rome was cutting edge in technological advances, yet it was an ancient civilization.  Violence marked its relationship with its neighbors and its politics because its neighbors were savages, and arms paved the way to the Purple Robe.  The closest thing we have today to the "savage" is Islam, which remains, for the time, a half planet away.  But the illusion of safety that such distance gives us is just that, an illusion.  The fact is that it takes less time to travel to the other side of the planet today than it took to travel to the next Roman city then.

All of this to say that Victor Davis Hanson did an exelent job of articulating some conclusions that I'd already drawn regarding the similarities between Rome and America.

Some notes of interest.  From a merely materialist's angle, I drew some encouragement from the book.  All that means is that I don't think anyone is going to be starving anytime soon.  Here's why:
[In Rome, a]s long as the sea was free of pirates, thieves were cleared from the roads, and merchants were allowed to profit, few cared whether the lawless Caracalla or the unhinged Elagabalus was emperor in distant Rome. Something likewise both depressing and encouraging is happening to the United States. Few Americans seem to worry that our present leaders have lied to or misled Congress and the American people without consequences. Most young people cannot distinguish the First Amendment from the Fourth Amendment — and do not worry about the fact that they cannot. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are mere names of grammar schools, otherwise unidentifiable to most.
Not that there will not be Hell to pay for our children, and not that that doesn't keep me up at nights, or that it doesn't make me angry... but nevertheless the decline of America will be just that if it goes as did Rome. "Normal" will simply continue to morph unnoticed by those pacified by electronics and relative plenty. I have mentioned before on this blog of the luxuries that ignorance affords. We can apparently, so ignorance would dictate, cast off all restraint without worry of the proverbial consequences. But this is an illusion maintained by the capital, both materially, but especially spiritually, laid up by our ancestors.
As in Rome, there is a vast disconnect between the elites and the people. Almost half of Americans receive some sort of public assistance, and almost half pay no federal income tax. About one-seventh of Americans are on food stamps. Yet housing prices in elite enclaves — Manhattan, Cambridge, Santa Monica, Palo Alto — are soaring. The wealthy like to cocoon themselves in Roman-like villas, safe from the real-life ramifications of their own utopian ideology.
Thomas Sowell said that diversity for liberal elites really meant black leftists, hispanic leftists, asian leftists... and so on (I paraphrase). Yet real diversity is happening for what its worth, which is not much. a majority, albeit slim, still get married, have children and try to make ends meet. They neither see it as a benefit nor a threat that a "diverse" person just moved in down the street, just so long as they don't trash their yards and their children don't go wild with spray paint and destroy property values. The shabby framework of America, just as it was with Rome, remains for some time after all else collapses. People will generally do what they have done up until everything changed drastically, even if they no longer know why.
About half of America and many of its institutions operate as they always have. Caltech and MIT are still serious. Neither interjects race, class, and gender studies into its engineering or physics curricula. Most in the IRS, unlike some of their bosses, are not corrupt. For the well driller, the power-plant operator, and the wheat farmer, the lies in Washington are still mostly an abstraction. Get up at 5:30 a.m. and you’ll see that your local freeways are jammed with hard-working commuters. They go to work every day, support their families, pay their taxes, and avoid arrest — so that millions of others do not have to do the same. The U.S. military still more closely resembles our heroes from World War II than it resembles the culture of the Kardashians.
For the historian establishing the exact fall of Rome is difficult. Gibbons puts it at the crossing of the Danube by a tide of Goths pushed southward by the Hun, at least for Western Rome.  In this same way, establishing the fall of America may be difficult. While I don't think the actual fall has occurred just yet, I think it is imminent.  We have pulled out our ancestor's financial and spiritual credit card and are on a reckless binge.  That credit will run dry.  Davis speaks of American life between then and now:
If Rome quieted the people with public spectacles and cheap grain from the provinces, so too Americans of all classes keep glued to favorite video games and reality-TV shows. Fast food is both cheap and tasty. All that for now is preferable to rioting and revolt.
Not to slight Mexicans by referring to them as barbarians.  I could just as well call them foreigners.  But just as the Goths entered Rome, not to become Romans, but as Goths, so too do Mexicans enter America; not so much to become part of America as much as to feed off its dying carcass.  Most bring their ideals with them, intack, and as such vote for the same sort of government that governed their homeland without realizing that it is not the dirt on the north side of the Rio Grande that made America great.  It was her foundations and ideals, just as it is not the dirt south of the Rio Grande that makes Mexico prone to poverty.

The real question for Americans is how much is left on this line of credit that our leaders have put on the tab?  I honestly have no idea, but after reading well past the "Fall of Rome" in my book, I'd say that there is still a little while just yet.  But keep an eye on the rate at which things change.  There have been massive changes in only a few decades, most of which seemed to have happened in the last couple, with promises of even more than all that in the current one.  My guess is that there will be no real warning when the line of credit runs dry.  The thing to look for is when those who have been indoctrinated in government schools with hatred, relativism and entitlement are told that they will no longer be receiving  the bread and cable that they've grown use to.  I think that will mark the end.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Speakers at the Conference we just attended truly feel Christian America is a thing of the past and beyond salvaging. Thank God and Praise God HE ALWAYS HAS A REMNANT. It has always been about the remnant of God.