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Subject: Will America collapse just like ancient Rome? rss

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J.D. Hall
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WARNING: This is an OPINION piece, not a NEWS ARTICLE! Also, it's from Fox News, which is relatively legit....

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/10/18/is-america-collaps...

I am reminded of a line in the Dupuys' Encyclopedia of Military History (yes, children, it is an actual book -- hard cover, thousands of pages made from wood pulp) concerning the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire, how it had survived a grueling 20-year-war with Persia only to be almost overwhelmed by Islam boiling out of the Saudi peninsula. Something to the effect that how the Byzantines stood like a mighty rock against the crashing waves, protecting Christendom (think Europe, haters), and how that should give comfort to people living today fearful of the tide of international events.
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It will collapse quicker and with a bigger bang.
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Daniel Kearns
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Hoo boy, read the comments on that link. They're... interesting.
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Andy Beaton
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Naw. It'll just decline into irrelevance, like Spain or Britain.
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I, for one, welcome our new UN overlords.
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jeremy cobert
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The Romans collapse can in part be attributed to their politicians pandering for votes by promising land to the troops who served. Once people learn they can vote themselves money, the shit always go downhill.
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Andy Beaton
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jeremycobert wrote:
The Romans collapse can in part be attributed to their politicians pandering for votes by promising land to the troops who served. Once people learn they can vote themselves money, the shit always go downhill.


Yeah, fuck those troops and their desire to be rewarded for 20 years in the legions.
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jeremycobert wrote:
The Romans collapse can in part be attributed to their politicians pandering for votes by promising land to the troops who served. Once people learn they can vote themselves money, the shit always go downhill.


I agree, it's pretty shitty how conservatives will vote to keep money in their own pockets and out of government programs.

Non-taxation is theft! Eat the Gadsen snake!
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Shawn Fox
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As long as we can still manage to keep morons like Trump out of office we remain a viable nation.
 
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Oliver Dienz
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jeremycobert wrote:
The Romans collapse can in part be attributed to their politicians pandering for votes by promising land to the troops who served. Once people learn they can vote themselves money, the shit always go downhill.


That policy was part of the Marian reforms enacted ~100 BC. The fall of the Roman Empire happened ~400 AD. Must have been a really long "downhill".
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Mac Mcleod
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The most likely scenario is an oligarchy and effective growth of a new nobility class. The country wouldn't cease to exist on the map but effectively it would no longer be a republic/democracy.

The next most likely scenario I see is an actual hot war and it's consequences.

the next would be a severe economic dislocation. I think we are pretty exposed to one right now.

Any country is never more than 20 years away from collapse. It takes continuous effort to keep things going.
 
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aiabx wrote:
Naw. It'll just decline into irrelevance, like Spain or Britain.


Assuming that the U.S. maintains its territorial integrity and centralized federal government I'd disagree with this assessment. The nation is too big geographically with too large a population relative to the rest of the world to ever be reduced to irrelevance. Unlike Britain or Spain, or the Roman Empire, the U.S. does not depend upon the holding of significant overseas territories for its size and population. I can see a period of relative decline versus its once seemingly insurmountable lead over the rest of the world (as has been going on since 1945) but by virtue of its sheer size the U.S. will always be relevant in world affairs.
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Chris Binkowski
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An excellent run through on the similarities of Rome and modern Western Civilization:
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Oliver Dienz
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Given current trends the biggest question regarding a possible collapse of the USA may be if the "U" will remain.
 
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odie73 wrote:
That policy was part of the Marian reforms enacted ~100 BC. The fall of the Roman Empire happened ~400 AD. Must have been a really long "downhill".


It was, you can listen to a great podcast about it here http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-death-thro...

Only land owners were allowed to vote prior to this change.
 
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J.D. Hall
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dkearns wrote:
Hoo boy, read the comments on that link. They're... interesting.

Well, it's Fox.
 
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I was recently envisioning a Trump election ending like Ceaser's reign did.

E tu, Hillary?
 
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James D. Williams
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Not if we keep our Republic.
And our guns.
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J.D. Hall
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It's difficult being American to be logical about this subject, but I'll give it a go:

Comparisons to Rome are inane. The only similarity is that white people started both Rome and the USA. The US expanded rapidly, close to what the Mongols did in the 13th and 14th centuries. The US had no real enemies, certainly none of them geographically close. The US is compact, with 99% of its land mass in North America. Plus, the USA came into being as the Industrial Revolution was being born.

Going into governmental systems, the Romans were relatively sophisticated for their time, but literally, success killed the Republic, ushered in the Imperium and set the stage for a brutal military dictatorship. Interestingly both did expand rights of people under their flag -- first the non-Roman Italians, then eventually to all citizens of the Empire. The US has done the same, moving from voting being limited to males aged 21 and older who owned property to basically everyone 18 and older who wasn't a felon.

But the modern era proves better at maintaining governments than ancient times. The Roman Republic was barely stable, and when it crashed, it didn't take long for assassination and revolution taking hold as the methods to choose a new leader. The American Republic has, so far, not had these issues. Even the Civil War was tame by European and Asian standards (recall that roughly at the same time as America's civil war, the Chinese were in one of their revolts: an estimated 20 million people died).

Finally, the biggest and most glaring difference is that subjects of the Roman Empire, unless well-connected and rich, had almost no rights. The aristocracy bought and bullied land away from small farmers, built huge agricultural enterprises, and staffed them with slaves. This is not the case, despite the incessant puerile whining from those on the extreme left or extreme right. Americans got it good. It hosted international organizations, funds humanitarian groups, and is a major innovator in all things technological (as opposed to the Romans -- marvelous engineers, poor inventors).

There is a resiliency built into the American system that is not apparent, particularly to outsiders. And given the fact most Americans have the luxury of basically ignoring the government most of each day, the system laid on top of citizens is not particularly onerous.

So, will America some day collapse? Probably. The dead hand of history is too weighty to ignore. It could fall into dire circumstances -- a vicious civil war, plague, famine, outside invasion -- or it could break up into smaller states that will be more like the EU than the US.

Hell, we're all just mentally whacking off on this. I just wanted to have something else to talk about besides Trump/Clinton.
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jeremycobert wrote:
The Romans collapse can in part be attributed to their politicians pandering for votes by promising land to the troops who served. Once people learn they can vote themselves money, the shit always go downhill.


That is actually nonsense.

Land for troops was first instituted by Gaius Marius - who arguably *started* the era of the Roman military greatness. (Sure they beat Carthage before him but almost all the great expansion happened during or after Marian era).

Rome peaked between Trajan and Markus Aurelius 300 years after Marian reforms and lasted another 200 years after that in the west (and another 1000 after that in the east).

Attempt to link Marian reforms to decline of Rome is seriously bad case of cherry picking.
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Now I am even MORE worried about the vomitorium that opened in the strip mall around the corner.
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GameCrossing wrote:
Now I am even MORE worried about the vomitorium that opened in the strip mall around the corner.

You guys just got a Cracker Barrel?
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Bojan Ramadanovic
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remorseless1 wrote:
It's difficult being American to be logical about this subject, but I'll give it a go:

Comparisons to Rome are inane. The only similarity is that white people started both Rome and the USA. The US expanded rapidly, close to what the Mongols did in the 13th and 14th centuries. The US had no real enemies, certainly none of them geographically close. The US is compact, with 99% of its land mass in North America. Plus, the USA came into being as the Industrial Revolution was being born.

Going into governmental systems, the Romans were relatively sophisticated for their time, but literally, success killed the Republic, ushered in the Imperium and set the stage for a brutal military dictatorship. Interestingly both did expand rights of people under their flag -- first the non-Roman Italians, then eventually to all citizens of the Empire. The US has done the same, moving from voting being limited to males aged 21 and older who owned property to basically everyone 18 and older who wasn't a felon.

But the modern era proves better at maintaining governments than ancient times. The Roman Republic was barely stable, and when it crashed, it didn't take long for assassination and revolution taking hold as the methods to choose a new leader. The American Republic has, so far, not had these issues. Even the Civil War was tame by European and Asian standards (recall that roughly at the same time as America's civil war, the Chinese were in one of their revolts: an estimated 20 million people died).

Finally, the biggest and most glaring difference is that subjects of the Roman Empire, unless well-connected and rich, had almost no rights. The aristocracy bought and bullied land away from small farmers, built huge agricultural enterprises, and staffed them with slaves. This is not the case, despite the incessant puerile whining from those on the extreme left or extreme right. Americans got it good. It hosted international organizations, funds humanitarian groups, and is a major innovator in all things technological (as opposed to the Romans -- marvelous engineers, poor inventors).

There is a resiliency built into the American system that is not apparent, particularly to outsiders. And given the fact most Americans have the luxury of basically ignoring the government most of each day, the system laid on top of citizens is not particularly onerous.

So, will America some day collapse? Probably. The dead hand of history is too weighty to ignore. It could fall into dire circumstances -- a vicious civil war, plague, famine, outside invasion -- or it could break up into smaller states that will be more like the EU than the US.

Hell, we're all just mentally whacking off on this. I just wanted to have something else to talk about besides Trump/Clinton.


You make lots of good points, but I think you are comitting 'compressed history' fallacy if you are claiming that Roman republic (or for that matter Empire) was 'unstable'.

Republic lasted from 510BC to about 30BC which is a fair bit longer then the American republic (or for that matter any other existing state in its current political format) has lasted so far. It suffered two major(ish) civil wars, which is comparative per unit time with USA and combined account for less loss of life as a percentage of the population then the American counterpart.

Principate lasted from 30BC to something like 300AD. Until the death of Markus Aurelius it was *remarkably* stable - 160 odd years of Pax Romana. Sure, you had occasional palace intrigue and deposition, but those affected citizens about as much - or less - as the change of presidents does under elective system. Things got a bit unstable between 150AD and 250AD but even then you had solid periods of stability under Severus, Diocletian etc...
Of course, after 250AD things get rock solid under Constantine. So solid in fact that the empire ends up lasting another 1000+ years in its economically viable provinces.

As readers of history, we tend to focus on *interesting* events and so it tends to appear to us that Roman state was tumultuous compared with our time when in fact - particularly from the perspective of 'normal people' it was probably the most stable and uneventful of all polities constructed by people of European descent.
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damiangerous wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
Now I am even MORE worried about the vomitorium that opened in the strip mall around the corner.

You guys just got a Cracker Barrel?


I thought the Mormons didn't move to Utah until there were enough Cracker Barrels.
 
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Bojan Ramadanovic
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jeremycobert wrote:
odie73 wrote:
That policy was part of the Marian reforms enacted ~100 BC. The fall of the Roman Empire happened ~400 AD. Must have been a really long "downhill".


It was, you can listen to a great podcast about it here http://www.dancarlin.com/product/hardcore-history-death-thro...

Only land owners were allowed to vote prior to this change.


Not true.
Roman system had three 'branches' (much like US does).

Senate was restricted to landowners (and kind of self-perpetuating as the senators had a voice in who got to be new senator)

Centuries assembly theoretically allowed everyone to vote (all free male citizens) but people voted within their century and there was more 'rich' centuries then 'poor' ones which meant that rich people's votes counted for more.

Finally there was a tribal assembly of 35 tribes - in which, again, all male citizens had a vote - but again - within their tribe. Which privileged smaller, rural, tribes and by extension landowners - but only to a certain extent.

*None* of this changed with Marian reforms.
Giving soldiers land at the end of their service did not in any way affect vote structure. It just meant that a) more people became eligible for the military service (before, only propertied farmers could realistically serve and then only for short time) and b) soldiers became more loyal to their general in whose gift the land allocation was.
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