Friday, May 01, 2015

US 2015 = Rome of 44BC or Rome 440AD?

What comes next? It is the question on many minds from left to right as the post-WW2 consensus and UN world order unravels. It is like a society wide version of Waiting for Godot. Maybe you subscribe to the Fourth Turning concepts, and know that this crisis period will go on for 20 years and out of it, America will be radically different. Maybe you’re looking even older, and realize this is not just about America the country, but America the empire, and by extension the Western World. The US-UK duo has a decent analogue in the Byzantine Empire-Roman Empire. Rome. The imperial issue draws Americans to comparisons to Rome, but where are we? Is the America of 2015 in the position of the Rome of 44BC or the Rome of 440AD?

The first thing to keep in mind is a fair evaluation of America in 2015, and how it relates to the original formulation. The primarily Anglo stock with a small population of African imported slaves, has changed through the years. The Anglo dominant population has been diluted through different waves of immigration, but if the Anglo numbers lost dominance decades ago, they lost cultural dominance decades ago as well. As opposed to the 80% white nation of 1980, the reality of 2015 America is a 65% white nation with a first and second generation immigrant population that keeps on rising. America itself is the global empire, and has been so since the end of WW2, enjoying sole dominance the last 25 years. Not just in might, but the exporting of our pop culture is key as the world has undergone a process of Californication thanks to Hollywood and exporting “cool”. America’s economic dominance peaked in the post-WW2 aftermath as the rest of the world’s manufacturing power was destroyed (mostly by Allied bombing). America went from the dominant oil player, to the swing oil player, to a net oil importer, and has been at the mercy of other oil producers for over 40 years. The currency has been diluted. America’s manufacturing might peaked decades ago, wages for the helots peaked decades ago, and even after the hocus pocus magic of the FIRE economy that was born in the early ‘80s, the US economy peaked around 2000. Wealth itself has become concentrated, and the wealthiest individuals all support open immigration as long as they can keep their estates. America’s institutions have reached schlerotic paralysis and are distrusted by much of the population. Money has corrupted and bought the direction of the state. Wars have become wars of choice and for the imperial glory of small cliques and to placate foreign allies, not for national defense.

The American government and institutions function still, but no public institution seems to work as well as days of old, and usually just for the continued existence of themselves. Full blown decadence has been forced on the population as “Weimerica” exposes even our young to gays, trans, and incest in pop culture storylines on ABC Family shows… and not as sinful acts to be ashamed of. The barbarians are encouraged to burn the towns. The barbarians are not encouraged to attempt to raise their standard of behavior. There are pockets of hope and some bright spots with regards to technology. The problems is that those spots are like soap bubbles on the surface of dirty water. This technology and energy involved is a rather complex system that involves keeping a lot of plates spinning to give us those Tesla Roadsters and life saving pharmaceuticals. The most damning thing of all is that the American public constantly wants to “fix” problems, but rarely, if ever, has the will to do so.

Is this Rome of 44BC or Rome of 440AD? I am just an amateur, but let’s look at mid-1st century BC Rome versus pre-collapse 440AD. Missed by many quick history discussions of Caesar’s political moves is the massive reform that he did of the provinces and other administrative. The late Republic was riddled with corruption not just in the law and voting but policy decision making. Rome had cleaned out Carthage and Greece before, so they were the dominant Mediterranean player, but they had not conquered all of their neighbors until very recently. Caesar finished the conquest of Gaul (he even wrote a book about it), so Romanization of much of the Empire was in its infancy. Rome’s legions were still Roman men. Rome’s economy was agricultural based, but had taken on the “plunder” system under senatorial administration of the provinces. That is partly what Caesar changed. In 44BC, Rome was on the cusp of a massive explosion in trade, wealth and simple things like lead production reveal the truth of this. This was all as elites warred with one another with what amounted to personal armies. Rome still had expansion and consolidation work ahead of it as it would create Hadrian’s Wall and even see the ports of the Persian Gulf.

Rome in 440AD, and by Rome I mean, the Western Empire, was a basketcase. It had plundered easily conquered lands, that underwent Romanization for centuries. The hard to conquered territory with few good natural defenses lay beyond its reach. They had fought grueling wars with the Parthians for centuries. The empire saw massive currency devaluation, reforms of welfare and whatnot that went nowhere, a major shake up of how the empire was divided and organized, and periods of rapid turnover at the top. The empire had become so complex that the minimum effort needed to keep it humming was beyond the grasp of those in charge. Barbarians had streamed into the realm to the point of being major pieces of the army that formerly had been native stock. Birth rates were a problem and decadence and depravity were widespread. There is a reason that the societal "exit" that Christianity provided proved to be popular with many in the empire.

This is amateur analysis, but the signs I see are of an empire sweating and huffing its way to a doom that the elite don't believe will come. The US has not had a reformer like Julius Caesar to reshape the laws and workings of the government to prepare America for a rebirth. Every answer our post-1932  elite has is for more centralization and more power to fewer people, when the developments in technology are actually pushing capabilities in the opposite direction. Information technology, as well as next step tech like 3D printing and energy conservation efforts, is making it easier for micro-states or just smaller states to provide not just the same level of service as USG but superior... and aligned much closer to its residents' desires and well being. The US elites gladly push for more and more bodies from all over the world (the empire's provinces" into the megalopolis capitals of the homeland. Those are not developments one would see as Rome went from Republic to Empire with the taste of conquering whetting its appetite, but from when Rome crashed from Empire to the barbarian kingdoms that toyed with far different law than the more universal Roman legal approach. Spengler's age of caesars will come, but it will not be in the form of an imperial leader at the head of the US Empire. Those future Faustian Caesars will be leaders of much smaller polities than the America of 2015.

*This post is for a professor of mine Barry Strauss (read his new book on Caesar's assassination), Frederick Ahl and the classics department at Cornell that I could never major in despite strong consideration


nikcrit said...

Full blown decadence has been forced on the population as “Weimerica” exposes even our young to gays, trans, and incest in pop culture storylines on ABC Family shows… and not as sinful acts to be ashamed of.

That's true; I only realized that recently, as I hadn't watched scripted-drama television for quite some time, until a few posts on this blog prompted me to investigate.

I'm afraid our 21st-century epoch reflects 440 A.D. more than 44 b.c.

Peter Blood said...

I reviewed Tainter's "The Collapse of Complex Societies" here (shilling for my own blog). Tainter does explore the Roman collapse as one of his case studies (it's everyone's favorite, for sure).

deconstructingleftism said...

I'm not real familiar with Roman history, but I would say sometime before 440AD, maybe 150 to 200AD?

We live in the age of Philip K. Dick's Black Iron Prison. (Although Dick, a hippy of sorts, would have seen Nixon as the chief bad guy, and I see LBJ as the chief bad guy.) The system is extremely powerful, and it won't be atrophying any time soon. But it is insanely perverse and corrupt. The normalization of homosexuality is a key factor.

The entire set of assumptions the West has lived under for the last 400 years has to be reexamined. Our most precious beliefs- on the surface, of the right of the individual to be autonomous and happy, and in reality, the righteousness and desirability of having a small pseudo-priesthood run everything- must ultimately crumble.

peterike said...

America is over and there is no turning back. Here's a single factoid that encapsulates everything.

There are 81 languages spoken by students in the Wichita, Kansas school district -- Wichita!!! The classic White-landia! But no more.

"The 10 largest language groups, in order, are: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Lao, Cambodian, the Chinese family of languages, Bengali, Urdu and Swahili."

Just take a look at that list. The entire world is dumped into Wichita. Apparently, Syrian refugees are the next batch waiting to arrive. Oh yay for Wichita!

Of course the only thing the school district has to say is "where's the funding for all this?" And of course they are oh-so-concerned about the "culture shock" on the little darlings! Nobody gives a crap about the "culture shock" on the white natives, though. It's just tough beans to THOSE people.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with the idea that we're more in the 150-200 AD era of Rome: the glory days are just behind us, the current crop of leadership cares more about maintenance or a managed decline, and we've hit about the limit of expansion (of influence). We haven't had our Third Century Crisis or Elagabalus yet.

Anonymous said...

Neither 44BC or 440AD. The crisis is just beginning, we are at 134 BC, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, aka Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus are just beginning to ride to prominence by radicalizing urban masses against the political order. Before Caesar there must be a Sulla, or Pinochet for that matter.

That, of course, if you see the United States as a unified temporal power. I don't see it that way. The United States is more of an spiritual space where several parallel powers compete for dominance. What we are seeing is not the collapse of the American Empire per se, but the collapse of the Jewish American Empire (1945-present), that succeeded the WASP American Empire (1846-1945). Just compare the current Jewish intellectual elite (Lena Dunham, for example) with it's predecessors and you can see the decadence.

Foolish Pride said...

I commented about this on Twitter but I think we're somewhere around 400. In 400 AD Rome looked like it was going to keep going. The Goths were roaming around but kept largely under control. This is analogous to Hispanic immigration. While they're here with a distinct identity they do not have any power. In the east the Persians were quiet, after Julian's idiotic campaign (an extremely rough parallel to the Iraq War) a few decades earlier they had what they wanted and also had their own issues keeping them distracted.

Stilicho was basically the real power in the Empire (at least the Western half) and like Obama, he was the son of an immigrant father and a native mother.

nikcrit said...

Dunham is the Jewish intelligentsia elite?

Alexandros HoMegas said...

"I see LBJ as the chief bad guy"

LBJ was the chief bad guy, he gave the orders for the JFK assassination and the USS Liberty attack, the immigration liberalization happened under his watch, also the Civil Rights Act.

LBJ was water carrier for jewish interests.

el supremo said...

Probably closest to the Late 2nd Century ie Severan Dynasty, as Anonymous@1:50 PM suggests

The crisis of the late Republic (ie the age of Caesar) was quite different than today's America - it is the the shock of unprecedented success on system not designed for it - the influx of wealth, international influence, and military size which was completely unprecedented in the Middle Republic and overwhelmed many of the political, economic, and administrative institutions of the Republic.

The 3rd century is too disastrous and has too much of a breakdown of orderly operating procedures and real international disasters to be comparable (yet), and the 4th century (the Age of Diocletian) is very much a restorationist mood which is quite different than today.

The Severan dynasty combines an increasingly problematic but still relatively "normal" political life where problems don't seem unprecedented, even if their scale and scope is getting bigger, international overreach which is starting to run into problems and enemies it can't steamroll anymore, and the resulting economic and administrative strain.

JohnK said...

For what it's worth, the book "How Rome fell: death of a superpower" by Adrian Goldsworthy (2009) makes a convincing case that the most important PROVABLE cause of the fall of Rome was near-endless civil war. (Viz., a lot of familiar explanations, including Gibbons's, have scant or even no evidentiary basis, but civil war definitely does).

In passing, Goldsworthy makes the remark that no one, barbarian or Roman citizen, wanted Rome to fall; they simply wanted Rome for themselves.

Johnny Caustic said...

This seems like an obligatory moment to tell everybody who hasn't yet read Sir John Glubb's classic "The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival" to read it now. It's 26 very readable pages and a free PDF is just a google away. There's no excuse for not reading it in the next half hour if you have any interest at all in knowing where America is going (or where all the previous empires went).

Portlander said...

no one, barbarian or Roman citizen, wanted Rome to fall; they simply wanted Rome for themselves.

Exactly like the Beltway elite... neither Republicans nor Democrats want DC to fall, they simply want DC for themselves.

Portlander said...

Reagan doesn't rate as the Julius figure?

I think he does. As I've said before without him, the Boomers would have had to face the consequence of their selfish radicalism.

But, like every time before, the Greatest Generation pulled the Boomer's wool from the fire and so the Boomers were able to continue on their merry way, both spending their inheritance and mortgaging their children's.

Hyperbole? Nope. Today I had to stomach this news piece on Oregon public retiree gimmie-dats.

sykes.1 said...

The British-American relationship is a bad example. The Roman state was in continuous existence for 2,200 years, from its founding about 700 BC to 1453 AD when the Turks overran Constantinople. So if Rome is your model, the US has another 2,000 years to go.

As to the so-called collapse in the West, that didn't happen until the Arabs closed the Mediterranean Sea in the 8th Century AD. What happened in 440 was merely a change in management from Roman to German rule. The institutions remained largely intact as did the economy.

Rollory said...

You mention Julius Caesar as the reformer, but Augustus was much more so. Moldbug talks about this in several places (although admittedly it might be hard to nail down amidst all the words).

I think the comparison of the 2 main stages of the Roman state - republic and empire - to the British and American phases of Anglo-Saxon dominance is a good one. England certainly went through a phase where all-English troops were holding territory all over the planet. The American succession was fueled in great part by having the best parts of a continent at its disposal with no competing civilization around.

Anonymous said...

"That, of course, if you see the United States as a unified temporal power. I don't see it that way. The United States is more of an spiritual space where several parallel powers compete for dominance. What we are seeing is not the collapse of the American Empire per se, but the collapse of the Jewish American Empire (1945-present), that succeeded the WASP American Empire (1846-1945)."

The Jewish American Empire begin way before 1945, even mainstream Historians will tell you the President Woodrow Wilson was just a puppet of the jewish Wall Street banker Bernard Baruch, the main reason for American involvement in WWI was the Balfour Declaration that the Rothschilds got from the British and their cousins in Wall Street pushed the Yankee to help defeat the Krauts.

Red said...

The Roman anolligy doesn't really work because America isn't a land based empire like Romans. We're a trading/naval empire like the British, Athens or the Carthagians. Sea power empires tend to rise quicklly and fall just as quickly from the loss of a single battle. So America might last anthor 200 years or just 20 more years, it all depends on when the external shock hits us.

Rollory said...

"America isn't a land based empire"

Have you ever looked at a map of North America?

I mean, that is just a totally clueless statement.

American seapower is a side effect of overwhelming power and resources of the land empire. The Romans were in exactly the same situation: they were in full control of the seas (piracy in the Mediterranean came to a complete halt for a few centuries) but that was a necessary consequence of the land power. It is an exact analogue to the situation of the USA since WW2.

Asher Jacobson said...

I concluded awhile ago that the closest analog is Persia ca. 400 BCE

Red said...

Rollory, one of the downsides of having been raised on red empire propaganda written by people from the south is a fundamental misunderstanding of were our military might has always resided.

The US navy was already the world's largest and most powerful navy before WW2 started. WW2 was won by the overwhelming amount of resources and supplies we were able to ship, not due to our under performing army or our horribly led air force. We fed and supplied the entire nation of Russia during the war. Russia would have starved to death in 1942-43 without our massive aid.

The US army by comparison was a dogs dinner of a force. Tiny, under funded, and while it ballooned during WW2 it went right back to being a tiny under funded force as soon as the war was over while the US navy just kept on growing and becoming more powerful. Our field armies really didn't do well against the Germans and our army leadership was more concerned about preventing the rise of good military commanders than they were about destroying the German army.

Recall that Patton was removed from command during the height of the war. No land based power would ever remove their best military General from command over slapping a cowardly soldier. Almost all the generals promoted to high rank during WW2 were done because of their political reliability, not their military ability or leadership skills.

Now the south and west of America are land based empires. They produces excellent soldiers and have always been the heart of the US army, but it's the merchant princes of new England and their navy who rule the country, not the legions of south.

eah said...

Here's a single factoid...

Re Baltimore, here's a couple more from THE EFFECT OF URBAN FLIGHT ON IQ DISTRIBUTION

Baltimore is typical of many Midwestern and Northern cities, whose demographics were forever changed by the great black migration of the twentieth century. Not unexpectedly we found a cognitive discontinuity at the city line...With a mean IQ of 76, inner-city blacks fall about 0.6 SD below the African American average nationally. More than a third have death-penalty immunity on grounds of mental retardation.

Immigration to the US from Africa is at record levels, and growing every year.

Anonymous said...

This pic is symbolic of our decline:

Look at that pack of blacks and the negrophile kike.

Son of Brock Landers said...

Anon, I understand the fact that every Ferguson and Baltimore protest is all black with a handful of jewish reporters and enablers, but let's try to keep it clean.