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George.
12-19-2010, 11:25 AM
People these days keep bringing up the decline and fall of the Roman Empire when they discuss America. I don't really see the analogy any more.

Where I do see disturbing analogies is with another period of Roman History: the late Republic. The way things are going, I could see things going the same way for America. I hope I don't live to see it.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 11:27 AM
George I for one have never heard the term "late republic " is this referring to AD?

Tom Montgomery
12-19-2010, 11:35 AM
George. is referring to the circumstances and events leading to the end of the Roman Republic. The Republic unraveled in civil war with the victor declared Dictator. When he was assassinated Rome went through another civil war with the victor declared Emperor.

Tylerdurden
12-19-2010, 11:40 AM
I see it and fully believe the republic fell long ago. We exist in its shadow only. I feel now we live in Mussolini's definition of fascism with a almost fully merged corporate/government body exemplified by the Central bank the federal reserve. Anyone who watches the markets are aware of the complete control applied and where it is inevitably heading. Only the button needs pushing now and we ain't deciding.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 11:43 AM
Well Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony are considered two of the leaders leading to the fall of the republic. Death throes though of was to become the Roman Empire was in the 15th century. Technically.....So just trying to connect the dots.44BC

George.
12-19-2010, 11:44 AM
Growing political polarization and delegitimization of the opposition leading to an inability of the State to address serious issues. Growing concentration of wealth and power, with production offshore controlled by a small elite outcompeting the people's production at home. The mass of the people regard their politicians as cynical and corrupt, and more and more are drawn to populists who claim to see things their way. Legal maneuvers increasingly mattering more than the will of the people or the spirit of the laws.

I could go on...

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 11:50 AM
Growing political polarization and delegitimization of the opposition leading to an inability of the State to address serious issues. Growing concentration of wealth and power, with production offshore controlled by a small elite outcompeting the people's production at home. The mass of the people regard their politicians as cynical and corrupt, and more and more are drawn to populists who claim to see things their way. Legal maneuvers increasingly mattering more than the will of the people or the spirit of the laws.



I could go on...
George you are talking about the US....? Please identify.. :d:D:::(:(

Michael D. Storey
12-19-2010, 11:55 AM
This idea is not new to our generation. Similarities exist between virtually all big civilizations, and differences too.

I read a very interesting biography of Cicero last summer, written by one Anthony Everitt. Hugely readable, it was clearly pre-Visigothic, but the struggle between legislative and executive and military was infinitely more evident than what it is in our modern civilization.

I am no good at predicting the future, and I never have laid claim to knowing everything, but from my perch I would opine that the analogy is not that strong.

George.
12-19-2010, 12:23 PM
Like Rome defeating Carthage and the Greeks after a century of struggle, the US beat Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Without a serious external enemy, its political classes could then afford to become disunited and gridlocked, not on some issues, but on nearly all things serious or trivial. Meanwhile, the dividends of being the sole superpower flow mainly to the economic elite, while the economic disruption of overseas trade hits the mass of the people increasingly hard. Debt grows, as do fabulous fortunes.

Politics increasingly becomes a matter of driving the opposition from power at all costs, sparing no means, and then undoing anything they might have accomplished. The opposition is not merely wrong; it is evil. It is not merely corrupt; it is intent on corrupting the very constitution which guarantees our freedom.

Cicero would fit right in.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 12:34 PM
Cicero was killed by his rivals.. the triumvirate ( the second one ) was in power. Do you see a connection to the big three in public office now. Reid, Pelosi and the president. No they won't hurt anyone but 3 in power is an interesting analogy.

Of course next year there will be some changes. These are current standings

L.W. Baxter
12-19-2010, 12:40 PM
Interesting reading this morning, George.

But, I have to think that our Republic is quite a bit more limber than Rome. And I don't see any movement or tendency at all amongst the citizenry to support a dictatorship or even a single party system. The closest thing to a cult of personality I have seen was the election of Barack Obama, and in my opinion, the symbolic meaning of his election was worthy of some celebration and reverence. That's pretty well over, now. I don't think we will be crowning a Caesar anytime soon.

George.
12-19-2010, 01:09 PM
I don't see any movement or tendency at all amongst the citizenry to support a dictatorship or even a single party system.

But many would be happy to see a single party have all the power, and the supporters of the opposition disenfranchised.

And of course people wouldn't support a dictator. People never do. What they acclaim is a hero, a champion for their rights, fighting against a corrupt system.

But if you think about Rome, you could argue that once the imperial dictatorship was established, things largely improved - mainly because the prior period had been so bad.


Do you see a connection to the big three in public office now. ...Of course next year there will be some changes.

Don't worry. I am taking the long view here. It took a long time to get from Tiberius Gracchus to Augustus triumphant. You probably won't be ruled by the Senate and its mob next year.

Lew Barrett
12-19-2010, 01:13 PM
Interesting reading this morning, George.

But, I have to think that our Republic is quite a bit more limber than Rome. And I don't see any movement or tendency at all amongst the citizenry to support a dictatorship or even a single party system. The closest thing to a cult of personality I have seen was the election of Barack Obama, and in my opinion, the symbolic meaning of his election was worthy of some celebration and reverence. That's pretty well over, now. I don't think we will be crowning a Caesar anytime soon.

I hope to agree, but grant the devil his due: the analogy is unavoidable. As the reigning power of the later 60 years, all await the dropping of the shoe.




Don't worry. I am taking the long view here. It took a long time to get from Tiberius Gracchus to Augustus triumphant. You probably won't be ruled by the Senate and its mob next year.


The problem with the long view is that things do move faster these days.

I think, it may be that the analogy is better made in respect to economics rather than politics.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 01:20 PM
Military was a big factor in the demise of rome but there was also an economic side of the same issue. One could and people have written pHDs on just one battle that took place say in the Punic wars...

George.
12-19-2010, 02:06 PM
The problem with the long view is that things do move faster these days.

That's true. I still find it surprising to contemplate how much the US has changed in the past 10 years. Things that would have been seen as unthinkable and unconstitutional then are seen as trivial now.

elf
12-19-2010, 02:13 PM
Interesting reading this morning, George.

I don't see any movement or tendency at all amongst the citizenry to support a dictatorship or even a single party system.
Blind looking and seeing nothing.
The closest thing to a cult of personality I have seen was the election of Barack Obama, and in my opinion, the symbolic meaning of his election was worthy of some celebration and reverence.
Rush Limbaugh
Glenn Beck
Sarah Palin

I think you con't see the nose on your face, Mr. Baxter.

leikec
12-19-2010, 02:30 PM
I see it and fully believe the republic fell long ago. We exist in its shadow only. I feel now we live in Mussolini's definition of fascism with a almost fully merged corporate/government body exemplified by the Central bank the federal reserve. Anyone who watches the markets are aware of the complete control applied and where it is inevitably heading. Only the button needs pushing now and we ain't deciding.


I think your name is Mark, so I will use that as your name unless you correct me.

Do you vote, Mark? Did you vote in the November midterm election? Would you agree or disagree with the concept of direct elections? Have you ever run for office?

How would you structure elections in America if you had the ability to change things? Would people vote for representatives--at any level of government? Would you have local elections for elected officials--and then allow those officials to select national representatives?

I'm genuinely trying to understand what you are saying, and I do realize that you are critical of our existing government. I want to know what it would take in changes for you to write this post: "I'm happy with our current system of government. I wouldn't change anything."

Jeff C

Gerarddm
12-19-2010, 03:05 PM
One could postulate that the rot began with the Supreme Court decision in ( IIRC) the 1880s that, for legal purposes, corporations were henceforth treated as people.

I'd have a lot more faith in the future viability of the US if I didn't see daily evidence of the popularity of mediocrity,mendacity, and stupidity.

To paraphrase Harley Davison's ad: Screw It. Let's Sail.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 03:12 PM
Blind looking and seeing nothing.
Rush Limbaugh
Glenn Beck
Sarah Palin

I think you con't see the nose on your face, Mr. Baxter.

And there is an equal number of individuals on the left.

I don't care for either side.

johnw
12-19-2010, 04:00 PM
Yeah, I blame the Punic wars. You know, it's occurred to me that the beauty of a "war on terror" is that there will always be terrorists, so one need never cede the power arrogated to the executive in the name of national emergency. The theory of the unitary executive would allow the leader to legislate by fiat without regard to the constitution if it was accepted in the form some in the last administration were pushing for.

And what about parallels to the ancien regime? The would not tax the rich, but would tax salt because everyone needed it, and ran up huge debts with foreign adventures such as helping America win its war of independence, which then had to be paid for by the salt tax.

elf
12-19-2010, 04:19 PM
And there is an equal number of individuals on the left.

I don't care for either side.

Name one.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 04:28 PM
Name one. As I am not really that familiar with any, posted or not, on both sides and don't listen much to any of the spin doctors on either side I don't care who they are. Knowing that there are pundits on both sides is the point.

Because I don't know them does not mean they don't exist. As everyone hates and mentions Rush the most I do know him. I don't recall watching or listening to Beck...

Somebody Maddow ( sp )
Keith Oberman (sp).

elf
12-19-2010, 04:38 PM
If Maddow, Olbermann and Steward had the audience that Limbaugh and Beck command I might believe that there are some on the other side.

But they don't come near it.

You're talking about something about which you know nothing again, Jamie. You gotta stop doing that if you think you can qualify to teach kids.

L.W. Baxter
12-19-2010, 04:44 PM
Name one.

Isn't Jonathan Stewart the conscience of America?

None of the people you mention has ever come close to commanding troops to march down your street and kick in your door. Even the President can't make that order except in limited, extreme circumstances. How many decades have passed since the actions against the Bonus Marchers, and yet the free Republic still stands.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 04:44 PM
If Maddow, Olbermann and Steward had the audience that Limbaugh and Beck command I might believe that there are some on the other side.

But they don't come near it.

You're talking about something about which you know nothing again, Jamie. You gotta stop doing that if you think you can qualify to teach kids.


You asked me to name a few I did. Knowing that they exist is enough elf. I'm sorry if just because some are listened to more often is not my issue here. And I admit that as I don't listen to any of them I wouldn't know their names or put faces on them. I am a science teacher a long shot from politics. or the media hype that goes with it.
I'm sure you are able to find the lib you listen to and have no real trouble finding them.

L.W. Baxter
12-19-2010, 05:01 PM
But many would be happy to see a single party have all the power, and the supporters of the opposition disenfranchised.

If you substitute "some" for "many" I would agree, and I would argue that has always been true, everywhere. But witness the deep fractures even in our major parties; even if one shuts the other out it would not remain one for long, without using brute force. And I think you badly underestimate Americans if you think we would be easily ruled by force. Our traditions of personal liberty and dissent run as deep as anywhere on the planet. Maybe deeper, even.;)

johnw
12-19-2010, 05:07 PM
If you substitute "some" for "many" I would agree, and I would argue that has always been true, everywhere. But witness the deep fractures even in our major parties; even if one shuts the other out it would not remain one for long, without using brute force. And I think you badly underestimate Americans if you think we would be easily ruled by force. Our traditions of personal liberty and dissent run as deep as anywhere on the planet. Maybe deeper, even.;)
I would have said that ten years ago. After seeing how little people seem to care about the government torturing people, I'm less sanguine. The courts seem to be the only branch willing to stand up against such abuses, but the courts are becoming increasingly politicized, which makes me wonder how long this will continue.

L.W. Baxter
12-19-2010, 05:18 PM
Of course, I'm troubled by the same thing, johnw. But I think most people do care.

If it were put to a vote today, would we vote to close Gitmo? I bet we would. We wouldn't make any provisions regarding what to do with the prisoners there, which is the chronic problem with ballot measures, and democracy in general in a complex time: incompleteness.

The will of the voters is hard to determine, because so much of governance grows akin to rocket science, and we just don't know enough to say! Government is going through the same processes of specialization and insulation that the sciences are going through, which makes a response to the voice of the people (perhaps simultaneously correct morally and incorrect in the details?) slower and more complicated than ever.

nw_noob
12-19-2010, 05:43 PM
If it were put to a vote today, would we vote to close Gitmo? I bet we would.

I don't share your optimistic estimate of the American conscience. Those who deal in fear-mongering can play the electorate like a fiddle. Notice how you haven't heard a peep about the "ground zero mosque" since the mid-terms.

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 05:53 PM
Ground zero mosque.. I thought the people got it out of of the area..by protesting as in dead issue or at best on life support.

I heard of an abandoned prison in the mid westI think that was willing to take the inhabitants from Gitmo..Don't know what happened to that idea. The mayor of Poughkeepsie offed to hold trials there.. down the tubes

L.W. Baxter
12-19-2010, 05:55 PM
noob, this was the most recent opinion poll I just searched up regarding closing the prison at Guantanamo (http://www.gallup.com/poll/113893/Americans-Send-No-Clear-Mandate-Guantanamo-Bay.aspx).

Looks like I may be wrong about American popular opinion. I don't get Miley Cyrus either.

johnw
12-19-2010, 05:59 PM
I don't think the problem is complexity. Conservatives in this country don't think liberals have a right to lead, even if elected, even if they are quite moderate like our current president. This doesn't seem to be a "both sides" thing, either. Democrats objected to specific acts by Bush, and were willing to work with him on legislation -- most of what was passed under his administration had support of some Democrats. There were a few liberals who objected to the legitimacy of the Bush administration because he got fewer votes than Gore, a factual question that could be settled, but there was nothing like the "birther" movement.

I think the problem is polarization. And if anyone want to blame Republican politicians, remember, the ones who were willing to work with the Democrats and influence legislation instead of just trying to block everything lost primary races. This isn't just a split in our political parties, it's a split in the electorate.

I think it has a lot to do with the changing face of America. Had Obama carried the same ethnic groups by the same margins in 1992 as he did in 2008, he would not have won. The anxiety of conservative, white America has to do with the fear that they will become less influential. That's why the effort to paint Obama as the "other" has been so powerful, especially in the South, where the birther movement has a higher percentage of adherents than in the rest of the country.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/birthers.png
(this is from a Research 2000 poll, which I trust less than most outfits, but I haven't seen anything that debunks it.)

Most Americans don't care if whites become a minority, but the ones who do care are more politically engaged.

Of course, the Republic has survived deeper divisions, but we had to fight a war with each other to do it. It blows me away, though, to see that secession talk i (http://www.salon.com/books/history/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2010/12/19/lafantasie_south_secession)s on the rise again. For us Yankees, the Civil War is ancient history, but the South sometimes seems to be still fighting it.

nw_noob
12-19-2010, 06:05 PM
Dang L.W., I hadn't seen those numbers before. That was depressing.


I heard of an abandoned prison in the mid westI think that was willing to take the inhabitants from Gitmo..Don't know what happened to that idea. The mayor of Poughkeepsie offed to hold trials there.. down the tubes

S.V. Airlie, the fear-mongers sank that idea. All they had to do was conjure images of scary terrorists breaking out of prisons in your backyard, and the tide was turned to N.I.M.B.Y.

bamamick
12-19-2010, 06:07 PM
It will continue to evolve, but will be strong for quite some time longer. Eventually we will break apart, as all great empires do that get spread too thin and wind up relying on outsiders for their continued prosperity and security.

I agree that things have begun to change for the worse. I think that the average American would vote out almost every single incumbent politician in this country if they weren't terribly afraid of the worst-case and what might happen if they were to do so. The average American still has a heck of a lot to lose, and the average American politician knows that and plays it for everything it's worth. We are a long way from having an October Revolution in this country, but it could darn sure happen one day.

Mickey Lake

S.V. Airlie
12-19-2010, 06:07 PM
Dang L.W., I hadn't seen those numbers before. That was depressing.



S.V. Airlie, the fear-mongers sank that idea. All they had to do was conjure images of scary terrorists breaking out of prisons in your backyard, and the tide was turned to N.I.M.B.Y. That's what I figured....same as in poughkeepsie

George.
12-20-2010, 06:42 AM
Another parallel: for centuries, ever since the revolution that established the Republic, its armed forces in time of war have been drawn from the general citizenry, by compulsion if necessary.

But then a new and terrible threat appeared, which had the people very afraid, perhaps irrationally so, for it was not a civilized army of the sort they had defeated before, but a horde of barbarians. The Republic suddenly saw itself having to fight two wars in distant lands. Turning to their elected leader, the people and the Senate allowed him to break precedent, and form an army which was basically purchased: the poorest citizens, induced to join through unprecedented payments and benefits, and complemented by outright mercenaries.

Now the Republic could make war without burdening its citizens with risky obligations. It is hard to run an empire on bread and circuses if occasionally you have to draft people indiscriminately to fight and die overseas.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
12-20-2010, 07:22 AM
May I comment? I don't think the parallel with the first century BC is very close, because the United States is nowhere near being torn apart by civil wars conducted by rival Generals, but George does have something of a point; one which extends to more or less all the nations bordering the North Atlantic. There is something of an air of bread and circuses for the plebs in our popular culture, citizen armies have been pretty much given up in favour of recruiting from the poorest classes and mercenaries, and wealth is concentrated in few hands.

The last point is one that bothers me; we are seeing the ladders being drawn up, so to speak. This is an unseen side effect of IT; "the best is the enemy of the good" is having a devastating effect.

Tylerdurden
12-20-2010, 07:48 AM
If I was younger I might buy into what the naysayers put up in response to my posts relating to impending collapse but I see pretty clearly so many years down the road. The other fact is I do installs now for a emergency power company, a business that would not have existed 10 years ago.
While you all are being told it will be OK many are preparing like the devil and not just whack jobs. I just finished three 3000 gallon LP tanks buried to run a prefab bunker nearby. The customer, Lets say his forte is pleading in front of the supreme court and fly's here on the weekends to be with his family he just moved out of their Arlington Home.
I have done the same for some pretty large political figures including Federal Judges and management of a Few letter agency's. Funny how they don't think I am nuts but encourage me not to talk about it.
Bunker building by government and private interests has increased over 600% in the past decade according to the industry. Why? Do you think the government and those with money to afford such things are being irrational?

Jump on with the Naysayers and those with rose colored glasses if you must but remember when it does go bad these people more than likely will be the ones to slice your throat for a crust of bread. It's human nature and there are many examples throught history.

CK 17
12-20-2010, 11:04 AM
Sorry, but this is a bit on the long side and somewhat dated. However it might add some context to this thread. I don't subscibe to everything she is saying and perhaps the 10 steps have been suspended somewhat by the 2008/2010 elections.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjALf12PAWc