American Decline

5 Reasons Why America Will Not Collapse Like the Roman Empire

This is both good and bad news. Bad in the sense that the US empire, the leading killer in the world today, certainly needs to be abolished. Good in the sense that it would probably be best if the US empire was abolished in a way similar to the abolition of the British empire than the Roman empire. A full scale civilizational collapse like what Rome experienced in the Western region of the empire normally leads to terrible conditions, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and civil war. When the Soviet empire collapsed the average life expectancy in Russia was reduced by 20 years. However, the British empire was abolished with the British society remaining in tact and continuing as an advanced industrial state.

By Paul Ratner


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We look to history to figure out if the past is either a prologue or a lesson to the present. In terms of political history, the comparison between the United States and the Roman Empire is attractive because not only do these two represent the most powerful nations of their time, the U.S. actually modeled some of its institutions and thinking after the Roman example. The recent political strife plaguing the U.S. seems to be getting worse by the day and invites the question whether America, like its ancient predecessor, is headed for a downfall. Certainly, from the historical perspective, no empire has lasted forever (so far) and the U.S. is due for a challenge.


5 replies »

  1. “A full scale civilizational collapse like what Rome experienced in the Western region of the empire normally leads to terrible conditions, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and civil war.”
    To some extent this may be getting it backward – outbreaks of disease unrelated to politics (except, perhaps, moving soldiers around the Empire and thus spreading it to new populations with low resistance) may have devastated the demographic, productive and military powers of the Western Empire; this in turn left them vulnerable to invasion by barbarian tribes who had previously been unable to match the sheer concentration of force that the Romans could raise.

    Also, the level of ‘collapse’ seems to have been exaggerated by many historians. Flanders continued to be a thriving industrial center (well, industrial for the time), long-distance trade and well-developed villages still existed in Germany and England. The ‘Dark Ages’ may have suffered setbacks due to the failure of trade networks (for physical reasons, you need a town about every two days of travel to make trade viable) but much of the technology possessed by medieval Germans – peasant and aristocrat – seems to have been materially superior to Roman techniques.

  2. Where do you live Mars? I suppose from Mars you cannot see the disease, poverty and illiteracy. But anyone living here can see the boarded up buildings, dead malls and so-called “functionally literate”. The economic collapse already happened. Stores that were here my whole life are gone forever. Chapter 13. SEARS is about to DIE as well. This used to be The Gold Standard of retail. There are mobs of looters on our streets. There are crimes everywhere now. Formerly safe neighborhoods are OVERRUN with invaders laughably called “immigrants”. There are outbreaks of TB, whooping cough, Hepatitis, and a “polio-like” illness that is probably polio. Civil War II is about to get hot, and idiot Trump is starting ANOTHER BANKER WAR.

    • Well, the Western region of the Roman empire in the early medieval period was fairly similar to the kinds of conditions you might find in the most impoverished parts of sub-Saharan Africa or rural India today. Poverty on that level is still rare in the USA, although you will get no argument from me that class relations are obviously going down the tubes and will continue to get worse in the future.

  3. Preston takes too much for granted. A better predictor of the future are the many American cities that have degenerated into urban jungles and the banliues and favelas around the world that are third world cesspools. Technology and it’s instrumentalities are not self sustaining and require intelligent people to maintain them. Our modern world will unravel as we suffer an ever increasing invasion of alien peoples unsuited to western social systems. Eventually it will all break down.

    • I suspect the future of the US will be more like what you find in much of Latin America where you have a mixture of an elite that lives in extreme opulence and peasants that live like people in the Middle Ages. At present, we have regions of the US that are doing fantastic economically like Manhattan, San Francisco, Malibu, the Florida Keys, Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland, etc. But then we’ve got Detroit, the Rust Belt, Appalachia, the inner cities, Native American reservations, trailer parks, tent cities, etc. We’re moving to the kind of class system they have in Mexico and Brazil. I’ve been to Acapulco, for example, and on the coastal side of the city you find American expatriates living in luxury along with wealthy Mexicans and expatriates from other countries. But on the other side of the city you find stereotypical Third World poverty.

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