DISTURBING PARALLELS: America Must Not Repeat the Collapse of Ancient Rome

History repeats itself if we don’t learn from it. Patriots know that America is the greatest country in the world, but greatness must be maintained. It will require more than hope and prayers to prevent this great country from repeating the famous collapse of another dominant nation-state.

Whereas the U.S. must compete with other word powers, especially China, the Roman Empire was truly a global dominator in its prime. Much of the progress that is credited to the U.S. during the Industrial Revolution and after World War II has its precursor in ancient Italy.

Rome’s military might is legendary, but the expansion and ascendance of the Roman Empire can’t solely be attributed to global expansionism. Italy was truly a cultural hub of the world during second century B.C. demonstrating advancements in science, arts, and finance (including the first bank in Florence).

Italy also pioneered a comparatively free market that still stands today as a model of economic growth. Roman culture was able to flourish as people had spare time beyond hunting and gathering for their livelihood. The revolutionary concepts of limited government and free enterprise were put into practice, thereby allowing commerce to thrive and technological advancements to be duly rewarded.

Relatively low taxes and a respect for private property enabled Roman citizens to enjoy unprecedented prosperity. Fast-forward to fifth century A.D., however, and Rome was in a state of collapse. In the aftermath, the world fell into a period of poverty and despair. How could this have happened?

Most elementary history books will attribute ancient Rome’s deterioration to the empire’s endless military expansion, and there’s no denying that Rome’s overextension contributed to the empire’s collapse.

There was another factor at work, however, and it might be considered politically incorrect to talk about it in today’s society. Specifically, Roman culture abandoned the concept of self-reliance. It could even be claimed that Rome’s real decline occurred when the citizens embraced the idea of the government financially supporting the people.

In the year 274, Emperor Aurelian became a “pioneer” in the worst possible way by offering cradle-to-grave care to citizens, even going as far as declaring it a hereditary right. In a move that should sound familiar in modern America, Aurelian gave welfare recipients bread instead of the prior policy of giving them wheat and allowing them to grow and bake their own bread.

Thus, ancient Rome was both a military state and a welfare state. Rome’s decline didn’t happen in a generation or even a century since the deterioration of a great empire can actually take longer than its ascent. It can happen in stages, gradually and almost imperceptibly until a seemingly sudden implosion occurs.

To all of that, we could add another contributing factor to the Roman Empire’s demise: currency debasement. After all, maintaining a vast army and a welfare state isn’t cheap, and Rome’s leaders discovered that printing currency units is a quick fix when funds run low.

It’s not difficult to draw parallels between the “print now, pay later” policies that dominated ancient Rome and the quantitative easing (QE) of modern America. When a crisis strikes (such as a pandemic) and people feel entitled to government handouts even after the crisis has abated, it’s an easy fix for central banks to print money and ask questions later. 

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    When an empire’s military feels the need to spend months or years engaging in military intervention (such as in Ukraine), that’s an expensive proposition – again leading to the quick fix of currency printing. The problem is that seemingly easy solutions tend to have long-term consequences.

    The most obvious consequence in 2023 has been inflation, which is high in the U.S. and even higher in other parts of the world. Now, as the Federal Reserve reverses course and drains the money supply instead of pumping it up, there are bound to be Rome-like ramifications over the coming years.

    But again, empires don’t collapse in a year or a decade. Is there still time for the greatest nation on Earth to avert a Roman-scale disaster? Maybe, but it will require a shift in people’s mindset. They’ll have to learn to prioritize self-reliance and fiscal discipline over the comforts of the moment.

    Plus, they’ll have to vote for people with those priorities. It’s awfully difficult for people to resist the temptation to sacrifice tomorrow’s security over today’s comforts. History’s lessons will hopefully be learned, and politicians’ jobs will be earned – but I’m sorry to say that I don’t recommend getting your hopes up.

    Prosperous Regards,
    Kenneth Ameduri
    Chief Editor, CrushTheStreet.com

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