Guest Post: Decline And Fall Of The New Rome

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Luke Eastwood

Decline And Fall Of The New Rome

Rampant inflation, caused by debasement of the currency, government corruption and nanny state corrective action that makes matters worse. Declining trade, caused by wars to control the empire, massive military over-reach and ever increasing spending on the military – funded by increases in taxation on the citizens, especially those least in a position to pay.

Sounds familiar? The above, paragraph describes not our present day society but that of the Roman Empire from the 3rd century onwards. However, one could be forgiven for thinking I was describing the faltering western economies of America, Japan and Europe.

The similarities between the declining ancient Roman empire and current Western empire are quite striking. Not only are the same mistakes being made by our rulers, but the symbolism and structure of our governments differs remarkably little from that of Rome. Just take a look at the White House, the US Senate building, the Bank of England etc – it’s no coincidence that they are all built in the Roman style.

Just as the Romans debased their silver denarius from 95% in the time of Augustus, by the end of the empire it was as low as 0.2% silver. Right now western governments are involved in a devaluation war, which ultimately will lead to hyper-inflation – just as it did throughout the Roman empire.
Attempts to sure-up the economy of the empire all failed – e.g. reforms by Constantine and Diocletian failed, just as the inept efforts of our current political class are failing pitifully.

For those that could afford gold coins instead of dealing in token coinage (i.e. debased silver coins) they had real buying power and the ability to fulfil their imperial tax obligations. Unfortunately the poorer citizens were often unable to pay their taxes, due to rampant inflation, which meant they had to forfeit their property instead.

Of course as the costs of running a huge military to control a vast and unruly empire increased so too did the taxes. Over time huge numbers became delinquents or just simply disappeared and even the once wealthy classes became severely pressured.

Finally, only the genuinely rich and those employed by the government, such as soldiers and bureaucrats had any real spending power – the vast mass of the population became increasingly hard pressed and the fabric of the empire began to break apart.

Does that ring any bells? Of course, in this current climate of political indifference and incompetence it is the ordinary taxpaying citizens of Europe, Japan and America that are paying for big government, a corrupt and insulated financial sector and especially the imperial overreach of the (supposedly) ex-imperial powers within NATO.

Just as Rome did not collapse overnight, the American/Japanese/European axis is not collapsing overnight. However, what is clear is that history is repeating itself – the Western economies are doomed to fail if they are not radically reformed.

Just like in Rome, corruption in all of these governments is endemic and expecting reform is rather like expecting a judge to order his own execution for obstruction of justice. So what we can expect is a gradual and inexorable decline and fall; the only real matter for discussion is how long will it take this time around?

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DanDaley's picture

Best to find a cave in BFE and hunker down until you either hear the all clear or 10 years passes, whichever comes first.  It's going to be a long dark and stormy night

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

TEOTWAWKI is back and wearing the latest spring fashions. Be trendy, be cool and be hip while wearing the new drone-proof hoodies, Liberty caps with energy efficient Infra-red LEDs, and ghillie suits fashioned from Fair Trade leaves and twigs. The latest in backpacks feature earthtone colors and steel and ceramic plates for that feeling of invulnerability as you run away, er, tactically retreat from well equipped UN rifle squads, but you'll look great doing it.

q99x2's picture

The Decline and Fall of the NWO and the Rise of BitCoin. Going Up.

High:$159.00000

Debugas's picture

what you gonna do with your bitcoin digits if one day mtgox goes permanently offline ?

unununium's picture

159 was so one hour ago.

Try 161.

Bearwagon's picture

This is NOT the roman empire going down. Did those stoneagers have nearly enough horsepowers? Of course not. We, on the other hand ...

I mean, think Thunderdome and stuff ...

williambanzai7's picture

And the piece de resistance? In the cost of a basic legionaire's kit cost the same in gold back then as it would today.

Diogenes's picture

Who was it said the US was the first great empire to go straight from barbarism to decadence with no period of high culture in between?

Smegley Wanxalot's picture

whaddaya'z mean no culture???

we'z gots Hollywood & Jay Z,  baeeeebeeee!

Diogenes's picture

I've seen better culture in a tub of yogurt.

T-NUTZ's picture

JOHN COLTRANE BITCHEZ!!!

Lunch is for Wimps's picture

I think you meant "shore up" not "sure up."

Just finished reading a book by Simon Baker entitled "Ancient Rome: the rise and fall of an Empire." It made for fascinating reading and illustrates how a war (literally or economically or both) can stretch an empire leading to its eventual collapse.

The problem? Man loves to speak of history yet carries on regardless paying no heed.

Read "Lords of Finance" the story of the 30's crash. Great read but it was like reading headlines from 2008 onwards. The parallels were scary but again, we've repeated history...

Bearwagon's picture

May I suggest additional reading:

-Arms and insecurity

-Statistics of deadly quarrels

both by Lewis Fry Richardson

BabyMyCashMoney's picture

Give Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast series, "The Death Throes of the Roman Republic" a shot, it's free on iTunes.....

MrSteve's picture

Jared Diamond's books has all we need to know about the end of energy subsidies leading to cultural collapse: cedars of Lebanon in per-Phaoroanic era to right now...

BlackVoid's picture

All true, but it has a much more basic reason: energy flows. 

The Roman Empire was built on conquest, the main investment was conquest and the loot was the energy surplus that allowed the empire to flourish.

Today fossil fuels are the main energy flow and they will decide what happens to everyone. We do not just have a western civilization anymore, it is a global civilization.

Read: Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter.

Bad Attitude's picture

Our entire food production system is build on access to cheap energy. I found this disturbing fact a few days ago: "10 calories of fossil fuel goes into the production of each calorie of food." (http://mdbriefing.com/food.shtml)

Debugas's picture

Roman Empire failed when it has run out of silver mines

Today we run on electronic money which  can be put into existence by a press of a button.

Kayman's picture

"Today we run on electronic money which  can be put into existence by a press of a button."

We run on faith. Electronic money can be infinite supply. Faith not so much.

sschu's picture

Right now western governments are involved in a devaluation war, which ultimately will lead to hyper-inflation

I am not so sure anymore that hyper-inflation, or the complete collapse of the currency, is necessary for societal destruction to occur.  Hyper-inflation may occur, but it is not necessary.  Furthermore, Bennie etal know about hyper-inflation, and they will do everything to prevent it as they know their financial house of cards collapses if this occurs … and they face the wrath of the masses.

But they do want some inflation as they think in terms of economic velocity, they want people to borrow and spend etc to move the needle on the economic activity.   Hence why we hear about “jump-starting” the economy. 

They play a dangerous game, the idea that they can somehow control the amount of inflation is more than a bit arrogant, once the inflation genie is out of the bottle, anything goes. 

So the destruction of the West (including Japan) could be based upon the pernicious effects of inflation, a declining societal purpose, political corruption, the blame game, food, oil and other base commodities priced beyond the means of most and a complete erosion of wealth for the middle class leading the culture to bifurcation, rich and poor only.  A replay of post revolution France if you will.

 Inflation is the great Satan, he is laughing that our leaders have chosen this path.  Satan knows where this leads and it is not pretty.

 

sschu

 

in4mayshun's picture

This article fails to highlight one crucial aspect of the cause of the collapse of the Roman Empire; that being the collapse of the family unit and morals in general. As their decadence, blood lust, and perversion grew, it only hastened the oncoming collapse.

Sound familiar?

sschu's picture

Agree. Many of our financial ills, especially the welfare societal can be traced to cultural issues, especially the collapse of the traditional family unit.

 Read Cashill's book on California.

These issues are very difficult to fix, especially when there are so many vested interests in NOT fixing them.

sschu

Nehweh Gahnin's picture

I presume this means you would like to get back to the concept that the male head of the household could legally kill his wife and children, if he so chose?  Oh, and those slaves, as well?

I'll be more direct:  Fuck your paternalistic bullshit.

it aint paranoia if they really are out too harm you's picture

In the western world, killing your wife/ child has been severely punished for hundreds of years and killing of your slave since 1865 in America.  I'm not sure the comment was meant to go back thousands of years.

Which Paternalistic society are you considering?

 

Yeah, I agree with you, F any "paternalistic" BS that allows wife/ child/ slave killing.....gladiator fighting also.

JR's picture

Many Americans refuse to face the damage from the assault on America's culture: illegal immigration, dual citizenship, amnesty for multimillions, multiculturalism including bilingual education and preference for differing ethnic values and lifestyles, internationalism and criticism of the Founders as rich white men as well as denigration of their faith…

Ironically, these developments correspond with the cultural changes that weakened and eventually caused the decline of the Roman Empire.

Likewise, the Emperor Severus was not from the original Roman culture; he was from a conquered province, the old Phoenician town of Leptis Magna; he spoke Latin with a Punic accent and his sympathies were with the provinces. He even allowed Punic and Celtic terms in legal documents and in the Gaul and Rhine provinces a Celtic measure of mileage replaced Latin on markers on newly repaired roads.

A majority of top officials under Severus were provincials from the East and from Africa. As well as former emperors, he granted the right of citizenship to more and more areas of the provinces. His successor, Caracalla, in 212 A.D. made an even more radical citizenship move: granting all free men throughout the Empire Roman citizenship. As the biographer Dio explains, he wanted to include aliens on Rome’s tax rolls “to increase his revenues.”

In short, these emperors watered down and poisoned the discipline that was the culture of Rome; in the end, they wiped it out.

MrSteve's picture

Your thinking Joe Biden here, aren't you?

GoldRetriever's picture

I watched "Spartacus" on Starz once and couldn't help but think about the similarities between the ancient Roman empire and the current state of the U.S.

Rome had its arenas filled with spectators watching their gladiators. We have obese people sitting on the couch watching football all weekend from Sept-Feb. Rome had its orgies - we have internet porn. Rome debased its currency and well, we know what is happening now.

The only question is what we would name Bernanke's character:

"Printicus" or "ZIRPicus?"

 

 

Diogenes's picture

How about "Economicus Erroneus"

RottenAlpha's picture

The Roman decline, all explained in detail

http://alejandrorubinstein.com/?p=1258

JR's picture

The Roman decline spanned many centuries but in Bernanke’s fast track world every Monday is like a new chapter in Gibbon’s book with unbelievable heights of debt, currency debasement, trillions for war, widespread decline in the culture, and with most all economic indexes dropping like death charges.

Not only do the Roman economic abuses and declines mirror the American Empire but the cultural mistakes and abuses of the people fit the mode as well.

Following Rome’s extensive wars, Marcus Aurelius devalued the currency 25%; successor Severus devalued the money another 25% while raising existing taxes and devising new ones. Severus’ political enemies or those who contributed too slowly to his campaigns had their property confiscated for the “good of Rome.” The decline increased as higher taxes led to a decline in revenue as income fell.

Severus relaxed restrictions on the army, granting soldiers such privileges as wearing gold rings (the insignia of equestrians), permission to live with their wives (the old Legions considered this poor military discipline), and the army began to convert its money into luxurious living.

Following Severus’ death, his sons and relatives ruled for the next 24 years (Severus died in 211 A.D.; the first Caracalla increased army pay another 50%, debased the currency again and raised taxes, and increased the bounties paid to barbarian chieftains to keep them from attacking weak points along the frontiers. These bounties then began to equal the army’s entire payroll.

The rapid decline then brought Maximinus to power and a strengthening again of an emperor’s tyranny and the overturning of moral values and a tsunami of corruption.

The sacking of Rome in 410 is seen as a major landmark in the fall of the Roman Empire. She fell in 476.

But it is a mistake to think that the American Empire will decline slowly like Rome's or that Americans will respond as they did over decades of British rule.  Rather, it will be fast and swift and the reaction will be fast and swift. It's plausible it may arrive without warning. Simon Black said it today: It’s the punch that you don’t see coming which knocks you out.

nmewn's picture

"Severus’ political enemies or those who contributed too slowly to his campaigns had their property confiscated for the “good of Rome.”

For the good of Rome...there's a lot of this type of thinking going around these days too...especially from the likes of Paulinius Krugmanus.

JR's picture

Paulinius Krugmanus? Is that any relation to Piltdown Man? ...declared the missing link before found to be a human skull sanded with an ape jaw bone fitted to it?

No. No. Couldn’t be! Piltdown Man was a hoax.

Kayman's picture

Paulinius Krugmanus. I can hear him shouting from the Emperor's box in the Colosseum, "Blood, I tell ya, we need more blood !"

JR's picture

Ah, Kayman, from whence came The Red Shield's rallying tribal cry:  “The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets!”

e-recep's picture

today it's "for the good of homeland".

MrSteve's picture

And surely was it not the stately Roman in the Bard's Hamlet,

our dearest Polonius who advised us all;

"neither a borrower nor lender be, for oft' both friend and loan are lost."?

Tell that to the FED and their crony bankers!

Hulk's picture

Getting killed by a sword wielding guy in a dress must be the lowest of lows...

Zola's picture

The more I think about it, the more the logical outcome of the situation is a New Dark Age with totalitarian/heavy control governments everywhere. However the only silver lining I see is just like in Azimov's novel there is a second foundation being set up and that is the Internet, which will allow to shorten that period of decay by keeping intact the seeds of a free society. The jury is still out as to where the first foundation is though. I'm looking for Terminus but have not found it yet.

roadhazard's picture

The Internet can and will disappear when the SHTF.

it aint paranoia if they really are out too harm you's picture

I put my comment in the wrong place.

MedicalQuack's picture

It's all about using "models" to lie and control.  Take a look at what insurers are doing to CMS with putting their pricing on government shopping websites, as it is so complex that the inspector general and CMS are somewhat duking it out wiht each other, thinking they could do a better job, when in fact it is the insurance business causing this.  Hopefully they will wake up.  This is just one example on how manipulation by the models and algorithms works.  It's happening all over the place.

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2013/04/cms-and-inspector-general-duking-...

Sebelius is such an easy target for big business as she has no tech in her background and I said back in 2009 on record that Health IT would eat her up and sadly it is happening as she gets distracted with stuff like having a Facebook app being useful at HHS..go figure.  I didn't want to be right on that one but it seems to be very true when you follow her in the news sometimes.  The recent battle over the day after pill and her past actions with over riding FDA director Hamburg publicly who works for her certainly was a prime example.  Now we have the judge saying she didn't have any scientific background for her decision too.  I think you have a lot of this too perhaps with Holder at the DOJ as if you watch any of the Wall Street documentaries, like too big to jail, DOJ Manny was an exact same image sadly.  It's the models folks that we need to look at. 

http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2013/04/judge-orders-morning-after-pill-t...

A former Wall Street Quant comes right out and says so about lying models and be sure not to miss this blog post, she's right on the money.

http://mathbabe.org/2013/04/03/we-dont-need-more-complicated-models-we-need-to-stop-lying-with-our-models/

Blazed's picture

With a US collapse, I wonder who would maintain the 65 nuclear plants, spent fuel storage, and nuclear waste sites, not to mention the chemical industry infrastructure.

e-recep's picture

note to self : rewatch the movie mad max.

Debugas's picture

rats would - take a look at japan

earleflorida's picture

of the twelve [12] total caesar's, julius was the crowning prince... the first-- in the centuries to follow, germany and russia adapted the meaning of the word caesar to kaiser and czar-- ironically, in modern day amerika we have czar's and presidium's servising the same nobility of old-- where our president elect is but a mere informal apponintment [*certainlly not nominated... rather a knighting?] by the usual bloodlines of the past..."Brutus--Et tu Brute"!

veni,... vidi,... vici,..

 

Nehweh Gahnin's picture

"So what we can expect is a gradual and inexorable decline and fall; the only real matter for discussion is how long will it take this time around?"

Gradual decline means nothing comprehensible in our current context as compared to the decline of the Roman empire.  Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns is a good referent point on this.

(http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns)

We have been the "beneficiaries" of exponential advancements in computing power, along with developments in economics, energy, government and propaganda.  We also get exponentially accelerating returns on the counter-effects of those advancements.  Good reference points there are Fukushima and the Maconda well blow-out.  And the utter catastrophe to come when our present systems destabilize.

While the resulting destruction may be relatively gradual as set against the frenzies of HFT algos, it will proceed at light speed next to the decline of the Roman empire.  We have been in terminal decline since at least the early '70's, and that trajectory is continuing to accelerate.  We can, imho, now count the time until the new Dark Ages arrive in years, if not months or weeks.  It ain't going to be a millenial timeline this time around.

wonderatitall's picture

but ...but..but , obama black. damn racists , everything is perfekt long live the crony states of obamaville