How America could fall like Rome

Originally published at: How America could fall like Rome | Boing Boing


Without a doubt, They will try it again. How many, even now, will acknowledge
that the election was legitimate?


An imperial presidency? Sure. Populism giving rise to violent mobs? Yep (with my handle I know something about this). Irresponsible and iliberal demagogues getting elected? Of course. Declining empire? Happening for at least two decades. Attempts to overturn legitimate elections? We’ve seen it, and not just in Janurary.

All that said, we can’t rely too much on direct historical parallels. Taking other factors into account (e.g. social media, global warming, surveillance technology, a rigged economic system, survivalist militias, etc., etc.) the outcome in the U.S. is going to be unique to our time and place even if we are still talking about the old Roman things like dictators and civil wars.


The scariest thing to me is that too many of those folks would be deliriously happy to have Trump as a dictator. They’d have given him dictator powers in a minute in the name of “saving America”.


The transition between the Roman Republic and Empire wasn’t the “Fall of Rome” though. It went on for 400 years (if you are talking about the collapse of the Western Empire) or even 1500 years (if you count the fall of Constantinople in 1453 as the real end of the Roman Empire; the Byzantines considered themselves Romans even if they didn’t rule Rome and spoke Greek).


Are there counter-examples of societies persisting, or even coming back stronger after a clownshow like we’re experiencing? I’d be grateful for an alternative timeline…


Both Ancient Egypt and Imperial China lasted for thousands of years and went though numerous cases of poor leadership and even breakup of their country into smaller parts but managed to piece themselves back (until Egypt was finally conquered by Alexander in 332 BCE and the Chinese Emperor deposed in 1911 CE).


Whenever one speaks of the Roman Empire, it is always framed incorrectly. The question was never what caused it to fall, so much as what kept it going. This was a system with a deeply dysfunctional leadership structure and no form of succession of power. The Roman Republic was a shitshow in of itself. The difference was it was oligarchic instead of monarchic. A group of people with no accountability to rule of law running things instead on one person.

It was a system that pretty much ran on its own inertia. It wasn’t so much what leadership from the top as much as the structures at the bottom that kept stability. (See Life of Brian “what have the Romans ever done for us” scene)


Slavery always has an ending, the USA is not immune to worker/slavery mutiny.



Japan and Germany coming back from belligerent fascist leadership to being passive aggressive economic powers


yeah, by “fall” of Rome, they mean destruction/coöptation of the Republic;
they don’t mean Fall of Rome, and destruction of the nation-state.


The Ottoman empire considered itself the heir to the Eastern Empire, and incorporated a fair amount of Byzantium institutional structures into it’s bureaucratic rule. It was itself a successor state to the Sultanate of Rum… so that date is actually 1922.


What Duncan fears is that, a national political class that only cares now about holding onto power at all costs,

That is exactly what the Republicans have been accusing the Democrats of doing for years. More projection.

Re the headline - Grendel wrote a song about it:


God I wish. I nation founded on white supremacy cant be reformed. We need to end this failed experiment called America and start all over.

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The Russians also used the Roman connection to burnish their monarchy, styling themselves “tsar” meaning ceaser.

It seems like all Westerners want to be the heirs of Rome.


I’d like to take this opportunity to make a joke about Visigoths.


The difference is that the Ottomans viewed themselves as having legitimately won control of the Roman Empire in war, just as previous Roman and Byzantine emperors had.


Power for its own sake has the SOP for the past 40 years, as the GQP has seen the specter of a new world that means loss of privilege and status. The seeds were sown in the late 40s and mid 50s with the Dixiecrats and the Buckley’s pseudo-intellectual apologetics for a neo-feudalist republic. Elections matter and they know it: you don’t need to govern, you just need to prevent the other side from governing. And that’s what we have seen for the past 40 years.


Also the Kaiser of the German Empire, which tended to style itself as a successor of the Holy Roman Empire, which had tried to link itself to the Romans.


Basically the whole Western Europe (and the Mediterranean region) was part of Rome. And Christianity and Rome are the two main cornerstones of classic European culture.