In the Footsteps of Rome: Is Renewal Possible?

Is renewal / recovery from systemic decline possible? The history of the Roman Empire is a potentially insightful place to start looking for answers. As long-time readers know, I’ve been studying both the Western and Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empires over the past few years.

Both Western and Eastern Roman Empires faced existential crises that very nearly dissolved the empires hundreds of years before their terminal declines.The Western Roman Empire, beset by the overlapping crises of invasion, civil war, plague and economic upheaval, nearly collapsed in the third century C.E. (Christian Era, what was previously A.D.) — 235 to 284 C.E., fully two hundred years before its final dissolution in the fifth century (circa 476 C.E.).

Meanwhile, the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) faced similar crises in the seventh and eighth centuries, as its capital of Constantinople was besieged by the Persians in 626 C.E. and the Arab caliphate in 674 C.E. and again in 717 C.E. The invasions which preceded the sieges stripped the empire of wealthy territories and the income those lands produced.

In both cases, the Empire not only survived but recovered a substantial measure of its former resilience and stability. Fortune delivered strong leadership at the critical moment: leadership that was able to protect itself from petty, self-aggrandizing domestic rivals, force the reorganization of failed, self-serving bureaucracies, inspire the populace to make the necessary sacrifices for the common good, win decisive military victories that ended the threat of invasion, and generate a moral claim to leadership via personal rectitude and/or participation in a religious revival.

Absent such strong, stable, legitimate leadership, neither empire would have survived their existential crisis.

But strong leadership alone isn’t enough. A strong military leader can win battles, and a strong political leader can aggregate power, but these are merely steps to the ultimate goal of strong leadership, which is to reform the Imperial system so it once again serves the needs of the entire Empire rather than just the greed of the few at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

The system itself must still hold the potential to be reformed. If the systems of communication, trade, control and finance have all eroded beyond the point of no return, then the victories of a strong leader die with that leader.

The army must still have the means to recruit new legions, the Treasury must still have a system to collect tax revenues, the central leadership must have a way to communicate with far-flung commanders and local leaders, and so on.

The collective shared memory of imperial cohesion and competence must still exist in the general populace. Any political group identity, be it tribe, village, nation or empire, is anchored by a shared awareness of membership, i.e. the rights and responsibilities of belonging, and a collective memory of the group / empire as a functioning whole that served the many and not just the few.

Once the shared memory of the Empire as a functioning whole is lost, the entire notion of empire is lost.

The leadership in these existential crises of the third century C.E. in the West and the eighth century in the East could still draw upon a collective memory of a functioning empire. Residents had not yet lost the shared memory of serving in the army, of paying taxes, of stable trade protected by the Empire, of a stable Imperial currency, and so on.

Once the shared memories of these values are lost, the Empire ceases to exist; there is nothing left to reform or renew.

We are far down the road to a system that serves the few at the expense of the many. The collective memory of a system that once served the common good is fading. Strong leadership can still wrest popular political power from the self-serving elites atop the wealth-power pyramid and wield this political power to reform the system so it serves the many instead of just the few, but the window for such reform /renewal is closing fast.

In another decade, a living system that served the common good rather than just the interests of a few will be as distant as the shattered monuments of ancient Rome. 

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  • 789

    You are writing as if the empire of Rome and the empire of Washington had been some sort of blessing.

  • Zartan

    Rome did not have Nuclear Weapons. The End is Near. Consequences will be Paid in Full.

  • Very good description and nice legwork. Perhaps the comparisons seem so prophetic is because they
    truly are. I understand we live in a society that holds science superior to Sound Doctrine, but the day
    is coming soon, when the world will finally see the stupidity in such a proclamation – (Jesuit Mind Trick /
    Project Blue Beam / Fake Rapture.) Papacy – Revelation 13:1-10 United States – Revelation 13:11-18
    Once you realize Washington D.C. is Satan’s home away from Rome, then having pedophiles pose as
    politicians begins to make perfect sense…

  • Greg Burton

    WB & Charles Hugh Smith. Little did you mention the part fractional reserve, Babylonian banking played in the part in the decline of empires.

    That ever growing banking debt proscribed, mandated, that Rome, or for that matter, the United States, an ever growing need for an expanding empire to feed the inexhaustible debt maw that is created by boom to bust banking.

    This is the great secret we must learn if we are to become truly free.

    • Jeanjgriffin

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !pa408d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash408MediaSoftGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★:::::!pa408l..,…

      • Zartan

        This filthy spammer is too aggressive. I suspect “it” is in the US “f-g-ops” and you know what … I bet the clown is not even making 30k annually!

        Talk about Stupid!

        Oh, and No servant of the US government goes to Heaven. John 2:15.

        Wake up and Smell the Coffee, bird brain!

        Now, look at that E-5/6 garbage pay again, birdbrain!

  • ICFubar

    Perhaps this time it is different as what is perceived to be an American Empire is in actuality a construct of a financial elite, under commercial law, that has bigger goals in mind than any empire based merely on the nation state. Rather an empire based on the financial, corporate and legal control of the entire planet as their ultimate intellectual goal under the domination of a few apex bankers, themselves, and their corporate and enforcement entourage. All the building blocks put in place and being emplaced seem to point to this as a real evolving next paradigm

  • Zartan

    Rome Invented Modern Credit, as it is used today; however, then it was used to trap Citizens and Make them Slaves. Today, the Slaves worship their Slave ( credit Rating) Number! Soon, they will tattoo that
    number on your forehead ( Slaves) and you will accept it, because you will think that it will keep you FREE! I wonder if the Guy who studies ROME knew that Fact and what it means, Today?

    DEAR GOD, If You accept these Monkeys, in Heaven, Know that I am not interested in such a Filthy Place! I have had enough of mankind and I do not want to enter into another F-KED up kingdom full of them! Thanks, but NO THANKS!