The Parallel of the Roman Empire and other Civilizations

Discussion in 'History' started by Bowser, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Not counting fortifications, roads, related logistics, opportunity cost and lost production from harming civilian enterprise, treaty and agreement expenses, losses due to enemy action and threat, environmental degradation, economic inefficiencies from security provisions, political compromises driven by military necessity, and so forth (you can read all that in the links above).

    And taking no account of the actually available GDP - the kinds of surplus available for military siphoning without destruction of the society being defended.

    (Sparta's millitary, for example, did not have access to that fraction of its GDP involved in supporting its agricultural and manufacturing labor (most of its GDP), because they were slaves of a kind (quasi serfs) who could be neither safely killed or safely armed. So the small percentage of its GDP that it devoted to its military (your figure of nearly 100% obviously hallucinatory) was nowhere near the burden of that military - too many dead men in which large investment had been made, for starters, eventually proved irreplaceable from its relatively small military class).

    So the actual monetary burden of the military, the money only, would be a much larger absolute amount forming in comparison a fraction of a much smaller available GDP. 2.5% of GDP, in other words, was nowhere near the burden of the Roman military, even in money only.

    And likewise with the US - as we can see by the strain put on the US economy and society by the Iraq War: a total victory of the least costly kind imaginable, initially, but we will be lucky to ever get out from under it without more and more serious economic damage. And that is only a fraction of the burden of the US military overall.
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  3. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    This really isn't that complicated for anyone with half a brain. The unfortunate fact for you is your assertions are not supported with either evidence or reason. That's the unfortunate bottom line for you. Now, you can, and no doubt will, continue to obfuscate. But that won't change the facts here and those facts are crystal clear. Roman spending wasn't so burdensome as to cause the demise of the empire. Spending only 2.5% of its GDP on its military wasn't didn't cause the demise of the empire, and that 2.5% constituted 80% of government spending. That means Roman government spending for everything, palaces, aqueducts, public entertainment, everything amounted to 3.125% of GDP. By comparison, 38% of US GDP is attributable to government spending. That's just not enough to cause the downfall of the empire as you have repeatedly asserted, as has been repeatedly pointed out to you. NATO countries are expected to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. The US spends 3.3% of its GDP on defense and has spent much more on defense in the past.

    Unfortunately for you, your assertion that Roman military spending brought down the empire just isn't consistent with the facts. The Western Roman Empire fell because of corruption and poor leadership. It didn't fall because it spent too much of its resources on its military. Previously referenced history clearly shows that wasn't the case. I suggest you go back and read it again, this time more slowly and thoughtfully. Romans didn't even support their military with conscripts as they did when the empire was at its zenith.
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  5. birch Valued Senior Member

    From what i understand that crumbled the roman empire was the growing factionalism within due to roman mistreatment of other neighboring clans considered barbarians as well as the mistreatment, non-acceptance and condescension (second or third class status) of the recently conquered made assimilation difficult so enemies growing within its own ranks as well as engendering disloyalty. Basically poor politics in handling people and keeping or developing unity.

    Your country has become wealthy and decadent, yet surrounded by those who would like to be a part of it or a piece of it but definitely not a victim of it.

    So as the romans favored themselves while grudgingly accepting other tribes, it used them but did not really accept them. The romans got to the point of not adapting as their arrogance blinded them. It was a vulnerability, not a strength as the ground was shifting underneath their feet.
    Thats the eventual suicide.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
    river likes this.
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  7. river


    But how to stop history repeating ?
  8. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Rome allowed conquered nations to retain most of their customs and religions. For example, at the time of Jesus, the Jews were able to practice their customs and religion. They were even given the right to deal with Jesus as they saw fit. Rome say nothing wrong with Jesus and left the matter the Jewish State, to decide. Rome was about law and order, and allowed diversity in the empire, as long as there was law and order.

    This was smart in the sense, that instead of trying to brain wash and/or force a large numbers of conquered people into an indoctrination, they allowed business as usual, while bribing (carrot and stick) those at the top of each culture, whose job was to render onto Caesar, by maintaining order via continuity in their culture. The Jews could conduct business as usual, with a Roman governor for oversight.

    As Rome degenerated into moral relativism and perversion, it became harder for Rome to lead these state cultures by example. Conquered nations don't mind being led by an advance culture, since there are things to learn and benefits to gain. But once the overlord dumbs down, unrest begins.

    As an analogy, say you take a new job and your new boss is the hardest worker and best advocate you even met. You don't mind being under him/her, since they set the bar high and you can learn job skills that will be good anywhere you go. But say one day, the boss starts to become lazy and irresponsible, and is no longer leading by a good example. There will be unrest in the ranks, since there is nothing more to learn, and staying too long in this dysfunctional environment, can start to damage your professional quality. This unrest can then cause the boss becoming more of a prick; stick but no carrot.

    America has learned from history. It is transforming America away from liberal moral dumb down, back to great again. When leaders become corrupt you need to drain the swamp before the empire falls apart and the barbarians take over.
  9. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Rome went downhill after they became Christian.
  10. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Rome was already in decline, which is why this change became possible and necessary. A few centuries earlier Christianity had no rights. If all had been going well in the empire, there would have been no need for the religion of slaves.

    The Christian soldiers were the best armies Rome had at the time. The barbarians were in unrest and Rome needed to make a social change. As a reward for their courage and valor, Christianity was given the status of the official religion of Rome. Rome and Christianity merged making the old Rome softer and Christianity tougher and more pagan. This became a bridge, that would eventually make the revolting barbarian states of the old empire, the divine kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire.
  11. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    I recall reading that lead poisoning played a part.
  12. superstring01 Moderator

    I think it caters to peoples' sense of needing easy answer to complex things to say, "history repeats itself" because it allows that believer to assume they know enough. "Okay, yeah. The US and Rome are historic parallels. Boom." Look, people spend a LIFE TIME digging through old records, pulling details buried in dirt studying this subject. They consistently try to get lay people to learn this one fact about history: THE TRUTH RESISTS SIMPLICITY.

    There are no parallels. History doesn't repeat itself -- it can't. The minutia of one even is sui generis and only exists then. You might find common themes that come back into circulation, but under inspection, you'll find very unique impeti as to what made those things happen that cannot easily be waved away by simple quips, "Oh, that's just history repeating itself." We can compare any two or ten events/entities in history. You'll find some things similar, and some things not.

    The US is NOTHING like Rome in terms of how one draws historic comparisons. Yes, Rome and the US had people. Rome and the US had things made of concrete. Rome and the US waged wars. But those are facile details that could be said about ANY grouping of people over the past 2000 years. That doesn't mean that there's a meaningful comparison to be made between the two. It also caters to the fixed-detail mentality people have. We have dates and terms and we want things to fit neatly within them and when they don't we don't care, we just cram them in.

    The Roman Republic was a government entity so unimaginably different from the US that you have to mention broad strokes just to find similarities. The Res Publica (public thing; commonwealth) was not a republic as we know it today. It was a hybrid of direct democracy, theocracy, plutocracy and monarchy. It had no formal constitution. It was formed to address very local concerns germane to the town of Roma 400 years before Christ. It's inevitable transition to the Principate under Augustus were caused not by ANY of the common pressures we see facing the US but by the very real nature of the Med Basin back then. The Res Publica was well suited to manage the affairs of a small city state, because the top-tier power block (aristocrats -- at first just "patrician" but also including "plebians" by the rise of Augustus) could not gain mega-power because they didn't have vast imperial holdings stretching from Judea to Iberia. They were just local wealthy people with farms in near Latium.

    But as the Empire grew, it never restructured that power to address the fact that aristocrats building continent spanning latifundia, mining cooperatives, trade-route protection services and private armies that waged private wars across the Empire. Those returning aristocrats overwhelmed the Res Publica because it was never structured to address their overwhelming riches. I mean, by the time that Augustus came to power, he had more money than the entire Roman empire and regularly handed out a year's wage to Roman citizens, paid entire provincial taxes if a natural emergency happened there. The Res Publica couldn't address those pressures.

    You might be tempted to draw parallels between American super-corporations and those hyper-rich aristocrats but even that breaks down because to this day, the US government is still orders of magnitude richer than most companies and this says nothing for the collection of EU, US and Chinese governments that tightly monitor and reign in companies. There aren't "private armies" though there are private contractors that are employed by the US army doing the US's bidding. Every comparison inevitably has so much fine print attached to it that you're just better off examining the problems and successes of each polity on its own, based on the contemporaries of that era rather than try to find some secret sauce that let's you say, "Ahah! I've found the historic pattern between the two!"
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  13. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

    The video I watched focused largely on how the monetary system was adulterated throughout the life of the Roman Empire, but it also focused on other aspects, too. It's been so long since I watched the video that I've forgotten much of it.
  14. superstring01 Moderator

    People *love* to focus on a factor that's in the zeitgeist now. Rome at various times fiddled with the purity of the currency. That was a big deal. But the economics of Ancient Rome were incredibly different than they are today.

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