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Some say that the Roman Empire adapted rather than fell. Others say they're many reasons for the Roman Empire falling.   Lets go over a few because I believe you might be shocked to learn that the United States is suffering from the same problems today.

These are just a few of the reasons  from a page put together by the University of Texas for a course on this subject as to why the Roman Empire fell lets dig in!

*Blockage of land by large landholders
*Citizenship, granting of
*Climatic deterioration
*Decline of the cities
*Degeneration of the intellect
*Differences in wealth
*Division of labor
*Inadequate educational system
*Lack of qualified workers
*Lack of seriousness
*Monetary greed
*Moral decline
*Moral materialism
*Rise of uneducated masses
*Ruin of middle class
*Rule of the world
*Structural weakness

As sad as this sounds the United States suffers from some of these same things today.  So is the US more vulnerable because of all of it's problems?  The Roman Empire was a big deal in it's day and it still fell.

Which of these do you feel is more important?  Should we be more concerned?

Source: University of Texas

UPDATE 210 reasons history of the list

This is a lot for Americans too digest don't you think?  Maybe this will open some eyes.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Roman empire continued after the fall of Rome (7+ / 0-)

    Constantinople became the new capital.

    Rome fell because of invading barbarian armies.

    Rome had problems but it continued until they started loosing battles with invaders.  Who may invade us?

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:11:07 PM PDT

    •  who may invade us? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, greengemini, NYFM

      I don't see any weapons able to reach us but today they're far more ways to do damage.  Our lack of infrastructure security through the Internet could be one way.  Actually it could be many take your pick of several utilities companies.    

      •  China probably. How much military hardware (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is manufactured that?  If they were smart they'd have installed a kill switch, turning our military machines into junk, allowing them to sweep in.

        Oh, and "Wolverines!"

        Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

        by The Dead Man on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 05:43:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  China doesn't, so far as I know, sell (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming

          military equipment to the US. Indeed, US and Chinese military equipment aren't even compatible.

          "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

          by Australian2 on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 09:16:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  a scenario that's been explored (0+ / 0-)

          A blogger who spent all of last year writing about this stuff offered a five-part scenario along the line of your suggestion:

          How It Could Happen, Part One

          Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

          This space intentionally left blank.

          by etbnc on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 01:38:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do note (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that Greer (said blogger) never envisions China invading the U.S., merely defeating us in an offshore colonial encounter and causing the dollar to nosedive and the economy to collapse.  Ultimately, he still sees us as cutting our own throats by finally admitting that we can't hold a Union of such disparate factions together and disbanding into regional alliances.

            •  Indeed (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't want to bother with the spoiler alert, so I described it as "along the line of"...

              To me the shift of global political influence is more interesting than the invasion factor.


              Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

              by etbnc on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 07:28:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I believe when it came to their army... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Roman Empire fell because they could not get enough men to fight their battles.  No one would volunteer.

      •  The first big battle they lost was at... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Free Jazz at High Noon, NYFM, wu ming

        ...Adrianople vs. the Visigoths;

        The Visigoths, fleeing a migration of the Huns, had been allowed to settle within the borders of the Empire by Valens, but were mistreated by the local Roman administrators, and rebelled.
        It was complicated after that.

        The big thing at the time was the conversion to Christianity of the whole empire after Constantine converted.

        Are we undergoing a conversion?

        Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

        by Shockwave on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:12:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I believe we are.. (0+ / 0-)

          Conversion could also mean security or currency change. I read article after article of the US policy changes for security.  Just look at the NSA and the Patriot Act. There are plenty of articles too on the possibility of the US to change to a new currency.  Yes the currency could be just rumors, but the NSA and the Patriot Act are not rumors.

          •  Do you have any links to the currency change (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Shockwave, cynndara

            articles? I would be very interested in seeing the sources of those articles. As for what's happening with NSA, what is really different this time around is the capabilities of the technologies available today, but the bad actors and their intents have been around since forever. What it is scary to think about is a J. Edgar Hoover with today's technical capabilities.

            "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

            by basquebob on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:39:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  look up ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:


              I did not post a link because like I said it looks like rumors.  I don't know if any of the sources would be considered as good or not.   If you believe a source is good then let us know and post the link.  

              •  From the Wikipedia page (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Shockwave, historys mysteries
                Conspiracy theorists contend that the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico are already taking steps to implement such a currency, as part of a New World Order (NWO).[1][3]
                But still, how a unified currency relates to the downfall of an empire?

                Personally, I believe that the dollar will be around for a very long time and probably remain the preferred trade currency for decades to come. That does not mean that other currencies will not become more important in trade as time goes by, but given the problems other countries face the dollar will still be the preferred currency for some time. Not to long ago China and Brazil started trading, some, in their respective currencies with each other. Given the current headwinds that the Real has been facing lately I imagine the Chinese have to be somewhat weary.

                "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

                by basquebob on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 12:28:50 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  You seem to like strange conspiracy theories and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            not understand the difference between religious conversion and policy change.

          •  Well, if we don't change currency hopefully (0+ / 0-)

            we'll at least have the common sense to do that $60 trillion platinum coin thing.

            I know for a fact that the Roman Empire never even tried that approach to stave off their decline.  Hopefully we are not too haughty to learn from that mistake.

            •  They didn't need to. (0+ / 0-)

              They had "nummi" -- fiat coinage that wasn't worth the value stamped on it except by Imperial dictate, and nobody was really believing it.  That was part of the problem as the Empire wound down -- since the coinage was fiat, it was only as strong as the government, and as the troops took to crowning a new Emperor every five years or so, anybody accepting a coin was taking a gamble on how long it would be worth anything.

        •  Yes "we" are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The only "we" that matters in a decadent empire is the elite, and most of our elite has now fully converted to Mammon-worship.

          Clap On, Clap Off, The Clapper!

          by ActivistGuy on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 12:28:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No, not really. (0+ / 0-)

        The pay, benefits, and perks -- specifically citizenship for non-Citizens and immunity from often crushing taxes -- were sufficient to pull in volunteers until well after Rome was really a going concern.  You had plenty of soldiers.  What fell apart was the ability to pay and supply them, and to control them when it became the troops who selected the Emperor and different legions got the habit of selecting different Emperors and then fighting it out while letting the frontier take care of itself.

    •  plus climate disruptions... bad havests etc. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, MsSpentyouth

      led to famines etc... especially in areas that barbarian invaders took advantage of in Northern Europe.

      Not sure that the same stress would be in play in the same... geography not the same... large groups of cohesive mobile groups not liable to enter via a long border... Mexico and Canada are not like Eastern and central Europe with large groups of migrating tribes with direct armed invasions complete with livestock and families.

      A nation of migrants like the US could conceivably have more and worse divisions between earlier waves of immigrants and more recent different origin ongoing new arrivals in the near future than previous rounds of melting pot clashes or resentments... but the same friction always arose with each new round and the same general merging eventually settled down. The darker and more religiously diverse the newcomers then that could make the process more problematical but in the end it should settle down as before.

      Plus communication and transport technologies along with modern food production and supplies offer more strengths and social and political reliance than the situation in the Latter part of the Roman Empire... there had been warfare for centuries on Roman soil, rebellions, repelling invasions. The US is not massing huge expensive forces on US borders to repel repeated incursions of entire nations of related migrants. The immigrant groups in the US are much more diffuse. The Expensive "legions" the US funds worldwide today are not quite the same in function, composition and form as Roman legions on their borders which were increasingly composed of mercenaries and Non-Romans with less allegiance to Rome and more to their origins and direct leadership.

      The US has quite a long way to go to become a latter day Roman Empire with the same built-in strengths that are also fatal in the long run... yes there are many troubling similarities and many things have happened faster than the arguably similar trajectory that Rome went through over centuries... but history as they say never repeats but it does rhyme a lot.

      Rome actually had many challenges that it eventually med one way or the other with self corrections that kept it going... but then too each set of remedies did set up more problems down the road and step by step got to the point where it had few options and much less resilience and adaptability left when a really bad run of luck all coincided in the West to make it all unsustainable... and the empire just abandoned the West and continued on much as before in the East.

      A break up of the actual USA and/or global retreat militarily and otherwise would need a lot of unforeseen forces adding up along with a lot of inherent strengths eroding in ways that do not seem likely for the short to mid term... a lot of strong divergences from the likeliest futures would be needed for these more extreme situations.... Those who also see a break up along the lines of the USSR forget that the US does not have a lot of restive, captive nations with long histories and strong persisting identities taken into the empire as Russia and the USSR did... Native Americans are too few and not the same politically or historically as the peoples in the nations that broke away from the USSR. So that set of diverging impulses is not present in the US... a small bunch of angry secessionists in Texas or a county or two in Colorado or Alaska do not add up to the same set of forces...

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 03:01:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I dunno. (0+ / 0-)

        "Those who also see a break up along the lines of the USSR forget that the US does not have a lot of restive, captive nations with long histories and strong persisting identities taken into the empire as Russia and the USSR did... "

        No, but it does have a serious North/South flaw line that began with divergent settlement during the seventeenth century and has continued with divergent evolution of two distinctly different cultures, along with enthusiastic efforts by politicians to deepen those differences for political capital.  And it has a "natural" fault line running down the Rocky mountains, where the combination of geography, history, and settlement patterns have led to vastly different resource availability and economic realities between the East and the West.  These are differences which really can add up.  The most critical issues of life and death in the West (FIRE, WATER) are virtually incomprehensible to the average Easterner, while basic attitudes towards daily living between a New Yorker and a rural Virginian are so divergent that the two would be hard-pressed to have a non-combative, ritualistic social interaction without flubbing their lines.  

        We rediscover these fundamental disconnects every time we try to hold a national election and end up  at each others' throats.  The gridlock in Washington which prevents our country from functioning is a direct result of these fundamental incompatibilities.  So I don't know that we might not fall apart like the old Soviet Union.  A lot of that breakdown was precipitated by economic contraction, and we're going to be seeing that in spades continuing over the next fifty years.

    •  The domination system continued (5+ / 0-)

      The crisis of the Roman Empire in the West and in the East meant the particular forms of Domination centered in Italy and what is now Turkey ended,  the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy continued.

      It was the Domination system that conquered the Americas and Africa (what white people call "exploration.")  The conquerors used Roman legal notions and justified it as Christendom.  The present european settler state that calls itself the USA is falling apart, but the people of the world need to construct new way of governance without Domination.

      •  Good luck with that. (0+ / 0-)

        I'd love to see it, but the Roman system of "Domination" as you put it was just a continuation of the ancient Bronze Age manner of making war and states.  Rome was in no way unique; it simply stepped into the shoes of a dozen middle-eastern empires before it.  It seems to me that this is our evolved (!) way of dealing with a perpetual state of human overpopulation.  When population density is low enough, people don't fight over resources and territory -- they simply move out into unoccupied areas.  But humans have occupied every space in the world that they can move out into for the last five thousand years or so, and the result has been a state of perpetual conflict.  The only solution would be an immense population die-off -- which isn't impossible given known properties of population dynamics, but hasn't happened on a large scale yet.

    •  corporatists already did. (0+ / 0-)

      .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 11:39:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When the corpo-parasites eat their host (21+ / 0-)

    then you've got a disaster.

    What's the BIG PLAN?

    Marauding corporations with no allegiance to any country who think they can just pilfering the natural resources, bribe the local politicians, and exploit their workers?

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:13:07 PM PDT

  •  The list is wacky. (8+ / 0-)

    The list at the link is so broad as to be laughable.

    The empire got a bit too involved in conquest and the basic structure got rather thin. sensuality and homosexuality and a bunch of other things on that list are moronic.

    Is there a text accompanying or just the list?

    I do think the decline is quite possible, hence my user name. But I think it would be a lot worse because of our centralized energy and food systems and our latitude to start.

    •  I have not found the text yet... (0+ / 0-)

      The list is part of a course offered at the University.  Yes some of the list is on the ludicrous side. But look at some of the others, and you can clearly see them relate to some of the same issues that the US is having.

    •  Energy, resources (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Running an empire on wood is OK at first, but then the circle of deforestation gets wider and wider. Pretty soon it all has to be imported. How do you heat a city with a million citizens with imported wood? And cast & forge metal, and produce pottery & terra cotta roof tiles with imported wood? Not forever!

      I suppose they drifted into a service economy toward the end.  read somewhere that coal had been discovered, but they didn't like to use it. China, on the other hand, took to coal and kept their operation going, but with many ups and downs.

      "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

      by Crider on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:41:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rome didn't require (0+ / 0-)

        much heating, remember.  Mediterranean climate.  In most of the Empire, cooling was a much more significant problem, and not one they had a solution to beyond rudimentary water projects.  Firewood didn't become a significant resource limitation until the seventeen century, when the Little Ice Age coincided with a population boom in northern Europe.  That's when the Swedes invented the "Swedish woodstove" or mass-heater, and a number of innovations in stove technology followed during the next century.

  •  Your list has (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Nattiq, Kevskos, wu ming
    Degeneration of the intellect
    Please explain how this applies to the present U.S. And then
    Rise of uneducated masses
    I am curious as to whose intellects have degenerated and which 'uneducated masses' you are referring to.

    Your turn.

    There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

    by virginislandsguy on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:22:39 PM PDT

    •  you question intellectual degeneration? (7+ / 0-)

      Really? Honeyboo-boo, E! network, a false documentary on an 'educational' channel that has people believing in "aquatic humanoids".
      FOX NEWS !
      Come on, watch the movie Idiocracy and look at the current news and Judge seems prescient.

      The Republican model for America is China. One party, corporations are one with the party and the workers are cogs.

      by vet24 on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:41:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One thing to point out... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Sure you can get an education if you have the right money to put down on it, or if you live in the right neighborhood.  

      Plus you have to look at the US as a whole many baby boomers did not graduate and they are the ones losing jobs today.  The other thing is they have already said though Government, and States that our education system is not up to par.  They are not teaching the right courses, and don't have the funding to hire the best out there.  

      As for Degeneration of the intellect  just look at the multitude of incumbents we have in office racing over the same issues with no real fixes.  Then look at the few intellects we do have... the same ones over and over again.  As big as this country is we should have great minds on the tube, and sitting in office, plus helping education with real fixes.  Instead 50+ years of the same problems in education with no real fix in place.

    •  "Education is ignorance" (5+ / 0-)

      excerpt from an interview with Noam Chomsky that's pretty interesting and I think he has some important insights

      BARSAMIAN: ....You're very patient with people, particularly people who ask the most inane kinds of questions. Is this something you've cultivated?

      ...You may be sorry about the conditions in which the questions arise. The thing to do is to try to help them get out of their intellectual confinement, which is not just accidental, as I mentioned. There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith's phrase, "as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be." A lot of the educational system is designed for that, if you think about it, it's designed for obedience and passivity. From childhood, a lot of it is designed to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you're independent-minded in school, you're probably going to get into trouble very early on. That's not the trait that's being preferred or cultivated. When people live through all this stuff, plus corporate propaganda, plus television, plus the press and the whole mass, the deluge of ideological distortion that goes on, they ask questions that from another point of view are completely reasonable....

    •  um, people who watch Fox News, maybe? (3+ / 0-)

      That should be a no-brainer.

      Pun intended.

      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

      by DeadHead on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:22:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The republican 2012 presidential candidates (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Wind, gffish, Chi, historys mysteries

      Palin, Perry, Santorum, Caine, Huckabee

      These were candidates for PRESIDENT.

      I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. -- Susan B. Anthony

      by bluestatesam on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 05:19:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They were characters in the infotainment reality (0+ / 0-)

        show that our political system has become, aided and abetted by the "news" divisions that are now profit centers for the major networks and cable news.  
        Anyone with a lick of sense knew that Palin, Perry, Sanctimonious Santorum, Cane, or the Huckster had any chance in hell of becoming President, but the networks continues to flog their chances just to create the necessary drama to seel the eyeballs.  The entire enterprise has degenerated into a reality show that beats the Donald Trump horseshit on Sunday evenings.  

        Many people cannot tell the difference anymore between the political reality show, the reality show reality show,  and real reality anymore.  It has morphed into an endless cycle of infotainment on their widescreen that feeds their boredom.

        And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

        by MrJersey on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 10:04:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I like "degeneration of the intellect" (5+ / 0-)

    It has a particularly nice ring to it.

    That's not necessarily my answer to your question of "which is more important" -- with so many flavors to choose from on that list, it's hard to settle on that.

    I'm just partial to the word "degenerate" in any form. Add the word "intellect," and you have the root cause of a lot of our problems -- a complacent, misinformed person isn't prepared to address any of those other things listed.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

    by DeadHead on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:28:08 PM PDT

  •  surprised (7+ / 0-)

    outsourcing of the military isnt on that list.
    A big factor in Romes sacking.

    •  It did not make the list... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      So I did not add it.  Interesting that you brought that up though.  Thanks.

      •  That makes it hard to take the list seriously. (10+ / 0-)

        Particularly when things like "lack of seriousness" do show up. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, I suppose they could be rolling it into "structural weakness," but that's basically yadda-yadda-yadda-ing one of the most significant factors.

        But there are plenty of other problems with the list: "capitalism" is a laugh, since Rome never practiced anything even vaguely resembling modern capitalism. And "terrorism" was hardly a major issue, either. If anything, the late empire moved more decisively into a command economy model than it had been previously. "Corruption" is also a bit difficult to swallow: yes, much of the late empire was corrupt, but so was much of the early empire, and the entirety of the republic. Ditto with "greed," and emperors going back to Augustus bemoaned the old "moral decline" bugbear. Not to mention that some of the entries seem mutually exclusive: an increasingly bureaucratic empire and decentralization?

        Fundamentally, I would attribute the decline of the Roman Empire (at least in the western half) to population pressures. Population had been in decline since the second century CE, which led to all kinds of problems, many of which are stated on this list: decline in city life, rampant inflation, and so on. It also explains the "outsourcing of the military" problem: Rome simply did not have enough citizens of its own to maintain its own armies. And it needed those armies to secure its extensive borders from external threats. And those external threats were increasing, as Germanic and Turkish nomads were being pushed west, smack dab into Rome's borders, starting in around the second century due to the migration of the Huns.

        And what caused the Huns to start moving west? A number of factors, probably, but at least once major issue was a chillier climate starting around that time. Those climate changes can probably also be implicated in the Antonine Plague, which was the first major epidemic in the Roman imperial period (from 165-180 CE), killed up to a third of the empire's population, and was really the first major incident in Rome's aforementioned long-term population decline.

        •  Demandt is simply reviewing historiography, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          seancdaug, cynndara

          listing all the various interpretations for West Roman decline offered over the last few centuries. Of course most of these reasons are absurd or unfounded. Demandt is not trying to combine them all in a comprehensive explanation.

          Most Americans seem to adhere to what I call the "Cecil B DeMille theory"-- the Empire collapsed because the Emperors were fruity psychopaths and their Empresses scheming sensualists who took milk baths and hosted orgies. Adherents of this view don't try to reconcile it with the fact that the Empire was aggressively and monolithically Christian for its final 150 years.

          •  a list of random reasons is not historiography (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            seancdaug, historys mysteries

            historiography is a long analytical discussion of the field of historical arguments explaining a given period or historical topic.

            •  The Damandt list is just an appendix to a (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wu ming

              700-page study on the historiography of the decline of the West Roman Empire. It's useful as an index to illustrate how wide (and often absurd) the range of proffered explanations has been. I never said it the list itself is "historiography"-- it does not by itself weigh these reasons or classify them or relate them to each other.  

              Don't lecture me about what historiography is. I know what it is; I'm a professional historian.

              Your mother is a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

  •  Before taking this too seriously,I suggest anyone (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sjburnman, DBunn, basquebob, pico, Matt Z, Nattiq

    reading go look at the list of 210 things--pretty much any and everything--including female emancipation.

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:31:21 PM PDT

    •  Apparently the University of Texas took it serious (0+ / 0-)

      They have a course based on this list.

      •  Without context that list is pretty (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IreGyre, Kevskos, Chi, cynndara

        meaningless, and just because there is a class at UT that teaches something based on that list, it does not give that class any particular validity. But the list alone is not enough information to make any valid judgements about that particular class. A lot more interesting would be to know what are the conclussions infered from that list. Also, it would not be the first time that some cockamamie class has been taught at a prestigious university. Look at some of the ludicrous PH. D. dissertations that have passed muster at places like Harvard.

        History is full of failed civilizations and some manage to come back in some sort reincarnation or another, others don't. Some collapses are quick and shocking and others occur over centuries and are barely discernible as a collapse to many of its members at a particular point in time. Anyway, that an empire collapses does not mean that civilization fails, the U.K. is, in my opinion, a good example.

        "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -John F. Kennedy

        by basquebob on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:22:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The original list is hilarious. Here are some (10+ / 0-)

    of my favorites:

    Absence of character



    Equal rights, granting of

    Excessive foreign infiltration

    Excessive freedom

    Female emancipation




    Jewish influence

    Lack of religiousness



    Public baths

    Racial degeneration




    Socialism (of the state)

    Taxation, pressure of


    Useless eaters

    Funny stuff there.

    Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

    by sjburnman on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:37:07 PM PDT

    •  To make fun of one in particular (7+ / 0-)


      Any civilization having that is clearly going to fall.

      •  Yeah but the Romans turned gay. (6+ / 0-)

        They were rocking and rolling when they were 100% hetero. But when they starting getting all fruity (I guess around the 2nd or 3rd century) it all went to shit.

        Or at least that's what they told me at summer bible camp. Ah, summer bible camp... good times.

        You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

        by Eric Stratton on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:04:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, I thought that was when they started (5+ / 0-)

          converting to Christianity that everything fell apart.

          If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

          by CwV on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 03:51:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  From wikipedia (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cynndara, Eric Stratton


          Prostitution was legal, public, and widespread. "Pornographic" paintings were featured among the art collections in respectable upperclass households.[14] It was considered natural and unremarkable for adult males to be sexually attracted to teen-aged youths of both sexes, and pederasty was condoned as long as the younger partner was not a freeborn Roman. "Homosexual" and "heterosexual" did not form the primary dichotomy of Roman thinking about sexuality, and no Latin words for these concepts exist.[15] No moral censure was directed at the adult male who enjoyed sex acts with either women or males of inferior status, as long as his behaviors revealed no weaknesses or excesses, nor infringed on the rights and prerogatives of his male peers. While perceived effeminacy was denounced, especially in political rhetoric, sex in moderation with male prostitutes or slaves was not regarded as improper or vitiating to masculinity, if the male citizen took the active and not the receptive role. Hypersexuality, however, was condemned morally and medically in both men and women. Women were held to a stricter moral code,[16] and same-sex relations between women are poorly documented, but the sexuality of women is variously celebrated or reviled throughout Latin literature. In general the Romans had more flexible gender categories than the ancient Greeks
      •  As to sexuality, it would of course be the lack (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Garrett, Kevskos, cynndara

        thereof that would be most problematic, and not much fun either.

        The whole list, which was not produced by the University of Texas but is from the book Der Fall Roms by Alexander Demandt, does have some legitimate possible causes, but those items which I pulled out just seemed so ridiculous.

        If Fox News generated a list of those things that were of most concern to them and their viewers, I would guess that it would be very similar to the one I put together from the original, and both lists would be full of shit.

        Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

        by sjburnman on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:20:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I like Useless Eaters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've always told my grossly overweight mother-in-law that she's responsible for the decline of America

      We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

      by Lepanto on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:19:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think I know what the problem is (0+ / 0-)

      I'm gonna go out on a limb (anyone jump on me to correct me, I know you will this because this is Dailykos)  but think the list is in German and the translation does not compute.

      See the link at bottom of page diarist provided.

      For example, I don't know anything about German but I've heard the term "useless eater" before and it didn't have anything to do with fat people.  I don't have the verbal gift to describe what it is (it's also late and I'm going to bed), but from what I understand, it has everything to do with how civilization today is heading towards a dead end with climate change.  

    •  Moar LOLZ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming

      Blood poisoning


      Destruction of Roman influence


      Excessive civilization

      Excessive culture

      Fear of life

      Hypothermia [my favorite]




  •  the Western Roman Empire fell because with (11+ / 0-)

    the loss of its rich North African provinces to the Vandals it could no longer afford the large armies it needed in Europe to prevent invasion from the north by the Huns and Germanic nations such as the Goths. On this read Peter Heather.

    If a parallell is to be drawn at all with the American "empire", it is that a collapsing economy (or at least a weakening one with respect to others) that tries to maintain its political primacy by turning more and more to military might just makes the situation worse, for the very resources need to bolster the economy back home are wasted away on pointless military adventures overseas.

    We're shocked by a naked nipple, but not by naked aggression.

    by Lepanto on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 10:40:27 PM PDT

    •  Indeed (6+ / 0-)

      The military is not the source of strength, it is a manifestation thereof.

      If we sap our core in order to nourish military displays and adventures, this does not increase our strength. Quite the opposite.

    •  I'm not sure I buy that parallel (7+ / 0-)

      Ultimately, Rome did exactly what you described. When it could no longer field its massive armies, it pulled back. The empire withdrew from Britain in 410 CE, and did similarly (in a much more piecemeal fashion) from Gaul and its German holdings over the next two generations. Doing so didn't stop the decline, and it may have even exacerbated the situation.

      Rome's political primacy was always military in nature. It was no more possible for the empire to maintain the former by sacrificing the latter than it would be possible for me to become rich by giving away all my money. At its height, yes, Rome carried culture and civilization with its armies, and did so successfully enough that many conquered peoples continued to consider themselves Roman centuries after Roman power itself disappeared. The province of Dacia remained in Roman control for not much more than a century, but the people living there today (the Romanians) still trace their heritage back to them. But none of that could have happened without Roman military power.

      That said, I kind of doubt there's any "lesson" to learn from Rome's decline/transformation. The Romans built an empire and ran it successfully for as long as they could. What happened to it was largely the result of events outside of their control: mainly, population decline thanks to climate change and disease and much more powerful external threats. And, even then, it continued for centuries, both in the eastern half of the empire, and, after a generation or two, in the "fallen" western regions of Italy, Spain, and North Africa. Rome didn't fall any more than the United Kingdom did: it simply adjusted (successfully) to a changing world. Honestly, the United States of America would be better off following their example than trying to avoid their fate.

      •  Military strength balanced with its support (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        when the society weakened... the military inevitably weakened and vice-versa... can't have one strong without the other also strong... mutually reinforcing and mutually reliant... the erosion of each ensured the erosion one way or the other of the rest...

        and the powerful and rich as always are short termers who will grab wealth as they can heedless of longer term damage they do. So a continual profiteering continued without much restraint to keep investment in maintaining the underlying strengths that made the wealthy and powerful possible... and they had the power to enforce maximum depletion that the system could provide and still apparently keep functioning but in the long run that was a downward spiral... enforced deprivation for all except those at the top destroys the foundation that supports whatever and whoever amount to the 1% in any era.

        So in a general sense in different guises... only barely similar to some specific things on the list... there is arguably a process of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs going on... and the goose is not in a collective sense all the "Galts" in a society but the sum total of how fair the economic pie is divided and how much reinvestment at all levels continues spending in constructive and renewing, sustaining ways that effect the true basis of wealth and prosperity - the 99%. The list has a lot of talking point moralizing behind many entries that are irrelevant to the real interplay of negatives and positives in a rising or falling society/empire.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 03:16:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The collapse of complex societies (8+ / 0-)

        I recommend reading "The Collapse of Complex Societies" by Joseph A. Tainter, ISBN 0-521-38673-X

        Tainter looks at the collapse not only of the Roman Empire but  at a long list of other empires and also some non-imperial pre-industrial societies. It is a relatively slim book considering the ground it covers but with 25 pages of references it is evidently well researched and despite its brevity is a pretty comprehensive treatment of the topic IMHO.

        The book firstly reviews most of the previous all-embracing theories about why nations and empires ultimately fail, and the author is fairly scathing of most, and unconvinced by the rest. He is particularly dismissive of what he calls "mystical factors", such as alleged "cultural senescence" and "moral degeneration" as espoused by Spengler and Toynbee. Tainter is also emphatic that complex societies do not fail due to single crises like a sustained military conflict or a period of financial mismanagement.
        He also thinks that ordinarily, even clusters of such crises - ie "a chance concatenation of events" - is insufficient to overcome a strong and complex society. He points out that in (almost) every case, the empire has overcome similar conditions during its formation and during its glory days. But finally it does fail. Why?

        Tainter's answer is that the complexity inherent in organising a large and sophisticated society eventually brings it undone. The institutions built by that society are from the beginning, having to adapt to changing military, financial, environmental, technological and social circumstances, and the innovations or reforms or social movements built on the old order create further complexity and create internal strains.  For instance, taking up new territory to feed the increase in population caused by the new culture or technology might mean  military expansion and thus a standing army, which needs taxation, which changes the nature of land ownership, which leads to....etc etc. all of which requires an institutional response, a series of patches and adaptions, leading to an unstoppable growth in societal complexity and consequent burden on citizens, both financial and obligatory duties.

        So to cut to the chase;
        Decline and fall occurs when the law of diminishing returns clicks in. That is, when the difficulty of maintaining the whole edifice of "civilisation" and the societal cost of each adaption exceeds the benefits derived by the citizens. Challenges which might have been overcome previously are now dangerous triggers of collapse due to both organisational insufficiency or rigidity and the unwillingness of the population to participate. For instance, many Roman communities actually cooperated and allied with the invading "barbarians", not only from fear of them, but because they were actually better off without the burden of supporting the larger state. They could actually live better lives without roads, bridges, aqueducts, magistrates, estate managers or even literacy. Similarly, it also appears that the Maya found a highly developed hierarchy and unending warfare too much effort for the return in terms of quality of life or sufficiency of resources and just abandoned their cities. Tainter claims therefore, that for every level of technological development,  civilisation becomes too burdensome at some point, "the centre can not hold," and people just walk away. This appears so, even though  the cost is always the adoption of a lower level of technology.

        Whether this theory, if correct, has consequences for our modern era, particularly for us in the ultra complex "First World", I leave you to judge.

        •  I agree with this theory. (0+ / 0-)

          I also think that the percentage of people who actively participate in public affairs is a key measure of the strength of society.  In early Rome they had strong participation by the citizens.  By the late Empire most people were powerless.

          "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

          by Thutmose V on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 08:32:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tainter's work is excellent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But I'm not sure I would accept the claim that the decline of the western Roman empire resulted in "a lower level of technology" across the board. The idea that the medieval period was one of decline is one that is, despite its reputation, difficult to support. Certain regions suffered from technological decline, to be sure: Britain largely (it temporarily) returned to pre-Roman levels of both technology and social organization. But that wasn't true of the heartland of the old Roman empire. The Middle East and North Africa saw relatively little technological decline, and arguably saw a number of innovations, from transportation to agriculture.

          The same even holds true for regions where imperial control really did fall apart, like Spain and Italy. Italy did eventually go through a massive decline, but it didn't coincide with the fall of the Roman empire in the west: it happened almost a century later, during Justinian's campaign of reconquest. The region was torn apart by warfare and plague, and the rapid population collapse meant that the bureaucratic systems that had persisted following the fall of the empire could not be maintained.

          Which, to be sure, doesn't exactly contradict Tainter's hypothesis. The thing is, it's less a question, to me, of whether or not a certain level of social/technological organization is or is not worth the effort needed to maintain it, and more a question of whether or not said level even can be maintained using the resources at hand. The Roman empire wasn't transformed because its inhabitants decided it wasn't worth all the trouble: it was transformed because a polity forged to deal with the geopolitics of a first century world could not cope with the geopolitics of a fifth century world.

          Inherent in most of these discussions concerning the fall of Rome is the idea that Rome made some sort of fatal mistake, which is a fundamentally wrong-headed way of looking at the situation, IMO. Rome's system was almost perfectly designed for the world it emerged out of. That world changed, due as much to external as internal factors, and it's ridiculous to expect the Pax Romana to exist forever unchanged in light of that.

  •  Things can go on the same for only so long (4+ / 0-)

    ... before they're gonna be different.

    "Rome" changed quite a lot from when it started to when it fell. Eventually the changes became so great, it could no longer be called by the same name.

    The imprint and echo of Rome is still very much with us though, otherwise we wouldn't have this diary.

    So, will "America" fall just as Rome did? We can count on America continuing to change as it always has. The point of academic interest, I suppose, is at what point will America be so different that the name no longer seems to fit.

  •  Is this as much as you know about Roman history? (10+ / 0-)

    It seems like it is. If you're interested in the subject, don't start with anything as superficial, undigested and meaningless as this.

    Lists are fun, but they're not a substitute for understanding. Read a book or take a course and tell us what you learn.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10 UID: 8519

    by Bob Love on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:09:22 PM PDT

    •  I remember... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bigjacbigjacbigjac, Kevskos

      way decades ago my teacher telling me that Rome fell but it really didn't.  It dissolved broke up into new areas caused by a domino effect of many different things. It wasn't needed anymore.  

      List can be useful if you want to find out how a person thinks, or would like a conversation to break the ice.  Case in point... my first post on Kos.  

      The ones that love  list or only partially like list join in the conversation giving their 2cents worth.  The others... meh.  Everyone though is entitled to their own opinions.  That is why I like Kos.  Thanks Bob for your 2cents worth.

      •  Maybe you should go into teaching (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Free Jazz at High Noon, Kevskos

        You did a good job engaging everyone, although I think this crowd probably loved school to begin with

        Actually, don't go into teaching, unless it's your calling, because it's really underappreciated

      •  I love lists myself, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming

        this is clearly a list of every reason Rome "fell" that has ever been raised by everyone from historians to nut jobs. It's ridiculous to assume this an actual syllabus, but it seems that's what you've done.

        You might have started with an honest list of reasonable causes currently under discussion by actual historians. It would have been easy to find something like that on the web. Starting with wikipedia.

        Instead you've invited people to discuss the merits of "tristesse" and overeating as valid historical constructs for explaining the development of Roman history. What hogwash.

        And your explanation above sounds like what you picked up in 6th grade. Come on, don't just post random stuff off the web that you don't have any insight into and haven't given any thought to.

        Sorry to dump on your first diary, but we already have enough Cliff Klavens.  Be yourself and write what you know.

        "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10 UID: 8519

        by Bob Love on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 12:23:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing lasts forever. (0+ / 0-)

    "Trust not the words of a poet, as he is born to seduce. Yet for poetry to seize the heart, it must ring with the chimes of truth."

    by kamrom on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:43:27 PM PDT

  •  Most of the things on the list are known to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, Matt Z, Nattiq, Kevskos

    have pretty much nothing to do with the fall of Roman Empire. I mean terrorism??? Using what? Original list has 210 terms which makes it so broad that it's almost meaningless. You can find an analogy to anything on this list.

    •  many irrelevancies and symptoms on the list (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, FG

      few that go directly to the fewer more important underlying reasons and some fundamentals are not even on the list...

      Barely important side effects and irrelevant false moralizing gets lumped together with more important or even partial relevant forces and trends...

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 03:21:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Uh, these are obviously PURPORTED reasons (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dianna, IreGyre, Matt Z, Nattiq, wu ming

    for the supposed "decline and fall", gleaned from a number of sources. Extremist ideologues of every stripe use Rome as an example of something, and this list is littered with their bullshit.

    Many or most of these would be dismissed as rubbish by any History professor, which is no doubt why the list exists in the first place.

    Disappointing to see such unreflecting trash posted here.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10 UID: 8519

    by Bob Love on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 11:54:28 PM PDT

  •  History of the list (0+ / 0-)

    Under the University of Texas link is a new link that goes to a little bit of history on the 210 list.  In case you miss it...

  •  The only person I've seen ... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IreGyre, Matt Z, annominous, Kevskos, wu ming

    ... make a solid case for this ...

    *Lack of seriousness
    ... was Mel Brooks.

    Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting.

    by Tortmaster on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 02:00:13 AM PDT

  •  Skating the edge of CT. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, Nattiq

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 03:54:26 AM PDT

  •  Rome never fell. (5+ / 0-)

    The city itself is still there as the capital of Italy.

    The Imperium moved east and survived until the Fall of Constantinople in the 1400s.

    The state religion, Roman Catholic Church, still thrives worldwide.

    The spirit of Rome still exists as the Western world

  •  Someone's been watching too much RT. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 06:35:22 AM PDT

  •  I see the cause of the fall (or not) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as closer to the feudal system of medieval Europe.  Or the aristocracies of France or Russia.  Squeeze hard enough and carbon based compounds explode.

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 07:04:27 AM PDT

  •  Joey (0+ / 0-)

    do you like movies about gladiators?

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 07:58:45 AM PDT

  •  History Channel Says It's All Aliens nt (0+ / 0-)

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 11:07:52 AM PDT

  •  It is a actual course (0+ / 0-)

    Who knows why they picked the list of 210.  But the course is real, and as many can drive the point that the list is ludicrous. The list is offered and the students are asked to pick two items from the list page of 210 to discuss.

    Everyone brought up valid points to all of this.  My idea was to show that the US is just as vulnerable as any other nation.  I saw other list...

    This one is the best I could find: Fall of Rome Short Timeline

    wikipedia: Decline of the Roman Empire

    •  It may be used in a course as a point of (0+ / 0-)

      discussion, but it is not an actual course.

      It is a list from a book by Bryan Ward-Perkins. The list was originally compiled by a German Professor and is a list of reasons that someone at some time has suggested as the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire.

      It should not need saying, but just because someone at some time has suggested something, that does not mean it is so.

      From your link:

      In his excellent and accessible book The Fall of Rome And the End of Civilization, Bryan Ward-Perkins displays a table (3.1 – in German)  with "A list of 210 reasons, from A-Z, that have been suggested, at one time or another, to explain the decline and fall of the Roman empire."  It begins with Aberglaube (superstition) and ends with Zweifrontenkrieg (two-front war). As you can imagine, some of it is hilarious!

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 01:28:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To explore from a different starting point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Another blogger spent about a year writing a weekly series exploring the behaviors of empires, and comparing and contrasting the US, British, and Roman trajectories.

    Although I find the writer's style somewhat grating at times, and I quibble with some of his commentary, I have found it useful.

    It starts here: The Nature of Empire


    Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

    by etbnc on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 01:52:12 PM PDT

    •  ;) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You're being awfully coy in pushing Greer's essays, so I'll avoid giving any more specifics.  Having studied the period a good deal myself, I can say that he is one of perhaps a dozen people writing today who actually has a wide enough background in both history and other social sciences to address the issues properly.

      •  In my experience, folks likely to understand... (0+ / 0-)

        Readers most likely to appreciate what Greer writes about only need a hint and nudge. Folks who hope to spar don't need me to create additional opportunities.

        Perhaps you have other linkable resources that are good starting points...?

        Although I read Greer regularly (it's only a few minutes per week) I'm not necessarily a fan. His blog is just a starting point that's handy for off-the-cuff linking.


        Most models are wrong, but some are useful.

        by etbnc on Sun Aug 25, 2013 at 07:52:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I do believe (0+ / 0-)

    that this list is a better example of the decline of education in the Great Red State of Texas than of the mechanisms behind the Fall of Rome.  "Stagnation"? "Moral Decline"? "Moral Relativism"?  Sounds straight out of the Cliff Notes from the Fifties, but nothing any serious scholar today would propose.

    America is very much following the path trodden by Rome before it, but it is a complex road on which the two civilizations' declines must diverge.  Rome had a hostile immigration crisis precipitated by changing climate and loss of pasturelands a thousand miles from its borders that coincided with the historical era in which it broke on its own resource limits.  We are unlikely to literally have barbarian armies pounding at our gates -- we still possess by far the biggest, baddest armies in the entire world, and hostile aliens haven't shown the slightest sign of appearing in orbit.  So our demise is much more likely to resemble that of Easter Island in the end: wildly gobbling up the last of what we all know are the last drops of oil in the pan because if you don't somebody else will and attempting to conserve or ration simply causes your faction to lose.

    History is littered with the remnants of self-destruction.  Looks to me like the University of Texas is right up there with "Inadequate Educational System" and "Semi-education".  Interesting that "Rise of Christianity" isn't mentioned, given that it's been one of the most talked-about (and controversial) elements on that list since Gibbons' "Decline and Fall" in the 18th century.

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