Everybody can feel the decline and decay. Even doughy Boomers who spent their life voting for liberal after liberal now see that they are standing at the threshold of hell. It gets kind of boring constantly commenting on the slip into the coming dark age. As a lover of history, I have read up on different declines and tried to figure out which path is the one America will most likely take. As an optimist and having recency bias, I considered the decline of the British Empire as our model. The USA like the UK borrowed too much, fought too many wars of choice in far off lands, and its leadership turned its back on faith and tradition. Firepower harps on the decline of the Western Roman Empire as our model, and I will now throw in my lot with that assessment. America will go down like the Western Roman Empire from self-inflicted wounds, betrayal by its elite, and invasion by barbarians.
The Western Roman Empire was created later as the Roman Empire had grown too large to properly administer and had too long of a frontier to defend. Even before the split, the Empire had spent far too much loot on importing luxuries for the elite. The Empire also had run out of productive agricultural lands to raid, plunder, conquer and rule. By the time of the split, Rome itself was not the seat of power, Ravenna had taken over as the Emperor’s home. Still, even in 400, there was glory in Rome. The barbarians would end that.
The Western Empire had seen its elite and everyday citizens participate less and less with defense, and more was subcontracted to barbarians of all stripes. In the 4th Century, Rome and the fertile lands of central Italy were sacked four times, with only the Pope preventing Atilla the Hun from making it five times. The last sack would be the end of the Western Empire, and it was performed by a man, Theoderic the Great, and a people, the Ostrogoths, that have some parallels to our modern American situation.
Theoderic was a warrior leader of the Ostrogoths who was educated at the Eastern Empire court. His people had fought for the Empire at times but also had created massive havoc in Eastern provinces. Theoderic’s people were always clamoring for a home of their own. Theoderic played his cards right and with skill, sacked Rome, removed the show Western Emperor, did not allow a new phony emperor to be crowned, and played nice with the Romans as he ruled. Ostrogoths set up shop and lived well. If the Ostrogoths were a minority in Italy, how did they rule? They treated the elite land owning Romans very well. The elite large estate patricians were happy with their treatment because Theoderic did not disrupt the status quo, and allowed them to keep their wealth.
A barbarian minority of limited education? Check. The barbarians come from another area that they are oppressed and blocked from ruling? Check. Exhausted culture of the target area? Check. An elite that was fine with whomever ruled as long as they kept their wealth? Check. Prior disturbances in target area by other barbarians that did not incite vengeance by the elite? Check. A civil administration that would take orders from whomever held the crown? Check. Let’s just hope the Mexicans don’t find their Theoderic. If we were to look for him, he’ll probably have tattoos and a Harvard degree in Spanish.
- Asian Geographic: Vampires of the Steppe – Part 2. (flashparker.wordpress.com)
- Non-Revisionist Politically Incorrect History of the World With Biblical References Part 2 (captainjamesdavis.wordpress.com)
- Aetius – Ian Hughes (kilobooks.wordpress.com)
- The Middle- Ages: The Feudal System (socyberty.com)
- List of Roman emperors (en.wikipedia.org)