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In the Fall of Rome,
Good News for America

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Posted By: M2, 9/5/2019 7:13:23 AM

It’s time to think about the Roman empire again. But not the part of its history that usually commands attention in the United States: the long, sad path of Decline and Fall. It’s what happened later that deserves our curiosity. As a reminder, in 476 a.d., a barbarian general named Odoacer overthrew the legitimate emperor of the Western empire, Romulus Augustulus, who thus became the last of the emperors to rule from Italy. The Eastern empire, ruled from Constantinople, chugged along for many more centuries. But the Roman progression—from republic to empire to ruin—has played an outsize role in tragic imagination about the United States.

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Submariner 9/5/2019 7:34:20 AM (No. 171880)
I didn't see anything in this article about the role of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in education, hospitals, literature, the arts or any of the advances in what was the Western Empire through the Middle Ages.
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Reply 2 - Posted by: cThree 9/5/2019 8:07:02 AM (No. 171925)
The Atlantic has become entirely predictable, so I'll save a few minutes and get an early start on laundry this morning. Meanwhile, per the headline, which I'll predict is typically deceptive, it's not the first time ancient Rome has been held as an ominous potent for our doomed republic. When I was young and impressionable I was more inclined to nail-biting. My favorite was around the approach of America's Bicentennial in 1976. We were flooded with articles about the "average life span of the great empires" (about 225 years as I recall), about inevitable decay and collapse—our days were numbered! (Eat your heart out, AOC.) Serious articles as might appear in The Atlantic pondered the impossibility of a single man, the President, managing a superpower like the USA. (Jimmy Carter was president, and hand-wringing was fashionable.) Praise the Lord! Ronald Reagan came along and put that cottage industry of Cassandras to rest. America has had a consistent and uncanny habit of discovering the right leader to pull us away from the brink of self-destruction, and I think we're seeing it yet again. If only we wouldn't sleepwalk so close to the edge in the first place.
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Reply 3 - Posted by: cThree 9/5/2019 8:33:07 AM (No. 171965)
OK, I lied. I had to read the article. (Curse you, M2!) I see in the colophon the author was Jimmy Carter's chief speech writer. I am just shocked! The piece piggybacks on the current trend among academics to rehabilitate the "Dark Ages." In fact the term itself has been erased. Mr. Fallows celebrates the creativity and energy of America's small towns and people, especially delighting in cases of Trump defiance, and finding hope that such an optimistic panoply of industry will revive our dignity, after we collapse, at least in the view of scholars in a thousand years. This is "Good News for America." This is The Atlantic.
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Reply 4 - Posted by: texaspast 9/5/2019 9:27:16 AM (No. 172032)
The situation the U.S. finds itself in today is not the equivalent of Rome at the end of its imperial days, but at the end of its days as a Republic, when Julius Caesar seized power as dictator. I recommend a book titled 'The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of Roman Republic' by Mike Duncan. You will be amazed at the similarities. Everything from vote-buying by promising free stuff voters to manipulation of Rome's equivalent of our electoral college to intimidation by political 'gangs' (ala Antifa). It is out on audio book too.
6 people like this.

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