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How Excessive Government Killed Ancient Rome

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posted on May, 23 2010 @ 11:46 AM

Beginning with the third century B.C. Roman economic policy started to contrast more and more sharply with that in the Hellenistic world, especially Egypt. In Greece and Egypt economic policy had gradually become highly regimented, depriving individuals of the freedom to pursue personal profit in production or trade, crushing them under a heavy burden of oppressive taxation, and forcing workers into vast collectives where they were little better than bees in a great hive. The later Hellenistic period was also one of almost constant warfare, which, together with rampant piracy, closed the seas to trade. The result, predictably, was stagnation.

Stagnation bred weakness in the states of the Mediterranean, which partially explains the ease with which Rome was able to steadily expand its reach beginning in the 3rd century B.C. By the first century B.C., Rome was the undisputed master of the Mediterranean. However, peace did not follow Rome's victory, for civil wars sapped its strength.

* Free-Market Policies under Augustus
* Food Subsidies
* Taxation in the Republic and Early Empire
* The Rise and Fall of Economic Growth
* Inflation and Taxation
* State Socialism
* Emperor Diocletian's Reforms
* The Fall of Rome

I found this a interesting read considering some of the parallels that other members here have brought up in the similarities between the modern US and Rome...

It didn't turn out to well for them...should we expect some other result using the same ~play book~ ?

“History doesn't repeat itself - at best it sometimes rhymes” - Mark Twain

Any thoughts on the prior outcome vs the future one?

[edit on 5/23/2010 by Hx3_1963]

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 12:52 PM
reply to post by Hx3_1963

Well, I would not just lump the US into the Rome equivalent. I would lump in all the Western world into it. Yes, the US is a major part of it but many countries comprise what I call the Empire. Like the Roman Empire had several states within it, the Western Empire does too.

You could include the mirror of the fall of Rome to many of the characteristics such as the collapse of morals. Where greed and lust could be considered a couple of the parallels.

To maintain the empire Rome instituted heavy taxation, look at the next global taxation scam being floated to maintain the Empire now. The Carbon Credits scam is just that, a scam to implement the next taxation scheme.

The system will not maintain. Whenever centralization tries to contain and control the whole, chaos and stagnation will ultimately prevail.


A couple thoughts of those that came before-

William Butler Yeats-

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


The more one attempts to control chaos, the more one understand the futility of such endeavors. One can nudge chaos, but if one tries too hard to control chaos, chaos has a hell of a way of teaching who is boss in the annals of history.

I am what I am and you are what you are, multiply that by 6.7 billion and understand that in no way shape and form, can one control the destiny of a structure made of so many individuals. Each millisecond that passes 6.7 billion choices are made by 6.7 billion individuals. Forcing one of those choices introduces an exponential number of unintended and incalculable permutations.

By the choices made by a group of control freaks, one thing and one thing is certain; chaos instead of being incalculable will become calculable. It will become sentient, it will become knowing and it will balance out. The outcome will again become chaos for nothing will be able to maintain control of chaos, THAT is an absolute.

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 01:43 PM
reply to post by endisnighe
Nice comment...

Seems you have a good grasp on the situation and I have to agree that I see no way of making everyone sit down, shut up and just take it...whatever IT may be...

I'm kind of thinking we're about to or are entering this phase now...

State Socialism

Unfortunately, Pertinax was an exception. Most emperors continued the policies of debasement and increasingly heavy taxes, levied mainly on the wealthy. The war against wealth was not simply due to purely fiscal requirements, but was also part of a conscious policy of exterminating the Senatorial class, which had ruled Rome since ancient times, in order to eliminate any potential rivals to the emperor. Increasingly, emperors came to believe that the army was the sole source of power and they concentrated their efforts on sustaining the army at all cost.

As the private wealth of the Empire was gradually confiscated or taxed away, driven away or hidden, economic growth slowed to a virtual standstill. Moreover, once the wealthy were no longer able to pay the state's bills, the burden inexorably fell onto the lower classes, so that average people suffered as well from the deteriorating economic conditions. In Rostovtzeff's words, "The heavier the pressure of the state on the upper classes, the more intolerable became the condition of the lower" (Rostovtzeff 1957: 430).

[edit on 5/23/2010 by Hx3_1963]

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 02:07 PM
Many parallels can be drawn between the US today and fourth century Rome. I would not use the "excessive government" or "lack of free market" parallels because the Roman economy was much different from our own. Comparing Rome's economic conditions to the US current economic conditions would be like comparing apples to oranges.

Fourth century Rome came well before the Industrial Revolution. Today, agriculture is only a small fraction of our GDP. In Roman times, agriculture was a large part of Rome's GDP. Roman society did not have the large banking, industrial, and service sectors our current economy has.

Most Roman towns were more or less economically self sufficient. There was relatively little of an import or export economy between towns, let alone between far off lands. In today's world, it is not uncommon for people to buy goods and services from the other side of the planet. Many Americans drive Japanese Cars, wear clothes made in China, and drink coffee grown in South America.

The Roman markets were literally markets in the centers of Roman towns that primarily sold local produce, local meats, and goods made by local artisans. Prices for goods were set by merchants and customers haggling and deals were settled with a handshake.

US markets are much more complex. The "goods" sold in US markets include complex financial instruments and high tech equipment. Prices and deals are not necessarily set by a handshake, but can be determined by computer models and speculation.

posted on May, 26 2010 @ 10:31 PM
I would say that there are similarities between Rome and the US, but then again if you were looking hard enough I'm betting you could find similarities between Rome and any modern nation. Interesting nonetheless. S&F

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 05:31 AM
OP, I am going to include Protoplasmic's thread here to get another's viewpoint. All Roads lead to Rome

The Plan for a One World Government and New World Order.

I do not know if you have read it. Quite the musing.

Some just do not understand that an Empire, will do everything it it's power to perpetuate it's given control parameters. As your last comment shows, the power of the state will feed upon it's own citizens to maintain that control. We see it in the perpetual increase in the size and scope of government now, even though it is clearly a detriment to society on the whole.

Of course now, the Empire has components that in the day of Rome, was only a dream. The dissemination of false information by the media and the government itself, is being used to hold the center (citizens belief in the Empire) against chaos. If someone was to just look around them they would see the chaos is just out there. Just beyond our very existence.

I think we have already reached the socialist state. I have not read much into the fall of the Roman Empire. I am sure when this stage begins to falter, the chaos will ensue. Historically speaking, when the Roman Empire fell, was this the beginning of the Dark Ages?

I feel the Empire now, will go into the next stage of totalitarian enforcement. We are seeing it in Greece now. The very governments that have made the citizenry complicit and symbiotic will be the first to fall. Making the citizenry so indebted and bound to the state, they call for more control and necessities from the state, that cannot be maintained.

It is like a vicious cycle of control. The more the citizenry screams for their share the more the state exerts control and further splits the resources into smaller and smaller quantities.

The citizenry do not realize that the most valuable asset there is their very labor. Resources as in natural, not including labor, are finite. The whole problem is, is that the state can never make efficient use of the natural resources so they use the labor resource for their ends. Where as the government, being the most inefficient user of resources, makes the entire scenario worse with its very existence.

I call it my weeble wobble theorem. Once any entity, be it an individual, a business or a government, once the management component becomes so top heavy that it cannot be maintained, it will fall. Now of course the entity attempts to repair it by increasing the management component to control the entity which makes it right itself for a moment, but it is still top heavy. Then it tips some more and more control or management is placed on top. Furthering the wobble. But with this toy, the outcome will not be so fun. At some point the management has to placed in the bottom to maintain the entity. Sooner or later to maintain this entity the top will weed it's very own to right itself. The production component of the entity cannot maintain a management structure so vast as to be unsustainable. One way or the other the system has to correct.

Chaos is a bitch. And I like to refer to it as the Eater of Empire or Worlds.

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 06:34 AM
Oh coincidence how I love thee, just finished reading Murphy's book last week titled Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the fate of America. Fascinating book which deals with this topic and is definitely a must read if you want to explore it in its entirety. There seems to be an interesting series of videos on youtube which deals with this, I haven't watched them all so use your own discretion:

Many refer to the collapse of Rome as the fall of the West, funny... I think historians will be giving a similar assessment if the U.S. empire ever fell.

[edit on 27/5/2010 by serbsta]

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 09:26 AM

Originally posted by Hx3_1963

It didn't turn out to well for them...should we expect some other result using the same ~play book~ ?

[edit on 5/23/2010 by Hx3_1963]

yes and the reason is simple.

Rome had what can be considered as one of the worst kinds of excessive governments, an emperor.

If one became emperor of Rome, one pretty much rules the world. Combine that with human ambition and people start doing anything to take the position. The backstabbing, civil wars, paranoia, backroom deals, and all kinds methods used to gain and retain such power makes the government itself inherently unstable.

Then of course, humans don't live forever so an emperor would want to set up his own family to succeed, even if he was unqualified.

The reason why Rome succeeded at first was the Roman republic and the organized that was developed within that republic. That organization was well reflected in the discipline of the military and economy.

When the first emperors took over, they had such a good system to start with, it was impossible to not succeed and expand. It was also inevitable that corruption would take place due to the destabilizing existence of an Emperor.

Sure there were good emperors, but the benefits of that last only as long as their reign. The effects of a bad emperor however are long lasting, look at what Nero did.

Rome is a perfect example of what can happen when a government starts getting a little too powerful. In fact, many empires collapsed shortly after having an all powerful government.

Once the government becomes to centralized and powerful, people stop joining the government to serve the greater good and start joining for the prestige and power.

As the government starts becoming more centralized in the U.S. where only a few positions become all powerful (think executive orders), those positions start attracting the megalomaniacs and those said megalomaniacs start doing things to protect their individual powers.

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 09:56 AM
reply to post by Hx3_1963

Excellent topic.

I agree that there are parrallel aspects to the two.

In my view it all comes down to simplicity and complexity. The larger the government's scope of responsibility and the more interconnected the spheres of goverrnment become with one another the more likely there is to be corruption and incompetence.

Right now, the government does not know what the hell it is doing and is doing so much that the downstream unintended consequences are impossible to predict. Those unintended consequences lead to yet more government and the cycle does not end.

Like in Rome, the lower levels of government are acting in an unsupervised manner. The complexity of the mandates are such that there is no opposition. Lower level corruption leads to unintended consequences that are dealt with by the federal government and the resulting corrpution causes the state to fail.

The tax code and tax enforcement are two obvious candidates for comparrison. In Rome the tax collector would go into a village and request taxes. They could pretty much make up the rules as they went along, indicating that the policy's had recently changed, that the folks in the village did not understand the policy, etc. The exact same thing is happening today.

We often hear about the $billions of unpaid taxes, driving up the requirement for more and tougher enforcement. I believe that there is as much, if not more over collection of taxes. Millions of folks do not improperly calculate their taxes and overpay. They over pay because they are afraid of the IRS and don't have the time to figure out all of the changes (1,500 changes to the tax code this year alone). That is subtle corruption.

The only way to fix this problem, if it is even possible to correct, which I doubt is to cut the scope of all governments by a massive amount, like 2/3.

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 10:00 AM
reply to post by Hx3_1963

There's one big difference between USA and Rome. USA is supported by China, Japan, Brazil and UK.

I can't believe that Federal Reserve continues to exist without being audited. It does not make sense that countries that already broke or "gasping for air" can lend other countries money.

Apparently, the entire world is polluted with frauds and paper money. The real victims are we the citizens trying to survive.

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 10:09 AM
Good to see you're still posting!

I've done a lot of reading about the Roman empire and how their economic system worked. They even had an early form of paper money similar in function to Federal Reserve Notes.

Thanks for posting this, it should help people get some historical perspective.

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 01:31 PM

Originally posted by wisdomnotemotion
I can't believe that Federal Reserve continues to exist without being audited. It does not make sense that countries that already broke or "gasping for air" can lend other countries money.

Yea I was wondering that too.

Its like a broke drug addict lending me a billion dollars.

posted on May, 27 2010 @ 02:18 PM
A society, a civilization is like an organism, it has certain parameters of functionality, & when those exceed load limits for extended periods it collapses, dies.

I would say corruption was more the cause.
Bigger bureaucracy is just a better hiding veil for more & deeper corruption.

Corruption is when the presented, promoted, public acclimations of 'mission' or ethos or ethics are not even closely matched by the actual operations of society &/or government.

Banking 'reform' that isn't
Healthcare 'reform' that isn't
Regulatory agencies that aren't.

In theory you could have a large uncorrupted government that wasn't nearly the problem that a corrupt or 'bad' government would be.
A larger government is more likely to be corrupt, simply because mechanically it is less transparent, it is just harder to see through,
& transparency is the means of objection & potential correction.

I also sense the corruption in virtually all cases is in the society at large, ie. 'the people/citizens/residents/population' as much as in the government.

If citizen/residents are energetically, vigorously engaged with government actions/policies it makes it much more difficult to undermine them with fraud & other chicanery.

I don't know how much 'blame' to assess to citizens or alternatively government, but if one lives in a place and one doesn't want to see that corruption set in, then one must take the responsibility for acting against it.
If you don't, then you must take at least part of the blame yourself.

Part of the problem in these United States is we have celebrities & 'heros' who are nothing more than greedy wheeler dealers, devoid of any real applied productivity.
It is easily as much a problem of [our] culture as it is of government in a vacuum.

If we have not discovered/ferreted-out the logical, constructive, intellectually sound reasons why ethical is highly beneficial & vocalized it,
then maybe it falls to the adages:
"idleness is its own punishment" or
"ignorance is its own punishment"

Otherwise we are treating honesty, ethics, as though it were 'wishful thinking' all gaga "if only . . ."
"Magic daddy [momma?] in the sky will punish you . . . "

Pragmatic adults think through, find & make their own way.
Determined ones are not swayed or pushed aside by superstition & mumbo jumbo nonsense.

As for the final collapse of remnants of Roman civilization that was possibly caused by the Krakatoa eruption in 535 AD, where crops could not be grown for several years, & the summers were cold & snowy.
It was the beginning of the 'Dark Ages', which for a couple of years it literally was.

Several years without the ability to raise crops would inflict hardships that would virtually collapse our 'civilization' such as we know it.

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