The Fall of Two Empires: Rome and the USA
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
According to traditional versions of history there are many coincidences between the fall of Rome and that of the United States, the beginning of which is scarcely being recognized by some world powers. Rome reached its zenith in 107 A.D. when Trajan completed the conquest of Dacia, present-day Romania. At that time Rome reached its peak with respect to the size of its territory, but it had done so in other respects long before.
If you compare Rome with the US, you will see that this new empire reached its most prestigious standing in the 1950s, when it generated 50% of the world’s GDP and manufactured 80% of all the world’s vehicles. In contrast, it now generates only 21% of world GDP and manufactures only 5% of vehicles worldwide. In the 1950s the US owned ⅔ of the world’s gold reserves and now it has only ¼. At that time America was also the world’s biggest creditor and today it is the biggest debtor by a wide margin.
The average American’s income was then the highest in the world and now it has fallen to eighth place and is still on the decline. Incomes are falling not only in the United States, but also in all the countries in the Western world. This situation is similar to the one that existed in Europe in 1910 when it had economic and military control over almost the entire world, although in this regard Europe is now doing much worse than the US.
According to traditional history, Rome had been founded by refugees fleeing from Troy, and like the United States it had been ruled by kings. Later the Romans became independent and had several Assemblies and a Senate. Then power was assumed by a Central Executive Branch, which is what also happened in the United States.
The founding fathers of America borrowed the Roman model, from the architecture of public buildings, the use of the eagle as the national bird and the Latin slogans to the axe in a bundle of rods as a symbol of state power. Likewise, military skill has been at the core of national identity since 1776, when Eduard Gibbon published his book entitled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the same year that Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations and Declaration of Independence of the United States.
Apart from what has been said by historians and the two great writers mentioned, it could also be said that the US Empire, like that of Rome had many positive aspects, but there were more bad elements than good, such as its attitude towards trade, militarism, its centralized government and its totalitarianism that increased after Caesar assumed absolute power.
So it’s worth considering whether the decline of the United States at this point could be a negative event for the rest of the world. Although there were multiple reasons for the fall of Rome, most are peculiar, but there are some quite common sense reasons, such as the loss of morale and corruption.
However, Gibbon’s list only pointed to two causes, one internal and one external: Christianity and the invasions of the barbarians. Gibbon carefully studied only the Christians until the fourth century when Charlemagne emerged to rule the political and religious scene in Medieval Europe.
One might compare Rome’s history from its founding by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC, (which runs counter to Virgil’s story of Aeneas and the Trojan refugees), until the end of the Western Empire in 476 A.D., when Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a Germanic general named Odoacer who led an army of Germanic mercenaries with no loyalty to Rome. This is very similar to the history of the United States in the last two hundred years: first conquest and expansion, then world domination and finally the beginning of the fall.
Although the Roman Republic fell in 31A.D. with the accession of Augustus and the beginning of the Principality, it almost fell apart in the middle of the second century during a period of permanent civil war and with the beginning of significant incursions by the barbarians, as well as the destruction of the denarius which was the official silver coin of Rome. It could also be said that the Empire did not collapse until the late 600s when Islam conquered the Middle East and North Africa by cutting off trade in the Mediterranean. Or perhaps the date of this collapse could be said to be 1453, the date that marks the fall of Constantinople and the Eastern Empire. Although one cannot rule out the idea that the Empire is still alive today in the form of the Catholic Church with the Pope ruling over what’s left of the Empire from a small city state.
In the case of the USA it can be said that its Empire began with Roosevelt in 1933 when he was anointed as President and he governed, as did Caesar Augustus, through the Senate. Thereafter, it went through a period of ‘domination,’ just like Rome when the emperor became the absolute monarch. That change occurred in Rome when Diocletian ascended to power in 284 and then Constantine in 306. At that time the emperor no longer wanted to be equal to the other leaders of the ‘Christocracy’ and he was treated like a king of the Orient.
The same thing is now happening in the US, even though it is far from reaching the final stage, because the President has a large number of guards and institutions in his service. One has to remember that Truman was the last president in US history who, while still in office, dared to stroll informally down the streets of DC as if he were an ordinary citizen. But he didn’t do so out of modesty, but because he felt he was omnipotent.
Currently, the Senate, consuls and tribunes with their vetoes have become anachronisms, just like the official institutions. This is something similar to what happened in Rome starting with the Emperor Claudius in 41 A.D. when the ‘Praetorians’ established by Augustus showed that they alone could appoint the emperor. Today, the equivalents of those ‘Praetorians’ in the USA are the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the Pentagon.
Addendum: At this time we recall that war has always been the essence of the American State, just as that warlike mentality was expected of all Roman emperors. We also recall that the same thing has happened with the greatest US presidents, like Lincoln, Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. To these could be added, with a little black humor, Baby Bush, Obama and Trump so that Wall Street will think that the whole world has not realized that they are the ones who still rule the world.