American Parallels to the Roman Empire Collapse

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It is absolutely important that we have knowledge of history in order to preserve our constitution against the deceptive actions of ambitious tyrants.  One book that imparts useful historical wisdom to us is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, originally published in 1776 by Edward Gibbon.  There are many parallels I have seen in Gibbon’s description of what happened to the Roman Republic, and what is currently happening here in America.  I’ll only go over a few examples here.

In Chapter 3, he discusses the constitution of that Roman Empire.  On preserving constitutions, he says,

a martial nobility and a stubborn commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies, form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against the enterprises of an aspiring prince.

The founders of our constitution knew what was necessary, and that is why our right to bear arms is undeniably protected by the second amendment.  According to Gibbon, we must be vigilant about that right as well as “tenacious” of our property rights.  And when Gibbon says “constitutional assemblies,” what first comes to my mind is the state government.  Our states are each constitutional republics themselves, which must maintain their sovereignty in order to check the power of the federal government.

As the tyrants of Rome were consolidating power and overturning the constitution, the people “demanded only bread and public shows, and were supplied with both by the liberal hand of Augustus.”  Again, the parallels here are obvious.  If people in America continue to be distracted by sports and entertainment, the constitution will continue to be shredded.  It is our responsibility to our posterity that we turn off the televisions and instead be jealous guardians of liberty.  We can’t expect those in government to do that for us.

Later in the same chapter, Gibbon states that Emperor Augustus was correct in thinking “that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured, that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.”  Clearly there are some in the federal government today who constantly assure us that America is not slipping into a tyranny, and that we are still “land of the free.”

However, with the Federal Reserve printing fiat currency, a federal income tax, the admission we are constantly being spied on, the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA, and much more examples, Americans are simply not truly enjoying the liberties that Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and others stood for.

As the Republic transformed into tyranny, the confused people of ancient Rome “attacked the person of the tyrant, without aiming their blow at the authority of the emperor.”  Does this not represent the left-right paradigm Americans are trapped in?  Instead of attacking the specific individuals, the people should unite and condemn the fact that so much authority is being granted to the executive branch.  That unconstitutional authority will never be a good thing, regardless of whether the President is a republican or a democrat.

An understanding of history shows that there is no worse threat than government taking our liberty, regardless of what fear is exploited to justify taking that freedom.  We must continue to be mindful of history to better understand what liberty truly is, and how we can defend our rights.

One thought on “Parallels of the Roman Empire and the American Republic”

  1. May 14, 2014

    The author of this piece is correct that we can learn a lot from history, but Gibbon did not chronicle the fall of the Roman Republic, an event that occurred through a series of increasingly chaotic events from 120BC to 31BC, but the Fall of the Roman Empire from its start in 31BC with the rise of Augustus, to its end in the West in 476 at the hands of the Goths and in the east in 1453 at the hands of Muslim invaders. Both the fall of the Republic, in which long-standing procedures and traditions were subverted for minuscule temporary political gain (are you listening Harry Reid?) and in which violence replaced elections (are you listening New Black Panther Party and Eric Holder?); and the fall of the Empire, in which debased currency (Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen), ruinous taxes (Obama), oppressive economic regulations worse than anything in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (again Obama), and massive public works projects (stimulus) that made the Empire ripe for civil war and tyranny, have lessons for us today, if only we would listen to them. My guess is that the new Common Core History standards don’t include anything on Roman history, and for a good reason.


About arnash

“When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” - Mark Twain - Politicians and diapers - change 'em often, for the same reason. "Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." Ronald Reagan "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." William F. Buckley, Jr. “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” - Bertrand Russell The people are the masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it. Abraham Lincoln “Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” - George Orwell “Satan will use a lake of truth to hide a pint of poison”.
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