Many individuals are interested in the collapse of the Roman empire and what historical factors can be gleaned from it's demise as it relates to the possible collapse of the USA's democratic republic. The similarities eerily mirror the position the USA finds itself in today with income and economic inequality strongly foreshadowing how this collapse may occur.
My post #11 under FirstRateCrowd's EIRA is a subheading under the major category Economic Inequality Rating App (EIRA). Walter Scheidel in his new book clearly fingers inequality as the perpetrator of collapsing civilizations.
Stanford Professor Walter Scheidel is quite frank when he writes about income inequality in his new book, "The Great Leveler."
"Income Inequality is a Destroyer of Civilizations"
The Professor says, "income inequality can be mitigated by policy, but is only leveled by upheaval - produced by war, state collapse, or revolution"
The following is a collage of articles painting a picture of inequality all pointing in the same direction as Scheidel's book. Any student of history knows the past many times repeats itself especially if we have not learned and corrected historical lessons.
This Is How Republics End
Tue, 11/6/2018 - by Mike Duncan
This article originally appeared on The Washington Post
The early destabilization of the republic was caused by skyrocketing economic inequality. As a result of Rome's military conquests, the wealth of the known world was brought back to Italy in the baggage trains of the victorious legions. And as Rome became the great center of the Mediterranean, the trade networks that linked cities and kingdoms from Spain to Syria now revolved around Rome. But this flood of new wealth was not shared equally' it instead concentrated in the hands of a small clique of aristocratic senatorial families who now controlled fortunes on a scale unimaginable to their austere ancestors.
And while the rich got richer, the poor got poorer. Lower-class Roman families, small citizen-farmers who had long been the backbone of the republic, faced a dire economic crisis. Prolonged military service had left many of their farms ruined. Unable to compete with growing estates of their senatorial neighbors, small freeholders were bought out by rich families. This began a century-long process that transformed Italy from a patchwork of small farms to a handful of huge commercial estates. The poorer Romans were reduced to being landless peasants or moving to the cities in search of wage labor. Either way, they were dislocated from their traditional ways of life and not very happy about it.
Before the Fall of the Roman Republic, Income Inequality and Xenophobia Threatened Its Foundations
In a new book, history podcaster Mike Duncan describes what preceded Caesar's rise to Emperor
By Lorraine Boissoneault
November 16, 2017
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ ... 180967249/
One topic you describe at length is economic inequality between citizens of Rome. How did that come about?
After Rome conquers Carthage, and after they decide to annex Greece, and after they conquer Spain and acquire all the silver mines, you have wealth on an unprecedented scale coming into Rome. The flood of wealth was making the richest of the rich Romans wealthier than would've been imaginable even a couple generations earlier. You're talking literally 300,000 gold pieces coming back with the Legions. All of this is being concentrated in the hands of the senatorial elite, they're the consuls and the generals, so they think it's natural that it all accumulates in their hands.
At the same time, these wars of conquest were making the poor quite a bit poorer. Roman citizens were being hauled off to Spain or Greece, leaving for tours that would go on for three to five years a stretch. While they were gone, their farms in Italy would fall into disrepair. The rich started buying up big plots of land. In the 130s and 140s you have this process of dispossession, where the poorer Romans are being bought out and are no longer small citizen owners. They're going to be tenant owners or sharecroppers and it has a really corrosive effect on the traditional ways of economic life and political life. As a result, you see this skyrocketing economic inequality.
Social/Income Inequality and the Fall of Rome is Relevant Today
Posted on November 5, 2017 by jhueston
https://pages.vassar.edu/realarchaeolog ... ant-today/
The adage goes that if we do not learn from our past than we are bound to repeat it. Nowhere is this clearer than when we look at the fall of the Roman Empire and the social and financial situations prior. Before the collapse of the Roman Empire, the top 1% of its population controlled over 16% of its wealth. The Gini coefficient; which measures the level of income disparity in a society where 0 is perfectly equal and 1 is perfectly unequal, measured Rome at an incredibly high 0.43.
These are just a couple reasons for the fall of Rome, but what is perhaps most terrifying about the fall are the corollaries to today. The Unites States of America has a Gini coefficient of .45, and 40% of the wealth is controlled by the top 1% of the population. By every metric, the United States is even more divided and unfair than Rome before its fall. The effects are perfectly evident as well as there is increasing inclination from the rich to build fallout bunkers and withdraw from civilization and politics just as the roman elites did centuries before. Worsening matters is the evidence of extreme racism towards migrant workers who like slaves in Rome, take the labor from the hardworking middle class. Increasingly the middle class shrinks as social unrest and bigotry grows. It is a scary combination that, if we aren't careful, could spell the end of civilization as we know it, just like it did for the Romans centuries before.
PER Square Mile
Income inequality in the Roman Empire
December 16, 2011 by Tim De Chant
https://persquaremile.com/2011/12/16/in ... an-empire/
Over the last 30 years, wealth in the United States has been steadily concentrating in the upper economic echelons. Whereas the top 1 percent used to control a little over 30 percent of the wealth, they now control 40 percent. It???s a trend that was for decades brushed under the rug but is now on the tops of minds and at the tips of tongues.
Since too much inequality can foment revolt and instability, the CIA regularly updates statistics on income distribution for countries around the world, including the U.S. Between 1997 and 2007, inequality in the U.S. grew by almost 10 percent, making it more unequal than Russia, infamous for its powerful oligarchs. The U.S. is not faring well historically, either. Even the Roman Empire, a society built on conquest and slave labor, had a more equitable income distribution.
To determine the size of the Roman economy and the distribution of income, historians Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen pored over papyri ledgers, previous scholarly estimates, imperial edicts, and Biblical passages. Their target was the state of the economy when the empire was at its population zenith, around 150 C.E. Schiedel and Friesen estimate that the top 1 percent of Roman society controlled 16 percent of the wealth, less than half of what America's top 1 percent control.
These numbers paint a picture of two Romes, one of respectable, if not fabulous, wealth and the other of meager wages, enough to survive day-to-day but not enough to prosper. The wealthy were also largely concentrated in the cities. It's not unlike the U.S. today. Indeed, based on a widely used measure of income inequality, the Gini coefficient, imperial Rome was slightly more equal than the U.S.
In other words, what we see as the glory of Rome is really just the rubble of the rich, built on the backs of poor farmers and laborers, traces of whom have all but vanished. It's as though Rome' 99 percent never existed. Which makes me wonder, what will future civilizations think of us?
What America can learn from the fall of the Roman republic
The Roman republic destroyed itself. Are we on a similar path?
By Sean Illing, Updated Mar 3, 2019
https://www.vox.com/2019/1/1/18139787/r ... l-republic
The story of Rome's fall is both complicated and relatively straightforward: The state became too big and chaotic; the influence of money and private interests corrupted public institutions; and social and economic inequalities became so large that citizens lost faith in the system altogether and gradually fell into the arms of tyrants and demagogues.
If all of that sounds familiar, well, that's because the parallels to our current political moment are striking. Edward Watts, a historian at the University of California San Diego, has just published a new book titled Mortal Republic that carefully lays out what went wrong in ancient Rome, and how the lessons of its decline might help save fledgling republics like the United States today.
This is what happened in Rome. Do you believe the same thing is happening right now?
I think that we're in the early stages of a process that could lead to that. The point at which Romans were willing to make that trade occurred after almost 150 years of political dysfunction, but it also occurred after a generation of really brutal civil war.
And the process that started that was one of economic inequality and the inability and unwillingness of the people vested in the upper, successful parts of the Roman state to address that economic inequality.
But as people's needs were not being addressed for decades, the tensions heightened to the point where violence started breaking out. And once violence starts to break out, it's very difficult for a republic to regain control of itself.
The inequality problem is maybe the most striking for me. What you saw in Rome, and what you see quite clearly today, is the wealthy undermining the very system that made them wealthy, and a total failure to see how ruinous that is in the long term.
Yeah, it's a real problem today, and it was a real problem in Rome.
We currently seem on the brink of a collapsing American democratic world power due to the rise of economic inequality starting in the 1970s. The analogy of inequality from Rome's collapsed state stands as a reminder of what could happen should we proceed down this same road of rising inequality. Calls for American exceptionalism by the Republican right wing will do little to immunize us from a similar death. Until the underlying condition of inequality is expunged from our society, the prognosis looks grim.