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M. Porcius Cato

"Are We Rome?"

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Pompey as Al Gore? I think not.

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... And I personally cannot see how President Bush is similar to Diocletian.

 

I find it strange that the aricle seems to stop abruptly with Valerian's death. I thought that it would have at least had some sort of closure or a round up of the article's ideas. Very strange.

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Seems to me we're more like later imperial Rome. Institutions of the Republic are being lost. Cheney's theory of the vice presidency and Bush's "unitary executive" dogma both tend toward imperium rather than democratic leadership. Bush's novel use of signing statements makes the Congress almost unnecessary. I wouldn't blame the Bush Administration for initiating these changes, but they've taken them to new and unfortunate levels.

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I say we are the United States of America 2000 years later Rome. :)

 

Amen :)

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I've heard the interview with the author of "Are We Rome." You can get the podcast from the Diane Rehm Show, <http://wamu.org/help/podcasts.php>.

 

It's very difficult to make comparisons across two thousand years. That said, for me the most compelling lesson from Rome's long history is from the fate of the Republic, that participatory democracy for citizens. By the time of the Empire, it turned into a permanent dictatorship with the small farmer citizen/soldier eliminated as a political class. Look at the fate of the US farmer. Look at the falling standard of living for the middle class in the US. Look at the growth of empire with 350,000 US troops stationed in about 120 countries.

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I've opened a can of worms, but if this is all moved to the US/Rome thread, c'est la vie.

 

Look at the fate of the US farmer.

Please, do look at it. According to the US Dept of Agriculture, farmers earn as much as non-farmers. Ninety-five percent of US farms are still family farms, which collectively produce $ 66 billion dollars a year in revenue. The fate of the US farmer is much like the rest of the population--prosperous.

 

Look at the falling standard of living for the middle class in the US.

"Standard of living" is a subjective judgment, but the median income in the US (in real dollars) has been rising for some time. Between 1967 and 2005, it rose from $35k to $46k.

 

Look at the growth of empire with 350,000 US troops stationed in about 120 countries.

Unlike the Romans, US troops do not maintain their presence abroad to enforce will of an executive, to collect taxes, or to administer martial law. The comparison is totally superficial.

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Indeed. external taxation is the "slight matter" that slips under the radar ..I suggest that this is the huge disparity in this inaccurate comparison. Just returning to Pompey , sometime ago ( maybe a couple of years actually) MPC aptly described Pompey as a "feral monster" in terms of overweaning ambition and acquisitive gluttony , Al Gore is a bureaucratic pygmy in geo-political comparison.

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Well, if the US is todays Rome, then in 2000 years we will have a nice website called UNAV.com :)

 

...the only thing i really learned from history is that nothing lasts forever...

 

cheers

viggen

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...the only thing i really learned from history is that nothing lasts forever...

 

 

Except maybe the pyramids. :)

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Unlike the Romans, US troops do not maintain their presence abroad to enforce will of an executive, to collect taxes, or to administer martial law. The comparison is totally superficial.

 

 

And do you also think that US troops have been sent to Iraq to "spread democracy" ?

And who do you think pays for the 120 country troop presence?

 

Rome's widespread empire was paid for by its citizens, especially the decuriones.

 

http://www.livius.org/de-dh/decuriones/decuriones.html

 

"Among the financial obligations of the decuriones was to advance the imperial taxes. This was in itself not a very heavy obligation, because the hundred members just advanced the money to the provincial governor and received their money back from their loyal tax-paying fellow-citizens. However, in the third century CE, the taxes started to rise, and advancing the money was increasingly difficult. At the same time, inflation destroyed the funds for the upkeep of public monuments, which meant that decuriones were forced to pay lots of money.

 

As a consequence, they started to evade their obligations. The emperors took countermeasures. The minimum age became eighteen years and people of sufficient means could be forced to become decuriones.

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And do you also think that US troops have been sent to Iraq to "spread democracy" ?

No--but having deposed a dictator, why not help the Iraqis to give democracy a shot?

 

Rome's widespread empire was paid for by its citizens, especially the decuriones.

Rome's empire was paid for PARTLY by (some of) its citizens, but also paid for by direct plunder and nationalization of farms and mines. The Coliseum, for example, was not paid for by the decurions of Judaea but by the goods that were stolen from Jerusalem. The mines of Spain and the leases to the farms of Campania provided well over 1/4 of Roman revenue. Indeed, Romans themselves were free of taxation for most the republic, which when Rome acquired her empire in the first place.

 

Now let's suppose that the Roman model really did apply to the US (e.g., in Iraq). Had the US adopted the Roman model, it would have invaded Iraq many, many years ago--rather than waiting for UN sanctions to enrich the crooks in the UN, Germany, and Russia. The invasion would have involved the use of utterly devastating force--rather than spending money on expensive weaponry specifically designed to avoid civilian casualties. Having defeated Iraq's army, Saddam Hussein and his tyrant family would have been sent to Washington to be garroted--rather than going through the motions of a trial for crimes that were so obvious that even the defendant complained about the charade. Captured enemy troops and sundry others would have been auctioned as slaves--rather than freed and actually paid a wage that was many times their previous salary. Needless to say, al-Sadr and all his sympathizers would have been crucified--rather than invited to join the Iraqi parliament. Obviously, the government of Iraq would have been turned over to the most steadfast of American allies in the region (presumably the Kurds and secular Shi'ites)--rather than holding elections in which many (though not all) American allies were defeated at the polls. Finally, all of Iraq's oil fields would have been confiscated by the American government--rather than owned by the Iraqi people, who are paid directly from Iraqi oil revenues.

 

Again, the comparison of the US and Roman military presence abroad is completely superficial and misleading.

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Just returning to Pompey , some time ago ( maybe a couple of years actually) MPC aptly described Pompey as a "feral monster" in terms of overweaning ambition and acquisitive gluttony , Al Gore is a bureaucratic pygmy in geo-political comparison.

 

I take your point, but Skarr should get the credit for the "feral monster" description of Pompey. (See here.) My favorite term of abuse for Pompey is the more classical "teenage butcher".

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