By Douglas V. Gibbs


The collapse of the Roman Empire began long before the Barbarians began to cross into the regions once ruled over by Roman Legions, only to topple the enemy with ease.  The Roman Empire, in a sense, was a dying old man that was riddled with cancer and disease, and the barbarian hordes simply put Rome out of its misery.

Rome began as a monarchy, launching with the founding of the City of Rome in 753 B.C.  The kingdom, before being replaced by the Roman Republic, lasted roughly a hundred and fifty years.  No historical records from the time of the Roman Kingdom have survived, likely destroyed when the Gauls sacked Rome after the Battle of Alia in 390 B.C.  Writings, or other records, that we do have regarding the earliest years of Rome’s regal era mostly come from writings provided to us from the subsequent Republic and Empire, which is believed to be largely based on oral tradition. 

The kings were elected and received a life-long term.  The region was filled with fertile plains, and was easily defensible thanks to the Palatine Hill (centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome), and the hills surrounding it.  A series of kings ruled Rome’s fledgling years.  While the Roman Senate was created during the kingdom era, the legislative body held very little power. 

The unwritten common law (an uncodified constitution) originated during the kingdom, but gave way to the Constitution of the Roman Republic, and the promulgation of the Laws of the Twelve Tables (449 B.C.). 

Like the progressive left, Augustus Ceasar told the public that he was the only one that could save the system.  And, as with today, a large number of people believed him.  Moral norms broke down.  Political norms were set aside.  Along the way systems of welfare and subsidies were established.  At one time the expectation was, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  Rome flourished largely because when new cultures were added, they were expected to assimilate into the Roman Culture, to operate as the Romans did.  The new ruling elite in Rome, however, began to do away with the cultural policy, no longer expecting newcomers to assimilate into Roman society. 

As the costs of the collective programs began to weigh heavily on the Roman budget, and producers produced less because it was easier to receive gifts from the treasury, or mismanage their farm or business because subsidy money was coming in whether they produced, or not, the taxes went up, and the Roman leadership began to impose heavy regulations to force the producers to kick it up a notch.  Voices spoke out against what was happening, but the leadership arrested their opposition for daring to gather against them.  They suspended habeas corpus and jailed their opposition without a speedy and public trial with an unbiased jury; a clear violation of the Twelve Tables.

The opposition realized that something must be done, so they began to pursue change through the political system, and in response the leaders of the opposition were indicted, attacked with legal indictments that could result in prison time, and the tyrants in government had the properties of any opposition seized in an attempt to financial destroy them, and convince them to give up the fight.  They rigged elections to give themselves complete control over government, and a large portion of the general public subscribed to the cultish leftwing progressive leviathan that was poised to spread its dark shadow across all of the Roman Empire.  In the case of Augustus Caesar, he was given complete control, and anyone who disagreed with the maddening anti-morality and unconstitutional political activities of the rising regime were silenced and discarded.

It began without anyone realizing what was going on in the Roman Republic just prior to the Birth of Jesus Christ.  The republic was dying as political giants maneuvered into position.  The citizenry was not concerned, for they had their bread, circuses, and sexual deviations.  The orgies were all the rage, and it was becoming difficult to locate the line between male and female.  The republic had functioned for hundreds of years.  Moral and political norms had been heeded.  A virtuous society that was informed about politics had at one time existed, and during those years the government remained within the boundaries of the Laws of the Twelve Tables (the foundation of Roman Law).  Amendments were added when needed, laws were proposed and passed with the consent of the governed, and for over 300 years the republic remained stable and Rome’s reach extended throughout Europe, Northern Africa, and into the Middle East with various cultures joining willingly at one point, excited to join the most successful civilization in the history of the Earth.

Leftism began to spring up a little over a hundred years before the Birth of Christ.  Tiberius Gracchus, in 133 B.C., sought to put into policy a redistribution of wealth, and during his campaign for a second term a fight broke out between his followers, and his opponents.  The violence spread through the chambers until a number of Senators used wooden chairs to beat Tiberius to death along with 300 of his followers.

While those who committed the violence beleived they were preserving the Roman Republic from policies that historically have failed, the precedent of political violence had been established.  For the next fifty years political violence increased, and the determination of the collectivists increased as well.  The seizure of the lands of political opponents became common, and the killing of political enemies commonplace.  In 44 B.C. the rise of a new cult of personality who had unconstitutionally declared himself dictator for life upset the balance even greater.  Julius Caesar was murdered by Senators before his reign could extend into the future, again in the name of preserving the republic. But, by then it was too late.  Subsidies and other gifts from the treasury were common.  Government’s contracts with certain merchants created an environment clouded with mercantilism and back-room deals.  The political dysfunction had destroyed political norms, and at the same time the moral standard on the streets had been slayed by sexual deviants and radicals who spat in the face of the gods.  Order was teetering towards chaos, and without dictatorial control it was doomed to all fall apart.

Cato the Younger and Cicero attempted radical fixes, but they were ignored, and even attacked for daring to do what they could to stave off tyranny.  The politicians had achieved full control, and nobody’s efforts in the name of liberty could turn anything around.  The republic had functioned for hundreds of years.  Why would anyone doubt it would continue to function under the current turmoil.  Rome, it was believed, was going to rule forever.  But, the good ol’ days were all but forgotten.  The fantasies of the older generation.  There was no going back.  Political violence, land theft, gifts from the treasury, the buying and selling of votes on the floor of the Senate, a more powerful executive, and general government dysfunction had become the norm.  The pot had been boiling, but the frog never noticed as it swam around in what it considered to be a slowly warming hot tub.

Augustus Caesar, upon achieving power, promised that the rule of law would return under his reign.  No one would be executed for no reason, and property seizure of political opponents would stop.  If he was given the freedom to rule as he desired, he would be a benevolent tyrant and ensure that everyone enjoyed the freedoms the gods had divinely dispensated to them.  If he was given supreme control, in other words, he would keep the peace.

Under Augustus the elections became filled with irregularities and anomalies, and he won easily every year, not only because of the counting of the votes, but in order to run as a candidate against Augustus your candidacy had to be approved by Augustus.  In short, anyone he considered a threat was left off the ballot.

What happened in Rome has happened over and over in history.  Tyrants follow the same playbook.  The steps to tyrannical rule, and then to collapse, are always the same.  What happened may sound very similar because today the same thing is happening.

The leadership in Rome, on the way to collapsing the Empire:

  • Provided gifts to the public from the treasury
  • Controlled farming and other key industries with subsidies
  • Ceased to expect assimilation by newcomers to the Roman Society
  • Increased taxation and regulations, especially upon rival businessmen
  • Violated the Twelve Tables (constitution) through legal activism
  • Kept the opposition off the ballot
  • Arrested the supporters of the opposition, accusing them of insurrection
  • Tied the opposition up in court with legal challenges
  • Seized the properties and businesses of anyone considered to be the opposition
  • Rigged the elections
  • Championed sexual deviation and persecuted those who disagreed

Sound familiar?

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