Yep, the USA is definitely an empire in decline -- looking more and more like ancient Rome every day.
As early as the first century BC, Rome was beginning to show the same signs of cultural decline, along with growing economic inequality, as we have recently been experiencing in the USA. The streets of Rome were filled with homeless men suffering from the consequences of militarism and imperialism. Many were discharged soldiers and peasants who had lost their small farms while they had been serving in the military.
Many of today's workers in the USA have suffered from having been displaced by automation and the export of jobs to cheap labor in the Third World. We have also lived through a recent period in which corporate agriculture has been dramatically increasing its share of farm production at the expense of family farms.
Similarly, the Roman peasants could not compete with wealthy farmers taking advantage of slave labor. Ironicallly, the slave population was composed of the very prisoners captured by the peasants who had been serving the empire as soldiers.
Violent Entertainment for the Roman Underclass
James L. Steffensen writes that these economic conditions in the rural areas resulted in a migration of peasants to the cities:
The peasants left the country and came into the city. They
could find no work there, either. But they discovered that in
a Republic ruled by votes there was still power in numbers.
The poor of the city became an unruly mob, shouting for
attention, living on hand-outs from the government or from
rich politicians, selling their votes in the assembly to the
men who gave them the most. Without jobs, they had nothing to
do with their time except wander the streets and make
trouble. So the politicians began to give them free shows as
well as free food.
The people flocked to the stadiums and to the racecourse
called the Circus, and they liked their shows big. Their
favorite sports were the cruelest ones -- huge mock battles
in which the deaths were real, and combats of gladiators, men
who were sent into the arenas to kill.
Source: Universal History of the World, Volume 3 (NY: Western Publishing, 1966)
Disturbing Trends in the USA
While American society has not yet degenerated to the point where gladiators are killing one another in arenas, there are some disturbing trends under way:
-- the mass marketing of verbally violent trash noise, such as gangsta rap;
-- the mass marketing of boom car equipment, explicitly promoted for purposes of audio aggression;
-- the emergence and television broadcasting of "ultimate fighting," where men are allowed to bash each other in spectator arenas with virtually no rules;
-- the emergence of youthful criminal behavior not even imaginable at mid-twentieth century, as shown by the series of random shootings of classmates by high school students during the '90s.
For the rest of my commentary on this, go here:
-- Michael Wright
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