In the Fall

The ancient Rome fell during the first centuries CE. While there is a debate that eastern roman empire survived longer it’s I think quite obvious Rome was not the same even the people didn’t completely disappear. The culture and religion underwent a change that more or less destroyed what had been before.

Rome was arguably the first culture with strong proto-colonial tendency since they didn’t usually try to kill their enemies but subdue them to become part of the Rome. Notably exception to this rule was the celtic culture which romans did see as competition to their own so it had to be erased and romans did a decent job in that case.

Rome itself was an eternal city and culture in its peak as was the whole era of antiquity (conventionally dated around 800BC to 500CE.) Romans had only vague understanding of their own history and much like many people at that time they didn’t have a concept of progress like we do, even though they did improve in some areas. Yet, since they didn’t have a comprehensive system of education and a way to distribute knowledge they seemed to take their world for granted.

The downfall of Rome has survived in ancient sources and it is a story of hubris and greed. Rome waged countless wars at their frontiers with heavy losses in an attempt to keep and extend the borders of the empire. They also created enemies who attacked and sacked Rome several times. The internal destruction was hastened by series of crazy emperors who had limitless power to make bad decisions. We obviously know it was no wonder Rome fell, the writing was on the wall. Rome’s biggest mistake was to believe that they were too big to fall while at the same time they forgot the blueprints of their success.

Sometimes I wonder if we have any better introspection to our own culture, which is the modern western or european culture. Since the industrial revolution and even before we have seen the expansion of this “empire”, but also slow decay of moral values and democracy. We have external enemies who would like to see the western world in ruin, but also internal struggle with economy, where poor and even middle class people are becoming more and more confused about rising costs of living. It certainly looks like greed and hubris are becoming a recurring theme once again.

We should be more aware of the situation and some people are, but will it prevent the fall? It is possible that we are living in the fall, but can’t understand the scale of such a big event. It is also possible this is what we want collectively. The world has became so complex that we can no longer control it and need a new start, even through hardships of poverty and likely war between world powers fighting over quickly vanishing resources of this planet. The question is how far it will go? How much is lost. It seems unlikely that we would destroy the knowledge that made us reach this far and regress to simpler life, but it has happened before when war, violence and religion took over common sense.