The Fall of Rome

   92Jul14 5:28 pm from Bahamut
Cal Poly is a CSU campus. I think Erik's complaint is that community college students, who transfer in, will be at a disadvantage. My understanding, however, Erik, is transfers in the fall will still be ok; but that NO ONE will be allowed to come in mid-year (Winter or Spring.) Might want to check into it.

   92Jul14 6:58 pm from Gemini
I'm lucky, I'm already enrolled at CalPoly.

   92Jul14 7:35 pm from Zeylan
I've been at City College for four years.

   92Jul14 9:38 pm from Bahamut
I'm back at UCSB again...

   92Jul15 1:10 am from Roger Enright
What year are you Bahamut?

   92Jul15 2:23 pm from Zeylan
I'm still in 1992. I don't know about the rest of you.

   92Jul15 3:16 pm from Bahamut
I'm a grad student. Graduated from here in '89...took a couple years off after an aborted trial at a different grad program. Came back here in April...just started this last quarter.

   92Jul15 4:22 pm from Roger Enright

   92Jul15 4:54 pm from Bahamut
History. Specifically, ancient, more specifically, Roman, even more specifically, late Roman Empire/Julian the Apostate.

   92Jul15 11:31 pm from Roger Enright
Ah. The romans were neat. Lots of things worth studying right before the church plunged Europe into the Dark Ages.

   92Jul16 12:00 pm from Cockroach
I would assert (again) that christianity was a symptom, not the disease...

   92Jul16 1:48 pm from Roger Enright
A symptom of what?

   92Jul16 8:50 pm from Kappa Fox
_A Lack of trust in the Government_

   92Jul17 8:42 am from joe foster
Yep, a number of Roman sexual techniques were lost until the 60's, when they were rediscovered by a number of researchers. :-)

   92Jul17 from needle-nose pliers
"it's purely 'scientific interest', nothing more ."

   92Jul17 5:16 pm from Cockroach
A symptom of rome's decline...

   92Jul17 6:09 pm from Roger Enright
And what caused that decline (of Rome) if not Christian hostility to science (ala Galileo) and rational thought?

   92Jul18 1:12 am from Cockroach
Rome was never noted as an especially scientific state. Science was not its strength. Lack of science did not cause its fall. Rome's fall was due to a weak social and military structure. (I think the beginnings of this can be seen in the late republic...) Much as I hate christianity, I do not think the blame deserves to fall on its back.

   92Jul18 6:33 am from SUN
I doubt that Christianity CAUSED the collapse of Rome. Rather, it cashed in on that collapse. Rome fell because of the end of pantheism in the world, the rise of monotheism (a la Judaism) as a more explanatory theory of causality.
   And pantheism was exhausted, overwhelmed by the fact that Rome had physically united the world. Rome used pantheism as a tolerant policy for uniting multiple societies politically. But once these many many countries were politically united, they needed a new, more unifying belief system. So monotheism became more and more useful, understandable, acceptable. Various monotheisms competed for the role, but christianity eventually won out... because it was the monotheistic belief system with the most politically relevant ethic -- the ethic of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's. It was an ethic of passive resistance.

   92Jul18 12:22 pm from colin
Rome died of bad money and bad government. Catastrophic inflation. Finally the emperor imposed strict price and wage controls and decreed that people were required to stay on the land they were born on, and the feudal system began.
   Also, when barbarians besieged the cities, they would knock out the aqueducts to cut off the city's water supply. By the 400s, the city governments no longer knew how to repair the aqueducts.

   92Jul18 6:15 pm from SUN
That's WHAT happened (and lots more), not WHY it happened Colin. The question is why couldn't such a political empire sustain itself? Answer, insufficient inspiration, loss of direction, moral decline. And why did those cultural difficulties set in? Because the Roman Stoic philosophy proved insufficient for the challenges of a "global" empire that required increasing polytheism to maintain religious neutrality. Stoicism collapsed under its political burden of polytheistic confusion. So monotheism took over out of sheer epistemological efficiency and moral consistency. Not that monotheism was a constructive philosophy. But a consistent, efficient destructive philosophy (religion) will dominate a less consistent, less efficient one. So Stoic ethics failed to keep polytheistic Rome together, and monotheistic religions (judaism, christianity, mohammadism {sp?}) took over with their various ethical systems.

   92Jul18 6:43 pm from Cockroach
Uh... I don't think so. Rome fell because it never conquered germany, because it was ruled by a succession of fractious and idiotic monarchs, because it was basically two empires (the eastern rich and populous, the western poorer and more backward.) Rome did not fall because stoicism failed as a political philosophy.

   92Jul18 8:22 pm from Roger Enright
Why not? Your analysis is so shallow that I'm buying SUN's argument more than yours. What idiotic monarchs? Were they Stoics? Isn't the ideas of a person, i.e. his philosophy, what determines his idiocy? So then isn't Stoicism as presented by the monarchs the cause of the fall?

   92Jul18 9:02 pm from Zeylan
I have respect for any society that had public vomitoriums.

   92Jul18 11:34 pm from the SUN
And they sold perfume from coin operated machines to mask the smell of body odors from too little bathing, although they did have lots of bathing facilities. It's just one of the earliest practical uses of mechanized machinery.

   92Jul19 12:29 am from Cockroach
Roger, surely you jest. When I said idiotic monarchs, I meant bad administrators and generals. The ability of an administrator does not depend on his political philosophy; the two have nothing to do with each other. The immediate source of rome's downfall is plain: german invaders. The romans became too weak, the germans saw their opportunity, and that was it for the (western) roman empire. Why the romans allowed themselves to become so weak is a matter of debate. You can say that they shot their economic infrastructure to hell, you can say that the generals warred too much among themselves and the constant civil wars wore them down. You can say that they abandoned the military structure ( farmer-soldiers, client states and allies, elected generals) which brought them most of the empire in the first place. I really think that blaming either stoicism or christianity for rome's collapse is unrealistic, tho.

   92Jul19 7:46 am from SUN
Well, when you say that Rome allowed itself to become weak, that Rome shot its economic infrastructure to hell, that their generals warred too much among themselves, and that they abandoned their original military structure -- you're saying that they lost the cultural base that originally gave them coherence. It's much like saying that America has gone to hell because / to the degree that it's lost the moral/political awareness of the Virginia thinkers who framed its original founding documents.

   92Jul19 11:32 am from Kappa Fox
What happened to Rome would happen to the U.S. if we had Dan Quayle as president for 10 consecutive terms.

   92Jul19 2:18 pm from Roger Enright
A man's philosophy is what determines the choices he makes, including administrative ones. That's what ethics is all about: choosing the proper actions in life. The predominant philosophy of a society is called its culture, and it was that culture which eroded and led to the concrete problems you mention. In the abstract, however, it was the IDEAS which led to the downfall of Rome, not the concrete details of which aqueduct did what.

   92Jul19 2:38 pm from The Gregster
America is therefore on the brink of collapse!

   92Jul19 3:54 pm from SUN
No doubt about that is there? With half the federal deficit each year going to total and complete waste as mere interest on the national debt, we're almost bankrupt. With California's legislature resorting to criminal (i.e. intentionally harmful) tax policies now, we're in for really rough times.

   92Jul19 4:45 pm from Roger Enright
I agree, Gregster. Too much socialism -- reality is catching up to us.

   92Jul19 8:29 pm from SUN
I believe I meant to say: "half the federal BUDGET" (not deficit) each year."

   92Jul19 9:19 pm . from Cockroach
A person's philosophy does not determine his native ability to perform a particular job. True, a philosophy might get in the way of making the proper decision. But being a Republican, or a liberal, or a stoic, or a Christian does not necessarily make you a good or bad general, administrator, ditch-digger, or whatever. I agree that 'insufficient inspiration, loss of direction, moral decline' is pretty close to the root cause of the problem, but stoicism or polytheism was not the problem.

   92Jul19 9:34 pm from SUN
A person's philosophy certainly does delimit his ability to use his "native abilities" to whatever extent his philosophy conflicts with reality. If somebody REALLY believes that Green Gremlins are running the universe, making ALL decisions -- including the ones in his head -- and that they are invisible and all powerful (substitute devils, demons, angels, gods if you wish), he's not going to be able to function without constant distraction. Indeed, such people (and there are millions) are seen walking the streets talking to themselves, screaming at the empty air, banging their heads against walls, etc.

   92Jul19 9:45 pm from Roger Enright
You and I have hit the fundamental barrier, Cockroach: I think that ones ideas matter ALL THE TIME.You do not. At least we resolved it.

   92Jul20 6:29 pm from Kappa Fox
Witness Einstein. (although he, for the most part, managed to separate his religion and his science). He did, towards the end of his life, spend large amounts of time trying to change what he has theorized about the universe with his theological beliefs ("God doesn't play dice with the universe", etc.).

   92Jul25 2:41 pm from Bob
Folks, Rome fell for a variety of reasons, but it comes down to a severe weakness in the economy brought on by military catastrophe. First, as Fernautrd Braudel notes in The Mediterranean and the Mediterraneans, a pre-industrial society consumes 70% of what they produce on the land immediately. After spoilage, there is little left for trade. But, for Rome by the first century A.D. things were even worse.
   The vast majority of agriculture was by then slave-produced. The yeoman farmer, roman or otherwise was long-gone. His descendents were living in the major cities on the grain dole, being bribed with bread and circuses not to riot and burn down everything.
   Yet, it was a stable economic system as long as there were no long term stresses on the economy. The cities were approaching modern levels of population density per capita, but as long as the slaves produced and the borders were quiet, it worked. It bothered no one that the cities consumed yet produced nothing in comparison to their consumption.
   But, back in the second century B.C. the chinese managed to defeat and drive out the Huns(neat trick, that). As the Huns slowly migrated west, they beat the hell out of every tribe in from of them, eventually driving the German tribes into the Roman Empire. As the legions bled, the emperors taxed more, straining the weak even more, thus requiring more taxes to support the legions, which weakened the economy even more, etc. . .
   You get the picture.
   And thus Rome collapsed.
   The last two centuries on the empire were quite grim, thus making it easy for Christianity to gain converts. It was the only eastern "mystery" religion that was easy to join. The Mithras cults, as an example required you to bring a bull to sacrifice to join. All you had to do to become a Christian was show up, and it was open to all social classes.
   Finally remember, it took five hundred years for Rome to fall, and we haven't even been here for more than two hundred.
   Hail, Imperator! Ave! Ave! Ave!

   92Jul25 5:07 pm from SUN
Hail, Imperator! Bob: Your military-burden theory of what finally crushed Rome is interesting, and no doubt accurate as far as it goes. Without digging into the cultural decay that preceded all this military ineptness, I wonder if modern America has acquired an equivalent new lease on life because of the disintegration of the Soviet Empire? Our position vis a vis the Russians has long been considered equivalent to the Romans v. the Germanic Hordes. But in our case the enemy has regressed, at least for the foreseeable future. So now, maybe the lesson for us is to resist expanding into the power vacuum with our own imperial ambitions, yes? If we can resist the degradation of democracy into imperialism, and let the rest of the world crawl their way up to democracy, maybe we'll escape the Roman model of military overextension. But, then, we do still have 300 years left to catch up to the Romans!
   Ave! Ave! Ave! (By the way, what does Ave! mean?)

   92Jul25 6:01 pm from Bahamut
Ave: imperative from Latin verb, "to be well" basically it means hail! or farewell.

   92Jul25 7:45 pm from Bob
Cultural Corruption? The problem of our definition of political corruption is a problem when used with Roman history. Even under the heyday of the Republic, a roman governorof a province had a right to rape it of everything it contained. This was routine during the Republic. Many historians thus consider the rise of Augustus to be a blessing because the exploitation of the provinces ceased. Taxes were high under the first two hundred years of the empire, but stability and prosperity were assured until the coming of the barbarians.
   It is nearly impossible to point to a time in roman history where our definitions of corruption could not be applied. For the senators of Rome, the entire mediterranean basin was one big toy shop until the end of the Republic.

   92Jul25 7:53 pm from Bob
Interesting to note that in George Friedman and Meredith Lebard's book the Coming War with Japan, that they draw the parallel of the US and Rome at the time of the establishment of the empire. They note that things seem somewhat in disarray for the US, but that is only the momentary confusion following total victory.
   They note that for any imperial power, it far easier to make one's allies now pay for the cost of empire after the enemy is defeated rather than engage in the hard work of putting its own house in order. i.e. - use the navy to force Japan to pay off the US budget deficit and national debt by many forms of economic blackmail/blockade.

   92Jul25 10:09 pm from SUN
Uhm, yeah, I was afraid of that. The New World Order is the beginning of the American Empire! Ouch. I think I will now have to revise my global resistance plans, extrapolate them a hundred years or so further out.

   92Jul25 10:19 pm from Bob
The only problem being that considering the level of american technology and the ability to force tribute from the allies, it is possible that the american empire could be endless.

   92Jul26 2:57 am from SUN
Not really endless. The "american" label will quickly dissolve in today's global reality. I think we are very much on the verge of a truly global community. I say this despite the rising nationalism and disintegration of old countries simply because of the emerging technology: the fact that I can phone China right now from this same phone line that I'm talking to you on. I see the current depression in Santa Barbara County as an example of the globalization phenomenon. We are being made to suffer economically for our incredibly lousy laws, because of global pressures. We have driven out the profit margin sensitive private sector in all kinds of business -- especially hi tech computer assembly related industry -- and we cannot get away with it. They have moved elsewhere, and we are stuck with the consequent poverty of their absence.
   In other words, the breakup of the Soviet Empire is resulting in nationalistic idiocy all over Europe. And there is all kinds of grass roots idiocy rising up even in America as religion enjoys a revival over secularism. But these localized movements are vulnerable to global forces of technology and economics. And so I see hope for those of us who are technologically competent and economically mobile to generate a network of tolerance and peacefulness at the highest levels, riding out the grass roots/nationalistic/jingoistic/religious bigotry. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think underground economies can be connected and built up globally -- sort of multinational subculture ideal -- using advanced technology and tremendous tolerance of local idiosyncrasies. Another way to put it is: If we can survive and even flourish in Santa Barbara, we can do so anywhere!

   92Jul26 9:40 am from Kappa Fox
Once the EC gets together, it'll be a lot easier for a global alliance to form. Looking through history, most (if not all) major conflicts have been a result of nationalism in Europe. This has always been because Europe has so many different nations, languages, and cultures in such a small area, so conflicts inevitably arise. However, the EC will (hopefully) end that (or at least minimize it), making things a lot easier.
   As far as other communities, it would be fairly for other continental groups to form. A North American community would be simple to form, as there would only be three major members who already have pretty much open borders/trade. An Asian Community (or a East Asian community) would also be easy, with the major exception of China. Same with other areas.
   If other groups came together, then it would only be one more step to unify all the countries, coming together with an openness never seen before. Will this happen. Nope. Oh well.

   92Jul26 10:21 am from Bob
Don't bet on a North American zone. As soon as Clinton gets in, Canada will repudiate the free trade agreement and Gephardt and the Senate will sink the agreement with Mexico.
   Canada has been jacking up their tariffs and taxes to pay off their deficit incurred by their national health care system. Canadians buying cheaper american goods only makes things worse for their budget deficits.

   92Jul26 12:37 pm from Roger Enright
Especially when they go across the border into Detroit and other cities to buy goods and avoid the Canadian taxes.

   92Jul26 1:26 pm from colin
Now the US is getting into a beer war with Canada. 50% import duties on Molson's and Labatt's beers. So Canada imposed similar duties on US beers. DUmb.

   92Jul26 2:04 pm from Bob
No. Insane. Socialism in Canada has gotten to the point that Mulroney is speaking in Montreal that due to Canadian policies, they have the highest standard of living in north america. What he did not mention was 12% (official) unemployment.
   Gee, think they will raise taxes again?

   92Jul26 2:20 pm from Roger Enright
Mulrooney apparently does not value freedom enough to include it in his assessment of "standard of living."

   92Jul26 3:37 from Cockroach
It does not strike me that canada is an especially repressive society.

   92Jul26 5:19 pm from Roger Enright
Well, a 50% income tax is very repressive in my book. No private heath care is as well. Along with a bunch of other socialist programs, it adds up. It isn't China or anything, but it certainly violates a number of important rights -- more than the U.S. government does at present. I think they have some nasty gun control laws as well.

   92Jul26 8:24 pm from colin
I went to the World Science Fiction Convention in Toronto in 1974. The only laws I noticed were the liquor control laws that prevented me from buying beer or whiskey for the whole fucking convention weekend, except at the hotel bars for high prices.

   92Jul27 12:27 am from Kappa Fox
Say what you will, Roger, Canada is still a nicer place to live than a lot of the U.S. The people tend to be more mellow.
   I'll say what I will, and you'll never agree with me about that last thing. :)

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