China is still China. Rome is still Rome.
China is still China, sort of. Rome is still Rome, Rome more than ever, Rome, much expanded.
China still writes in Chinese, something very useful, when one wants to be read by 100 nations within “China”, each with its own language. However China is now endowed with a Republic (of sorts), and plenty of philosophy which blossomed in the Greco-Roman civilization. Not. In China. So much for Confucius, Lao Tsu, Mencius. Today’s China thinks in Greco-Roman terms.
Today’s world is as if the Roman armies went to the ends of the world, and they did. When the French and British armies thought intelligent (it was not) to burn the Summer Palace, they were Roman armies, actually. The United Nations’ basic set-up is reminiscent of that of the Roman National Assembly (not really one, in the Athenian, or modern sense).
Yesterday’s philosophy rewrote, re-interpreted the history we had yesterday. Philosophy reborn now implies that history should be reborn now. Look at it anew.
Clearly, the Roman imperial Republic is still going on. Or, more exactly, was reborn. We have the laws, the institutions, the language, and, even more, the spirit of the Republican Republic.
But for a telling Republican “detail”, which is no detail: the Roman Republic anti-wealth laws (which were mortally wounded by 140 CE… something which ailed us, ever since).
We are all Romans: English, imposed by the Franks, is 85% Greco-Roman, and the rest is German. The Germans themselves got Romanized, much of it a distance (archeological studies have shown, and so does a critical reappraisal of history).
Germans got fully integrated in the empire, starting as early as under Augustus (the emperor’s bodyguard was German). One could even say that Germania started to get integrated, manu militari, under seven times Consul and imperator Marius (circa 100 BCE). After destroying three invasive, invading and hyper furious, lethal German nations, including the Teutoni, Marius had the pleasure to enslave hundreds of thousands of German children and infuriated, strong headed Teutonic women.
The Roman empire was officially “RENOVATED” in 800 CE. Charlemagne, a Roman emperor, Constantinople had to grudgingly agree, indeed, finished the conquest of the Saxoni, Frisi, etc… Charlemagne pushed the borders of the Roman empire all the way to incorporate Eastern Europe.
Charlemagne displaced whole tribes to the south-west empire (next to the Basque country). And so on.
If Washington looks like Rome, it’s no coincidence, but the perseverance of will and habit.
Marcus Aurelius’ acts and facts are even more eloquent than his writings, and he faced a crisis very similar to the one we face today: plutocracy had given up on the Republic (naturally enough). Yet, Marcus showed that stoic does not mean static. The morality from his life? Be more pro-active.
In the end, bits and pieces of the Roman Republic fell, and declined, mostly because the rise of plutocrats had made the Republic moribund (thus, in particular, Rome was not as strong militarily).
Military problems were entangled with civilian and political, and economic problems. And epidemics, and ecological and sustainability problems. All the problems could have been solved with good governance.
But Only Democracy Means Good Governance, As Pigeons Show:
Pigeons can be trained to recognize breast cancer cells, when showed pictures of breast tissue. Trained pigeons achieve 80% correctness. However, by having several pigeons look at the picture, one achieves 99% correctness, much higher than by other systems, including present day supercomputers.
This shows that the flock, even a flock of pigeon, can be, on a given task, be more intelligent than individual humans.
How the Roman State Fell:
I make my own opinion about what ailed Rome (and why we are still Romans!) I keep appraised of the latest archeology (which differ wildly from the classical views of pure historians, some of them loud Christian apologists). I read original texts directly: I had to put to work all these years studying Latin, get a return on my investment.
My view that Christianism was the proximal cause of the fall of the empire is nuanced: it is not the fundamental cause (as Gibbons boldly thought). The fundamental cause is what brought theocratic Christianism. The fundamental cause is clear, reading the Gracchi, around 140 CE.
The fundamental cause of Rome’s degeneracy, and what made the Republic moribund, is the rise of plutocracy, culminating in nasty laws with long-term consequences, passed by 140 BCE (five centuries before the Decline and Fall was fully engaged). Plutocracy led to fascism, which brought theocracy (as early as Domitian, circa 80 CE. and then Emperor Julian himself wrote plenty on the subject, and was himself nuanced (maybe all too nuanced).
Julian’s successor, the general Jovian (emperor 363-364) allowed the destruction of libraries by Christians, and things quickly got much worse, as a quick succession of zealot Christian emperors, and co-emperors, Valentinian, his brother Valens, and their son and nephew Gratian, who nominated zealot Christian general Theodosius I co-emperor, established the rule of insane stupidity, and intellectual fascism. The successions were amicable and orderly; however those Christian military leaders besides were disconnected from the Roman Senate(s), where the uncooperative wealth was.
Stupidity and Christianism brought not just to Rome an Islamist State like tyranny, but also consequential idiotic battle management (see the Battle of Adrianople with emperor Valens doing his best to have the Goths defeat the Romans), and astounding strategy.
Not only were the Franks put in charge of defense (there was no money for the army, something reminiscent of the adventures of present-day France, at war on an extent of land much larger than the fighting zone of the Roman empire at the time of the battle of Adrianople).
The policy of “federating” the Franks in defense of the empire, lasted nearly two centuries, before the Franks took power outright and absolutely (defeating the Goths). That the Roman State subcontracted its power to the Goths was OK, as the Franks wanted to re-establish secular rule. The Goths were also brought in (while antagonizing them!)… And even the Huns (Who sieged Toulouse, capital of the Goths, as allies of the Roman army!)
The relationship with the Goths was complex: emperor Valens’ advisers held that the Gothic armies, fleeing the Huns, could supplement, and be integrated, in the Roman army.
These were very complex times. We are heading the same way. For the present sort-of worldwide Republic to survive, to exactly establish how the Roman State came to be replaced by the Franko-Roman state, after the near-extinction of civilization, is of the highest importance.
History is not past, it is not dead, it is more alive than ever. History is no easy and gentle teacher, but it is the best we have. If we want Rome not to decline and fall again, dragging with it this time much of the biosphere, we have to learn what most people don’t know: we have seen that movie before.