Why The Roman State Collapsed, & Contemporary Analogy, Quick Version

The climate is, and will, collapse incredibly fast, at some point in the near future. Same, potentially, for civilization.

The hints of climate collapse are in, they are piling all over. Irma, a hurricane packing recorded gusts of 363 kilometers an hour appeared. It got enormous: 330,000 square kilometers. At the same time, hurricane Katia attacked the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Behind Irma, Jose, a category 4 hurricane, nearly as nasty as Irma. When things collapse, they collapse fast: think of the proverbial Twin Towers of “9/11” twisting, turning and leaning, and then down in 8 seconds. This is what happens during a transition to a new equilibrium. 

Collapses of civilizations have happened many times before. The most famous case, by far, is Rome. Roman society was the most complex, and the one most similar to the world civilization we have today. It collapsed, and it was first a psychological collapse.

Rome collapsed amazingly fast. Early in 379 CE, there was a refugee crisis, caused by a million Goths (including women and children) begging to enter the empire. The empire was at the height of its powers. By 406 CE, the empire had collapsed. The one million Goths  had been allowed to enter the Roman empire. Under the condition of coming, unarmed. They cheated. Disaster ensued.

By 400 CE, though, a German Confederation, the Franks, had been put in charge of insuring the defense of the two Germania and the richest Roman province, Gallia (Gaul). In 406 CE, the Frankish curtain broke when the Rhine surprisingly froze, and many tiny German nations broke through Gaul, and even Spain and North Africa. By 410 CE, the city of Rome herself had been conquered by the Goths.

The Vandals, with 40,000 warriors, went quickly all the way to the Roman province of Africa, where they established a maritime empire, comprising the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta (439 CE)… 

The Great Barbarian Invasions By Tiny German Nations Were Preceded By Roman Mental Collapse of the “Antifa” Type. Situation in 435 CE, after 29 Years of Invasions.

The Romans tried to dislodge the Vandals many times, but failed. In 455 CE, the Vandals sacked Rome (their fleet just went up the Tiber). Having seized control of the sea, the Vandals were able to control and cut the grain supply to the city of Rome (and much grain came from North Africa). This starved Rome, and the population collapsed. The Vandal empire would last more than a century, until an army sent there by Roman emperor Justinian defeated them.

By the late Fifth Century, Italy had fallen under the control of the Ostrogoths (who were relatively benign, except they killed the president of the Roman Senate, the philosopher Boethius; the king of the Ostrogoths had believed, erroneously, some lies about Boethius, he later bemoaned).

Emperor Justinian, the same one I just mentioned, decided to grab back Italy, and, in particular, Rome. The city was lost and taken several times. Ultimately, Oriental Romans won, and the Ostrogoths got annihilated (I say “Oriental Romans” because “Byzantine”, is an erroneous concept and word I try not to use: the Romans were calling themselves Romans, not “Byzantines”; the Romans had selected Byzantium as Oriental Capital; Byzantium, an ancient Greek city, had not selected them). However being besieged many times destroyed the city of Rome. Especially, most of her aqueducts. It was said that there was just one individual observed living in the ruins.

In ancient historiography, the Roman empire is described as declining, and then falling. However, the bias may have been introduced by the Christians, who controlled which books were worth saving. Christians hated (the) Greco-Roman civilization (which had created them), and were crucial to its demise, with the supine mentality which they promoted. So they committed a crime, and had interest to present the victim, civilization, as so decrepit, they had nothing to do with it. In truth, their fanaticism helped bring down a thriving civilization.

This is a clear bias, not supported by recent archeology. Archeology shows that the Roman State was actually richer, and more powerful, just before it collapsed. On the face of it, the army was the largest Rome ever had. Roma was much powerful in 379 CE than it had been, facing Hannibal. By a factor of ten. Rome should have been able to rise armies numbering millions in 379 CE (because a ten, or twenty times smaller Rome was able to rise armies numbering hundreds of thousands, facing Hannibal, or the German invasion around 110 BCE, by the Cimbri, Teutones and Ambrones!) The difference between the Punic and Cimbrian wars, when the Roman Republic faced annihilation, and the Germanic invasions of the Fifth Century, when it didn’t (the Germans being then half-civilized and anxious to become Romans), was mood. The Roman mood.

So what happened? How come that mightiest Roman army ever could be defeated, again and again and again, or shrink from battle? The Goth refugees had done whatever was needed (such as prostituting their wives and daughters, on an industrial scale) to keep their weapons. Mistreated by corrupt local Roman official, so corrupt that they didn’t take basic military precautions, the Goths, ably led by a charismatic leader, Fritigern, rebelled.

The Collapse of the Roman empire was sudden. This is the situation around 440 CE.

Emperor Valens rushed from Mesopotamia with the Oriental Roman field army. Thanks to an hubris reminiscent of that French generals around May 13, 1940, Valens rushed its dehydrated, exhausted army into battle on a hot August day, without having figured out where the mighty Gothic cavalry was.  The Occidental Roman army chief of staff, the Frankish general Richomeres  advised Valens to wait until the Occidental army arrived. The Oriental Roman field army was annihilated, Valens killed (in unclear circumstances). Richomeres kept discipline and saved part of the force (he would later become head of the army in the Orient, magister militum per Orientem, and a Consul).

We have some of the ingredients of the fall of Rome there: dictatorship by the emperor not listening to advice, and most of the top military genius of the empire having to do with Frankish generals.

The Roman State was severely defeated at Adrianopolis in 379 CE. That battle, against the Goths, was reminiscent of the massacre of Cannae, 600 years before. Cannae was a tremendous Roman defeat originating straight from Hannibal’s genius. Roman legions, including 60 Senators found themselves so compressed by Hannibal’s army of mercenaries, that they couldn’t fight: they had been drawn to the center by Hannibal himself, at the head of his Gallic troops. Adrianopolis was more of the same. However, whereas Hannibal was crafty at Cannae, the Romans were stupid at Adrianopolis.

After Cannae, the Romans rose another two large armies, and Scipio “Africanus” landed the main one in Africa, next to Carthage. . After Adrianopolis, the Romans didn’t rise a new army so much as they showed Constantinople to the Gothic king, who was mesmerized. The Goth thus decided to make peace. And to celebrate so much, that he died from it (his successor honored the accord).  

Clearly, by the end of the Fourth Century, the immensely wealthy empire, much richer than Rome six centuries earlier, was able to rise armies (hence the systematic recourse to Frankish armies, forces and general; even emperor Constantine had a crucial battle won by the Frankish general Bonitus; another Frankish general, Arbogast, was emperor in all but name, as he tried a secular, laic counter-coup).

This lack of armies explains why the empire of more than 60 millions was defeated by tiny German armies (the Goths had by far the largest army, around 100,000 men).

Gibbon would perhaps point out that the Christian mentality was antagonistic to war. Right. Actually the Christian bishops were heading the empire by 400 CE (this government of bishops had started under Gratian, when he became weird after Adrianopolis; maybe he was weird because he had to name Theodosius emperor of the Orient; Gratian was barely 20, Theodosius, 33, and accomplished, however his father had been executed earlier for high treason…).

The Late Roman empire had become a very strange place. While the Germans threatened to roam all over the place, with their own Sharia (although they were Aryan Christian, but for the Franks, who were obdurate Pagans), the bishops declared that murderous highwaymen should not be executed (so the roads became impassible).

All this weirdness was there to hide the main fact: the Roman plutocrats prefered experiencing German invasions to paying taxes to the Roman State, to feed the prodigious army Rome could have had, and the Roman plutocrats had the means to NOT pay taxes by influencing people and blocking others. They married the invaders, and that was it.

Does this remind you of today?

It should!

Meanwhile, Trump operated a 180 degrees (long announced). He announced a deal with his new-found friends “Nancy and Chuck”. The buxom Nancy Pelosi has headed the Democrats in Congress since before 2006 (when she acquired control of Congress); “Chuck” is the head of the Democratic Senators. So the rising of the US debt ceiling was passed (it had been attached to 20 billion dollars heading to the relief of Houston). I wonder if all those who called racist whoever had a nice word about some aspects of Trump, will now direct their fury towards “Nancy and Chuck”. Probably not: too complicated for their simple minds.

To come back to Late Imperial Rome, all the wealthiest families had a bishop in their ranks: Christianism was a smokescreen for plutocracy. Among plutocratic families, Christian propaganda was basic civic service. By superficially embracing Christianism, and imposing it deeply, plutocracy made We The People into We the Sheeple.

The empire, in tatters, rose again thanks to the Franks, but the destruction caused by the collapse was beyond a force 8 hurricane. Because the minds, the rational, republican, democratic culture, had collapsed so entirely.

It would take seven centuries for civilization to rise higher. Even then, it got poisoned again by the second plutocratic wave known, with misleading semantics, as the “Feudal” system. That rose again with a second Christianization wave known for the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Religious Wars,and various terrors, which wrecked Europe for another eight centuries after 1026 CE (when burnings for “heresy” got launched again, after centuries without.)

More than 200 potential or known causes for the Decline and Fall of Rome have been listed. The plutocratic explanation therein suggested implies them all, so it is the master explanation.

Why was the collapse of the Roman state so thorough and so fast? Contemplate the present North Korean crisis. Suppose it would evolved in the way most unfavorable to civilization: Kim threatens the West, atom bomb a few cities, like Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, and then one makes a treaty with him, and North Korean and Jihadists become the overlords, under special laws applying to them alone. Meanwhile the “antifa” are in charge of the justice, police and military systems and impose to not fight crime in any form.

This is roughly what happened to the Roman state, and it happened within a few years. At the time, some Romans were indignant, and tried to react, to prevent the Decline and Fall of the Roman State. Maximus in Britain led his legions into Gaul, defeated (next to Paris) and killed emperor Gratian (in Lyon), because Gratian was roaming around dressed like a Scythian, and had put the Catholic bishops in power. Maximus became Augustus, and Theodosius had to live with him. Yet, the rot within average minds was already too deep.

The facts above are mostly ignored in the major universities, because such facts would disrupt them by disrupting their major sponsor, the plutocratic system, which feeds so well the top university leaders (they earn up to 2 million dollars a year in the USA). Still we, humble philosophers, shall obstinately preach the truths, just because they are there, and need to be conquered even more than the highest imaginable mountains.

Patrice Ayme


20 Responses to “Why The Roman State Collapsed, & Contemporary Analogy, Quick Version”

  1. EugenR Says:

    Yes, we are living in a strange world.  In one side sciences and technology in progress,  and even political and social sciences start to understand what humanity is all about,  on the other hand the inexplicable phenomenon of the Islamic state, where Muslim youth with European education joins the local Middle Eastern partners,  to start a war, with no aim, except to breach all the moral norms, that humans ever followed.  Then the biggest world power elects a cloun to be it’s president,  whose only possible contribution to the world and US itself can be, that eventually he will destroy the same political establishment, that enabled him to come to power.  And then you have the British politicians,  who let to a local clowns to provoke them to a decision,  that no-one has clue what to do with. 

    But above all stand the mind set of people all over the world,  who continue to play the ostrich to any kind of reality,  and insist to stick themselves into norms, traditions and believes,  that Europeans hoped to erase since the seventeenth century. Valtaire would probably turn in his grave, if he would see, what’s happening in today’s world.  No rationality,  no evidential knowledge but conspiracy theories, urban myths and ancient traditional follies rull the capitol. 

    To where are we heading too? Are we on the brink towards collapse just as the Romans did? Are we going to watch helplessly the evidently inevitable? Letting our leading intellectuals to support the others, just because they were “unjustly” colonised and suppressed by the western powers in the past, even if today they follow the road of the absolute evil? Just follow the stories of released residents of Raqqa, Mosul or any other place ruled by IS according to the fundamental interpretation of the Muslim law, and you can get quiet a good idea about what caliphat actually means. And if you think, that the idea of Caliphate is not a wet dream of every faithful Muslim, just ask any one of them. Knowing your tolerance to any kind of faith,  even if it has built-in in its moral codes, the worst atrocities humans ever knew, they will voluntarily expose to you their final aim, the World Wide Caliphat.  

    • Gmax Says:

      Trump is no clown. The clowns are the intellectuals who embraced Islam, and GAFA GOOGLE APPLE FACEBOOK AMAZON. Also Trump does not hate Jews, is not a racist, and don’t eat babies

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Are we on the verge of collapse as the Romans did? Probably not, because enough of us understand enough of that collapse. Hence my thinking on the subject… However modest, it supports the system as established in 1944/1945: United Nations with 5 permanent Security Council members. This depends heavily on none of the 5 going crazy (as Britain is playing with, and the USSR Russia and China still somewhat experiencing…). In any case the UN Sec. Council is made of secular members (with the part exception of Britain). Islam trying to repeat the Christian feats of the past hopefully will come short.
      However, the Roman collapse showed showed that very few terrorists/barbarians could bring the empire down… One can’t just welcome hordes of the savages with open arms, as the Romans did with the Goths around 378 CE… Before that the Romans (Valens) had helped the Goths stabilize the front against the Huns… Then the policy/strategy was abandoned… Lesson for today: fight Boko Haram in Nigeria, not on the Seine or the Thames…

  2. dominique deux Says:

    Fairly interesting and informative as usual.

    But you started on the climate change conundrum. It would be interesting if you gave similar attention to the collapse of mighty civilizations as the direct consequence of (local) man-induced climate change: Mesopotamia, the cradle of Western civilization, with its elaborate irrigation network ultimately bringing about large-scale desertification; Mayans, whose deforested lands declined to feed them anymore.

    It could be argued that military (or migratory) invasions which are now perceived as threats will be directly linked with global warming (the un-PC but correct name of climate change).

    Vulnerability to fouling one’s nest is a common thread of mighty empires, although TBH societies which are lauded as nature-friendly were not much better: both in Africa and pre-Colombian North America, local communities joyfully and extensively exhausted their lands, but thanks to very low demographic densities, they had the option to move to virgin tracts of land and allow regeneration, where possible (the build-up of lateritic layers after extensive deforestation in Africa was pretty much irreversible). An option we don’t have, and as you know, the dwindling arable areas in Africa is the root source of the recurrent conflicts, often started at grass-root levels by local competition between agriculturalists and cattle herders.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique: You make a very interesting point. I have made it in the past, and I hesitated to reinstate it, considering that was supposed to be a short “version”. But you are right, it’s no detail, and the case of the Maya, which I have explored in great detail in the past, is crucial. The Sumerian cities also got salted and then drowned in an event related to land overuse.

      A graph is telling: the metallic pollution caused by Rome peaked in the First Century. The “world was getting old” the Romans complained in the Second Century, up to the highest level (the court and emperor). The way out was a technological surge. But that couldn’t be, as the emperors actively discouraged innovation, arguing that it would augment unemployment.
      That was an idiotic reasoning, but nobody could call the emperor an idiot. And that idiotic reasoning has long legs: it was held in France in the last 30 years, with bad results.

      The tech surge Rome needed happened in slow motion under the Franks. The next ecological crisis was handled well by Europe, around 1300 CE. However, although the European civilization survived, half of the population was dead by 1350 CE.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I pretty much omitted the ecological aspects, indeed, this time, so far, I will reinstate them in an essay and section…

  3. cryptoRx Says:

    ‘In Late Imperial Rome, all the wealthiest families had a bishop in their ranks: Christianism was a smokescreen for plutocracy’
    cryptoRx ⚔️ Retweeted Patrice Ayme
    It’s the same with media and politics today

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      This was the main point of contemporary significance of my essay. Media and politics are the new true religions, so they are owned by the wealthiest. Should be AGAINST the law.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        TLDR; plutocrats’ greed caused fall of Roman empire that was arguably at its height; analogy to current Pax Americana

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          TLDR: Too Long Didn’t Read.
          Anything which is complex will be TLTR. Thus the stupid youth. Moreover, anything which oppresses us will be complex. So any system of exploitation is TLDR. Thus the TLDR religion is equivalent to submission.

  4. Gmax Says:

    So it’s no coincidence that your psychological collapse theory from Plutocratic conspiracy was not exposed before?

  5. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Joel Comm asked:
    What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

    Answer: The hold of plutocracy on the mind generating mechanisms, worldwide. This is how the Roman State collapsed

  6. pshakkottai Says:


  7. colettebytes Says:

    Plutocrats control everything that happens within society. They just allow us to play politics as a good diversion for our time and energy. The game achieves nothing more than keeping us occupied while Plutocrats decide our fates.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      And this is exactly why and how the Roman Empire collapsed. A few bright emperors (Claudius, whom Gibbon considered a cretin; Nerva, Trajan, both in their 60s when reached their apex) didn’t compensate for the general fear emperors had of mental creativity. We have historical evidence, word for word, at least under emperor Flavius Domitianus (“Domitian”, circa 80 CE) that the top plutocrats were in a complete conspiracy, and fully aware of how hyper violent their system was… Not even sparing each other!

  8. Eupatheia Says:

    It was a great essay. I’ve read your latest ones. I’d love to read more of the fall of Roman Empire in relation to our current times.

    Also as dominique deux mentioned in the comments, woven in with or more on climate change and fall of empires.

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