[P2P-F] Fwd: Christopher

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Thu Oct 1 19:26:09 CEST 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Quigley <cmqesquire at gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 4:18 PM
Subject: Fwd: Christopher
To: Michel Bauwens <michel at p2pfoundation.net>


Great blog item from Of Two Minds.


*Following in Ancient Rome's Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Wealth
Inequality* <http://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept15/Rome-moral-decay9-15.html>

*September 30, 2015*

*If you want to understand why Rome declined, look no further than the
moral decay of ruling Elites.*

*There are many reasons why Imperial Rome declined, but two primary causes
that get relatively little attention are moral decay and soaring wealth
inequality.* The two are of course intimately connected: once the morals of
the ruling Elites degrade, *what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine,

*I've previously covered two other key characteristics of an empire in
terminal decline: complacency and intellectual sclerosis, what I have
termed a failure of imagination.*

Michael Grant described these causes of decline in his excellent account The
Fall of the Roman Empire
a short book I have been recommending since 2009:

There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel,
apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed
solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent
acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.

This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the
present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the
Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit
of Rome with the same supreme assurance.

*This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the
principal causes of the downfall of Rome.* If you were sufficiently lulled
by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical
first-aid measures at all.

A lengthier book by Adrian Goldsworthy How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower
the same issues from a slightly different perspective.

Glenn Stehle, commenting on 9/16/15 on a thread in the excellent website
peakoilbarrel.com <http://peakoilbarrel.com/bakken/> (operated by the
estimable Ron Patterson) made a number of excellent points that I am taking
the liberty of excerpting: (with thanks to correspondent Paul S.)

*The set of values developed by the early Romans called mos maiorum, Peter
Turchin explains in War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires
was gradually replaced by one of personal greed and pursuit of

*“Probably the most important value was virtus (virtue), which derived from
the word vir (man) and embodied all the qualities of a true man as a member
of society,” explains Turchin.*

*“Virtus included the ability to distinguish between good and evil and to
act in ways that promoted good, and especially the common good. Unlike
Greeks, Romans did not stress individual prowess, as exhibited by Homeric
heroes or Olympic champions. The ideal of hero was one whose courage,
wisdom, and self-sacrifice saved his country in time of peril,” Turchin

*And as Turchin goes on to explain:*

*"Unlike the selfish elites of the later periods, the aristocracy of the
early Republic did not spare its blood or treasure in the service of the
common interest. When 50,000 Romans, a staggering one fifth of Rome’s total
manpower, perished in the battle of Cannae, as mentioned previously, the
senate lost almost one third of its membership. This suggests that the
senatorial aristocracy was more likely to be killed in wars than the
average citizen….*

*The wealthy classes were also the first to volunteer extra taxes when they
were needed… A graduated scale was used in which the senators paid the
most, followed by the knights, and then other citizens. In addition,
officers and centurions (but not common soldiers!) served without pay,
saving the state 20 percent of the legion’s payroll….*

*The richest 1 percent of the Romans during the early Republic was only 10
to 20 times as wealthy as an average Roman citizen."*

*Now compare that to the situation in Late Antiquity when*

*"an average Roman noble of senatorial class had property valued in the
neighborhood of 20,000 Roman pounds of gold. There was no “middle class”
comparable to the small landholders of the third century B.C.; the huge
majority of the population was made up of landless peasants working land
that belonged to nobles. These peasants had hardly any property at all, but
if we estimate it (very generously) at one tenth of a pound of gold, the
wealth differential would be 200,000! Inequality grew both as a result of
the rich getting richer (late imperial senators were 100 times wealthier
than their Republican predecessors) and those of the middling wealth
becoming poor."*

*Do you see any similarities with the present-day realities depicted in
these charts?*

And how many congresspeople served in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Christopher M. Quigley
E: cmqesquire at gmail.com
P: 086-8118-600

Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at: http://commonstransition.org

P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens

#82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: https://lists.ourproject.org/pipermail/p2p-foundation/attachments/20151002/427f7b2c/attachment.htm 

More information about the P2P-Foundation mailing list