Thursday, September 15, 2005

Did socialism bring down Rome?

I've been listening to an audiobook version of the History of Ancient Rome by Cyril Robinson, and in it I heard a refreshingly different take on the fall of Rome. Most history's blame invading armies and internal corruption for Rome's decline and fall. Many who want to draw parallels with the "excesses" of modern America blame Rome's arrogance and expansionism. But Robinson points out that, in the face of economic challenges, the Empire set price seriously low price ceilings, prevented merchants from changing their professions and produced huge amounts of currency to fund a swelling government beuaracracy. It was only then that the Empire was unable to heal itself. The Carthaginians and Celts couldn't do it. Caligula and Nero couldn't do it. Apparently, the industry of Romans was enough to overcome anything except its own government trying to micromanage its economy at swordpoint.


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