Why We’re Not the Roman Empire

In reading about the decline of the Roman Empire, I discovered that one of the political causes was oppressive taxation and–more fundamentally–the lack of an ability for the Roman people to control their government.

Fundamentally, the issue was “man against the state.” Today, conservatives, libertarians and other advocates of limited government try to frame the issue in the same way. But it’s not the same issue at all. Today’s Americans are far better off politically than the Romans under the declining empire. The problem with today’s America is that democracy is being used as a way for one pressure group to rob income and rights from another pressure group; for one individual to take from another in the name of political privilege or victimization status. Fundamentally, today’s crisis is one of “man against man.” Government is merely the instrument for allowing Peter to rob Paul, by representing Peter in Congress, the White House or the state house.

Until what I call the “non-left” or non-establishment of our society both recognizes and articulates this point, in various different ways, the culture of robbing Peter to pay Paul will continue to flourish until–at the dead end of this–it destroys us all. America has not yet gone the way of the Roman Empire. But if it does, it will not be due to government’s inhumanity to man. It will be caused by man’s inhumanity to man.