Lessons from the fall of Rome

November 29, 2010
Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia

In 43 BC, over 2,000 years ago, warring consuls Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian were duking it out with each other over control of Rome following Julius Caesar’s assassination the prior March.

Each had legions at his disposal, and Rome’s terrified Senate sat on its hands waiting for the outcome.

Ultimately, the three men chose to unite their powers and rule Rome together in what became known as the Second Triumvirate. This body was established by a law named lex Titia on this date (give or take depending on how you convert the Roman calendar) in 43 BC.

The foundation of the Second Triumvirate is of tremendous historical importance: as the group wielded dictatorial powers, it represents the final nail in the coffin in Rome’s transition from republic to malignant autocracy.

The Second Triumvirate expired after 10-years, upon which Octavian waged war on his partners once again, resulting in Mark Antony’s famed suicide with Cleopatra in 31 BC. Octavian was eventually rewarded with rich title and nearly supreme power, and he is generally regarded as Rome’s first emperor.

Things only got worse from there. Tiberius, Octavian’s successor, was a paranoid deviant with a lust for executions. He spent the last decade of his reign completely detached from Rome, living in Capri.

Following Tiberius was Caligula, infamous for his moral depravity and insanity. According to Roman historians Suetonius and Cassius Dio, Tiberius would send his legions on pointless marches and turned his palace into a bordello of such repute that it inspired the 1979 porno film named for him.

Caligula was followed by Claudius, a stammering, slobbering, confused man as described by his contemporaries. Then there was Nero, who not only managed to burn down his city but was also the first emperor to debase the value of Rome’s currency.

You know the rest of the story– Romans watched their leadership and country get worse and worse.

All along the way, there were two types of people: the first group were folks that figured, “This has GOT to be the bottom, it can only get better from here.” Their patriotism was rewarded with reduced civil liberties, higher taxes, insane despots, and a polluted currency.

The other group consisted of people who looked at the warning signs and thought, “I have to get out of here.” They followed their instincts and moved on to other places where they could build their lives, survive, and prosper.

I’m raising this point because I’d like to open a debate. Some consider the latter idea of expatriating to be akin to ‘running away.’ I recall a rather impassioned comment from a reader last week who suggested that “leaving, i.e. running away, is certainly not the proper response.”

I find this logic to be flawed.

While the notion of staying and ‘fighting’ is a noble idea, bear in mind that there is no real enemy or force to fight. The government is a faceless bureaucracy that’s impossible attack. People who try only discredit their argument because they become marginalized as fringe lunatics.

Remember John Stack? He’s the guy who flew his airplane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas earlier this year because he had a serious philosophical disagreement over tax issues.

While his ideas may have had intellectual merit, they were immediately dismissed due to his murderous tactics.  Violence is rarely the answer, and it often has the opposite effect as intended, frequently serving to bolster support for the government instead of raising awareness of its shortcomings.

Unless/until government paramilitaries start duking it out with citizen militia groups in the streets, this is an ideological battle… and it’s an uphill battle at best.

Government controlled educational systems institutionalize us from childhood that governments are just, and that we should all subordinate ourselves to authority and to the greater good that they dictate in their sole discretion.

You’re dealing with a mob mentality, plain and simple. Do you want to waste limited resources (time, money, energy) trying to convince your neighbor that s/he should no not expect free money from the government?

You could spend a lifetime trying to change ideology and not make a dent; people have to choose for themselves to wake up, it cannot be forced upon them. And until that happens, they’re going to keep asking for more security and more control because it’s the way their values have been programmed.

When you think about it, what we call a ‘country’ is nothing more than a large concentration of people who share common values. Over time, those values adjust and evolve. Today, cultures in many countries value things like fake security, subordination, and ignorance over freedom, independence, and awareness.

When it appears more and more each day that those common values diverge from your own, all that’s left of a country are irrelevant, invisible lines on a map. I don’t find these worth fighting for.

Nobody is born with a mandatory obligation to invisible lines on a map. Our fundamental obligation is to ourselves, our families, and the people that we choose to let into our circles… not to a piece of dirt that’s controlled by mob-installed bureaucrats.

Moving away, i.e. making a calculated decision to seek greener pastures elsewhere, is not the same as ‘running away’… and I would argue that if you really want to affect change in your home country, moving away is the most effective course of action.

The government beast in your home country feeds on debt and taxes, and the best way to win is for bright, productive people to move away with their ideas, labor, and assets. This effectively starves the beast and accelerates its collapse. Then, when the smoke clears, you can move back and help rebuild a free society.

I’d really like to know what you think– which is the right thing to do, stay or leave? What are you planning to do?