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    1. #1
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      What if the Roman Empire never collapsed?

      I'm sure this should be in Philosophy, seeing how it relates to time and how things can be different in theory if things were changed. This question has been bugging me for some time now.

      Now, What if the Roman Empire never collapsed? What if, instead of succumbing to the barbarian invasions, previous leaders made better decisions that ended in the empire holding their ground, defeating the Hunnic and Gothic forces, and remaining the dominant power in the Mediterranean? Take the Battle of Teutoburg Forest for example. Here's a link.

      http://www.unrv.com/early-empire/teutoburg-forest.php

      Quintilius Varus was an inexperienced general, in fact he was a senator, which was one factor which lead to the loss of three Roman legions. Another factor was the Germanic warlord, Arminius, who executed the attack. But what if neither of these two people existed? What if Augustus Caesar managed to invade Germania, and occupy it? Indeed, the Battle of Teutoburg Forest caused the loss of three legions, which resulted in Caesar abandoning his expansion into Germania, and instead protecting the borders of the Northern Roman Empire, along the Rhine and Danube rivers. Because Germania wasn't taken, barbarian forces had built up over hundreds of years, creating tribes such as the Franks, the Anglo-Saxons, the Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths and the worst, the Huns. These forces combined, ultimately destroyed Roman power in the West.

      Change the situation. If Germania, had been occupied, the 27th, 28th and 29th legions still intact, Roman power would eventually move further and further into the east, until all of Europe was under Roman control. Therefore, the tribes of the Franks, the Anglo-Saxons, the Goths, Visigoths, and the Ostrogoths would never have risen, well at least become so powerful. The Huns, coming from the east would likely have been crushed by the Romans, as there would be no support from other tribes to make the invasion more powerful. This would mean that the Roman Empire never would have split, being so powerful and united. So then, Rome becomes the dominant force, Latin is the dominant language, Islam would never have risen due to Roman occupation in Arabia, the Crusades would have never happened. As the Dark Ages threw Europe into technological strife for nearly five hundred years in reality, theoretically, the world we have today would have existed during the middle of the Renaissance, and today's society would be very advanced, considering the Roman's domination of Europe.

      Is it possible, however, that this could have been different? Could the now Europe-dominant Romans still have been destroyed in some way? (China maybe?) Is there anything else that may have happened due to the non-existance of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest? Any historians out there on DV, or just the general public, discuss.
      Question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
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    2. #2
      The Anti-Member spockman's Avatar
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      This would happen.

      http://www.surfthechannel.com/info/t...tml?aid=114013

      Ad Aciem for the Roman Empire!
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    3. #3
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      If the Roman empire hadn't collapsed we would all be Speaking Latin and would probably be on Mars by now.

    4. #4
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      The Roman Empire didn't collapse because of externalities; it collapsed because it was an empire. The nature of all empires is to collapse. The typical life cycle of an empire is as follows:

      1) A government exists that has low taxation and let's the free market do what it will. The market explodes and the nation quickly becomes very wealthy. (US c. 1780)

      2) The agents of the government, each in turn, don't see any problem with increasing taxation by a very small amount, and the peasants don't object because they also see every tax increase as marginal. However, over time taxation becomes large. Economic growth slows. (US c. 1780-1930)

      3) Because of the slowing economy, more and more of the peasants find themselves out of work. The government faces a choice: let unemployment increase until there are enough disgruntled peasants to topple the government, or come up with a clever way of keeping the unemployed peasants content. Most empires decide to introduce a welfare system of some sort to appease the populace. Rome had free bread, the USSR had communism, and the US is, of course, a welfare state. (US c. 1930)

      4) The government has to somehow pay for the welfare (this is complicated by more historically recent fiat monetary systems, but the government does still pay in principle through inflation), so taxation increases. As taxation increases, the economy slows even more. As the economy slows more, more people lose jobs and require welfare. The government is then forced to give welfare or face revolution, which then requires more taxes. As you can see, any welfare state is already in a self-reinforcing cycle of collapse. (US c. 1970)

      5) At some point, it is mathematically inevitable that the economy stop growing and start shrinking. At this point it is now impossible, in principle, to sustain the empire. The cycle of welfare must continue, and the economy collapsing will only mean that the government has no new source of tax, and now must decide to succumb to the raging populace or invade another economy. (US c. 1980)

      6) Most empires collapse before they reach this stage because their leaders don't have the balls (insanity) to do this. The empire pillages other economies. In ancient times this was done through direct invasion, but today this is usually done through corporations and direct economic warfare. The end result is the same. Some of the pillaged assets flow into the empire's own economy, but the majority are kept by the emperors, which are either government agents, the owners of the largest few corporations, or (usually) both. (US today)

      7) Foreign economies become more resistant to outside attack the smaller they get. This is like trying to attack a city versus trying to attack a fortified building. The defenders of the building will take down many attackers per defender because they're entrenched. So the empire finds it more and more difficult to extract assets from other economies, and all the while they still need more and more money for welfare. (US c. 2020-2030 most likely)

      8) The state can no longer afford welfare. The disgruntled peasants overthrow the government. (US c. 2040)
      Last edited by drewmandan; 10-13-2008 at 12:24 AM.

    5. #5
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      Well if the Roman empire took Germania and stemmed the growth of the tribes, I wouldn't be here. I'm of Saxon decent. YAY BARBARIANS!
      Surrender your flesh. We demand it.

    6. #6
      Member Everlong's Avatar
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      drewmandan has a point. Because in a way it is happening right now in the U.S, with the markets slowing down and all. Would this have meant that Rome may have split into several individual states, each with their own individual economy and independence, like the Western Roman Empire, and the Eastern Roman Empire, so the economy could have been managed more efficiently?

      Since I'm most likely descended from British backgrounds, and the English language was brought by the Anglo-Saxons, and I live in Australia, I likely wouldn't be here either. Maybe as a different person.
      Question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
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    7. #7
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      Rome's collapse was inevitable. There are dozens of factors that you would have to pretend weren't present if you want to think about a scenario where the empire continued and thrived.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Everlong View Post
      drewmandan has a point. Because in a way it is happening right now in the U.S, with the markets slowing down and all. Would this have meant that Rome may have split into several individual states, each with their own individual economy and independence, like the Western Roman Empire, and the Eastern Roman Empire, so the economy could have been managed more efficiently?
      That is what happened. In fact, the Eastern Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire and it lasted another 1000 years, but that was a slightly different phenomenon. The Byzantime Empire began as a monarchy, which made it much more stable. As a general rule, the freer a government begins, the faster it blows up. So the Byzantine Empire blew up fairly slowly. It wasn't conquered by the Turks until 1453.

    9. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by drewmandan View Post
      ...disgruntled peasants ...

      Fuck yeaaaaah
      “What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call 'thought'” -Hume

    10. #10
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      Every empire must collapse at some point.

      200 years, people.

      We're overdue.

      "...and we want punks in the palace, 'cos punks got the loveliest dreams..." - A Silver Mt. Zion
      It was the best of times. It was the end of times.

    11. #11
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      No, taxation does not slow the economy by itself.

      And not all empires were free market based.

      The causation of imperial collapse is not based on the flaws in the structure, but the flaws in the human psyche. By Rome's collapse, people were looking at anything to consume in order to distract themselves. They were watching people and animals kill each other, over eating, drinking like crazy, doing anything that would distract them.

      Eventually a few bad strategies weakened them to the point of revealing their profound flaws. But losing the front on Germania was just like punching a whole through a wall to see all the rat droppings inside.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 10-16-2008 at 02:51 AM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnius Deus View Post
      No, taxation does not slow the economy by itself.
      Care to explain how you came to this ridiculous conclusion?

      Quote Originally Posted by Omnius Deus View Post
      And not all empires were free market based.
      Who said they were?

    13. #13
      Member Everlong's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by drewmandan View Post
      That is what happened. In fact, the Eastern Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire and it lasted another 1000 years, but that was a slightly different phenomenon. The Byzantime Empire began as a monarchy, which made it much more stable. As a general rule, the freer a government begins, the faster it blows up. So the Byzantine Empire blew up fairly slowly. It wasn't conquered by the Turks until 1453.
      Yeah, I kinda knew that, it was mentioned in the post you quoted.

      How about, what if Carthage won the Punic Wars and conquered Rome? Christianity as we know it wouldn't exist.
      Question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
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    14. #14
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      Quote Originally Posted by Everlong View Post
      Yeah, I kinda knew that, it was mentioned in the post you quoted.

      How about, what if Carthage won the Punic Wars and conquered Rome? Christianity as we know it wouldn't exist.
      Actually, Carthage did conquer Rome in the first (?) Punic war. It was either the first or the second Punic war that Carthage actually held Italy. But then the Romans were able to fight a decades long guerrilla war and reclaim the peninsula. So, just knowing the Roman people, and knowing that we have an example of exactly what you describe, I don't think there's any possible way that early Rome could have been destroyed from outside. Their destruction could have only come from internal collapse.

      Now, in the unbelievable circumstance that Carthage did crush Rome (permanently), then I think world history would be altered quite substantially. For one, Africa would be as rich as it should be, perhaps richer, and maybe Europe would be the poor continent. And then North America would be populated by black people. But this is all quite silly because Carthage didn't lose the Punic wars by a coin toss; they lost by being far inferior to Rome.

    15. #15
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by drewmandan View Post
      Care to explain how you came to this ridiculous conclusion?
      Can you explain how taxation slows down the economy all by itself? That's the ridiculous comment here. The roman empire didn't slow down from taxation, the US empire didn't either.



      Who said they were?
      You did.

    16. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnius Deus View Post
      Can you explain how taxation slows down the economy all by itself? That's the ridiculous comment here. The roman empire didn't slow down from taxation, the US empire didn't either.

      I see. You misunderstood. I meant that the economy gets slowed compared to what it would have been without taxes. Even if it still expands with tax, it isn't expanding as much as it would have otherwise. However, the end result is the same.

      Quote Originally Posted by Omnius Deus View Post
      You did.
      No, if you read carefully, I said that free market based empires blow up more quickly.
      Last edited by drewmandan; 10-19-2008 at 11:23 PM.

    17. #17
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      Okay but whether the society is taxed or not does not decide whether it's going to implode. It's a catalyst because the upperclass starts sneaking more and more money into their luxury funds through whatever means, but in the case of the USSR (which expanded as quickly as most free market based economies did) there were stubborn economic policies that weren't thought out very well but imposed rigidly. Everything became too much for the party to keep track of, and most of their money was going to fighting Afghanistan and securing satellite states. In short, over expansion and incompetance, as well as clinging to obsolete economic philosophies (ones that resulted in commodities being sold for next to nothing so industries stopped making money, as well as ones that pissed managers off so efficiency went down perpetually), lead to their downfall.

      I would argue that the Romans had a flaw in their social structure by the time of the collapse. As always, one problem is over expansion, they couldn't maintain the wealth of the entire empire and fight Germania. However, Rome itself had become prey to consumerism, just like the US in the 1920s. It lead to economic boom at first but all the little expenses added up and people were so behind on payment they maxed out their purchasing power so development slowed down. It wasn't taxation, money was going into distractions so half the industries were based purely on money draining bullcrap and most people couldn't afford those luxuries anymore so that entire industry died.

      And that's where we come to the gap between the rich and the poor. The worse it is, the less stable is the empire.

      And as with the USSR, a billion little bureaucratic details that were rush delivered and underthought but distributed to the entire society as a whole started to add up and up and up. There was a lack of consideration for the people,

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    18. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by Seismosaur View Post
      If the Roman empire hadn't collapsed we would all be Speaking Latin and would probably be on Mars by now.
      And having gladiatorial fights on television...

      Oh wait..

    19. #19
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      Quote Originally Posted by DeathCell View Post
      And having gladiatorial fights on television...

      Oh wait..
      And then there will be a spiritual revolution that visiting space aliens will mistake for sun worship, when it's actually Jesus worship, as pointed out by the black woman on the ship.

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