“The trouble with the popular notion of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is that, at bottom, it may have very little basis or relevance. The facts are often distorted. Centuries are compressed into decades; the eras are transposed- profligacy being assumed to flourish at the end, while stoic virtues are believed to characterize the years in power. The reverse is true. As the celebrated “gravitas” – weightiness, seriousness- of the republican character deteriorated, the empire increased in size. Such are the effects of fun and games with the Hollywood warping of the imagination. Profligate Rome endured and endured, and the easy moralizer will find little of the fibre and fire of the sermon in the story. Why Rome fell in the end is something else again.
“The policy of exploiting the provinces, in turn, was an expression of the Romans’ conviction that they were entitled to live at the
expense of their empire. This conviction is remarkably similar to that of Western farmers, who think that in exchange for their votes they have a right to be subsidized by the taxpayers….It might be too much to hope that free trade could take the bitterness out of Islamic fundamentalism. Fanatics with a grudge against the world and a propensity for showy violence may be simply a fact of modern life. There is nothing new about organized terror: it goes back at least to some strains of anarchism, to the Western Federation of Miners, and to the Industrial Workers of the World. On the other hand, these were all responses to economic pressures
associated with the rise of international protectionism late in the nineteenth and early in the twentieth century. However that may be, it is certain that Islam’s unhappiness with modernity is not entirely unrelated to policies giving expression to Western farmers’
conviction that they should not have to meet the challenge of international competition”. Read More: http://www.fee.org/pdf/the-freeman/jones0504.pdf