The Economic Boom (and Bust) of the Late Roman Empire
As I said in my last posting, I am listening to Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD. I have already spoken of my dissatisfaction with the Kindle format, and this has not lessened. In the future I will continue my policy of buying a paper book if an Audible book is especially interesting.
Until now, nearly everyone believed that the decline of the Empire was progressive, marked by the Gothic Sack of Rome in 410. The latest view is that the first two centuries of Roman Rule were an abnormal boom period, that made it difficult for the Empire to continue. If I could only copy text from the Kindle version, I could make this clear to you.
But I will make the comparison to the American boom of the Fifties and Sixties. In the 20th Century things moved much faster – trends that took centuries in the Roman Empire took only decades in the 20th.
The American boom occurred at the end the end of WWII, when people could spend the money they were forced to save during the War. My parents were part of that boom – and they (and many like them) used their money to buy a beautiful little town in rural Illinois – and then destroy it (as development usually does).
Like many other young men with an Engineering Degree (they were easy to get back then) I benefited from the Cold War – which destroyed the USSR, and nearly destroyed America – although this has never been recognized.
What has been recognized (although grudgingly) was the decline of America – and indeed the whole world, in the last half of the last century. The Internet produced a boom of its own – but also a world economy (Globalization) – with no way of managing it.
This was proceeded by something even more serious – the people no longer existed, but had become consumers only.
We should have learned from History (especially the impact of Wealth), but we have not.