How Rome began to collapse under its own weight. Image by Sean Wallis
I’ve been following Mike Duncan’s History Of Rome podcasts. They are awesome and I like them cause I can do repetitive stuff at work and still listen. I’m at around 140 BC. What’s interesting is that the roots of collapse seem to have set in. And it began with great success.
The early podcasts were about war and war and bits more war, but now Rome has basically established its bona fides. At this point, too much growth becomes a cancer. Roman elites begin exploiting the wealth from acquired territories and using slaves to replace local labor. This is interesting because American businesses are now getting wealth based on foreign labor and markets. But I digress.
For all these years, the Republic had survived for two major, overarching reasons. The lower class plebians had been not so impoverished that they were driven to violent revolution to improve their material lot in life. And the upper class was unified enough that their internal rivalries did not spill out into the public sphere. Both of these critical lynch pins were about to be removed, living civil war and violent class conflict as the order of the day. (Taking Stock, Podcast)