December 14, 2166 – University of Edinburgh
My junior year midterm thesis assignment: compare the fall of two of history’s empires
Which ones I chose: the Roman Empire (509 BCE to 476 CE) and the American Empire (1776 CE to 2030 CE)
How their demises are similar:
Constant wars and overspending
According to the ancient text, History.com, economic troubles contributed to the fall of Rome. “Constant wars and overspending had significantly lightened imperial coffers, and oppressive taxation and inflation had widened the gap between rich and poor.”
Despite the nearly two-thousand year gap between the two empires, the economic disparities for citizens in both were remarkably similar, leading to a widening gap between rich and poor. Wars were often used in the American Empire to stimulate the economy, but this ultimately contributed to its financial downfall.
Reliance on poorly treated labor
Rome depended on slave labor to harvest its fields and carry out the work that regular Romans wouldn’t do. The slave labor was kept steadily supplied by its many invasions, after which the vanquished would be sent to Rome as slaves.
While the American Empire claimed to have abolished slavery nearly two centuries before its eventual demise, in actuality, many of the practices of slavery continued on to its end. In fact, in some instances, slavery in Roman times was preferable, in that it in some cases eventually led to Roman citizenship for the slave after a period of indentured servitude. In the American Empire, however, low-skilled laborers from the south were kept in a permanent underclass, stripped of most protections of law and scapegoated for many of the empire’s troubles.
Inexplicably, despite the Empire’s total reliance on this migratory labor to harvest its fields and work its farms, the Immigrant Exclusion and Expulsion Act, (officially titled the We Are All Americans Act) of 2018 virtually stripped it of all such labor. When this set financial markets into chaos and created rampant inflation, instead of rectifying the mistake, this disastrous act was followed in 2025 by the expulsion of all residents who could not prove a three-generation pedigree, plunging the Empire into a civil war following the secession of California and the Northeastern states. This caused financial devastation from which it never recovered.
It was once said that the sun never set on the British Empire. And while the British Empire is not being discussed here, this saying is apt because, in many ways, the American Empire modeled itself after its cultural parent. What Britain modeled, America expanded on greatly, creating a military presence after each of its military interventions, often leaving bases and soldiers in far flung places fifty or more years after a conflict was over.
So, too, the Roman Empire overexpanded, leaving it weak, financially stressed, and ripe for invasion.
Rome had withstood onslaughts from Germanic tribes for centuries, but as the empire weakened, they became more threatening to its existence. In 410 the Visigoth King Alaric successfully sacked the city of Rome. The city was sacked again in 455, and in 476, the Germanic leader Odoacer staged a revolt and deposed the Emperor Romulus Augustulus. Most experts cite 476 CE as the final year of the Roman Empire.
The so-called “Bloodless Invasion” of the American Empire in 2030 was similar in many ways, but dissimilar in a few important ways. It had been long held as unquestionable wisdom (now somewhat naive and poignant) that the American Empire’s military supremacy and its ocean “buffers” made it impervious to invasion. However, this failed to grasp the evolving nature of invasion in a post-technological world.
The scene for the effective takeover of the American Empire virtually bloodlessly was first set in 2016, when the nation’s democratic process was circumvented by a foreign power (in what today would be known as the Russo-Chinese Empire, then still the nation of Russia). Although this was the first large-scale sign of an escalating cyber aggression, the aggressor successfully created confusion among the targeted populace by infiltrating its information systems with propaganda and misinformation, successfully neutralizing the effect of legitimate press attempting to bring the aggression to light. Creating civil unrest and polarizing different geographic regions of the American Empire, the Russo-Chinese Empire (abetted eagerly by the oligarchs of the American Empire) effectively infiltrated banking, military and information systems, leading to Cyber D-Day on May 1, 2030, the day that all economic and military systems of the American Empire ceased to be under American control.
Although this is commonly known as the first true bloodless invasion of an empire, this term is not entirely accurate due to the events that followed. While it is true that the takeover itself was bloodless in that it did not involve ground forces, several independently operated vessels, notably three American nuclear submarines, did attempt to strike at the aggressor when the full scale of the invasion became obvious. Cut off from communications from central command (by then taken over by RC), they struck the Russian oil fields at Fyodorovskoye and the Chinese city of Shenzhen, a manufacturing hub. The retaliation was brutal and crippling, leading to the deaths of over 20 million Americans with a three-day nuclear bombing, the environmental and genetic effects of which are still being felt one hundred years later. So I don’t understand why they call it a bloodless invasion.
Thank you for reading my junior thesis overview. Full paper, with citations, to follow.
I’ve always been fascinated by understanding what events lead to others we may not readily foresee. I fervently hope that this dark future history doesn’t come to pass. (It was written, partly, as an exercise for a speculative fiction novel I’m going to work on next). But we’re made vulnerable when we don’t see the deeper implications of current events.
How to avoid these dark possibilities:
- Read history.
- Get your information from fact-based, reputable sources.
- Be aware.
- Speak out.