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Looking at history, do you see any parallels with the perceived decline of the USA?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: May 07, 2011 
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Looking at history, do you see any parallels with the perceived decline of the USA?


39 Responses to “Looking at history, do you see any parallels with the perceived decline of the USA?”


  1. 1
    richard says:

    i see todays America as the last bastion
    the jewel in the crown coveted by the worlds enemies who have a
    metaphysical hatred of liberty
    we are the modern Byzantium

    • 1.1
      Chuck says:

      That's a lot of big words for a little ol' country boy like me, but I agree with you.
      If we don't change our ways, we will fail.
      Chuck

  2. 2
    Elijah says:

    The downfall of the Roman Empire. I see many similarities between America and the Roman Empire as it fell. And fall the mighty Romans did.

    • 2.1
      RKS says:

      Absolutely. Most look at our 250 years as if we can count on it. e.g. The market will cycle, it "always does". Huh.

      • 2.1.1
        James Bruce says:

        That comparison is blatantly demonstrated in the film "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michael Moore and while an interesting thought, ignores the clear differences between the two states. The USA does not depend on slaves to keep its economy strong, the system of government is radically different as well as the political system in general, it does not rely on foreign troops to do its work and maintain its "empire" if it can be called that.

      • 2.1.2
        Joe says:

        The Romans started allowing anyone to become "Citizens" while they had no allegiance to Rome. Non-Romans into the military. Moral decay, Government corruption. Over extended Military with an power projection goal that was untenable.

    • 2.2
      Bill says:

      Yes, and rome fell to the barbarians. today it is the same only we call them terorrists.

      • 2.2.1
        Jenny says:

        Didn't it take over 5 centuries for Roman culture to actually end? It was in decline for at least 2 centuries while persecuting Christians.

    • 2.3
      Joe a says:

      Yes. Political infightng hamstrung leaders. And the Roman army overextended itself and basically ran out of Italian soldiers. Over time, the foreign troops fightng for Rome couldn't do the job. Our government has forgoten about the people they represent, and we are fighting wars like we own the world.

  3. 3
    daniel says:

    I read some quite years ago that the Roman Empire fell when they stopped using romans as their troops and using mercenaries as their main source. Also they obtained their maximun political and territorial expansion while they were a Republic, not an Empire managed by an Emperor or Caesars. Sincerely I am convinced that America has to keep democracy steady and firm. I do not want to give any political opinions as I`m not American but I have had the opportunity to know the States (and Canada) and I felt as in my own home. Well, sometimes safer! Hope that you people through productive debate find an answer to this question as many people outside America are depending on your example. I present my excuses if any of you feel I said something inapropiate.

  4. 4
    James Bruce says:

    Perhaps one interpretation could be between the relation between modern day USA and China compared to ancient Greece and Rome from the 2nd century BCE. China's economy is booming and is expected to beat the USA's while the US (and the Western world in general) are trying to spread their beliefs in democracy and human rights to China. After Rome conquered Greece, many Greek ideas flourished under the Roman empire including architecture, philosophy and oratory. So while the US is 'declining' economically, it is still spreading its ideas to countries that are 'strengthening', just as Greece did after it was conquered.

    • 4.1
      Hans Christian Hoff says:

      But then those ideas are not American in origin, but were shaped in Europe; the most important ones probably in France and England. As the export of the ideas was a kind of spill-over from Europe, they will now hopefully spill over to the emerging economies, and this is in my view a good thing. National states and their prestige are much less important than the basic ideas of humanity and freedom that, we hope, are now on the verge of becoming increasingly important among the vast populations of Asia. China will not be the first to adopt those values, but adopt them they must in due course. As communism was doomed the day freedom emerged in eastern Europe, so totalitarian rule also in China will be doomed as freedom will spread to their neighbours.

  5. 5
    Madeline says:

    The fall of the British Empire? Not so bad, really, for the Brits. Being top gun is a huge responsibility, and it is nice to share that.
    Whoever is on top, wants to stay there.
    Whoever is not, wants to be there. It is the story of our past.
    Economic power will change the lives of people left out of the economy up until now. Life will be better for them as they get a bigger share of the pie. And maybe a desire for more democratic processes. That is something we can export, that vision.
    I am not sure how it will turn out for the Western world, but we have gotten rich using cheap raw materials, so things have to level out some. The biggest leap is to get over fear of change. It is the constant in human experience. Even we Americans compromise freedom for safety, and cooperate with tyrants to maintain peace and resource access. We can hold up our ideals, and if we live them ourselves, then perhaps we will go on playing an important role as defender of liberty. Wars of aggression are lose/lose. We lose our focus on what we stand for, and we become less of a respected leader to the world.

    • 5.1
      Tommy says:

      I was thinking of the British Empire as well, for reasons akin to those offered by Joe Valliant, below. Following WWII the British government found itself "awash in debt" then elected a Labour government. Costly wars and then a welfare state — what were they thinking? Having seen their results, what have we been thinking?

  6. 6
    slarmer says:

    Those who forget the lessons of history,are doomed to repeat them. America has forgotten her roots, and is adrift in a sea of confusion and immorality. America was great because America was good, when America stopped being good, she stopped being great.
    Now we care more for being liked then standing on the principles that made us great. When you seek to please everyone, you wind up pleasing no one.

  7. 7
    RayK says:

    Just study the change the German people wanted and acheived in the 1930s to see the parallels we now are facing as a country…quite scary

  8. 8
    Joe Valliant says:

    There are few similarities between the U.S. of today and the France of Louis XVI, but one is striking: the French monarchy was awash in debt accumulated by the previous king, Louis XV, and very little had been done to curb the power of the aristos, the 'special interests" of that time and place. They could pretty much do as they wished without fear of the law. At the same time the bougeoisie, the truly productive element of French society, found itself under ever-greater pressure from the king's taxmen, who were energetically trying to find more revenue for their monarch to spend. One of the breaking points for the Ancien Regime was the massive naval buildup after 1763 and the later, very costly involvement in the American Revolution. Debt, war and bad harvests combined to bring down the French monarchy, and, if you look at the U.S. today, we have skyrocketing debt, extravagantly expensive wars and (look closely) weather-related calamities including reduced agricultural output. We are importing wheat and buying grapes from Chile, just to mention two food items., and the U.S. could not survive a year without imported oil.

  9. 9
    B.D. says:

    This is very similar to the Malaise period of the 1970's under James Earl Carter. Economically, everything is recoverable, but not when you have a leadership that does not value the elements necessary to make a recovery possible.

    Thos with capital to invest are waiting on the sideline to see if they will be hammered for their efforts. If so, they will hide it. If not, they will invest it.

  10. 10
    Pete says:

    While we may be the longest lasting democracy the world has ever known, we will not surpass the Roman Empire when it comes to longevity. It is interesting how some of the tendencies that the Romans adopted in their decline, those being a lack of interest in learning and reliance on the state to take care of them, is being embraced in our current society. Internal issues will be the result of our downfall.

    • 10.1
      Hans Christian Hoff says:

      Longest lasting democracy ?? Have you forgot about England; a democratic state of which North America was once a part ?

      • 10.1.1
        MatthewInWisconsin says:

        Absolutely. Say…. Speaking of democracy, hows that House of Lords doing?

  11. 11
    Mr. Winkelmeyer says:

    The failure to reform the welfare system, like Rome, will be a key factor if we don't fix it.

  12. 12
    Glenn says:

    It's quite hard to compare the U.S. to any empire in decline other than the former U.S.S.R. They were a super power with Nukes and basically we made them go bankraupt through an arm's race. Now China is doing the same to us only through the economy instead of an arm's race, No other empire has had the destructive ability that the Soviets and and the U.S. have, so comparsion to the other empires is similar to comparing apples & oranges. They are fruits, but have nothing else in common.

  13. 13
    mo says:

    i agree with the comparison to rome. While the emporers and the senate spent more money than they had and increased taxes on the people they failed to see that their enemies were within. Namely their attitude of complete superiority of the ruling class.And the feeling of inferiority toward their citizen workers.

  14. 14
    Jacob says:

    I'd compare it instead to Rome's late Republic and Civil Wars periods. At that time Rome did not expand in power or influence. They turned inward to address problems of corruption, power, the role of the Senate, the role of non-Romans within the emerging empire. Under Augustus Caesar they ended this period and again expanded. It was not an end to Roman civilization, but it was a severe and too frequently negative change in its structure.

    How will the US emerge?

  15. 15
    Caroline says:

    RayK is absolutely right. America's downfall is incredibly similar to Germany's in the 30's. The economic system is going down the drain, the country turns to a leader who says he'll make everything right, they believe all his empty promises and lies and they fall apart anyway. Of course, Hitler's methods actually did help Germany's dire situation, but the moral decline heavily overshadowed any success in the political/economic system. Today, not only is America's physical situation still getting worse, despite the promises and lies of its leader, but the moral code has been almost completely abandoned. How easy will it be for us to bow to anti-semitic, anti-Christian, world dominant, life destructive ravings of someone who at first looks and promises to be a messiah, but plans to lead us to destruction?

  16. 16
    Clifford says:

    History records the great empires of the past. One lesson to be learned from History is that every empire will reach it zenith and ultimately decline. America is no exception.

  17. 17
    Doug Erickson says:

    Spain. from 1550 to 1820 In about 250 years Spain whent from a world power with all of South America 1/2 half of North America the philippins, Ect. Their loss was that they had huge milatary expenses and constant wars but they became a inporting nation not an exportating nation, at one time it is thought that they had 3/4 of the worlds gold, but over time Spain wound up borrowing tons of money from other countrys and defaulted maney times. What happend to Spain and our country now has a lot of historical parrales. Bad debt will sink a buisness, a state, a country or an Empire and the only way out is for all classes to ante up and pay if off like we did after W W 2

  18. 18
    Cheyanne says:

    Roman Empire… After a series of really good leaders who built the Roman Empire, you see a decline in quality of the leaders. They made empty promises, which they didn't fulfill, and the morals of the empire began to decline. Due to civil unrest throughout Rome, it made it easy for countries to come in attack and take back over their land. This basically states that Rome deteriorated from the inside.

    You see this with the United States. We had great leaders who have built this country from the ground up. But lately, we've had bad leaders causing a moral and economic decline of America.. We have civil unrest between the government and the people.. We have threat of foreign countries coming and taking over.. We are breaking apart from the inside.

  19. 19
    rjhyden says:

    I see the world in a declining period more than a strictly USA decline. I feel we are in a better position that anyone else right now. Why else are things still figured in dollars?

  20. 20
    MatthewInWisconsin says:

    Decline? Sorry, I don't see it.

    Oh sure, times can be tough, and we have troubles a plenty. Every era has had its issues, and there will be more problems in the future. Do you know a country where life is better? Name it… then move there, ya wuss. (no offense to the rest of the world, everyone's home is the best place on earth. Doesn't everyone think like that?)
    And you folks consider yourself historians? Shame on you. Ask your parents and grandparents. Nothing. Absolutely nothing compares to the situation we were all in back in the 1930. In every single catagory, nothing trumps the Great Depression when it comes to rough times. Stop listening to bogus entertainment news channels and get back to work.

    Negativity is for losers. These are the best days of our lives.

  21. 21
    Rudy says:

    I do not see comparing this country with another. Each world empire
    had capable leaders – political and military. World powers come into being due to its military might, development of new weapons, inventions and control of the seas. The decline of this country will be the result of its citizens inability to elect qualified political candidates and the reelection of liberal one's. The fall will come from a combination of debt, economics and bad political policies. A country whose people depends on greed, unionism and welfare for survival, and whose humanistic morality and ethics are valued above Christianity may live as a servant under another unpleasant government.

  22. 22
    Cliff says:

    Yes the US is in decline, but for several reasons. In all of history a good old fashion war soon gets nations going again. If one comes to be in the future, its important that the real bad guys are wiped out.

  23. 23
    Hans Christian Hoff says:

    That the US is at present in decline economically and as a dominant Wolrld power may be a blessing in disguise. The US (like most western Europeans countries) has elevated their citizens to a general level of education and personal freedom that

  24. 24
    Ted says:

    The US is not going down the toilet like ancient Rome. Nor is God going to destroy the country for our wickedness. Not anytime soon, anyway.
    I agree with MatthewinWisconsin. These are not the best of times of our country; but then they are hardly the worst.

  25. 25
    henryv111'spjs says:

    The fall of Rome was from within. Corruption in the Senate led to assassinations, which led to Civil Wars in its occupied territories of Italy, Palestine(Israel) .Corsica and Africa. Its lack of resources in fighting these rebellions resulted in Barbarians, the very people they fought Centuries with, in guarding the outskirts of the Roman Empire. These so called Barbarian tribal leaders saw Romes weakness and invaded The Roman Empire and over 3 centuries resulted in the Western Empires fall.

    I believe the fall of the United States will be within, also. Our countries infighting amongst Conservatives and Liberals could some day result in political violence, especially if our economy gets worse. If we don't pay off our debts one day we will be broke like Greece, and like so many other rebellions amongst desperate peoples a despot could emerge.

    Our country is based on the principals of the Constitution, but our modern leaders reject much of its principals . Lets go back to our founders philosophies. A good book to read on the subject is Mark Levin's \The Freedom Amendments\

  26. 26
    Mike Philips says:

    Not only forget lessons learned, but never admitting responsability or recognizing mistakes made. Before you can correct your pathway, you must first see and admit the mistakes made. One of the controls a totalitarian state was able to maintain over its population, was by isolation of thier people, geographically and in regards to information availability. Those days are numbered, as the technology age is upon us, it becomes difficult for such governments to restrict this flow of knowledge. Movies shown world wide, open the door to seeing how lifestyle of certain nations as compared to others, is apparent.all human beings, world wide have similar desires of life, liberty and the un-hampered pursuit of enjoyment.



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