Opinion (Victor Davis Hanson, American military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor): “Why do once-successful societies ossify and decline?
“Hundreds of reasons have been adduced for the fall of Rome and the end of the Old Regime in 18th-century France. Reasons run from inflation and excessive spending to resource depletion and enemy invasion, as historians attempt to understand the sudden collapse of the Mycenaeans, the Aztecs and, apparently, the modern Greeks. In literature from Catullus to Edward Gibbon, wealth and leisure — and who gets the most of both — more often than poverty and exhaustion implode civilization.
“One recurring theme seems consistent in Athenian literature on the eve of the city’s takeover by Macedon: social squabbling over slicing up a shrinking pie. Athenian speeches from that era make frequent reference to lawsuits over property and inheritance, evading taxes and fudging eligibility for the dole. After the end of the Roman Republic, reactionary Latin literature — from the likes of Juvenal, Petronius, Suetonius and Tacitus — pointed to ‘bread and circuses,’ as well as excessive wealth, corruption and top-heavy government.
“For Gibbon and later French scholars, ‘Byzantine’ became a pejorative description of a top-heavy Greek bureaucracy that could not tax enough vanishing producers to sustain a growing number of bureaucrats. In antiquity, inflating the currency by turning out cheap bronze coins was often the favored way to pay off public debts.”
My Comment: Everything repeats because our egoism has reigned in us from the day of man’s appearance on earth. But today we are talking openly about a new state of development of the individual and society: the state of “one family” that will occur 1) unwillingly through suffering or 2) easily and pleasantly by realizing the necessity.