A Republic’s Demise

Once upon a time, there existed, to the east of civilization, a bountiful paradise. It was the Age of Ambition, as an intrepid band of settlers departed their old world in search of a new home. Led by an explorer who would one day be celebrated by future generations, books and poems destined to be published in the name of his legacy, these men and women sailed west across the sea to forge new lives for themselves. Upon arrival, they reaped the bounty, harnessing accumulated wealth to set the foundations of a new civilization that would one day go down in history as the greatest nation that the world had ever seen.

The explorers proceeded to build cities and colonies, and entered in a clash with the native population. Through violent means, the settlers usurped the land, finally claiming it in the name of the ethos established by Western civilization. The settlers then focused on establishing a strong economy, defined by the individual. Centuries passed, and the settlers’ descendants came to consider this new land their true home.

However, the monarchy began to tighten its grip upon the people. Many viewed it as corrupt, and they wished to bring egalitarianism to the land that they had grown to love. Lines in the sand were drawn and people began to take sides. And then, one day, the citizens finally revolted. The revolution proved to be a success, with the rebels bringing freedom to their land. Inspired by the ethos of Greek democracy, these people founded a republic, with elected officials. Many other aspects were adopted from the Greeks, such as the architecture of the republic’s central city, its centerpiece being a designated legislative palace on what was known as “Capitol Hill.” It was a time of both freedom and stability.

The Age of Pioneers

Not long after, this nation began expanding across the continental landmass, spreading its influence and conquering those who resisted their rule, establishing new territories and local governments that would answer to the central executive authority in the capital. Through these new territories, each home to unique resources, the nation grew and its borders reached far and wide.

The Age of Conquest

The nation became rich, not just by exploiting these resources and increasing trade relations with its neighbors, but also through the development of new technologies. This gave way to an age of industry, the rise of businesses, and massive accumulations of wealth. Still, not all of the nation’s inhabitants were free. Slavery was a common evil. But there were, eventually, pushes for those who were enslaved to gain rights.

Despite social conflict, the nation became relatively stable, and its wealth grew immensely as a result of its economic boom. Soon, there was a rise in immigration. Everyone had a romanticized desire to become a citizen. People of all backgrounds and cultures flocked there. The nation also participated in a series of wars around this time, fighting on fronts throughout Europe and Africa. Still, though, the national war machine only increased its economic power.

The Age of Commerce

Society became incredibly wealthy, with aristocracy dominating the private sector, and the populace feeling disenfranchised. An idealized dream took shape, as people of this nation hoped to make something of themselves. Although many became incredibly wealthy, the economy grew somewhat divided. The nation prospered more than ever, despite the common brief recession. The wealthy grew wealthier, and the economy of the nation was for the better, but the lower class had their own struggles.

The Age of Affluence

The most peaceful time in history came soon after. While not devoid of some internal conflicts, it was otherwise stable. However, politics became far more partisan than ever before, which would eventually complicate matters. Disagreements were common, but they begrudgingly worked together to keep the still-powerful, yet equally fragile economy from collapsing. The nation already seemed like it was in trouble, but—due to the peace—great thinkers, scientists, and philosophers emerged, leading to a period of sociological, technological, and ideological change and advocacy. The nation was finally at its apex.

The Age of Intellect

By now, the nation had reached its peak. Nowhere higher was there for it to clime. As a result, a great deal of hubris arose from people of all social classes. Sure, the nation led the way on the world stage, the poster child for Western civilization, but through this arrogance, as well as the technological progress that made lives easier for the people, a new wave of lethargy emerged. Through this laziness came boredom, and boredom led to impulsive acts on the parts of some people. Affluence perverted into superficial luxury, boastfulness, and hedonism. A bread and circus mentality came about amongst all in the nation, resulting in an obsession for consumerism, the constant desire to be entertained, and sex. The entertainment industry boomed most of all, with the celebrities no longer being the writer, the artist, and the poet, and now the actor, the athlete, and the one who simply had enough money to reach that type of status. People could not get enough of entertainment. Religion too became less and less relevant, people abandoning it in favor of hedonism. The class divide was higher than ever, with one percent of the aristocracy ruling over the other ninety-nine percent, and no one could do a single thing about it. Politics were incredibly bipartisan, the legislative body being unable to agree on anything. The entire system became corrupt, and the leaders no longer held much power, true influence being in the hands of an unofficial class of oligarchs and kingmakers, all with self-interested ambition. The true reformists who wanted to do good were silenced and had no voice whatsoever.

During this time, the worst recessions in national history came about, military expenditure was at an all-time high, imperialism became ever-more present, and there was an immigration crisis. This time saw a rise in populist movements. There were those who wanted to make the nation great again, believing that the republic was withering away for all of the wrong reasons. One man rose above all to challenge the establishment: an outspoken, high-profile aristocrat of immense wealth who claimed to stand up in the name of the people. He renounced his aristocratic status partly, claiming to stand with the poorer class, but still, despite it being a conflict of interest, he continued to reap the benefits of his accumulated wealth and continuous income.

Known for his boorish and inappropriate nature, very few people took him seriously as he ran for public office, and fewer people still expected him to win, as much of his entire platform was built upon the bashing of his opponents, whom he branded as “liars” or, in the case of his anointed and begotten arch-rival, a “crook.”

Yet the buffoon defeated those who opposed him. As time went on, he began to divide the nation, making it ever weaker. Rioting broke out, and soon talks were put into place to expand the power of the federal government in order to silence the people. Free speech had always been a basic cornerstone of the nation, but the anti-populist violence and the continuous corruption of the elite aristocrats turned the land into an even bigger nightmare.

Social infighting within the nation became common, with domestic terrorism, power-grabs, corruption, and daily protests being the most common. Soon, due to constant war and degradation, the nation began to shrink, and then, but not in a day, it imploded.

The Age of Decadence

The Age of Decadence, the final stage of the empire, is perhaps one of the most apparent of ages. One does not truly see it until it happens, and if one tells another person that such a nation is doomed to fall, said person would claim that the reigning empire could never possibly fall, as previous members of preceding world powers surely did centuries before. If there is one thing that humans have learned from history, it is that history repeats itself. If one simply looks at traits and stages of previously fallen empires, he or she can simply come to this realization. These trends also suggest that the average lifespan of an empire is two-hundred and fifty years. According to historian John B. Glubb, a nation that has entered the “Age of Decadence” is categorized and defined by the following characteristics:

  • Class division
  • Extreme bipartisanship
  • Political corruption
  • Superficial consumerism
  • Constant “need” for brainless entertainment
  • Senseless worship of celebrities/athletes/actors
  • Lack of focus on education
  • Decline of national ethos
  • Obsession with sex and hedonism
  • Decline of religion
  • Overtaxation
  • Infighting
  • Constant protests
  • Increased military expenditure
  • Unemployment
  • Recession
  • Welfare state
  • Uncontrollable immigration
  • The return of societal prejudice
  • The regression of the social order

This great nation, whose history has just been briefly recounted, began to experience all of these issues. They signaled the beginning of its end. And so we come to the part where you may ask yourself, “What is this unfortunate civilization?” You probably think you know the answer too. Either way, regardless of if you guess it correctly or not, the implications of such are equally severe and problematic. But yes, the above story was true, and it echoes an unfortunate and potentially bleak future…

The nation in question was the Roman Republic.

For more information on the subject matter, I urge my readers to learn more about how the Roman Republic failed, including the 1st century B.C. administration of the controversial Publius Clodius Pulcher, who ruled shortly before Julius Caesar came to power. Luckily Rome was rebuilt as the “Roman Empire,” which strengthened it, but the same thing would once more happen to an even greater extreme after another three centuries or so. Additionally, be sure to check out the insightful essay “Fate of Empires” by John Glubb.