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Out of our past – Lessons from History: Pay Attention


Lessons for Today’s World

If we were to draw lessons from the Roman experience for today, I would begin by telling you that, as the founders thought, since human nature never changes, similar circumstances will always produce similar events. But I would say at the same time, as Churchill did, that history is both a guide and an impediment to understanding the present.

Lesson one would be that liberal democracies do not make for good neighbors. The liberal democracies of Greece led to constant war. Ultimately, the rise of the Roman Empire was the only solution to a Mediterranean world that had known nothing but warfare, frequently between competing democratic nation-states. The peace and prosperity of the Roman Empire was brought about by subordinating those liberal democracies to an all-encompassing imperial rule.

The Romans were not afraid to take up that burden of imperial rule. As the poet Virgil said, the Greeks will always be our superior in literature and sculpture, even in science. It is the destiny of the Romans to wear down the haughty and to raise up the weak. That is how they saw their mission in bringing peace.

Second, the institutions of freedom are very difficult to transfer. The Roman Republic was a nation of Liberty and, under law, a democratic republic. That could not be transferred to other parts of the world. The Romans came to understand that freedom is not a universal value: that people over and over again have chosen security, which is what the Roman Empire brought, over the awesome responsibilities of self-government.

Third, the Romans learned that you cannot govern a world empire with a constitution designed for a small city-state. That is what Rome was when it was founded in 753, and when it became a republic in 509 B.C., it was a small republic by the Tiber River. That constitution could not bear the burden of a world empire, and the military dictatorship of the Caesars was a result of the decision the Romans had to make. Did they wish to remain a free republic or be a superpower? They chose to remain a superpower and to accept the military dictatorship of Julius Caesar and his successors.

That was their fourth lesson: Once you have begun upon the path of being a superpower, there is no drawing back. Thucydides had already painted that portrait at the time of the Athenian empire, the democratic Athens and its great empire. Once you have become a power, you cannot step back from it; you have aroused too much hatred. You must follow that path to the end, and the Romans chose to follow it to the end.

And because they did, because they assumed that burden, they give us their fifth lesson: What ultimately matters is the legacy that you leave behind, for all things human pass away. The Romans called their city the eternal city, and the emperors evoked the theme of Aeternitas, but they knew that one day Rome would pass away. But it left behind a legacy: this legacy of law, this legacy of architectural, artistic creation, but above all the spiritual legacy.

For that might be our final lesson: You are never sure what your legacy is going to be. If you had come up to Hadrian, or if you had come up to Tiberius, and asked, “What is your legacy?” they would have said, “It’s Roman law; it’s these great buildings.” None of them would have said it was that spiritual force born on the far frontiers of their empire in the form of a teacher put to death as a traitor to the Roman order.

So we must ask ourselves the question: Are we willing to follow that path of empire? Do we have the reserves of moral courage that the Romans did to undertake that burden of empire? And what will be our legacy? For I am quite convinced that of all the people who have passed through the Middle East, of all the people who have passed through history, there has been none so generous in spirit, so determined to leave the world a better place, and so imbued with the technology and the wealth and the opportunity to leave a legacy far more enduring and far better than that of the Romans.

J. Rufus Fears, Ph.D

This is an excerpt from the full article, The Lessons of the Roman Empire for America Today, by J. Rufus Fears, Ph.D., Education Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

The full article was published by the Heritage Foundation and originally posted on 19 December 2005.  With an estimated 22 minute read time, it is a long article, but provides an excellent historical insight into the political processes encountered during the rise, fall and legacy left by the Roman Empire  The full article is available for download from

It has been said, ‘To destroy a people, destroy their culture.’

“Across the somber landscape, disintegration and implosion define every aspect of United States’ policy, foreign and domestic. All actions seem irrational and at times suicidal. The American dream turns to dust as foreigners and immigrants—who should be at our mercy—proceed to engorge themselves greedily upon the would-be inheritance of our very own American children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond. America was once preeminent amongst the nations of the world, and everyone loved her. Now, in another generation or two—and if the current trends continue—she will be dead last amongst the great powers. Foreigners increasingly loathe America, and an increasing number of Americans hate her as well. How long will we allow this travesty to go unchallenged, how long do we wait to do what each of us knows what MUST be done, what has been ordained by god and nature, the left must be exterminated, and just in case you misunderstood me, I am calling for the physical liquidation of the left, its followers, its adherents, their philosophers and its leadership, no survivors.”

(Excerpt from We Must Exterminate the Left.)

[Byline Whitelocust]

30 July 2017
Locust blog

The left has declared war on the Americans, and the federal government is their personal domain.

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