Is America, like Rome, becoming decadent?
by Melvyn L. Fein
Columnist
November 19, 2012 12:51 AM | 2103 views | 19 19 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Once Rome was the glory of the Western World. It created the largest and most prosperous empire Europe has ever seen. But then Rome fell. After centuries of decline, it was over-run by barbarian invaders and so thoroughly dismantled that it took over a millennium for the continent to recover.

For many years, historians contended that the cause of this debacle was “decadence.” They argued that the Roman people had abandoned their moral core and hence were unable to muster the resolve to fend off disaster. Sadly, there is much truth to this verdict.

In the case of Rome, the Republican virtues of steadfastness, patriotism and honesty were forsaken in favor of luxury and selfishness. Rather than lead the legions to victory, its patricians preferred to recline on couches sipping wine and noshing on peacock’s tongues. Meanwhile, the plebeians were content to live off the dole, biding their time in a haze of free bread and circuses.

The question we must now face is has the United States come to this same pass? Have we too, after a century of political and economic dominance, succumbed to a similarly fatal decadence? The end is not yet upon us, but are the barbarians knocking at a gate that is no longer being defended?

It is certainly true that many Americans no longer subscribe to the values that made our nation great. They — especially the liberals — believe that our democracy is bankrupt and that our market system is inherently unfair. Instead, they would like us to emulate the West Europeans and embrace what they call “social democracy.”

To see what is happening, we need look no further than the last line of our national anthem. It proclaims that America is “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” But is this true? Are we as a people still living up to these values?

Our recent election argues otherwise. Thus, a majority of Americans voted for a president who rarely praises the virtues of liberty. To the contrary, he prefers to fly the standard of “social justice.” By this he means that our federal government has a duty to enforce his version of fairness.

Barack Obama and his supporters believe that the federal government must be our keepers. They are convinced that the rest of us cannot make good decisions unless they (our liberal leaders) guide us in the proper direction. This, of course, translates into ever more regulations and a larger burden of taxes.

The bottom line is that in exchange for safety ordinary citizens are asked cede their personal freedoms. Genuine freedom, it is assumed, inevitably leads to mistakes and unfairness, and therefore cannot be tolerated.

As to demonstrating courage, what greater failure of nerve can there be than voluntarily surrendering one’s right to decide to a bevy of strangers who insincerely claim to have our interests at heart? Free peoples do make mistakes, but they also have the intestinal fortitude to correct these without resorting childish helplessness.

Thankfully our military has not yet gone spineless. The bravery our soldiers and sailors have shown in defense of our liberties has been exemplary. And yet we have an administration intent on hollowing out our armed forces. Yes, there are words in tribute to their heroism, but then comes the budgetary ax.

A truly brave people, a truly free people, would be up in arms at these trends. They would be outraged by the lies they have been told and by the diminution in personal and national power they have suffered.

But no, many Americans are evidently more worried that the federal government has yet to provide them with free contraceptives. Nor were they willing to celebrate the business success of the truly good man who sought to lead them.

Amazingly, citizens who continue to assume that they are the hope of the free world have opted to be led by the nose by a false prophet and his ignoble disciples.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D., is professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments
(19)
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military analyst
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November 27, 2012
Hate to interrupt with facts, but the US has the strongest most powerful military in the world by far.

You never look solely at size, you have to look at power projection capabilities (carriers, air transport, etc) force multipliers,technology and proficiency. Our munitions, aircraft and naval assets alone put us head and shoulders above any other military in the world. The next country in line is Russia, and they are dealing with technology and equipment that is ancient. So is China, North Korea, and India. Also, this analysis is made without respect to nuclear weapons capabilities, in which the US has the advantage as well.

OK, continue your pointless political arguments, not picking a side, just inserting facts.
Amusing Foley
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November 20, 2012
@Kevin Foley

The USA does NOT have the largest military in the world. China, India, North Korea, and South Korea all have a larger military than us. Powerful? That's a subjective term, when discussing military science. You are out of your league Foley, just like Obama when he made the idiotic remark about bayonets and aircraft carriers.
Kevin Foley
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November 20, 2012
How about a few examples of what the you're talking about, Doc, to back up your thesis? For example, tell us how Obama is hollowing out the military?

The U.S. military is, by far and away, the biggest and most powerful in the world. How has Obama weakened it?

Wise Up
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November 20, 2012
Foley, you are by far not even close to being qualified to discuss military affairs. Four other countries in the world maintain larger standing armies than the U.S. does. In naval terms, the global picture is very difficult to compare, due to the asymmetry of naval conflict, which makes comparing strength nearly impossible. For example, the U.S. has a the largest naval displacement, but China has more than twice as many naval units or vessels. Obama is most definitely hollowing out our military, more like destroying it. There's no point in discussing it further with you, since I have already established you have no idea what you are talking about, based on your completely erroneous assertions about the military. Oh, did you catch Obama's hilarious statement about bayonets during the debate? The one about aircraft carrier was even funnier. What we have in the White House is a total and complete moronic unqualified command in chief. No wonder 500 generals and admirals signed a letter endorsing Mitt Romney for president.
Kevin Foley
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November 20, 2012
Wise Up and Amusing(whoever you two are) - Let Doc Fein speak for himself. He's a state employee with a terminal degree in a job from which he can't be fired no matter how poorly he performs it. He's obviously much smarter than you two.

I want to see just on example of how Obama has "hollowed" the military.
Wise Up
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November 21, 2012
Mr Foley aka several nyms, you made completely inaccurate and misleading remarks about the U.S. military, were called on it, and your response is to pass off to Dr Fein? This is not MSNBC, where one gets to play footloose and fancy free with the facts. I realize liberal progressives strive to stifle free speech, but again, I digress, this is not MSNBC or CNN. If you are going to make completely false statements about our U.S. military, then you will be called on it, every time. You are correct about one thing, however, Doc Fein IS gainfully employed, which is more than can be said about Obama voters.
Amusig Foley
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November 21, 2012
@Kevin Foley

Now you are using Prof Fein as the straw man? Foley, you make highly erroneous statements about the U.S. military, then you tap dance away from those statements, by using Prof Fein as a straw man? You need to study your mentors Eric Holder and Barrack Hussein Obama and how they duck, cover, swing, evade, and lie, when confronted with facts.
Kevin Foley
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November 21, 2012
@ Amusing (whoever you are) - I make it a practice to avoid engaging in debate with those who don't have the courage to put their names on their comments. I make the occasional exception for someone who makes sense. You don't qualify. Put your name on your comment, let us all know who you are, take some responsibility for yourself, and maybe I'll respond.

With respect to the size of the military, you can read my column a week for Friday.
Amusing Foley
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November 21, 2012
@Kevin Foley aka other nyms

Still looking for the straw man? I make it a practice to keep your ilk at arm's length. Now that you have been exposed as not knowing much about military affairs, perhaps we can converse at your level. Since you asked nicely, I don't normally read much of what you write, but I will give a quick look at your next missive. I have a feeling you will diligently research any future statements about military science, now that we have you back on the straight and narrow.
frogbreath
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November 20, 2012
As to Betteridge:

Does Too Funny know what he is talking about???
American Folly
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November 19, 2012
Barrack Hussein Obama aka Barry Sorentino played Santa Claus, handing out free money for the purpose of having the recipients vote for him, which is how he won reelection. Democrats have long tried to tip America's dependency constituency past the 50% point. They have finally accomplished this. Look to the riots in Europe for what is coming to America.
Too funny
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November 19, 2012
You're parroting Mitt's stupid "gifts" statement so I can't believe I'm quoting Newt but he pretty much nailed it, "I just think it's nuts...I mean, first of all, it's insulting. The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win"

Too funny parrot
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November 20, 2012
@too funny

OK, so you have proved you can parrot Newt. Now what do you have of any substance to contribute?
Town Truth
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November 19, 2012
Yes. See Rush Llimbaugh's 35 Undeniable Truths, number 1 and 35.

becoming decadent?
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November 19, 2012
Of course, we have become decadent. This recent election cycle is a wonderful example of it. The vitriol, the selfishness shown, the lack or real caring for one's country, even the evidence of the ignorance about the country and her Constitution should tell us something. I say a lot of it goes back to the education American children receive, starting with elementary school. They simply are not taught about the early years of our nation, our heroes, nothing. I worked in a school for about 9 years and I was absolutely shocked. No wonder people are not patriotic. The schools concentrate on what America has done wrong. Very troubling.
Too funny
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November 19, 2012
No. See Betteridge's law of headlines
East Cobb Senior
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November 19, 2012
Too Funny, Betteridge's law of headlines is not an axiom, it's an opinion. To dismiss Dr. Fein's analysis is to bury one's head in sand like an ostrich. Dr. Fein has simply reguritated the obvious, "those who ignore history are bound to repeat it". Also as Billy Graham observed not long ago, "Today's morality is yesterday's immorality". It is unfortunate that the virtues of hard work, personal responsibility among others have been replaced by government entitlements and programs that transfer responsibility from the individual to the government. There are certainly "entitlements" that have been earned, Social Security, Medicare, but so many others simply encourage dependence and fail to hold those responsible for their own situation to take responsibility or hold them accountable. We've gone from a "Hand Up" to a "Hand Out" society.
Too funny
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November 19, 2012
Rome slowly slid in to decline based on autocratic power grabs and regime changes, barbarism, the forced adoption of state religion, the institutional rejection of both education and the virtues of Classical Antiquity (art, poetry, science, etc.) I’m sick of these old conservative hand wringers spouting their chicken-little garbage. Rome's decline ushered in the Dark Ages, a lost era of Western humanity which most certainly did not suffer from an over abundance of critical and progressive thinking.
Too funny Rome
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November 20, 2012
@Too funny

So what is your proposal? Place everyone in the country on government hand outs? Is that your idea of how to grow a successful culture? Obama ran as Santa Claus, handing out free government gifts. It is very difficult to run against Santa Claus.
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