The decline and fall of the descendants of the Roman Empire


Vince Coyner | American Thinker

I used to debate one of my high school teachers about culture. As a fan of Rome, I posited it was the greatest and most consequential civilization in human history. He queried me about why. It’s laws, its size, its economy, its longevity? I suggested the clearest proof was the fact that there may be more Roman ruins remaining than from any ancient civilization in the world.

He disagreed, believing there were African empires whose cultures were equal if not superior to Rome’s, the grandest of such being the Mali Empire in West Africa. Lasting from 1226 to 1670, its greatest king was Mansa Musa, who is sometimes said to be the richest man who ever lived. He pressed me on others, stating that architecture and its survival might not be the best measure by which to measure a culture’s greatness. Wondering if he might be right, I looked a bit more into some of those other societies about which I knew less than Rome.

There were the Incas, the Aztecs, the Egyptians, the Qin and Han Chinese, the Mongols, the Abbasid and Umayyad Caliphates, and the aforementioned Malian Empire. All were fascinating. The Mongols had the largest landlocked empire in history but left very little in the way of architecture. There were the Qun and Han dynasties that controlled a quarter of the world’s population some 2000 years ago and built the longest sections of China’s Great Wall.

The Abbasid caliphate, which is considered the Islamic Golden Age, was considered to be the most advanced society of its time in reference to things like science, astronomy, math, and medicine. The Egyptians not only left the Pyramids and Abu Simbel, but their papyrus was the earliest known paper. The Median and Achaemenid Empires preceding modern-day Iran left extraordinary ruins that go back 500 years before Christ. Depending on how one wants to characterize them, there have been thousands of cultures, civilizations, and dynasties throughout human history.

As much as we might know about them, it’s likely there are even more about which we know nothing. Which brings me back to my original point: How does one measure what a great culture is? Is it the language they left, the ruins they left, or how much of the earth or her population that the culture controlled? It’s possible to make an argument for any one of those, but the reality is that, given the differences in time, geography, and populations, it’s impossible to draw a hierarchical chart that defines “Greatness” with precision, particularly given the differences in what’s left of them.

Nonetheless, I stand by the opinion of my 15-year-old self about Rome being the greatest civilization of the ancient world. That being said, there’s nothing in the ancient world to compare with what we have in the 21st century, a world that stands on the shoulders of Western culture. Given how the West is committing cultural suicide, it might be helpful to examine what that Western culture has produced. Yes, the West has been cruel and barbaric at times, whether to its own people or because it sanctioned slavery and resulted in the bloodshed of native peoples in far-off lands.

All those things are true. But none of them are unique to the West. Depravity is a mark that mankind shares across civilizations and has been constant from one degree or another across the space and time of human existence. With that out of the way, back to Western civilization. It’s brought the world democratic governance. It’s brought the world individual liberty predicated on the notion of individual rights ordained by God, which laid the ground for limited government and capitalism. Together, those things set the stage for the greatest advancement in the condition of man in all human history. From the moment most of the people on the planet today wake up until the moment they lay their heads down at night, almost everything they do or interact with is a result of Western civilization.

Here is a short list of just some of the inventions Western civilization has produced: Automobiles. Telephony. Mobile phones. MRI machines. Plastic. Nuclear power. Bessemer Process steelmaking. Gasoline. Vulcanized rubber. Television. Radio. Elevators. Computers. Flight. Rockets. Electric light. Mechanical reaper. Heart transplants. Vaccines. The Internet. Sewing machines. Skyscrapers. Railroads. The steam engine. Internal combustion engines. Electric washing machines. Barbed wire. Air conditioning. Satellites. Movies. Submarines. Microwaves. Radar. Lasers.

Artificial knees and hips. Robots. The movable-type printing press. Antibiotics. Batteries. Refrigeration. And much more. Then there are innovations that Western civilization has produced: Containerized shipping. DNA discovery and sequencing. Stock markets. Social media. GPS. Advanced farming. Google maps. Space travel. Blood transfusion. Constitutional Democracy. Individual freedom. Limited government. X-ray machines. The assembly line. Mars landers and solar system probes. And again, much more. And then there’s science. Of the approximately 800 Nobel Prizes that have been handed out since 1901 in fields like Physics, Chemistry, Economics & Medicine (not including Literature because it’s so subjective and Peace, which, after giving one to Barack Obama, has about as much credibility as the UN), Europeans and their offshoots have won approximately 750, including 350 for the United States alone.

This is the world of the 21st century, and it’s been built by the West. Aside from lost tribes or primitive societies that live as their ancestors did thousands of years ago, there’s virtually not a thing people around the world do on a daily basis that the West hasn’t developed. The West won on the field of battle of ideas and power. To pretend otherwise is simply fiction. But that which the West has built is under assault…mostly from within. From citizens who became fat, dumb, and happy during the prosperous times to their inviting into their nations tens of millions of people who don’t share their culture and, indeed, most of whom come from nations hostile to Western values. Prosperity is a two-edged sword.

On the one hand, it has created a civilization greater than anything in history. On the other hand, the beneficiaries of that prosperity have lost sight of the hard work, sacrifice, risk, and perseverance it takes to create prosperity, and how difficult it is to maintain that high standard. As a result, many, if not most, Western citizens detest their own culture. They have tunnel vision, focused with a modern-day perspective on their forefathers’ flaws while creating a fictional nirvana-like perspective on every other civilization in history. Self-loathing is rampant. It’s one thing to tolerate or even encourage self-reflection in the pursuit of self-improvement. But that’s not what the left does.

Like a 78-pound college student suffering from anorexia who looks in the mirror and sees herself as a “fat cow,” Western liberals see the sins of their fathers and the imperfections of their society and believe that their tunnel vision means the West is nothing but evil. Then, like the anorexic, they engage in self-sabotage; only, in this case, it’s the culture they harm. Culture and civilization are fragile; they’re hard to build and harder to maintain. It’s particularly difficult when the youth of a nation despise their birthright, disrespect its legacy, and actively undermine its foundations. Combine that with elites who are the fountainhead from which that disdain arises, and you have a dire future.

The left accuses Trump and the MAGA adherents of being racist nationalists. We’re not. Charles de Gaulle perhaps said it best: “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism is when hate for people other than your own comes first.” America and the West will not survive the rest of this century if their citizens don’t become patriots. Indeed, Osama bin Laden saw the writing on the wall: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

Self-loathing may communicate many things, but strength is not one of them.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various author’s articles on this Opinion piece or elsewhere online or in the newspaper where we have articles with the header “COLUMN/EDITORIAL & OPINION” do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints or official policies of the Publisher, Editor, Reporters or anybody else in the Staff of the Hemet and San Jacinto Chronicle Newspaper.

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