It’s a question I have asked since I was a small boy. John Stossel asks it in the attached piece.
My father, a naval officer and history buff, explained to me how Rome fell into decadence and lost touch with its republican roots. He told me about Nero, and the debasement of the money, and the empire seeking. And then the end.
My dad also talked about “bread and circuses.” That is, that the politicians in Rome appealed to base instincts to control the population. Feed the people and entertain the people. Keep them blind and unaware.
How’s Kim Kardashian doing? Please do not answer that.
Diocletian was worse than Nixon. Rome enforced controls with the death penalty — and forbid people to change professions. Emperor Constantine decreed that those who broke such rules “be bound with chains and reduced to servile condition.”
Eventually, Rome’s empire was so large — and people so resentful of centralized control — that generals in outlying regions began declaring independence from Rome.