Friday, May 12, 2006

What We Lost with the Fall of Rome

From: Mises Blog
May 11, 2006 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Myth? by Justin Ptak

Were the barbarians more beneficent than the Romans? A couple of Englishmen are trying to convince you that this is so. They state that the only uniquely Roman feature of the Empire was its professional army (hardly an advance).

"...The fact that we still think of the Celts, the Huns, the Vandals, the Goths and so on as “barbarians” means that we have all fallen hook, line and sinker for Roman propaganda. We actually owe far more to the so-called “barbarians” than we do to the men in togas..."


The Romans and the Greeks did much more than develop a professional army, but I would need to read the original article to be definitive about this. But taking the fall of the Roman Empire in the round, the fact that Europe entered a 1,000 year period which was back at the stage of economic development before the classical Greek and Roman civilisations and largely bereft of the Age of Commerce that they ushered in, suggests that Adam Smith's assessment was correct.

The destruction of the western European economy under the war lords, the great land grab and the almost permanent centuries of warfare between and among local war lords, were not conducive to economic progress. I am not sure we owe very much to the barbarians, whose demise was the appearance of settled fuedalism, almost non-existant trade and thereby local self-sufficiency at a low standard of living ('princes' included), and a curbing of science and technological progress.

Still, I am always willing to study new scenarios. Where can I get a copy of their arguments?


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