Enough of the works of the above scholars as well as others have however survived to supply us with at least an imperfect view of the great historical powers including their ascendancy and decline. Perhaps one of the most important literary works on the subject is Edward Gibbon's classic "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", the first Volume of which was published beginning in 1776, eerily concomitant with the US Declaration of Independence. The following is an excerpt from Vol. I chapter 3:
The [western] Roman government [seated in Ravenna after 402 AD] appeared every day less formidable to its enemies, more odious and oppressive to its subjects. The severe inquisition, which confiscated their goods and tortured their persons, compelled the subjects of Valentinian [III] (425-455 AD) to prefer the simple tyranny of the barbarians, to fly to the woods or the mountains, or to embrace the vile and abject condition of mercenary servants. They abjured and abhorred the name of Roman citizens, which had formerly excited the ambition of all mankind. If all the barbarian conquerors had been annihilated in the same hour, their total destruction would not have restored the empire of the West: and if Rome still survived, she survived the loss of freedom, of virtue, and of honour. [Gibbon uses the term "severe inquisition" in referring to the Roman equivalent to our Internal Revenue Service.]Do you, gentle reader note any similarities to the conditions now obtaining here in "the freest nation on earth"; a nation that requires a submission to illegal searches as a precondition for air travel, criminal penalties for ingesting or even possession of proscribed substances which cause no injury to third parties? The US and its provincial "states" today exhibit many of the characteristics which evinced the decline of the Roman Empire. These conditions to mention but few, include the debasement of the currency by the creation and exponential augmentation of fiat, unbacked paper/electronic money in the US as compared to the coin-clipping and precious metal debasement by Roman emperors as well as the proliferation of obscure and arcane laws. As in the declining era of the Roman Empire, our citizens are precluded from engaging in any enterprise except by the leave of the federal and/or local government and the payment of a myriad of arbitrary fees as well as submission to countless stifling regulations put in place at the behest of the new priesthood of environmentalists by our nanny state rulers. Real property is for all practical purposes owned by the state and deeded (leased) out to private entities in exchange for payment of unilaterally determined rents (taxes). The lower orders of the populace are purchased and kept quiescent by the means of seizing wealth from the industrious and transferring it to the indolent or failing that, borrowing the largess from foreign potential foes. Infiltration of the borders by foreigners who decline to assimilate into the host culture is also a condition existing in both the later Roman Empire and the United States of recent decades. Continuing proposals here such as the (for now) defeated "DREAM" act mirror the gradual displacement of Roman citizens in its legions by foreign tribesmen.
Fitzroy McLean sums up succinctly in this quote what he observes as the collapse of western civilization as we now know it:
In the very near future the only truly admirable and moral profession will be a smuggler. There will be genuine heroes that ply that trade moving goods and people in service of humanity, although it will be illegal. This goes to the death rattle of the nation state, which will almost certainly be violent and oppressive. The US and Europe will have an underground railway and covert information highway.The insidious metamorphosis of our nation into a collectivist state seems to go unnoticed and unremarked by the bulk of our younger population which appears to have been indoctrinated into its acceptance of and by a government "education" system controlled by a ruling elite primarily concerned with enjoying the perquisites of power.
The question arises: can the inexorably approaching collapse be averted? It is the view of this writer that the tipping point has already been passed and is apparent in the disregard by both ourselves and our rulers of the restraints placed upon government by the founders of the Republic. The interregnum following the collapse is likely to be bloody and tumultuous with a restoration of the status quo ante as regards liberty, unlikely. Western culture previously endured nearly a millennium before an awakening and given the most optimistic outcome, those living today are unlikely to experience the next one. These are the views held by one who approaches threescore and fifteen years of observing the descent and he would be overjoyed to be proven overly pessimistic.