I fear that globalization may have served the same function in the United States. The wealthy don’t depend on their poor fellow Americans to provide goods for them and work for them. They depend on good produced oversees and even for domestic production on immigrant labor(look at who gets employed in fame labor or domestic help). They have an alternative to their fellow poor Americans.
Now, a strike in the US has a good chance of resulting not in long term employee benefits like it did before, but in the plant being moved oversees.
Unfortunately, this has bad consequences. When the relatively peaceful secession was no longer an option, Rome devolved into outright violence in the Roman Revolutions which saw demagogues and authoritarians mobilize the disaffected poor to kill their enemies and establish their power. When it all ended with the ascension of Augustus in AD 31, Rome was a republic in name only, but in reality a military dictatorship. And the people were generally happy with it because it brought peace after decades of violence and bloodshed.
I hope our democracies can find a better solution to the issues of wealth inequality, before this story happens to us too.
Also small landholders and artisans in Italy could not compete with large latifundia  and manufactures using 'free' slave labour and cheap grain from Egypt and cheap financing (gold from conquests). The Roman conquest had been financed by the state but the spoils benefitted mostly wealthy citizens (tax farming in provinces).
But plebs still had voting rights and every year there were held elections on Mars Fields and keeping the apperances of democracy was important for Roman Republic (also during the what we know as Imperial period). So the giveway of food and coin and entertainment to citizens had became a new norm.
The wikipedia article concludes that the final law
"eliminated the political disparity between the two classes" so I am asking(not contradicting you because I don't have the knowledge) if your conclusion is based on something solid or just your own guess? I am not convinced about your agument.
Both sides were relativly wealthy people but birth rights were giving them unequal status.
So not really a conflict between rich and poor. But of course populist side claimed tactical class solidarity with city's poor people. Later on bipartisan system of optimates and populari stayed for years but the division lost its practical meaning.
It's like saying that steam machine and industrial revolution bancrupted landowning class and abolished serfdom in Eastern Europe in XIX century.. It is perhaps true but it is also complex, multidimensional dynamics.
For better or worse, Americans have long identified more with businessmen and less with the working poor than their counterparts in the rest of the West. At least back to the 1920s and the quip about "temporarily embarrassed millionaires".
This consolidation was partially driven by war debts; Roman citizens accrued debts during the wars of conquest, while the generals won the spoils with which they could purchase the land of indebted citizen farmers. It was also driven by economies of scale; the larger estates were more efficient, had lower costs of operation, and had the market contacts to grow the crops that generated the best profit when shipped.
Of course this means Italy basically stopped making food when senators could sell oil at higher margins, and began to depend on Sicily and Egypt to produce the grain for Rome, with the latter eventually becoming the personal property of the emperor. This would cause serious problems later, but the senators profiting neither knew nor cared.
Strikes me that this is about comparative level of development. As long as large inequalities exist then richer countries can feed off the labour of less developed countries. When those countries develop sufficiently they can't be [ab]used in that way.
This is a big issue in UK at the moment as we've kicked out loud of foreign workers, and now have harvest locally produced food, in part because farmers won't pay wages at UK subsistence levels.
Later in the fourth century there were lots of shenanigans around securing the grain supply for the capital which in that period had shifted to north africa. I don't think we can rule out soil degradation as the reason for the shifts in the productive regions across ancient history, like how Paestum turned into a swamp due to soil erosion.
Do you see any chance for revolution in United States? People are too meek, too intimidated and cleverly divided by ruling class in my opinion. And people with mortgage do not do revolutions.
Sometimes this is done intentionally with the strategy of divide and rule .
As for the coal wars, a lot of those altercations weren't exactly result of union workers simply not showing up to work.
I'm not saying you are not right, but it is a too broad generalization to be useful, especially as the imperial expansion phase took more time than the entire history of the US.
good try though, and keep up the good work! correcting strangers' regex is important business.
good try though. keep it up buddy!
We’re far from that type of world now. If you take the recent issues at Amazon, we had an isolated case of solidarity with one tech engineer backing up warehouse workers. That won’t get it done.
The general public, in it’s vastness, ironically, vastly underestimates it’s power. All it takes is for us to stop going to movies, restaurants, flights, etc , and suddenly we are not powerless against any industry.
The rest of Amazon does not backup the warehouse workers. It is something to think about, we all play a part. Lack of solidarity is one of the most disheartening developments of our present.
(not too bad in Google Translate)
Shorter article on en.wikipedia:
so it is still an used expression in italian to "retire on the Aventine Hill", particularly regarding political debates meaning "to boycott".
The article says there were estimated to have been five of these general strikes over a two century period.
That feels a bit like saying there were a handful of major upsets on /r/politics over the past couple hundred years — the timespan seems very long!
Was Roman culture pretty static for a very long time?
Roman culture changed a great deal over its thousand-year span, but most of those (that we know of) came under the later empire, as foreign cultures got folded in. To later-day romans, this period is one they looked back at as the “brave days of old”, when all men were honourable, honest, hardworking, patriotic, that old refrain. Needless to say, history from this period tended to get embellished.
The reason for so few successions is likely because it was a nuclear option. Getting an entire city of (very poor) middle and lower class citizens to close up shop and camp out on a hillside in solidarity is a massive undertaking, and even then it probably only worked because of Rome’s militaristic nature and then-lack of a professional army— when the citizens march off, well, that’s all your legions. Let’s hope the Etruscans don’t notice.
A final thing to note is that these successions were usually resolved with landmark constitutional changes. These were huge concessions, like the creation of the powerful office of tribune, or the outlandish idea of requiring of Rome’s laws to be written down publicly (the horror!). Successions were a Big Deal.
HN would be pretty cluttered if everyone thanked everyone else for their contributions but I saw your account is only 3 hours old, so (1) thank you and also (2) Welcome!
And there are loads of books on Roman culture - interesting reading of you have the time - and the empire was vastly different across the whole area of influence.
Edit: Start here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_Decline_a...
It's !w about this long book(s) and it's fascinating.
He reflects on earlier terrible emperors, like Nero and Caligula, and contends that even though terrible, they were nowhere near as terrible as Commodus, nor did their behaviour have lasting influence on later emperors, hence the five good emperors following them.
Gibbon suffers in perspective from the era he was writing in, late Renaissance Enlightenment era, where blaming the church was a recurring theme. He lays heavily blame on Christianity for the collapse of the Roman Empire, and downplays the church's official perspective on the persecution of Christians before the Empire became Christian.
While I can heavily recommend his work, I also strongly advise people to view Gibbon through the lens of when he was writing. Gibbon's usage of original sources and footnotes makes him a founder of modern historical sciences. And in that regard, his work is incredible. But as another commenter said, we have learnt a lot about ancient Rome since the 1770s.
This is a myth. Not being true doesn't make the idea wrong, but it is not a metaphor rooted in reality.
>While some 19th-century experiments suggested that the underlying premise is true if the heating is sufficiently gradual, according to contemporary biologists the premise is false: a frog that is gradually heated will jump out.
Can I recommend 'SPQR' by the wonderful Mary Beard as a better entry point.
And you're right too - its a lot of work to read, SPQR is likely a better start with a more complete timeline.
Link for the curious
But the ancients did not think like us—I like Lendon for explaining how and why: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1569074.Empire_of_Honour
(To be fair to the parent comment: I think they meant to literally read the Wikipedia article, rather than the volumes themselves!)
But, I know the subject material better than the average reader, and there is no single older work I can think of that covers the same time period. Gibbon's Decline and Fall is really much broader than Rome: he covers the Empire all the way to shortly after 1453, and not just Rome as such, but the broader theater of Europe and the East. But it does not cover the Republic or the early Empire. Gibbon surely is guilty of some anti-religious bias (which he confines, for the most part, to a single chapter), and there are a few things we have learned through later archeological research - but not much that would be of interest to a general reader - and a few things he did just get plain wrong. But as a whole, the work still stands tremendously, and for a non-academic historian, there's nothing wrong with it - except that in this case, you're not getting the whole history of Rome.
I actually think its a great read for a casual reader, as long as they're looking for a history of the time period specified. It is long, not dry at all, and the style is very refreshing. But for the earlier history of Rome, I'd do what Gibbon did for his work: go to the primary sources. Read Livy, Plutarch, Caesar, and the like. Read the Romans as they presented themselves, without anyone else interpreting it for you, or putting any kind of lens in front of you. To be sure, all the Roman writers had biases too, and where history gets hazy, they are sometimes much more eager than a modern writer would be to plunge into myth - though they are usually willing to say so, and often present interpretations of what they think actually happened. To be sure, there will be a lot of things we never know, things there can never be any evidence for aside from stories. But if nothing else, it adds color.
I've also found that modern academics are far too skeptical for my taste, and too ready to take absence of evidence as evidence of absence; generally too ready to deem myth as having no basis in reality whatever, improbable stories as impossible, unlikely ones as highly improbable, and even entirely plausible ones as exaggerated or unlikely, if any historian has lately, in need of making a career and publishing papers, an axe to grind against it. Half of any modern academic history nowadays seems dedicated to sneering at the gullibility of earlier historians. To be fair, maybe this isn't a new trend, only an old one refined to new heights - I recall a passage in Decline and Fall where contemporary writers were shocked at the numbers involved in the Goth migration, and suddenly realized that maybe accounts of army size in the Persian War weren't so crazy after all.
I don't know. Maybe the best thing for someone unfamiliar altogether with it all is to read SPQR, then, if they are still interested, read Gibbon and the more popular and accessible primary sources.
Only if you assume "general strike" is the only form "major upset" can take.
These "general strikes" are but one way that the conflict between the plebeian and patrician classes manifested itself. A central pillar in Roman society, it persisted long into the imperial era, but since by the time of Augustus, the powers of the Senate and the Tribunes (which still existed) were evaporated, the conflicts weren't as dramatic as the republican ones.
You can counter-argue your static culture question with since the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the rise of capitalism in the 18th century, Western Europe maintained the same economical structure (i.e. feudalism); was European culture pretty static for a very long time?
History is a lot more complicated than that. If one only focuses on one aspect, then similar events may crop up occasionally, making one think people did not change much over long time spans. But sometimes re-introducing old protests can be a way of honouring one's ancestors as well as inspiration for a solution to one's new conflict.
This is about as accurate as describing the culture of the Abbasid Caliphate as Persian. They were Arabs whose high culture was deeply informed by Persian culture, not Persians. In the same way the Romans were not Greeks, any more than the Carthaginians and other Phoenicians were. Their language was different. Their political culture was somewhat outside of the Greek mainstream. They were more liberal in regards to women’s social role than the Greeks. Their cultural production was pitiful compared to the Greeks’.
The Romans stand in a similar relation to the Greeks as the English to the Romance speaking Western Christian world. Nothing about them makes sense without reference to the other but they’re very different.
There is still some historical debate over whether the Romans who founded Rome were actually Greeks (which they were according to their own legend), that simply adopted the local language from the local Latins, and then conquered them. Or whether they were their own unique tribe in central Italy, and not a foreign invader. I am honestly not sure what the historical consensus is these days.
The United States presently has a similar imbalance of political power between states with large cities and more rural states.
These sorts of imbalances can lead to instability.
The Secretary of the Writers' Union
Had leaflets distributed on the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could only win it back
By increased work quotas.
Would it not in that case be simpler
for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
(Die Lösung, Berthold Brecht, 1953)
- H. L. Mencken
These states, or cluster of adjacent states, can effectively become their own operating government.
If the next door state has the virus running rampant, because they did a terrible job with their quarantine, then so be it. They will get travel restrictions from freely entering.
The interesting thing is, this scenario puts these cluster of states into positions of independence. The only thing missing, is to declare their own currency. At which point, the federation government will declare war.
"If no one is making stuff... there is no stuff!"
Speaking from the American perspective, I think people broadly assume a level of competence in elected leaders but either aren't able or simply don't care to seek out and identify leaders who meet the standard. There are a lot of factors in play here - time, attention span, media, political polarization, etc - but at the core it feels like there are huge numbers of voters today who simply don't appreciate how hard it actually is to do these jobs well.
There's a quote from the West Wing that sums this up pretty nicely:
"Yeah, but a funny thing happened when the White House got demystified. The impression was left that anybody could do it."
I would put it a bit differently: there are huge numbers of voters today who simply don't appreciate that nobody can do these jobs well. Not with the expectations voters currently have of them. The solution is to lower expectations: stop demanding that the government solve all problems, and limit it to the few proper functions that it can actually perform decently.
I have many thoughts on this subject and HN isn't really the best venue in which to articulate them, so let me just say this: in democracies, people tend to get all the government they deserve.
An engaged electorate which values competent administration, interrogates candidates on their qualifications, and votes according to merit will probably get a highly effective - though perhaps mildly sociopathic - government.
An apathetic electorate which dismisses qualifications, abhors nuance, demands ideological purity, and votes (or doesn't!) emotionally, well...
Can you give any actual historical examples of this state of affairs?
Well, let's take Denmark for example.
They typically record more than 80% participation in elections; they score 9.22 out of 10 in The Economist's democracy index (7th globally); they score 1.87 out of 2.5 on the World Bank's government effectiveness index (also 7th); and the population consistently views their government favorably and reports high levels of satisfaction in their personal lives.
I'm not really sure that there's any other more closely fitting definition of a "high functioning democracy" than one in which the population is repeatedly shown to be prosperous, happy, and broadly engaged.
> An apathetic electorate [...], well...
...will get a ineffective and massively sociopathic government.
In other words, we should limit each level of government to the few functions it can realistically perform. Exactly.
Any politician that would have said "hey, we need to prepare for a global pandemic" would have been a laughing stock. Bill Gates knew (see ted talk), the rest of us didn't.
I think the only teacher we accept is a pandemic itself. Therefore I'm very happy it's Covid19 and not something worse.
Let's hope we learned our lesson and are prepared next time.
This assertion is false.
Generally speaking competent governments routinely do threat level risk assessments.
For example previous UK governments produced comprehensive pandemic response plans:
In the US the Obama administration produced a pandemic playbook.
Obama gave speeches highlighting the threat of pandemics and left a fully staffed pandemic response team:
I hope this is not seen as a political attack but presentation of facts.
Some governments are simply more competent than others.
Nobody cares until shit hits the fan.
And the above theory complies with practice. If you look at the countries that were able to properly handle Covid19, they had similar cases before. The people over there were already wearing masks. Not because they are smarter, but they were just always closes to the action.
I know myself (=male ;)): I don't learn from somebody telling me something. I learn by hitting my head against the wall, and then say "hey this person was right, let's avoid doing that". The rest of the world seems to have the same strategy.
Just my observation.
But you are right that other people looked into it, but I just have the impression that most of us really didn't care (including myself)
I'm with you about not caring enough about pandemics before. But this is where bureaucracy can shine: hire somebody whose entire job is to care about a niche thing. They usually don't need a huge budget to get a good foundational plan set up: one person, a computer, a phone, and proper security clearance.
One of the problems with the current administration isn't that they value some things less, but they have a drive to undo their predecessors' work.
I guess its time to dust off the ol' Zubrin material and catch up with where things are these days, vis a vis the human factors of a Mars colony, but the seriously feudal rants of Musk lately are disheartening to say the least ..
When I took family holiday insurance in early January, I had to check that pandemics were covered, and they were specifically mentioned. So I'd expect them to be a general part of risk analysis.
A pandemic that's covered by insurance is a massive risk for an insurance company, so it's always going to be a paragraph in business insurance, I'd expect. Which should raise the question, "as this can't be insured against, for us, what's our contingency".
It does seem that way.
> Therefore I'm very happy it's Covid19 and not something worse.
That's a truism, I suppose. But it's perhaps too early to conclude that it won't become much worse.
> Let's hope we learned our lesson and are prepared next time.
Sure. But the requisite changes might be more than people will accept. Such as traveler quarantines, and other restrictions on international air travel.
There are some strains of avian flu that cause a ~50% fatality rate in humans. Those aren't very transmissible between humans, but a mutation could change that.
Let’s not make Gates into a superhero here. A lot of people knew what would be coming but got ignored.