Modern America and Ancient Rome: An Essay in Historical Comparison and Analogy

Modern America and Ancient Rome: An Essay in Historical Comparison and Analogy

Modern America and Ancient Rome: An Essay in Historical Comparison and Analogy

Modern America and Ancient Rome: An Essay in Historical Comparison and Analogy

Synopsis

Mounting social inequality, the increased political polarization, and the republic's transformation into an empire of consumption - these are just a few of the similarities between modern America and ancient Rome. How does America relate to Europe, and how did the Romans see their Greek colonies - and vice versa? The parallels are striking. Is America likely to trace a comparable trajectory in the near future?

Excerpt

As World War I drew to a close in the summer of 1918, the German theorist of history Oswald Spengler published a wide-ranging philosophical treatise on world (or universal) history whose title soon changed into winged words in the heated political atmosphere of the 1920s and 30s. in The Decline of the West, Spengler disputed the conventional notion of a linear, universal historical progress extending from the age of antiquity through the Middles Ages to the modern and contemporary world. Instead, he argued that the age of antiquity (i.e., the Greco–Roman era) and the age of the Occident or West (i.e., the European–American period) were in fact two autonomous, essentially self-sufficient historical entities or high cultures with axiomatically different concepts of life, time, science, religion, history and art.

Like all the high cultures, Spengler regarded the age of antiquity and the age of the West as two fundamentally independent, self-contained historical formations, each of which is governed by a unique intrinsic logic, has an unmistakably individual view of the world and evolves (or extends) over a certain limited duration of time. History, in this sense, therefore does not constitute one consistent line of universal advancement

Overall, Spengler referred to eight high cultures — Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Arabian, Classical and Western — all of which are equal in value and deserve equal recognition.

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