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How To Destroy A Civilization

Public Policy

There are lots of ways to kill off a civilization. Wars, politics, economic collapse. But what are the actual mechanics? It might be a useful thing to know whether or not we are killing ourselves off.

Ancient Rome is a good place to start. They had an advanced civilization. They had running water, sewers, flush toilets, concrete, roads, bridges, dams, an international highway system, mechanical reapers, water-powered mills, public baths, soap, banking, commerce, free trade, a legal code, a court system, science, literature, and a republican system of government. And a strong army to enforce stability and peace (Pax Romana). It wasn’t perfect, but they were on their way to modernity.

One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE):

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

If that isn’t a mark of a civilized society I don’t know what is.

But Rome collapsed. I often wonder what would have happened if it hadn’t. Could we have avoided a thousand years of the Dark Ages. Could we have been flying airplanes and driving cars in the year 1000?

What the hell happened to Rome?

Dictators. After 500 years, the famous Roman Republic ended with the dictator Julius Caesar taking power. Four hundred years later his progeny and usurpers ran the Empire into the ground and Rome fell to invading barbarians.

The standard explanation for Rome’s decline and fall is that they devolved into dictatorships (true, but not the cause of their fall). Or they became decadent and corrupt (true, but not the cause of their fall). They fell to barbarian invasions (true, but not the cause of their fall).

Rome fell because the dictators ruined the Roman economy and the institutions that had made it prosperous. Rome was falling apart before the barbarian invasions.

How did the Caesars do that? They were profligate spenders. As emperors with absolute power usually do, they thought big: infrastructure (roads, temples, palaces), a huge bureaucracy, and, as the key to maintaining their power they had a very large, loyal, and well paid army. As a consequence, massive government spending far outstripped revenue. They had what today we call a deficit problem.

They did two disastrous things to solve their deficit.

First, they kept raising taxes which became punitive. Not caring much about the consequences to the merchants, small farmers, and peasants, they came up with new ways to squeeze money out of their citizens. Onerous taxes led to tax evasion. The government’s response was to double down and implement laws that restricted economic freedoms in order to raise even more taxes. Heavy taxes forced property owners, small and large, off the land. Large feudal estates run by political cronies arose in their place. Laws were enacted that forced peasants into virtual serfdom. Business owners and their children were prevented from changing jobs or towns. And, taxes had to be paid either in gold or in kind or they would lose everything. Gold became scarce. Gold money was only lawfully available to the government, army, and bureaucrats.

Second, they debased the currency which led to inflation. It was the equivalent of printing money to pay for things. The resulting bouts of high inflation destroyed much of commerce and agriculture. Like most dictators they thought they could stop rising prices by implementing price controls, but that just led to gold and goods disappearing from the economy. Black markets grew despite threats of capital punishment. Unemployment and homelessness rose. Their large welfare system kept running short of money. Commercial, legal, and moral institutions were falling apart. Corruption was endemic. The resulting booms and busts and depressions were destroying the economy.

By the time the Goth and Visigoth invaders came along, Rome was so weakened that they could not hold back the waves of invasions. At the end, Roman citizens saw the government as the enemy and the invading barbarians as their saviors. Rome fell in 410 CE. What emerged was what we now know as the Middle Ages — it lasted for a thousand years. You know what that was like. They didn’t call it the Dark Ages for nothing.

Much of Rome’s economic history is quite familiar in modern times. Even after thousands of years of evidence of repeated failure, bad ideas simply don’t die. Proponents of bad ideas are either ignorant of history or just ignorant. Or they are politicians (as Mark Twin said, “But I repeat myself.”).

One bad idea with ancient precedents is Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). MMT is the New Thing among Progressives in America. Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Bernie are quite excited about MMT. They think they have discovered the Holy Grail of economics.

Progressives believe that government can and should cause economic growth and prosperity. They believe government can do this by various controls, regulations, spending programs, and monetary manipulation. They believe proper government spending will stimulate demand, generate consumer spending, kick-start production, and, voila! we have full employment and prosperity. Along the way we can solve various social problems.

The idea of MMT takes this one step further. They believe that the government can spend/buy whatever it wants and print pieces of greenish paper to pay for it. Government doesn’t need to tax us or borrow money to do this — it can print whatever money it needs to pay for it. Deficits don’t matter because by printing money to pay for stuff they instantly solve the deficit problem. MMTers claim, with no shortage of arrogance, that they, Oz-like, can fine-tune the mechanics of how the economy is to be run and generate prosperity, prevent inflation, end inequality, and save the planet.

In other words, everything will be perfect; “just trust us” to run things. It sounds too good to be true.

AOC and Bernie Sanders and their supporters heartily embrace MMT. They want to break free of old-fashioned concepts such as fiscal integrity, balanced budgets, and monetary stability because they want no limits on their utopian schemes.

MMT is a crackpot idea. It is the monetary equivalent of the Perpetual Motion Machine — it ignores the laws of economics. It’s like asking third graders to invent money. (“I’m gonna print me a bunch of money and buy me a Ferrari an’ a jet an’ all the coolest video games an’ …”). Proponents confuse pieces of greenish paper with wealth and, as history has repeatedly proven, you can’t print your way to wealth and prosperity.

There is nothing “modern” about Modern Monetary Theory. It has been tried many times over the centuries and it has never worked. In every case where governments have printed money to pay for things, the result has been cycles of boom and bust, inflation (and hyperinflation), economic stagnation, and social disorder. MMTers simply don’t understand what money is or the mechanics of the business cycle or the concept ofmalinvestment and the destruction of capital.

Why is it not possible that we could go the way of Rome? Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal resulted in 25 years of economic stagnation. Only post-FDR deregulation, more economic freedoms, capital investment, and fiscal and monetary sanity led to economic growth.

AOC’s Green New Deal plus MMT would be worse than the old New Deal in that it places no limit on government’s ability to spend which means government can command economic resources and control the direction of the economy. History has shown that governments aren’t very good at that. Absolute power in the hands of the few is a bad idea.

How much destruction could MMT and utopian Progressive schemes like AOC’s utopian Green New Deal inflict on our civilization? It is hard to tell, but I hope we don’t have to look back some day and say the end started now.

The Mises Institute

76 Comments on "How To Destroy A Civilization"

  1. Turd Buster on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:38 pm 

    “The Truth Shall Set You Free on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 10:17 am DavyTurd, your thoughts reflect AND project perfectly like a mirror; the subconscious perceptions that are held about the Self. What you fail to comprehend is your frequent bullying and incessant assaults are a perfect reflection of your state of mind and how you feel about yourself on the inside.”
    Juanpee, you are projecting again. You are the cyber bully addicted to obsessive and mindless stalking.

    “Your resentment and anger toward others reveal anger and contempt of yourself, rooted in jealously, fear, and a sense of failure with who you are, questioning your ability to aptly compete with others.
    Please, juanpee, spare us your endless drama. You really are a moron that gums up the board with useless ad homs.

    “Turd, use this knowledge to become more self-aware and introspective. By doing so, you can diffuse inner conflict and confusion and become a pacifist of the mind rather than a bellicose, xenophobic, and hateful Trumptard of the mind.”
    Projecting again like an idiot

    Clean-up your act, now.

  2. More Davy Sock Puppetry and Projections on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:41 pm 

    Turd Buster on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:38 pm

    “You are the cyber bully addicted to obsessive and mindless stalking.”

    “You really are a moron that gums up the board with useless ad homs.”

    “Projecting again like an idiot”

  3. JuanP immaturity on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:43 pm 

    More Davy Sock Puppetry and Projections on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:41 pm

    Turd Buster on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:38 pm

    “You are the cyber bully addicted to obsessive and mindless stalking.”

    “You really are a moron that gums up the board with useless ad homs.”

    “Projecting again like an idiot”

  4. More Davy Sock Puppetry and Projections on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:44 pm 

    JuanP immaturity on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:43 pm

  5. JuanP's mom says he is a moron on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:44 pm 

    More Davy Sock Puppetry on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:38 pm

    child like behavior from JuanP on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:34 pm

  6. Davy Sock and Child Like Behavior on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:46 pm 

    JuanP’s mom says he is a moron on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:44 pm

  7. Juan's madre knows him best on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:48 pm 

    Davy Sock and Child Like Behavior on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:46 pm

    JuanP’s mom says he is a moron on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:44 pm

  8. More Davy Sock Puppetry and Child Like Behavior on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:51 pm 

    Juan’s madre knows him best on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:48 pm

  9. Mrs JuanP on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:52 pm 

    My hubby has a small dick that works twice a month with a little cialis boost. Any advice?

  10. Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:53 pm 

    Juan, maybe you need to chill a little you are out of control today

  11. Gaia on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:54 pm 

    I agree this place stinks when Juan get bothered.

  12. More Davy Sock Puppetry and Child Like Behavior on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:56 pm 

    Mrs JuanP on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:52 pm

    “My hubby has a small dick that works twice a month with a little cialis boost. Any advice?”

  13. More Davy Identity Theft and Child Like Behavior on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:57 pm 

    Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:53 pm

    Gaia on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 12:54 pm

  14. Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 1:46 pm 

    YouGov-Times Brexit mood in the country:

    Remain 43%
    Different soft deal 16%
    No deal 28%
    May deal 13%
    ..Total Brexit 28+13 = 41%

    Neither in the country, nor in Westminster is there a majority to cut off all ties with the EU. The threats to that effect as made by BoJo and Neil Fromage (quip #Channel4) are empty bluster.

  15. I AM THE MOB on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 2:44 pm 

    Migrants stranded in Libya endure sewage, maggots, disease

  16. Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 2:56 pm 

    Migrants stranded in Libya endure sewage, maggots, disease

    They should have stayed in dark Africa and grow fat there:

    Nobody wants these welfare tourists, only those who want to downgrade and destroy European civilization.

    Think lefties like mobster-kike.

    Of the 1.5 million gate crashers, only 32,000 has found a job:

    Send them to Israel!

  17. I AM THE MOB on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 3:44 pm 

    Childless Europe

    Without immigrants to refill its ranks. Europe runs the risk of dying off.

    Keep em coming!


  18. I AM THE MOB on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 3:48 pm 

    No shared language or culture..Europe’s economic growth will be zero over the next decade, plus a massive oil shortage.

    Civil war part 3..Winner take all!

  19. I AM THE MOB on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 6:13 pm 

    German neo-Nazi doomsday prepper network ‘ordered body bags, made kill lists’

    Neo-Nazi preppers in Germany ordered body bags and used police databases to draw up lists of local politicians to target, says the domestic intelligence agency, BfV. The network was preparing for social collapse.

  20. Cloggie on Sun, 30th Jun 2019 11:56 pm

    “Israel is getting creative at countering its demographic disadvantage, but it may be too little, too late”

    Spread your legs, kikettes! The islamic masterrace is going to enslave you once the US descends into CW2! It’s going to be Ottoman empire all over again. Go Mo, go!

  21. Cloggie on Mon, 1st Jul 2019 1:25 am 

    Samuel Huntington was right:

    “ISIS is poised for a ‘devastating’ comeback with the help of secret billions and sleeper cells, new report warns”

    It will be like in Russia. They had a pre-revolution in 1905…

    …and then 12 years later they got the real deal. Mobster can tell you all about it, but I digress.

    Won’t be different with IS. They’ll be back in business in a couple of years. They will be Erdogan’s and Qatar’s Stormtroopers and overthrowing the KSA regime, while the Iranians have a good time slobbering up the West coast of the Gulf and Yemen.

    Exit the West from the ME. And Israel was a stupid idea to begin with.

  22. Cloggie on Mon, 1st Jul 2019 1:43 am 

    My favorite breakfast newspaper the DailyMail is pulling a Carrie Symonds and is getting very nervous about the idea of making BoJo the next PM:

    “Allegra was a butterfly broken by their divorce: Boris Johnson’s first wife was left a ‘spent force’ by their divorce in 1993”

    Or as George Galloway put it…

    BoJo: I’m a principled man… You don’t like my principles? No worries, I’ve got others.

    Summing it up from a white nationalist perspective: BoJo could be just the right man to involuntary organize the survival of white civilization in the last moment in that he wants to mimic his idol Winston Churchill, the man most responsible for blowing up the British empire. BoJo could help blow the western empire for us.

    As the article explains, BoJo is about personal ambition only. He wants to be PM, “do or die”. If Remain serves that purpose, it’s Remain. If it’s Brexit, it is going to be Brexit. He has no vision for Britain. He is a complete loose cannon. And Jeremy Hunt is hardly better, perhaps a little more prudent. It looks like that the Tory party has send the only somewhat reasonable person, Theresa May, into the wilderness. The West is rapidly approaching end-of-life status, not a minute too early.

    Interesting times.

  23. Antius on Mon, 1st Jul 2019 7:03 am 

    “The West is rapidly approaching end-of-life status, not a minute too early.”

    The sooner the better. I for one do not want to live in the world the prevailing elites are taking us into. I do not want my children to be exposed to it for one minute longer.

    The future is looking very ugly. Things are bad indeed when the only sensible people left find themselves praying for economic collapse, in the probably vain hope that it will bring down the existing order. The world is quite literally going insane.

  24. makati1 on Mon, 1st Jul 2019 7:37 am 

    Antius, I agree. In my 75 years, I have never seen such chaos and insanity. Can you imagine a president that tweets to everyone rather than thru diplomatic channels? Can you imagine the sexual confusion all over the world? The propaganda, especially in the West is so outrageous that only the most dumbed down can still believe it? And it is ALL about the $$$ and the last gasp of the elite to get all they can at any cost, even nuclear war. I saw the best years of America and I think I will live to see the end. So sad!

  25. Cloggie on Mon, 1st Jul 2019 12:28 pm 

    Jeremy Corbyn, Brexiteer by heart:

    “EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Corbyn caught on camera savagely mocking the EU for its ‘aggressive military foreign policy’ and insisting it didn’t deserve the Nobel peace prize in 2012”

    “Aggressive military foreign policy”?
    Really? (Apart from slavishly following orders from the US, playing fairly marginal roles like in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine).

  26. Cloggie on Mon, 1st Jul 2019 12:44 pm 

    If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys:

    Mad Max 787 software was programmed in India for $9/hour


    UK economy falls back to 2013 levels.


    With the disastrous demographic development in the US, Europe is demographically the last white man standing, albeit stumbling and rapidly re-becoming the first address on this planet, mostly because the US is sinking, what every African and Muslim realizes. And from THAT culture circle Britain ventures to dislodge itself from, on the basis of vague promises or rather memories of a brilliant past… days that are no more and neither will ever return.

    Brexit = nostalgia
    Brexit = prank

    Good luck with all these no doubt fabulous trade deals with Iceland, Congo and Iraq! Fortunately the UK can always fall back on “friend” US, who are more than interested in replacing the NHS with Big US Pharma.

    Boris and Fromage have a lot of splaining today.

    Perhaps Fromage and empire dave can set up shop together in Italy, after the break.

    Splendid article about Brexit in leftist Dutch “de Volkskrant”, interview with Irish historian O’Toole:

    “For some Brexiteerd the EU is more frightning than natzis”

    Chrome browser > right-click > translate into English

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