Americans should absolutely continue to work for the (non-coercive) betterment of men, but they should be under no illusions that this work can provide an impregnable bulwark against their society’s decline and collapse. For, as history shows, the collapse of America is a certainty. Much less certain is when and why it will happen.
There’s a general feeling out there that America is in decline.
This feeling has been accompanied by numerous comparisons between modern America and what has become the famous prototype of all societal decline: Ancient Rome.
When we hear about the causes of Rome’s decline, we’re usually treated to a list of human causes: moral vice, a corrupt government bureaucracy, class struggle, oppressive taxation, a debased currency, and costly wars.
Man has a tendency to focus on the human causes of societal decline—some of which are authentic contributors—out of a belief that his own society’s collapse can be delayed by reversing course on similar policies. Thus, today, some assume that if America would experience a great moral awakening, or if she would adopt more equitable tax policies, then perhaps she could hold off the “barbarian hordes” for a few more centuries.
But societies do not decline solely as a result of lax morals and poor political decision-making. There are usually external causes, too, that are beyond the scope of human control and ingenuity.
For instance, a significant and often overlooked cause of Rome’s decline was the epidemic—thought to be smallpox—that afflicted the empire from 165-180 A.D. This epidemic is known as the “Antonine Plague.”