January 7, 2015

The Death of the Pax Americana

The Pax Romana was the “peace of Rome”. The term refers to the time period from approximately 27 B.C. to 180 A.D. in the Roman Empire. After Julius Caesar was murdered civil war erupted in Rome. A Second Triumvirate emerged consisting of Lepidus, Antony, and Octavian who was Julius Caesar's nephew. The new triumvirate ruled Rome for a decade, but as happened with the First Triumverate, differences among leaders eventually emerged. Octavian defeated Lepidus in battle and turned his armies against the more powerful Mark Antony. At the Battle of Actium off the coast of Greece in 31 B.C., Octavian's navy defeated the navy of Antony and Cleopatra, who later both committed suicide.

Even though Octavian ruled as a de facto dictator, he maintained the Senate and other institutions of the republican government. In 27 B.C. the Roman Senate bestowed the title of Augustus upon Octavian. Augustus, as he became known, ruled for 41 years, and the policies he enacted lay the groundwork for the peace and stability of the Pax Romana.

Then for nearly 200 years there was unprecedented peace and economic prosperity throughout the Empire. It was an empire which stretched from Europe in the north to Africa in the south. It stretched all the way to Iraq in the east. It was during this time the Roman Empire reached its peak in terms of land area, and its population swelled to an estimated 70-100 million people.

At the end of the Pax Romana as Rome began to deteriorate we see the incursion of foreigners on the borders of the empire. The Pax Romana essentially ended because the Roman state had ceased to grow physically, geographical and financially (GDP). Debt also played into this lack of financial growth or more specifically financial stagnation. Boundaries had been set for the Empire, and for the first time the army had become a drain on the economy of Rome. Till this point the army provided new slaves and riches from conquered countries. Only about 4% of Romans were middle class and the wealthy raised the taxes on the lower classes to bolster their own living standards, which lead to rebellion. Here we see class division. After the death of Marcus Aurelius [the last great Roman Emperor] came a succession of poor leaders, and so began not only the end of the Pax Romana but the fall of the Roman Empire.

Other than the population totals, we see a very similar set up in terms of power, expansion and influential longevity in America. I suggest the Pax Americana is the “peace of America” and it is dying. I personally believe it is happening solely because we've turned our back on God but I will give a little more detail to support my claim. Although Rome didn’t have one issue that brought it to its knees, it still fell gradually over the period of centuries. The decline was so gradual that the enemies were not recognized until they were holding the knife to the throat of the empire ready to bleed it out. So too America, who will fail under multiple threats on multiple fronts. It is dying due to poor leadership and abdication of spiritual roles not only in government but also in our churches. In history both secular and Biblical, corruption in leadership was always the death knell of a nation. We only need to turn on our televisions and Internet on a daily basis to see the same. Because of the extremes in our government we see political polarization to a vicious extreme in some cases. Divided leadership cannot move forward in a productive manner because all energies are being used to resolve internal issues.

Like Rome we have allowed our borders (we police the whole world) to become expansive and poorly protected (the Huns and migration/immigration of barbarian hordes). We have over extended ourselves militarily, financially and ideologically. We rely too much on cheap labor (from porous borders, and bad trade agreements) which would’ve been considered slave labor even in ancient Rome. This in turn can bring down the standard of living someday to the point where there will be no benefit to stay here. There are rising empires in other parts of the world just as in Rome’s time but we are too arrogant and self-important to take proper notice to their viable threatening presence and their clearly threatening ideologies. People need to realize that nowadays wars will not be waged with guns and tanks but with bank accounts, propaganda and ideologies. That is why there is such a powerful push towards globalism or trans-nationalism. When borders come down (mostly electronically) there will be no more borders, nations and national identity to fight over. National sovereignty becomes a historical relic...the United States is slowly being assimilated into the global economic horde.

Proverbs 16:18 ~ “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 21:4 ~ “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.”

We are morally rotting from within and I believe this is in large part due to the scourge of Postmodernism. Postmodernism is essentially a failure to allow for an absolute or objective truth claims. This undermines and subverts Christianity, morality and therefore society. Postmodernism appears to have run amok in the United States (and in a majority of westernized nations) which is one of the most influential entities in the world. It has also crossed over geopolitical boundaries to other countries but is appears to have jump over what amounts to theological/philosophical boundaries also or the imaginary boundary between Church and State. 

It has breached into not only our government but also our churches. If churches are to be the last bastion of truth and even they are becoming polluted with this pluralistic mindset of truth, where are people to turn? Where will truth be found? It will be found in the State-as-god and that truth will be relativistic and horribly flawed. People will nearly always accept moral relativism/postmodernism because they want to be viewed as tolerant and non-judgmental. But in reality they are opening the door to amoral politics of manipulation and coercion. The loss of objectivity in moral thought does not lead to liberation. It leads to oppression. 

Secular ideologies preach liberty, but they practice tyranny. If there is no secular State entity to form morality, the authority will be found in the global entity thus far unnamed and unidentified. Most likely it will either be a socio-religious ideology or it will be found within an economic philosophy/system. What else is there? This is why has there been such an intense push for political correctness in modern society. It is because there is no other form of correctness. If objective moral knowledge is impossible to attain, then we are left with only man-made political and legal measures to coerce people into compliance. With the flawed measure of a man as the distinction between right and wrong it is no wonder the world is so screwed up.

With no obvious anchor for truth, therefore no anchor for morality to be based on, morality and truth are cut loose and left adrift on an indefinable sea of uncertainty for both church and the culture. It is because the real hidden danger of postmodernism to western thought is that it seems to deny the ability to know things with certainty. It can even undermine the construction or deconstruct language by stating that words can be interpreted differently (equivocation). In this way it can even attack critical things like the Bible, the United States’ founding documents like the Constitution and the basis for meaningful rules and laws. Because of this, textually extensive documents like the Bible, the Constitution and Bill of Rights becomes this ever shifting morass of language that would need to be open to everyone’s subjective interpretations and subject to individual reader’s presuppositions.  

This is exactly what we have begun to see in the culture. Socialists come to the text with a “Social Gospel” style approach where man needs to make the changes to usher in the Kingdom of God. Homosexuality comes to the text with a favorable hermeneutic towards homosexuality and so on. Due to these factors, the underpinnings of both moral and spiritual truth become subject to question and opened perpetually to re-evaluation. This means that the absolute truths or objective truths contain within the Bible then become forever suspect to a Postmodern philosophy. Morals and ethics become relative or worse…irrelevant.

The very foundations of western civilization begin to erode. Once the foundation is attacked and undermined, the entire edifice of a nation is compromised and doomed for collapse unless something dramatic is done to stem the tide.

In less time than it took Rome to fall I believe the Pax Americana will fail disastrously in a train wreck. I believe this is because the United States is so much more technologically advanced than the Roman Empire was. The greater the perceived intelligence of a nation and the more dependent it is on technology the greater its arrogance and therefore proclivity towards a more dramatic implosive failure. In other words, we have much more efficient means at our disposal to immorally and ideologically destroy ourselves.

The more arrogant a nation becomes, the harder and quicker it will fall. All the signs of moral decline are already in place to undermine the primary institutions that drive American society and therefore our nation. The largest of which is the undermining of families and marriages which are the building blocks of society. We should pray that things turn around soon because right now we are starting to look like a Roman chariot speeding headlong for a steep and deadly cliff.

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