by an imperial ethic centered on military glory and sacrifice forrnabstractions, and, in a word, self-government is replaced withrnrule by others, by a new ruling class dependent on empire andrnthe state and giant institutions that manage it.rnBut there is yet another price of empire that must be paid,rnand that is the displacement of the native population. Therngreat American historian of ancient Rome, Tenney Frank, in hisrnHistory of Rome, commented on this consequence of Romanrnimperialism, comparing Rome as it had been near the beginningrnof its imperial period in the days of Scipio, the conquerorrnof Carthage, with Rome as it was at the end of the first centuryrnunder the Emperor Domitian, a period of about 300 years.rnIn fact, old Rome is no more. If Scipio could have risenrnin Domitian’s day to see his native city, he would havernfound stately marble temples and palaces in the place ofrnhuts, but the features of the new Romans would havernamazed him. The crowd of the Forum would have resembledrnthe populace he once saw at Pergamum [in AsiarnMinor] and the senators would have differed little fromrnthe people on the streets. One has but to imagine thernshade of Washington parading the Bowery.rnHaving conquered mankind and made the world obey, Romernfound itself conqueredâ€”indeed, replacedâ€”by the conquered.rnThe replacement of the conquering people by those they conquerrnis almost an inevitable consequence of empire, and onernthat almost inevitably means the extinction of both the peoplernand the civilization they have created. It is impossible for onernnation or city-state or political unit to conquer and rule othersrnwithout the people of the conquered states eventually enteringrninto the lands of the conquerors. They come as slaves or cheaprnlabor, as merchants, as mercenaries, and as refugees, and if theirrnnumbers are large enough they eventually replace the indigenousrnpopulation. A contemporary apologist for imperialism,rnProfessor Lewis Feuer, in his book Imperialism and the Anti-rnImperialist Mind, virtually acknowledges this truth in hisrnaccount of what he calls “progressive imperialism.”rnA progressive imperialism like the Alexandrian or Romanrnwas founded on a cosmopolitan view of man, a conceptionrnof human worth to be found among all men; it ledrnto what we might characterize as a “participatory imperialism.”rnA Spaniard, a Gaul, or a Greek might, under thernRoman Empire, if he possessed the necessary talent, risernto the highest grades of the military or civil service, orrneven become Emperor.rnTo Feuer, the value of imperialism is precisely that it breaksrndown the narrow-minded parochialism of the conquering peoplernand their culture, as well as those of other peoples and otherrncultures, and mixes them all together in the “cosmopolitanrnview of man,” Yet, however glittering this universalist vision ofrnempire may seem, Frank saw its consequences for the Romansrnclearly:rnEven a hasty survey of the Republic is enough to showrnhow the original peoples were wasted and scattered inrnmigration and colonization, and how their places werernfilled chiefly by Eastern slaves…. The assimilation ofrnthe foreign element was so rapid that the son of MarcusrnAurelius [at the end of the 2nd century A.D.] seems to bernthe last emperor of Rome who could claim untainted descentrnfrom Italian parentage. That calm temper of thernold state-builders, their love for law and order, their persistencernin liberal and equitable dealings, in patient andrnuntiring effort, their deliberation in reaching decisions,rntheir distrust of emotions and intuitions, their unswervingrndevotion to liberty, their loyalty to tradition and tornthe state are the things one expects to find so long as thernold Roman families are the dominant element in the Republic.rnBy contrast the people of the Empire seem subservientrnand listless, caloric and unsteady, soft of fiber,rnweak of will, mentally fatigued, wont to abandon thernguidance of reason for a crepuscular mysticism. Thernchange is so marked that it is impossible to speak of thern”spirit of Rome” or the “culture of Rome,” ^vithoutrndefining whether the reference is to the Rome of 200 B.C.rnor of 200 AD.rnThe parallel with the uncontrolled immigration now experiencedrnby the United States is obvious enough, and even thernCensus Bureau tells us that by the middle of the next century,rnthe majority of the American population will no longer be ofrnEuropean descent. It is not very likely that either the republicanrnideals of self-government or the other aspects of Europeanrncivilization on which American civilization rests will survive thisrndemographic revolution.rnWhat this means is that the ultimate price of empire, its ultimaterndomestic consequence, is the death of the very peoplernand civilization of the society that chooses or is gulled into supportingrnthe path of empire. Not only the destruction of selfgovernmentrnand republican liberty, not only the absorption ofrnindependent institutions by organizations no longer under therncontrol of those whose lives they regulate, not only the transferencernof loyalties and commitments to strange peoples andrnplaces with whom we have no connection, and not only perpetualrnwar for perpetual peace are the prices of the imperialrnpath but also the eventual extinction of the very people onrnwhose backs and bones the empire was constructed. Perhapsrnthe old Roman general Scipio himself, who if anyone can berncalled the founder of the Roman Empire, glimpsed this at thernvery moment when he stood before the ruins of Carthage; thernhistorian Polybius, who was with Scipio at the time, writes:rnAt the sight of the city utterly perishing amidst thernflames Scipio burst into tears, and stood long reflectingrnon the inevitable change which awaits cities, nations, andrndynasties, one and all, as it does every one of us men.rnThis, he thought, had befallen Ilium, once a powerfulrncity, and the once mighty empires of the Assyrians,rnMedes, Persians, and that of Macedonia lately sornsplendid.rnPolybius also tells us that Scipio quoted lines from the Iliad:rn”The day shall come when holy Troy shall fall /And Priam, lordrnof spears, and Priam’s folk.”rnImplicit in Rome’s victory over its enemy and the beginningsrnof its imperial sway was the destruction of Rome. For all thernglitter and glory that empire seems to promise, that is the grimrnlesson history teaches us is its real price, and one that Americansrnwould do well to weigh before they find that the)’ and theirrnchildren are the ones who will have to pay it.
January 1975April 21, 2022By The Archive
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