Comparing Rome 455 With Washington 2021.

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"If someone draws a parallel between our time and Antiquity, inquire about any model of comparison that justifies the parallel. If there is no answer, it is likely that the parallel is nonsensical. "

It is not the only recent comparison between events in Washington and events in the Roman Empire. For example, Donald Trump stands next to the Gracchi, the Pompeii, and the Caesares who ended the Roman republic.

There is something to be said for it. An elite that accepted privilege without servitude was perceived as corrupt, lost support, and perished. But yes: that analysis is so general that it is always correct. The collapse of the papacy in the thirteenth century and the downfall of French absolutism are other examples. The comparison is so broad that it is meaningless.

I have also seen the parallel with the sack of Rome in 410. The comparison would clarify something if Emperor Honorius had ordered Alaric to storm a palace in Ravenna and if Alaric had led troops of xenophobia. As is known, Alaric was at the head of a veteran army, he stormed not a government building but a city, and it was not the city where the monarch was staying. The army was also largely made up of foreigners .

Equation Theory.

The real problem is that we are comparing apples and pears. The limits of comparability are the theme of comparison theory. Historians try to get a grip on what is and what is not comparable by naming society types.

The best-known example is the four-stroke Antiquity / Middle Ages / New Time / Modern Time. So you can compare the witch trials and the Spanish Inquisition because they took place in the same period, but the comparison with McCarthyism is more difficult.

For economic analysis, you can agree that you can compare palace economies with palace economies. And that you can compare feudal economies with economies based on feudality. And capitalist societies with capitalist societies. We also know the Service and Fried layouts. The complexity and size of a society are the starting point in this: horde, tribe, chiefdom, early state, developed state.

It isn’t very sensible to compare the pre-industrial Roman Empire with the post-industrial United States in plain English in plain English. More insight can be gained by comparing the events in America with those in the Weimar Republic. So my advice would be: leave Antiquity out.

Limit yourself to what makes sense within the limits of the equation. Comparing America with Weimar is complicated enough. We do not need to include Antiquity.

Manipulation and lack of development

You notice: equation theory is not rocket science. Why then do people constantly draw parallels between Antiquity and Modern Times?

One explanation will be a lack of general development. Above I make a comparison between Weimar and Washington because I have read something about Weimar. But maybe in Latin America, which I don’t know about, there is a much better parallel.

However, I don’t know them. And that limits the parallels I can recognize. So anyone who only reads books about the Romans automatically compares the present with it. That’s a common human thing to do, but you can teach yourself that parallels are more nonsensical the further back they go.

There is a second explanation: manipulation. If you characterize the relationship between the EU and Russia as “never again Munich,” you force others to look at the relationship between the two power blocs from a certain perspective.

As in the picture, which compares Washington in 2021 with Rome in 455, makes others look at America as a dying Roman Empire, even if the parallel does not go beyond the word similarity “vandal.” Again, we can unlearn ourselves to believe such parallels and learn to recognize them as more nonsensical the further back they go.

bryan@dijkhuizenmedia.com

bryan@dijkhuizenmedia.com

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