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The militarization of the Western Empire: How the COVID pandemic accelerated the process

The militarization of the Western Empire: How the COVID pandemic accelerated the process

Donald Trump may not have been not such a warlike emperor as previous Western Emperors have been (and probably will be). But, even assuming that Trump is trying to avoid wars, he cannot oppose the militarization trends of the Western economy that was boosted by the COVID-19 epidemics. 

History repeats itself – oh, yes! And sometimes it repeats itself so fast and so ruthlessly that it leaves you out of breath. Think of what’s happening right now: the COVID; the lockdowns, the face masks, the limitations to movements: all that happened in a few months, and the world of last year looks so remote that it could be seen as part of the still ongoing Middle Ages.

And, yet, there is some logic in what has happened. History may surprise you and it usually does (the only sure thing we learn from history is that people never learn from history). But whatever happens in history has a reason to happen. And what we are seeing is not unexpected. We have seen it already, stark clear and unavoidable: it is the militarization trend of a decaying society.

Let’s go back to the Roman Empire, as always the paradigmatic story of a state that went through a full cycle of growth and collapse. The Roman world was not so technologically sophisticated as ours, but the basic needs of the citizens were the same and the Roman government provided many of them. You may have heard the expression “Panem et Circenses” (bread and circus games). That described two of the services that the Roman state ensured: the shipment of  wheat from Africa to the Roman cities and the various kind of games performed in the amphitheaters.

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