Why Did Rome Fall?: Ben Shapiro Examines The End Of The World’s Most Famous Empire In Latest ‘Facts’ Episode
The Daily Wire

Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro discusses the fall of the Roman Empire and how it relates to the current threats faced by the U.S. in his latest episode of “Facts.” 

Inflation, Barbarian invasions, political upheaval, and environmental disaster hit Rome while a declining morality and civic virtue also swept through the populace eventually leading to the empire’s fall. Today, the U.S. and much of Western civilization stand “at a crossroads where similar challenges threaten our stability,” Shapiro said. 

“Why did Rome fall? At its height, the Roman Empire was an unparalleled superpower, encompassing vast territories across Europe, Asia, and Africa. It boasted advanced infrastructure, a complex political system, and an extremely powerful military,” the Daily Wire host said. “However, by the fifth century A.D., the empire was in severe decline.” 

“The Western Roman Empire, the territory comprising modern day Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and much of northern Africa fell because of a confluence of factors. Those factors break down into essentially four: economic, governmental, environmental, and social,” Shapiro added. 

On the economic front, Shapiro said that Roman emperors slowly reduced the silver content of coins, which led to “rampant inflation.” 

“This erosion of monetary value, debasing the currency, severely weakened the economy and eroded trust in the government’s financial management,” he added. “Without a free market, the heavy hand of the Roman military had to be applied more broadly in order to gain resources that also meant higher costs.”

While inflation grew, the government increased taxes on the rich and relied more heavily on slave labor. Around the end of the third century, Emperor Diocletian tried to control prices, which ultimately failed and led to a more centralized economy. 

The economic collapse was followed by the empire’s failure to protect its borders, leading to Barbarian raids and invasions that Shapiro said “were simply the culmination of three centuries of deterioration in the fiscal capacity of the state to defend itself.” 

Shapiro then described the governmental failure of the Roman Empire. A centralized and powerful government required a centralized and powerful military — control of which was vital for the emperor. 

“This meant that anyone who could gain credibility with the army could make a play for the throne. And that’s precisely what happened,” Shapiro said. “Repeated military coups — the third century A.D. saw 29 different emperors. Emperors were frequently overthrown or assassinated, leading to a rapid turnover of leadership. This political turmoil weakened the central authority and made it difficult to implement consistent policy.” 

Next, environmental issues, such as the Plague of Cyprian in the third century A.D. decimated the empire’s population, including the population of able-bodied young men. The empire also faced food shortages following soil depletion and deforestation, Shapiro said. 

Then, there was the moral collapse of the Roman Empire. Shapiro quotes historian Victor Davis Hanson, who said, “Clearly the pernicious effects of affluence and laxity warped Roman sensibility and created a culture of entitlement that was not justified by revenues or the creation of actual commensurate wealth, and the resulting debits, inflation, debased currency, and gradual state impoverishment gave the far more vulnerable Western empire far less margin of error when barbarians arrived or rival generals marched on Rome.” 

“The Roman Empire teaches us that no civilization, regardless of its power and influence, is immune to decline if it fails to uphold the principles of responsibility, civic virtue, cultural integrity, and freedom,” Shapiro concluded. “It’s incumbent upon us to learn from history, to strengthen our institutions, and to foster a society that values freedom, resilience, and relentless pursuit of truth.” 

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