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IPFS News Link • History

The Greatest Thing the Roman Empire Ever Did Was Go Away

• arclein

But, as Stanford history professor and prolific researcher of imperial and global history Walter Scheidel provocatively asks, "What has Rome ever done for us?" Americans in the late imperial present look around at a fractured polity and a fraying system of alliances and shift uneasily, wondering if we really are going to fall like Rome did. Scheidel's book gives hope in just such an age as ours. Rome fell, Scheidel argues, and it was the best thing that could have happened. Scheidel's reason is that the fall of Rome precipitated the kind of competition-driven innovation and small-government freedom that made modernity possible in the first place. Rome's greatest gift to posterity, Scheidel says, is not that it made the West, but that, in disappearing, it made room for the West to rise.