Let London manufacture those fabrics of hers to her heart’s content; Holland her chambrays; Florence her cloth; the Indies their beaver and vicuna; Milan her brocades; Italy and Flanders their linens, so long as our capital can enjoy them. The only thing that it proves is that all nations train journeymen for Madrid and that Madrid is the queen of Parliaments, for all the world serves her and she serves nobody.(quoted in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes)The rest of Stoneleigh's article is excellent and definitely worth clicking through. This reaction in the comment threads also caught my eye:
These days Tainter's (and Homer-Dixon's) view of the fall of Rome looks a bit dated.... The archeological record does not show widespread agricultural decline. Many areas were going gangbusters and had never been better.Jesus, that sounds familiar. China has been able to grow itself in to a position of power not by opposing the American-built global system, but by working within it and trading with the US. Ditto Europe.
What archeology and the written record do show is that living adjacent to the Empire for centuries caused the barbarians to unite into fewer (and larger) polities. Their own farming output and population surged as they adopted better farming methods and traded extensively with the empire.
According to Heather, Rome did not run out of gas, it was overwelmed. And the forces that overwelmed it were in great measure a product of a dynamic that the Empire itself set in motion.
Europe may be especially relevant -- as well as the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- as we're seeing a definite trend in middle powers coalescing into regional blocs for economic and security purposes.
So where does this leave Canada? Were there barbarians who weren't Romans, but fought alongside the Romans right up to the end of the Empire?