Israel did not have, but we do, the example of millennia of empires that have fallen because the societies of these empires moved into social conditions that could not be reversed. For example, we again refer to the Roman Empire, which one hundred years before Jesus, had, because of its strength, conquered every nation encircling the Mediterranean basin. The problem with the expansion of the Empire, however, was that Rome began to reach beyond the Mediterranean basin to territory that overextended their financial ability to sustain after they were initially conquered. By the end of the third century A.D., their expansion and control aspirations eventually caught up with them. It was then that the Empire began to collapse when civil wars and invasions, which national tensions, taxed their financial strength. The end was in sight when the Visigoths attacked and took the city Rome in 410 A.D. However, the collapse of the Empire had actually begun far before this date as the society had already begun to implode.
In the area of government and finances, Rome ignored the principle of “social thermodynamics.” In the realm of natural law, the law of thermodynamics is a principle that the energy that sustains the physical world is constantly degenerating into entropy, that is, the universe is simply running down and will not be restarted. As a burning match that is going out, the energy that maintained the “burn of the universe” cannot be recaptured to burn again. The energy that maintains the continued existence of the physical world will eventually evaporate into uselessness (entropy). Lost energy will not be regenerated, and thus there remains no more energy to sustain that which is now running down.
The same is true of societies and governments. There is a social thermodynamic that cannot be reversed. In a democratic government, the government is based on the energy of the society to produce wealth and continue its existence. When the society begins to lose its power to sustain the government, then the government and society is crippled. Rome exercised great social ingenuity in order to continue for several centuries, but in its last century of existence, the signs of consummation were evident. The energy of social strength was digressing into a realm of “social entropy.”
Rome grew its military force in order to conquer and intimidate a vast number of nations. To encourage continuity and a strained patriotism, she permitted self-rule of those people whom she conquered, and sought to integrate them into Roman culture and government. Rome sought to encourage patriotism to the Empire that would keep the peace. Rome even gave a limited autonomy to regional courts within the societies of the conquered people. But as Gibbon and other historians have concluded, these things were to no avail. As the society of Rome began to follow the course of “social thermodynamics,” the government and war machine headed into “social entropy.” There was eventually no more social energy (patriotism) to continue the Empire.
When social structures within the society and government of Rome were crumbling, it was only a matter of time until the final collapse. Historians give 476 A.D. as the date of the end of the Roman Empire. Ths was the date when the Germanic Odoacer deposed in Rome the last of the Western Caesars. One thousand years of Roman influence came to an end.
And as went Rome, so goes all empires of this world, including Western civilization. As we previously stated, it is not if, but when Western civilization will eventually consummated its existence as we now know it, and give way to another. No civilization can withstand the changing forces of “social thermodynamics.” Even as we write, Western civilization is giving way to another predominate social civilization that will eventually make itself known by the end of this century.
The people of Western civilization will not vanish away. Only the means by which they morally conduct and govern themselves will pass away. When that time comes, it may be more advantageous to be a poor farmer in the fields of Palestine, than an elite resident in the crime-ridden urban centers.
[Lecture series will continue.]