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Hunnic vs. Gothic and Vandals impact…

November 18, 2012

Both the Huns and the Goths had outsized impacts on the Roman empire’s stability. Both were known as great fighers – both drew resources of protection away from the empire. The Huns to the northeast, and ultimately parts of the gothic tribes won & kept Africa

There was a major difference between the two however – and that difference, I wonder – is the difference between playing the short game (tax the rich, upper middle class, middle class, everyone making any $- in the name of “fairness”) and playing the long game

The Huns were strong based on 1 personality. Attila. How did he hold his empire together? Transfer payments to his warbands. Where did he get the money to pay them? Extorting, warring, negotating some more, more war, more extortion. 

Atilla was a pony-saddled pirate, binding competing loyalties together with the power of personality & transfer payments from preying on Roman towns.  Unfortunately there was a dependence on personality & Attila died before handing the secrets to his success to his sons, or helping his people use their new wealth to invest to create a path for sustainable wealth.

I thought of this when reading the NY Times article below

Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — … But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

This is a great flaw in the liberal vision, because whatever role government plays in prosperity, transfer payments are not a sufficient foundation for middle-class success

The Goths and Vandals interestingly, weren’t attempting to extract gold payments to pay off their warbands. They needed land – someplace to live. An agrarian revolution bound them into political unity

 What the Huns did was trigger a chain reaction of migrating “Barbarians” the greater, richer and more unified Germanic people who fled into the Roman Empire. …all of the major successor states to the west Roman Empire were created around the military power of new barbarian supergroups, generated on the march”(p. 451, The Fall of the Roman Empire – Peter Heather)

Another interesting point on this – those new barbarian supergroups set up their own version of Roman courts, adapted Roman law for their own local use. They even allowed the local Roman citizens to keep most of their estates after swearing loyalty to the new kingdoms (the new kings often confiscated up to 60% to pay off THEIR local warbands – but hey, if you can’t move your  wealth because it’s in the form of land, and you like living there – 40% is better than zero or death).

You could say that Rome as a super power crashed, but the seeds of what made success scattered throughout the new kingdoms of Europe.

Perhaps Jindal is right –  whatever system emerges after the musical chairs of liberal clientelism have ground to a halt out will need a good start point.

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