What caught my eye about this was reading it in light of Oxford historian Chris Wickham’s book about Europe after the fall of the Western Roman empire. Wickham points out that the collapse of the Empire in the West was not a sudden event. Because so many of the barbarian leaders were largely Romanized anyway, many of the people living through it in the sixth century were not fully conscious that things had changed so radically. That would not become apparent until later. Meanwhile, political life became highly localized. Wickham:
In the end — by 650, in every one of the post-Roman kingdoms — they would cease to think of themselves as Roman, but, rather, as Frankish or Visigothic or Lombard. “Romans” were, by then, restricted to the eastern empires, to the non-Lombard portions of Italy (above all Rome itself), and to Aquitaine, the ex-Visigothic part of Gaul, where the Franks settled least. By then Romans were seen as belonging in the past too; bit to took that long for people to recognize that the empire had really gone in the West.
I wonder if future historians will look back to things like the Blue Wall, and other episodes of increased hostility and fragmentation in American life, as early signs of the decline of the “Empire,” so to speak. As John Podhoretz pointed out on Twitter, the Constitution reserves to Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce. It will be interesting to observe how nervy West Coast states get in the face of perceived provocations from the Trump White House and the GOP Congress.
Read more here.