In the late 1970′s the genial science historian James Burke wrote and presented a ten-part series entitled Connections, which became appointment-tv for my husband and me. He had a way of applying past lessons to present circumstances that was both fascinating and entertaining and sometimes–as in this video–loaded with the prescience that comes from actually listening to history.
At about the 3:30 mark, you find Burke once again presenting past as prelude:
” The last time a world empire fell apart, it was about 1500 years ago. Then, the empire was Roman…. … What led the Barbarians walk over Rome is something that won’t take you a second to sympathize with. The taxes were too high, to pay for the army that was losing all the battles, and a bunch of freeloaders in government, and of course, and to pay for thousands of civil servants.”
Stick with this all the way through; you will be very, very surprised as to where it leads. Well, regular readers of The Anchoress might not be.
This comes from reader John H., who ends his email: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Oh, watch the next one – watch them all; it’s a holiday, and we need the perspective of history to help us understand the present.
UPDATE: Little Miss Attila watched all five parts of this “Connectons” episode and wrote:
The final establishing shot will make you gasp. At least, it did that to me.
It did me, too. What a different world, and just 30 or so years have passed.