Revived Roman Empire: Editor's Column

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Coming events do cast their shadows, and it seemed to many Christians who were living during World War I, that everything was shaping for the end of this age then. Germany was defeated, only to rise again for another world war within a quarter century. But Russia fell into the hands of able and ruthless communist dictators, and this changed the whole course of world history.
One thing that happened during the first World War was that the intensely individualistic nations of Western Europe found it expedient to sacrifice enough national sovereignty to put their armed forces under a single military head and council. With the coming of the armistice in November, 1918, however, the joint endeavor fell apart. The allied Western nations could not even agree on a peace treaty. Soon each was going its separate way, and the old rivalries and economic wars were resumed. Hitler was permitted to rearm Germany against her pledge not to do so. This was no doubt allowed by wise men who thought it well to have a strong force between the West and Russia; but they soon found themselves fighting Germany alongside of Russia, thus helping to build an intractable power bent on world supremacy.
World War II also presented the specter of European rivals fighting together under a joint command, but still it was no Roman Empire. It was only a temporary alignment of convenience for self-preservation. At the close of the great war, the Western nations started to disarm as they had done eighteen years before. But Russia's disregard of her contractural obligations revealed her real aims. Her leaders broke their pledges with impunity; agreements were worthless whenever she decided to abrogate them. During this time Russia gained control over a much larger portion of the world, and there was no comparable power ready and willing to halt her expansion.
This situation caused the Western powers to draw closer together in an attempt to offset Russia's great and growing might. Various expedients were tried to give some unity of purpose to Western opposition to the communist world expansion. This was a new experience to have nations seeking a basis of unity in a time of absence of war—we will not call it a time of peace. A new phrase was coined to express the present impasse, a "cold war," which means it is war but not yet actual combat. Russia has been the chief gainer in this kind of warfare.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) came into being in 1949 to consolidate military planning, stockpiling, and preparations for a hot war. All of these steps are forerunners of the coming Roman Empire; it takes much time to condition the thinking of the individual nations to be ready to submit their forces to a super-national force in time of peace, even in view of war. But it became evident that if the Western nations did not stand together they would fall singly before Russia's master-minded treachery. At times the NATO organization seemed about to fall apart through inner dissension, but then Russia would come forward with some bold new move or adventure, and thus arouse the Western nations to activity again. In one way or another, this emergency has not been allowed to die out, nor the general framework of NATO been allowed to dissolve. God who knows the end from the beginning, and who orders all things according to the counsel of His own will, has been making things grow surely into a pattern of those that are to come. Christians of a century ago, who understood much of the prophetic word, would be astonished to see the strides that have been made by Russia and her satellites, Palestine, the Western world, the religious world, both in and out of the Catholic camp. One reason Christians are not living more in the realization of the imminence of the Lord's coming is that they have been snared by unparalleled prosperity. This obscures our vision of the things to come, and we fail to see how close the end is.
Now to have a really united Western Europe, composed of ten nations under the strong federation which probably will center in Rome, more than a military union is required. One of the reasons the NATO military union often has rough going is that something more is needed. The first thing that must be added, is an economic union. One of the big Russian offensives of the cold war is economic warfare, where she can play in the big markets of the world. Manipulation in this field can depress currencies, cut commodity prices, undercut a nation's credit, dry up the market for their essential marketable products, and many other fair and unfair means of competition. Now it is evident that no single nation on earth could stand against such tactics in a world where margins are narrow, and often given to wild fluctuations. Therefore, an economic union seems to be not only feasible, but of absolute necessity. If such were in operation, no common foe could pit one nation against another, and then break first one and then another until each falls into Russia's grasp. A nation without products to sell, without markets in which to sell them, without credits for purchases, would soon decay within and then fall like a ripe apple into the hands of the one who shakes the tree.
Without economic union, military union cannot be supported; and without them both, political union is impossible. But the revived Roman Empire will have all the prerequisites of the greatest power on earth. And all the earth shall wonder after the great Roman beast, when they behold that behemoth which had so recently ceased to exist as an entity.
And what is growing now? The economic union—the so-called "common market." It is known as the European Economic Community (EEC). This European Economic Community was born on March 25, 1957, when six nations, formerly of the Roman Empire domain, signed a treaty at ROME. The signatory powers were Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. They are sometimes referred to as the "inner six." Its primary purpose was a customs union that would eventually dispense with all tariff duties between these nations. It is envisaged as a means to the flow of free labor between the nations involved. It is also to change national laws to make them conform to the general over-all pattern, so that there may be a wide economic and commercial exchange with a free flow of capital, all of which will eventually lead to a political union.
Does this sound like a blueprint for the revived Roman Empire? Yes, but it is more than a blueprint; it is far advanced from the planning stage, and its initial success is astounding England remained aloof from the plan in its early stages, but now is being forced by economic laws and the desire for self-preservation to seek admittance in the EEC. England had attached itself to an "outer seven" known as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Its members were Austria, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. But realignments can be made, as the case of England has demonstrated.
The members of the EEC are bound more closely by the Rome treaty obligations than are members of the EFTA. True, there are some obstacles to be overcome in such matters as member nations who have overseas countries and territories; but these are less formidable than they once were, for many foreign possessions have disappeared from the scene. Then also, there is a determination of the framers and backers of EEC to make it work, yes, even to enlarge its scope. Some are looking forward to a May meeting of the heads of state of the member nations for clues as to how its political evolution may work.
With reference to England's long reluctance to join the EEC, and now seeking to do so, it was freely stated last year by one of their own men that they would either join or go broke within five years. Things are moving at a rapid pace in the international arena. The President of The International Nickel Company said in the company magazine that he visited five of the six EEC member nations to get certain answers, and that what he "heard and learned was startling and sobering. In a word, we are now playing in a much faster international league than most of us realize." The pace is truly quickening, and the very leaders are being swept along by the swift currents which they are powerless to stay or reverse.
While considering the events that are surely leading up to the formation of the revived Roman Empire, we might quote from The Morning News of Alameda County, California: "The European Common Market, though it seems a new thing to most people, actually is only the revival of what once existed in Europe for three centuries or so about 1900 years ago.
"For when the Roman Empire was at its peak, the area of all the countries now in the Common Market plus that of several others, together with the millions of people who inhabited the land, formed one single immense market that had no boundaries internally and no internal tariffs. Its people enjoyed a period of unrivaled prosperity."
Comments of some leading world figures may indicate the seriousness with which this EEC and related union is considered. President Kennedy said: "The Atlantic Community is no longer concerned with purely military aims... We are, and increasingly will be, partners in aid, trade, defense, diplomacy and monetary affairs." And former Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, Christian A. Herter, said: "Must we wait for some great catastrophe to produce the necessary compression of our sovereignties, the critical mass from which great new political energies should emerge?... Now we together must seek between inertia and utopia a practical common course to harness our several national strengths."—Newsweek, Jan. 22, 1962. And Newsweek expressed the aims of EEC thus: "The founding fathers of the Common Market clearly intended that the Treaty of Rome should be the beginning of a United States of Europe." July 17, 1961.
Walter Hallstein, the president of the EEC's nine-man executive commission, which really runs the new union, said: "Make no mistake about it, we are not in business, we are in politics. We are building the United States of Europe."—Time, Oct. 6, 1961.
As to how EEC's initial success is coming, we quote from Inco Magazine: "EEC became, in four short years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the free world's largest trading unit. In percentages of world trade, EEC was in the lead 17.5; the United States was next with 16.9; and the United Kingdom was third with 10.8 percent. EEC had likewise become the world's largest buyer-importer of raw materials." He further reported that the estimated 12 to 15 years for the transition stage, it now seemed would be completed in eight years from the 1957 date of the Rome Treaty.
EEC's achievement in lowering trade barriers among the members, in increasing trade and prosperity, is great; there is also an underlying and implicit objective of political union, and has been from the start. It is just what we might expect in the revival of the Roman Empire. Christians, we are witnessing the preparations for the revived Roman Empire and the end of this age.