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Content Any Way U Want It!

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September 21, 2023

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Social, economic reform good, but can lead to crisis

I will speak bluntly. It is essential for a leader to have a sense of foresight and to anticipate problems before they arise.

A society that lives in the moment, with little regard for the future, is doomed and a leader who only looks to the future will drive toward collapse. A leader who does not look to the future dictates that future generations will suffer heavily for an apparent lack of vision.

To set the stage, it is important to note that the Roman Empire was in disarray in the third century. Military usurpation had become commonplace as wealthy Romans found great, but temporary, success in buying an army and deposing the sitting emperor.

This extended period in Roman history is known as the third century crisis and is marked by the extremely unstable state of the government.

While the Roman state had existed for hundreds of years as a true republic, those days were never to be seen again. A strong and innovative leader was necessary to “stop the bleeding” and save civilization in the Mediterranean.

Enter Diocletian.

In 284, Diocletian enacted a broad series of social and military reforms aimed at stabilizing the empire.

Among these were a brilliant bit of military reforms to move soldiers off the frontier and into larger cities, which were strategically located to help prevent usurpation.

Diocletian’s reforms also included economic reform aimed at reinvigorating the economy through even more dramatic measures. The reforms included measures to alter the coinage and set a maximum price for certain products.

Needless to say, this decision to limit prices would make any leader very popular. This support from the masses, however, comes at a terrible cost.

Now, let’s take a look at the problems these reforms caused. Diocletian’s decision to take soldiers off the frontiers and place them in urban centers created a long-term problem which helped make it easier for invading groups to ravage Rome; first on the perimeter and then increasingly close to the core of the empire.

Similarly, Diocletian’s economic reforms created an enormous long-term problem.

Creating a maximum price on products, while making one popular at the time, completely undermined the basic economic principle of supply and demand. Along with this, people were frozen in the same professions as their parents.

The problem here may not initially be obvious but this contributed to the decline in skilled labor in certain professions.

It is not a coincidence that this is roughly the point in which Roman artistic work began to suffer as unskilled artists inherited the habits of their unskilled parents.

Diocletian’s reforms had far-reaching consequences which he failed to foresee. In short, these reforms are proven through archaeology to have been a turning point in Roman society in which material goods begin to retract from the peripheral portions of the empire.

Diocletian was unable to anticipate the long-term effects of his policy and, as a result, his domestic policy became a driving force behind the ever increasingly problematic Roman economy.

This story provides a shining example of the importance of a leader who is constantly looking to the future. One of the great tragedies of this example is that Diocletian is, other than this attribute, a person who is the model of other essential qualities in leadership.

Take for instance the fact that Diocletian was the only Roman emperor to abdicate power; doing it twice, in fact.

In this sense, I am reminded of another monumental abdication of power. When Pope Benedict stepped down from his position, it forced a connection to be drawn between religion and leadership.

Next, I will address a religious figure who lived roughly a century after Diocletian.

This man may not be well known, but to those who are familiar with him, it is apparent he had an essential role in shaping Christian destiny and is largely accredited with creating the struggle of church vs. state in the western world.

Respond to Greg at

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