I really think writers for the TimesOnline should be required to have a college degree. Or at least have taken a freshman-level World Civilization course or two.
They have decided that the United States and Rome have nothing in common. Now, while I certainly agree with the writer's assertion that the U.S. is not on the cusp of the abyss, I think there are many similarities both today and in our history (conquering the "barbarians", the idea of the Republic, eagle motif, etc).
Really it was the last paragraph which bothered me most.
"When Rome fell, the world went dark for the best part of a millennium."
As in, the planet?
The powerful and widespread Mayan civilization probably had no idea that Rome fell. I'm pretty sure China was still inventing things (in fact, this is about time of the dawn of Buddism). Then there were those wealthy African kingdoms...
There's even a debate about whether Europe fared all that badly. I mean, books were still written, and some medicines invented/perfected (maggots and leeches are still used today). Even justice wasn't so bad (unless you were Jewish around the time of the plague).
So I guess what I'm complaining about is the writer's semi-informed, poorly educated Eurocentric view of the history of the planet.
The Northern hemisphere isn't the only hemisphere.