I’ve been reading up on the last days of the Roman Empire. The rule became a tetrarchy; by four regional emperors or Caesars. The emperors had these necessary concerns; they always gave first consideration to the security of their own positions followed by the annual extraction of taxes and their territorial authority. There were constant internal threats and attacks from without, for power is never relinquished without a fight.
Towards the end of Roman rule heavy city taxes were brutally enforced annually and then every four years on top, where previously citizens of Rome were not even taxed at all. Without the funds there would be no power and no empire. The threats from outside the Empire (non-Romans were collectively known as Celts) increased and the incursions of the Germanic tribes north-east of the Rhine; the Sueves, Alans, Vandals and the Visigoths had begun to make big made dents in the once undentable Roman power. When Alaric (a Visigoth from Thrace) finally sacked Rome in 410, the heart went out of the concept of empire as did the will of the emperors.
Romulus Augustulus the last emperor, son of the murdered general Orestes, by his resignation at the tender age of sixteen in the year 476, performed the act which no doubt kept his head attached to his shoulders but ended the long imperial history of the Western Roman Empire. The Eastern Empire continued at Constantinople until the Turkish Ottomans conquered in 1453.
The Watchtower has had big inroads into its authority and the main one is in caustic exposure of its practices, courtesy of freedom of information on the internet. But the attacks are not all from the outside. For seventy or so years the JW doctrine of “The generation of 1914” was believed with Biblical certainty, would they see the end of the “old system of things,” This Watchtower 'absolute' kept the flock with nose to the grindstone for several generations but like all Watchtower predictions and doctrines it became untenable, and then it failed completely.
Its denouement came in the pathetic apology, a risible fudge of an excuse called “overlapping generations” in an attempt to buy time and give them more rope to hang themselves with.
I think credibility has fled the Watchtower. They have tried to shore up the 1914 principal doctrine but it is too attenuated in explanation and so historically and Biblically wrong that it can never be successfully rehabilitated. Yet without 1914, Jehovah’s Witnesses are no different to any other religion or ‘cult-cum-social club’.
The heart has gone from the JW organisation.
Unlike Roman emperors they do not murder would be usurpers, however they did kill off threats to their authority by removing all of the Zone overseers and their Zone office as well.
Less and less in touch with the progressive and more compassionate society at large outside the tower, the GB make demands for more money to further the real source of their success: their property portfolio and investments. Like the Roman leaders and any business or power base, the dictum is “money first”. Without money the whole enterprise will dissolve and since the privileges of power will dissolve with the organisation, there is an inbuilt incentive for the GB to continue, however corrupt or stupid the far-fetched concept of ‘Watchtower truth’ proves to be.
At the end of the Roman Empire as Peter Brown, a leading academic on the period, said in his book Authority and the Sacred, the emperors had “a lifeboat mentality”. The imperial ship was sinking and they were looking for survival.
With KH sell offs, an unconscionable grab for money, a drop in contributions and a fundamental decline in interest in religious belief as a response and resolution to life’s anxieties; I feel that we are witnessing events at the helm of SS Watchtower which have a resonance with the decline of any authoritarian body such as Rome was.