In the wake of the Paris shootings, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson compared France's "complacency" in allowing ISIS operatives into the country with the "complacency" of the Roman Empire in allowing the so-called "barbarians" to pass through its borders in the fifth century. The final two sentences in his recent op-ed in The Australian sums it up best: "Poor, poor Paris. Killed by complacency."
Mark Humphries, who teaches ancient history at Swansea University, is having none of it. I don't know much about the 5th century or ancient Rome, and we don't spend a lot of time there at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but I did find his response to Ferguson worth bringing to your attention.
Humphries writes at the blog of the History Department of Durham University:
But what he does with these works amounts to eye-wateringly simplistic distortion. For instance, basing his deductions on Peter Heather’s discussion of the economic attractions of the empire to its barbarian neighbours, he remarks: “Like the Roman empire in the early 5th century, Europe has allowed its defences to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its malls and stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.” Notice the pernicious conflation there between economic migrants and refugees: it is a point Ferguson labours elsewhere in his article, when he remarks “Things in their own countries have become just good enough economically for them to afford to leave and just bad enough politically for them to risk leaving.” For Ferguson, all these people, no matter how desperate their circumstances, represent an undifferentiated external threat.