One of the most common themes of the debate on the fate of the United States is the Toynbeesque conversation about the similarities between the twilight of Rome and the current state of conflict within the USA.
I’ve seen and heard these comparisons made in the press, in various well read blogs and even, god forbid on NPR. Most of the commentary strikes me as poorly informed, cartoonish misunderstanding of both Rome and the current political environment.
A good example of this is Pascal Gobry’s commentary on his blog. It’s full of poor sophistry where he exchanges the terms “Democracy” and “Constitutional Republic” as if they are the same. This is a common misconception brought on by the decades old campaign by globalists to educate the masses. In the past thirty years the unified main stream media has between on the drum of lies telling everyone we “live in Democracy” , we “Live in a Democracy”, oh look this or that is “a threat to our Democracy”. In fact the United States Government is a constitutional Republic and this form of government is in many ways the opposite of a democracy.
Gobry confuses these terms clearly and, as a result, clouds his arguments with half truths and misdirection. In his blog he states “America is a Constitutional Republic” and a few sentences later continues by saying “This democracy we live in….”as if both were true. They are not. The American Constitution guarantees the people of the United States a Constitutional Republic.
Now I will concede that the American Liberal political class and the press have for the past 50 years pushed relentlessly for America to be converted into a democracy. They’ve done this openly, they’ve done this with no shame and without, apparently, ever considering the ethical repercussions and dangers presented by their potential success. The salient point is they haven’t succeeded in many important ways. So… Mr. Gobry, no we do not live in a democracy. You may wish this was so but saying its so doesn’t make it true.
This cloudy logic permeates his further writing about Caesar and Rome. He talks of Roman senators, the Gracchi brothers, periods of peace and periods of conflict in Ancient Rome and seems to scramble it all up in an effort to buttress his main point that we have elected a populist (Trump) like Caesar and as a result must have some reforms a la the Gracchi Brothers. He states “In a true democracy, demagogues will win over the people with fatuous promises and showy acrobatics, and accrue enough power to destroy the very democracy that is the source of their power…….The reason why they believed this was because that’s exactly what happened with Rome.”
Well sorry Mr. Gobry, you need to reread your Gibbon as well as Toynbee and all the other brilliant historians that have labored to help us understand Ancient Rome. Ancient Rome was never a democracy. Further the rise of Caesar was largely THE END of internal power struggles amongst the most powerful factions of the Roman Elite. Also, I’ll note that Caesar’s assumption of absolute power was not a “coup” but was part of a Roman tradition and the power was given him by the Roman Senate.
Now I’ll leave the sad attempt by Mr. Gobry and move on to what I believe we might glean from Roman history and how it might illuminate our current political situation. Yes, there are some clear parallels between Rome’s slide into tyranny and America’s loss of its way.
Caesar’s dictatorship was the result of a long period of internal fighting and conflict within the Republic. This included legal chicanery, open and covert power plays and civil war. Caesar’s dictatorship wasn’t the first attempt to grab it all. That honor goes to Sulla a generation before Caesar’s time period. Its interesting to note that Sulla’s power grab was made possible by his opponent’s reforms of the military. This opens the door for Sulla to ingratiate himself with Rome’s legions and turn these legions against Rome.
The history of Rome shows that the greatest danger for the Republic lies within. Foreign enemies had little or no power to threaten Rome from the end of the 2nd Punic War until the third century AD. (146 BC until 299 AD a remarkable period of 445 years… America’s 241 year tenure isn’t quite so impressive)
For Rome the real danger came from within, from power hungry politicians and generals that tasted power and control and would stop at nothing to regain power. This is our danger. This is the true threat to the United States.
The founding fathers knew this and this is why they set up the counter balanced powers of the three branches of government. It was this knowledge that seemed to motivate Washington to be so vocal in laying down the scepter after two terms and to publicly call for the peaceful transition of power. ( He was also quite vocal about the danger of Alliances but I’ll leave that for another blog) When Washington willingly left the presidency he made leaving the capital a political choice with strong overtones of protecting the republic from scheming and machinations.
In contrast to the studied and deeply thoughtful actions of our republic’s first half dozen Presidents we now have a political class that are aping the actions of much less reputable characters of political history. For example Obama has pointedly refused to leave Washington at the end of his term. It was only two weeks before he was publicly pitching his viewpoint about President Trump’s action. This is a stunning contrast to two centuries of stoney silence from ex Presidents out of respect for the office and tacit acceptance of the difficulties of ruling over a fractious, baying beast of a nation. These are the actions that stoke factionalism and dissent.
Another example of the darker side of power politics is the constant use of the language and terms of monarchy to promote political families. The two most egregious examples being the Kennedys and the Bushes. The Kennedys have maintained a full time public relations firm to promote the family’s political fortunes and to mythologize their story. This is now becoming pro forma for the powerful families of the political elite rather than being a rarity. The rise of “Royal” families in America is a grave danger to our Constitutional Republic and signals a hidden struggle amongst the Elite Political class to define who has the absolute right to rule solely based upon their birthright.
Further Hillary Clinton refuses to concede the election, as is traditional, with a respectful concession speech. Instead she appears the next day, draped in royal purple and states, “This isn’t over.”
When the Elite shed tradition its certainly an indicator of coming change. It’s also a warning sign of coming trouble, of conflict, of violence to gain ones ends. So dear Reader if we choose to look towards Rome for guidance look at the turmoil and violence that was visited upon their population as the powerful families and factions pushed their supporters towards violence.
©BILLICAN MEDIA 2017