Skip to comments.We Picked the Wrong Roman Dictator
Posted on 02/13/2010 8:33:03 AM PST by SeekAndFindEdited on 02/13/2010 8:43:43 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
From Government Square in Cincinnati, I often sit surrounded by impressive displays of federal invasiveness, and muse that we picked the wrong Roman dictator.
The Federal Building across the street, serving primarily to dispense largesse confiscated from the workers packed into the square below. The brilliantly marbled Federal Reserve branch where regulators seek enhanced power to oversee commerce while recoiling vigorously against any attempt to be scrutinized themselves. And the block long Federal Court House, which unlike the others, has constitutional legitimacy even as its reach and depth far surpass anything our founders would have tolerated.
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If I remember right, there was a period in Roman history where they had 12 Emperors in 4 years. The citizens removed them from office, one way or another.
Great article that also discusses the Society of Cincinnatus and The Fabians of England.
>>>If I remember right, there was a period in Roman history where they had 12 Emperors in 4 years. The citizens removed them from office, one way or another.<<<
True enough. The problem started with Augustus, who was by ancient standards a pretty good dictator, and his mostly positive rule after 40 years meant that practically nobody recalled life under a republic.
Then came a whole string of nutjobs - Nero and Caligula among them - and, finally, the system of selecting the emperor was left to the Praetorian Guard, who did a good job again for a long while until the time you mentioned (there was one moment in there called “the year of four emperors”).
My fear is not the collapse of the United States, but the collapse of the Republic and our ascent into Empire. In fact, a look at the Roman Republic during the late republic showed a country with enormous problems, including a governmental system designed for a city-state which was governing a continent, a ruling elite fighting among themselves, and politicians paying off the poor with bread and circuses. Augustus was basically a traditionalist who wanted Rome to return to its republican roots. Unfortunately, his actions created an Empire.
I could see the same thing happening here. Right now there’s chaos. Our Constitutional system was designed for a nation of 10 million people in a dozen states. Limited government has been replaced by a juryrigged system of judicial overstretch, party politics, socialists, and aggrevied interest groups. Our elites are literally at loggerheads. Add to this forces both inside and outside who want the destruction of the country.
The American withdrawal from world politics could unleash chaos and calls for the return of the Americans. Alternately, an attack on the American “empire” might produce the response, “You want to see what a real empire looks like?” In any case, our history of defense in Europe, Korea, and Japan might seem like a good option to wars, mayhem, and violence, and we could literally become the world’s policeman - and we’ll act like it. Taliban a problem? Time to rain death from the skies. Working on that nuclear facility? Not if it’s a smoldering radioactive crater. At that point, we’re really an empire under the protection of the Pax Americana.
The Roman empire lasted another 1400 years after the Republic died (I’m counting the Byzantines).
I don’t really know what is going to happen, but my guess is that stories of the death of the United States are very premature.
I can’t figure out whether Zer0 is Nero or Caligula just yet. Can you?
I think Obama is Nero (young and inexperienced, obsessed with parties). Clinton was Caligula (sexually promiscuous, replaced by a guy with a speech impediment).
Nero, of course, famously presided over the destruction, partly by fire, of Rome.
Just after Nero’s death came a short civil war known as “the year of the four emperors.”
So, the real question to me is: who are our Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian?
Actually, I think Obama is Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, the reformer in the late republic who instituted the idea that the masses could be bought for votes using the lure of free grain for bread. Gaius Gracchus also was involved in distributing land from the rich to the poor, and wanted to extend Roman citizenship to any Roman ally. He was killed by the Senate, but his reforms led to the Social War of 90 B.C.
Sadly, it looks like Obama’s reforms might just outlive him, in the same way as the reforms of Gaius Gracchus, and those reforms will lead to enormous civil discontent.
Obama is just a foreshadow of what could be. It isn’t a pretty shadow.
Very interesting. The only thing I would say is that the empire’s demise will be speeded up this time. Now days, the biggest snowball fight ever can be organized with a phone call; the demise of a nation could be arrange the same way involving food distribution networks, for example.
Maybe Obama should be likened to Julian the Apostate (hostile to Christianity, and had a disastrous policy towards the Persians). But Julian was competent and wrote his own books.
Very informative. Thanks for posting!
Your complete name wouldn’t be Donna Lynn Churchill, would it?
Thanks for the reminder about foggy history. I thought those four emperors were long after Trajan. Live and learn.
And, hey, look at the high level of discourse here, and then move over to The Daily Kos and compare. Makes you proud to be conservative.
And not an F bomb dropped in sight.
No, but all Donnas are wonderful people, LOL.
As were the stories of the death of the Roman Empire. Took a thousand years.