Skip to comments.Rome's Republic Imploded -- So Could America's
Posted on 10/24/2018 8:49:31 AM PDT by rey
Omnia Romae venalia suntall the Romans are for sale. This was the historian Sallusts judgment on the Roman Republics moral climate in the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE as it careened through disintegrating norms of public behavior, faltering institutions, civil wars, and the rise of the empire of the Caesars. I fear the same judgment increasingly applies to our American Republicthat our political and social institutions risk a parallel descent into chaos and authoritarianism.
Sallust put his grim judgment in the mouth of Jugurtha, a North African king who resisted Rome at the end of the 2nd century BCE with guerrilla tactics and bribes to Roman leaders. The Jugurthine War, subject of one of Sallusts two histories, lasted from 112-106 BCE and was one of a series of military adventures that saw Roman legions in near-constant action across the Mediterranean. The costs of these wars were borne by rank-and-file Roman citizens through taxes and open-ended military service (not to mention by the pillaged and enslaved local populations). The benefits accrued to victorious commanders, politicians sent to govern the new provinces, and their private-sector cronies; all had carte blanche to squeeze taxation and loot from the provincials.
Sallusts other history, The Conspiracy of Catiline, records the efforts of Lucius Sergius Catiline, a demagogue and dissolute patrician, to foment populist revolution in 65-63 BCE. Catiline recognized that poverty does not cost much and cannot lose much, and he developed a large following among penniless plebeians. Promising to repudiate all debt and to slaughter the Senate and other enemies (a vigorous way to drain the proverbial swamp), Catiline raised a secret militia of some 10,000 men and sought support from Romes adversaries. The plot was quashed when leaked information convinced the Senate to vote emergency powers to the consuls. Catiline and his militia were annihilated in battle with loyal troops; other suspected ringleaders were summarily executed. This restored a semblance of republican order for a few years, but civil war between Caesar and senatorial factions ultimately left Caesar in uncontested control of the vestiges of the Republic.
Americas founders knew this history well, and they designed our Constitution with the goal of avoiding the corruption of morality and subversion of institutions that Sallust described. If Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and others were to wake up today, I think the parallels between 21st century America and the final decades of the Roman Republic would leave them heartsick.
- Influence in our political system is wide-open for purchase by latter-day Jugurthas. Consider the lobbying wars for influence in the Trump Administration between the feuding (not to mention neo-feudal) petro-monarchies of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. This is of course a bipartisan affair; for every Republican Paul Manafort pimping for Putins Russia, theres a Democrat Tony Podesta selling national virtue to other sleazy foreign powers.
- Inequality is undermining institutions of self-government. A small minority has sucked up most of the new wealth the country has generated over the past few decades. New technologies and new trade patterns have created disruptions that have erupted into social discontent that 21st-century forms of bread and circusesentertainment apps and opiodsdo nothing to allay. Just like the Russians and oil sheikhdoms, the well-connected buy influence to tilt tax laws and regulations to their benefit, while confused, angry have-nots form a made-to-order audience for any demagogue who might promise to make Rome America great again.
The burden of endless war in the Greater Middle East is straining Americas institutions just as it did the Roman Republics. Congress ducks its constitutional responsibility for authorizing military deployments, which are financed by soaring national debt (currently about $21 trillion and growing by nearly $1 trillion a year) that we will never pay off. The burden of the actual fighting falls on a small group of volunteers, while the rest of us do little more than ritually thanking them for their service.
These symptoms of dysfunction in our American Republic are serious but, as far as I can judge (and hope), not yet fatal. If we understand their causes and consequences, we can start the long, hard process of fixing them and returning to the vision of Madison and Hamilton, Washington and Jefferson. Its here that we can benefit from Sallusts reflections on how his own Republic lost its way some 2,100 years ago. With reflection, good will, and good luck, we can keep the American Republics future from repeatingor even rhyming withthe Roman Republics history.
At the time Rome fell, could it truly be called a Republic?
We already trashed our Constitution by allowing the Kenyanesian Usurpation.
The final straw is the unchecked illegal alien inundation.
Started 30 years ago by the GHW Bush administration.
Tellingly, the end days of the Roman “republic” featured political mobs attacking each other and demagogic politicians appealing to those mobs.
The Republic ended with the rise of Caesars.............
I am usually suspicious of writings that use BCE instead of BC. It immediately shows an attempt to remove Christ from historical dating. OK, so what does BCE mean and how is it gauged? Well, the birth of Christ, of course. Changing something’s name doesn’t change what it is.
A poor analysis.
President Trump is working to restore the American Republic.
President Trump is overcoming the “bread and circuses” (welfare and Progressive Media).
The problem is, what will come after Trump?
Just like, what came after Reagan.
Well, one thing we have in common with the Romans is barbarian hordes regularly breaching our borders.
No. But the article isn't talking about when Rome fell, it's talking about when the republic fell. In other words, when the republican form of government was replaced by an all powerful Emperor. That happened in the 1st century BC, 500 or 600 years before the western Roman empire collapsed.
I believe this is a considerably different circumstance.
Reagan was able to speak directly to the people. He ended the Cold War.
Trump speaks to the people, but can reach them because of the structural change caused by the rise of alternate media.
Trump is showing other politicians how to beat the media.
Others may be able to follow his footsteps.
Also, President Trump is able to actually appoint originalists and textualists to the Supreme Court. He has already appointed two, in less than two years.
Reagan was only able to appoint one originalist and textualist to the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, in eight years.
Me too. BCE is the politically correct version if BC.
And then they use CE to replace AD.
Putting political enemies on trial for specious claims in order to ruin them was a pretty big thing at the time too. It's why Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon with his army and start that civil war. He knew if he came without his army, they convict him of a crime just to destroy him. And he just happened to have an army that was 100% loyal to him personally. So he cast the die and put a stake in the heart of the republic to save himself.
LOL! Guess I better go to the link. Thanks...
Social media is moving to make sure there is never a Trump 2.0. They can't silence him, that would be too obvious. So he can still use the medium. But everyone else is being subjected to a plethora of rules where big tech can now say "show me the user and I'll show you the reason he can be banned". And then they all strike at once in obvious coordination. One moment, a person has millions of followers who are hungry for his message, the next he's been erased from the internet. And it only goes in one direction, only rightwards. They are closing that path for the next generation of leaders on the right.
The Left, which wants to finish the process of undermining our cultural heritage, felt that their final victory was at hand, when Trump won us at least a brief reprieve; but this points up the critical nature of the coming election.
Yes, it is a big challenge.
But President Trump and other Conservative politicians see it.
We may find/build/create a way around it.
At the time Rome fell, could it truly be called a Republic?
No. But the article isn’t talking about when Rome fell, it’s talking about when the republic fell. In other words, when the republican form of government was replaced by an all powerful Emperor. That happened in the 1st century BC, 500 or 600 years before the western Roman empire collapsed.
Interestingly, we continue to debate when the U.S. fell from a Republic, let alone a Constitutional. Some say the early 1900’s (16/17th, Fed Res), some go back to Teddy (’Antiquities Act’) and others the War Between the States [not an official Civil War as the Confed. didn’t want to supersede\rule over D.C.] [Reconstruction & duress of 13th/etc.)
Regardless of WHEN, it’s obvious we’re unmoored from our Founding. IMO, 95%+ illegal.
The Roman Republic had the Cursus honorum. A kind of roadmap for Senatorial public service. Hold this office for a year like quaestor, aedile, or praetor and move to the next, requiring age limits and holding lower offices before ascending the ladder to consul. Once the Romans stopped following the rules they laid out corruption crept in. Gaius Marius held the consulship 7 times!
We need term limits to curb rampant corruption in DC.
It WILL. Nothing is eternal other than the Almighty. The ONLY questions are: when, and what nation will dominate the world afterwards (and how terrible will they be for the world... China and Russia are the most likely, and Human Rights are not high on their lists.)
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