WHEN AN ETHICAL REVOLUTION TRANSMOGRIFIED ROME INTO EUROPE, ASHES INTO BRAINS.
Abstract: For all its sins, some compounded by Christianism, Rome had to get out of the way of civilization. And it did, thanks to the Europeans.
All important countries can extract important lessons from Rome’s fate. Many of the quandaries found now within the USA, or on a planetary scale, already occurred within the Imperium Romanum. Rome did not solve these entanglements without a marked civilizational devolution into ill fated successor regimes.
Oriental Rome, and Islam, became parodies and nemeses, of the Roman republic, conceptually speaking. The third successor regime founded and named Europe. And rebooted civilization ethically, allowing technology to progress so much that Rome was soon left behind.
Detailed analyses of what afflicted Rome carry within solutions. Clearly those solutions would have had to be enacted, as early as 150 BCE. Rome’s great victory in the Second Punic war, after much slaughter and devastation, led it to privilege empire over democracy, and plutocracy, over reason.
Whereas the remedies to Rome’s ailments look now obvious, we are very far from applying the similar remedies which are needed now. And the cause of this is the same: a conniving plutocracy takes the decisions, and it is not interested by what is best for the many. The essence of plutocracy is to hurt the many, and call that life. This is particularly clear in the USA.
As the subject is gigantic, I will concentrate on the period when the Late Empire turned into the Dark Ages, and the Franks pulled out of them savagely. Although the facts I mention are true (and readers are invited to correct them if not to the best of their information), some of my interpretations are unique. For example, I consider that the decline and fall of Rome lasted more than six centuries, including therein the whole civil wars period, and the entire empire. In that perspective, Christianism was just the nail which prevented the corpse to open the coffin, when the grossest superstition became the deepest reason.
I put the end of the Dark Ages in 486 CE in Gaul, when the Imperium Francorum launched its reboot of all of civilization. This new chronology is well supported by philosophical reason, and increasingly by recent archeology and historical research. Recent science show that, contrarily to legend, progress in most ways had fully restarted in the High Middle Ages, and had left Rome behind. And it did so on a much better, much more sustainable basis, therein its success.
Inquiring Mind: How can you be so sure of what happened?
PA: Certainty is indeed hard to achieve. The Christian fanatics destroyed most of the evidence. Books got nearly completely destroyed in Occident. In the Orient many books survived only because the enemy of Rome, the Persian Sassanids, provided books and intellectuals with shelter against the ravages of Christian monks. This led to a terrible war between Constantinople and Persia, and the Arabs won it.
After the Arabs took control, they viewed books and intellectuals as precious riches, since the memory of Muhammad was fresher. However the Caliphs had their own agenda, and they selected against works too revealing of the democratic, republican, and secular nature of Greco-Roman society.
Historian have had a bias against analyzing the fall and decline of Rome. Colossal works of bishops of Gaul, concerned that they had been wrong all along about turning the other cheek regarding the Visigoths, have started to be studied and translated from Latin only very recently.
There are new sources of knowledge besides books. New, impressive archeological work has brought unexpected revelations.
Simplicius: Such as?
PA: Parts of the empire, in today’s Syria were extremely rich, and getting richer, as the catastrophe was imminent, in the Sixth century. This means that the empire, in the Orient, functioned well, at least economically, down to the time in which it plunged into religious strife and foreign war.
By then the Franks had established their own civilization and total military control over the core of the Eurozone. The Occident had switched to wood construction, which left fewer traces, misleading naïve historians to believe that the populations were lower and more miserable than they really were.
Part of the switch from stone to wood was a switch to a sustainable local ecology. Rome ran a global civilization, as good as the long range trade it depended upon. By the Fifth Century long range trade of grain had been greatly diminished, by various invasions and destructions. Then it came to a halt as the Islamist terror crushed the fertile southern two-thirds of the Roman empire. A paper blockade forced the return to parchment. This perspective, that Islam caused misery in the West, is called Pirenne’s thesis. It has obvious merit as an aggravating factor, but as cause only secondary to Christian terror and oppression, which, ironically, is the main cause of Islam itself.
Simplicius: Your friends will be few, and you better keep on hiding in the mountains, the way you trample the most sacred religions, and those who are ready to kill for them. And who we both respect.
PA: Good people make good things from Christianism and Islam. Truly good believers will not mind harsh criticism, because very bad people have made very bad things from Christianity and Islam.
Simplicius: Why to study the Greco-Roman civilization? Did it not collapse miserably? Why should it have any bearing on the Land of the Free?
PA: It collapsed instructively, and those who took command kept those instructions in mind.
The real history of what happened to Rome in the West is never told the right way. In truth, there was no frank collapse of Roman governmental authority in Occident. Quite the opposite.
The real Dark Ages obscured the Late Roman empire. In Occident, the Dark Ages were characterized by the bishops having often the highest secular authority: government by bishops, for bishops. It was a time when Ambrose, bishop of Milan, forced the Augustus, the highest Roman emperor, the fearsome Theodosius, to penance, under the threat of excommunication. This supremacy of the cloth did not happen in the Orient, where emperors stayed the highest authority, and ruled a fascist theocracy which inspired Islam ever since.
By the time the empire of the Franks was established, a new philosophical basis had been found for civilization, much of which never seen before, and it was being imposed militarily. People came to call it Christianity, but it was something else. What is usually described as the Dark Ages was a frank renaissance.
The Franks took political control of the church, as in the Orient. But they did not operate a fascist autocratic system. Clovis, as his father, was elected. The Frankish society was basically a society of armed free peasants, very similar to the Roman society, in the heydays of the Roman republic.
Inquiring mind: How can you say that Rome did not really fall, when everybody knows that the last emperor in the West, Romulus Augustus, was deposed in 476 CE?
PA: The notion of “emperor” is a modern one. And it was not a notion which was ever well justified. Not having an emperor was less of a problem than having too many (see 69 CE, the year of the four emperors!)
The Romans used a number of terms for different high officials, such as Tribune, Consul, Imperator, Princeps, Caesar, Augustus. In theory, the republic was still going on, under the Principate (starting with Octavian-Augustus). Who ruled at the very top, and in which guise, was pretty much haphazard. One knew the imperator when he had been acknowledged by the biggest and best army. Who was the boss was fundamentally determined by soldiers. Soldiers were found throughout the empire, helping civilians and the private sector, they were not just in big military camps out there.
When Augustus died, Tiberius kept a low profile, not too sure what he was, besides Augustus’ legal heir, and his top general. The plutocratic republic went on on its own, without an emperor. But if there was to be an emperor, it could only be Tiberius. So the senate kept on begging Tiberius to take charge. In the end, so did he, but not in all ways.
There was never a clear path to succession in the empire, until Constantine switched the system to a dynasty (which had no coup, for three centuries, in the Orient).
When 450 years after Tiberius, Romulus Augustus was deposed, no arrangement was made to nominate a successor. But that meant nothing, except that Roman authorities in Constantinople did not want an Ostrogoth to be recognized. Emperor Zeno should have recognized the Ostrogoth Theodoric, but he did not, although the later had helped the former control Italy.
Emperor Justinian, based in Constantinople, regained control of all of Italy 75 years after the traditional end of the Roman empire in Occident. At that point Roman imperial rule had been re-established over much of the old empire. Except for the part that the Franks, also representing Romanitas, ruled from Paris.
Thus, under the Franks, Romanitas kept on going. In the Seventh Century, the Roman Senate still existed in Rome, and the Roman emperor, coming from Constantinople, visited the city of Rome herself, to gather metals from the fabulous buildings’ metallic roofs, to make Grecian Fire super weapons. The empire was fully mobilized against invading Jihadists conducting a Blitzkrieg.
The so called “Land of the Free” is a direct continuation of Rome.
By 486 CE, the “Frees” constituted the official Roman army over a large part of Western Europe, including Gaul. Their commander in chief, whose name was Chlodovechus (the name morphed into Clovis, Ludovicus, Louis, and Ludwig), although elected, was himself the son of a Roman imperator, Childeric. When Clovis was given Consular rank by the Roman government in Constantinople, he had become the official Roman leader in the “Occidental part”.
Simplicius: The “Frees”? Never heard of them.
PA: You are like Molière’s Mr. Jourdain, who spoke prose his entire life, without knowing it. French fries also known as freedom fries, remember? Unwittingly, the dim witted American “neo”-conservatives were making a correct point, a very deep point. Frank, French and free are synonymous.
The Franks called themselves the Frees, because, after 486 CE, and for a little while, the Salian law they went by, gave them more rights than Roman law gave to standard Roman citizens. They phased out these privileges very quickly, as they established a symbiotic relationship with Roman society. So within two centuries, every citizen became “free”, a Frank. Slavery had become unlawful.
Simplicius: If Clovis was a Roman grandee, how come we never heard of that either?
PA: The notions of imperator (coming from the republic, the top general with right of life and death on his troops), Consul (top magistrate and executive), Caesar and Augustus were different.
Clovis was both imperator and Consul. The Empire of the Franks was never officially at war with Oriental Rome, precisely because of the Consular powers the leadership of the Franks had; the Franks represented official Roman power, especially after they eliminated other German “federates”, and the Visigoths were extinguished by the islamists.
The domination of the Franks was boosted in 800 CE, when Constantinople recognized Carlus Magnus, Charle-Magne, as Imperator Romanorum. Since a woman reigned in Constantinople at the time, it was a bitter pill to swallow in the Orient: the “Augustus” of the entire Roman empire was a Frank! And he led an army so mighty, he had succeeded to conquer all of Germania, something Rome had always failed.
When the eastern two-thirds of the Imperium Francorum made their own (sub)-empire, they grabbed that title for themselves (although the French king kept it too, becoming “empereur en son royaume“).
The Franks often campaigned with the Oriental Roman empire, against the Muslims. However, in 1204, the Franks seized Constantinople.
Simplicius: You went on a tangent, with your Land of the Free still on-going-as-we-speak. Can we go back to the decline and fall of Rome?
PA: It is not a tangent. The Franks recovered many elements of the Roman republic. At the same time, they reintroduced elements of human rights natural to Homo Sapiens, which had been artificially negated in the millennium of Greco-Roman civilization.
Thus the Franks founded a stronger civilization, rising on several pillars which had eluded the Greco-Romans. The Franks made a global civilizational reboot. That’s why they claimed to have originated in non Greco-Roman Troy (as the Romans already had).
Simplicius: Why is Rome so relevant to what is happening today?
PA: There are many close analogies between what happened during the fall of the Roman republic, and what is happening now.
There were two main types of problems with Rome. Problems coming from the unbalanced Greco-Roman craziness, and problems related to plutocracy. There was a synergy between both, which made the society increasingly idiotic, just at the time when the Romans observed that the “world was getting old“. Ecological exhaustion was requiring new technology which the fascist governance of the empire was unwilling to favor. Instead it favored its opposite, superstition.
Interestingly, there are similar elements of imbalance in the American variant of European civilization. The biggest flaw of the Greco-Roman civilization was slavery. It led to an over-exploitation of man by man, and a brutal society, even after the economic importance of slavery waned. There is the same problem in the USA, as exemplified by the reigning Reaganism, and its metaprinciple that greed makes for a better society.
Inquiring Mind: What do you think was the primary cause of the decline of the Roman empire?
PA: It’s a complicated subject, because the decline came from a number of factors, acting synergistically, and causing in turn other factors, which are more in evidence, although they are not fundamental.
Gibbon claimed that Christianity caused the “decline and fall of Rome”. However, the decline was clearly engaged much earlier than the apparition of Christianity, as Gibbon implicitly recognizes when he claims that the apogee of the empire was under the Antonine emperors. Marcus Aurelius had to spend his twenty year reign, on the battlefront, on the Danube, fighting invading Germans, all too close to Italy, the heart of the elongated empire. That was 150 years before the imposition of Christianism.
Moreover Marcus Aurelius’ son Commodus became co-emperor, and then emperor, making such an insane maniac of himself that he was assassinated in a vast plot. At this point the throne was put for auction, and a rich plutocrat bought it. From there on, but for the stern reign of the African imperator Septimus Severus, things got worse. Inflation, plague, dozens of emperors, an emperor defeated and transformed into a foot stool by the Persian archenemy… All of this derangement was festering well before Christianism was imposed from the top.
Simplicius: So Christianity has nothing to do with the “Decline and Fall” of Rome?
PA: Before Christianism, the empire was the theater of a conflict between two fascist entities, the military-industrial complex, representing the People, sort of, and the Senate, representing the financial plutocracy.
By the time of Diocletian, around 300 CE, the empire had been re-established in its military splendor, and extended from Scotland to Mesopotamia, Morocco to Armenia. However, Diocletian augmented the idiocy level, by making Rome an empire under God (Sol Invictus), whom he personally represented.
Constantine got the idea that the Christians’ existing administrative structure, with its dioceses, and its naturally fascist God, would be a better fit for the fascist empire. Then he decided what Christianism would be, selecting his interpretation of “Orthodox Catholicism“, as self proclaimed “bishop” and “13th Apostle”.
The empire was hobbling along, getting progressively worse, before Christianity was imposed, and a succession of fascist emperors found they could use it to humiliate minds. By the late Fourth Century, the very respected head of another religion said that civilization had fallen into a “Dark Age”.
Christianism has nothing to do with the political “Decline” of Rome, but everything to do with its “Fall” into complete insanity and anti-intellectual barbarity.
Orthodox Catholicism helped fascism, making it more intellectual, more thorough, a cause with a moral justification. Constantine, the emperor, using fiscality, made, de facto, Christianism into the state religion, within a decade (although it took another 60 years to do it formally). Then he killed his very competent son, the Caesar Crispus.
Simplicius: Non sense. Constantine is a saint in Orthodox Christianity. How could he have killed his son? Can’t you just respect religion, for a change?
PA: The fact is, Constantine had his son executed. If superstitious people want to be respected, they should stop acting like barbarians, and that starts with ignoring evidence of the barbarity of what, or whom inspire them. Constantine was up high in the viciousness scale. a religion which sanctifies such viciousness should not be surprised to practice lesser sins, such as pedophilia.
Crispus had proven a very competent general and admiral, a winner of major battles.
However, Constantine had been educated at Diocletian’s court, as an implicit hostage. Even as a teenager he was feared by the top emperors in the empire, because of his ferocity and legendary physical prowess. Emperor would have connived to have him fight a lion in single combat, lead impossible cavalry charges in swampy land…
Constantine believed that one assassinated first, if one wanted to survive best. He fled the emperor Galerius for his life, hamstringing all the horses he left behind at each relay. Soon he was back at his father’s headquarters in Britannia. His father was the other Augustus.
Constantine killed his nephew, and steamed his second wife like a lobster. It is therefore appropriate for Orthodox Christians to view him as a saint. Christ wanted unbelievers to be burned, Constantine introduced another innovative cooking method for miscreants.
Crispus was not enamored with Christianism. It is highly likely that he would have reversed Christianization, as the Franks, the shock part of the Roman army, were skeptical of Christianism as a method of government.
This attitude of the Franks was no idle threat. Julian The Philosopher came to reign that way. Julian was one of two nephews of Constantine who survived the next wave of massacres inside the imperial family, ordered by the very Christians sons of Constantine. Julian went to Paris, and after a string of military victories against Germans, his Franks named him Augustus, starting the Parisian revolutionary tradition.
Between 310 CE and 486 CE, the Franks were integrated in the top of the Roman army, and rolled one plot after another to get rid of Christian theocracy. But Romans were not ready to be led by Franks. Finally Clovis grabbed Christianism by the horns.
Simplicius: You are confusing me. The Franks converted to Christianity with Clovis. Traditional historians present the conversion of the Franks as a great victory of Christianity.
PA: Yes, it’s a myth the Franks themselves created, starting with Clovis. They claimed to be submissive sheep. 9,000 of Clovis shock troops dressed just in a simple shirt, and walked on bare feet, to be baptized with their king on Christmas day in Rheims. 9,ooo nearly naked Frank super killers walking the streets, and taking a bath in the middle of winter carries an ominous message to those endowed with less robust constitutions.
In a similar fashion, the wolves would disguise themselves into sheep if they could. As they came to have dinner with the flock. The Salian Franks were the Roman army, they made the bishops of Gaul an offer the men of cloth could not refuse. Then they seized total control of Christianism in the regions they ruled, which was everything in Europe, but for Visigothic Iberia and parts of Italy controlled by “Longobeards” or Constantinople.
The Imperium Francorum was not a theocracy, though. It was a deeply secular regime masquerading as a theocracy. Its local saints (Saint Martin, etc.) allowed it to enforce its neo-Christian morality.
Simplicius: We are always told that the Roman empire succumbed to invasions. Did Christianity cause the loss of battles?
PA: It did so indirectly, by further removing the empire from the republic which had originated it. A fascist empire is weaker intellectually and morally than a democratic republic. Superstition is intrinsically made by, and for stupid people, and foster more stupidity. Fanatical Christians were pretty stupid, uncultured people. The three young surviving sons of Constantine got a Christian education eschewing pretty much all of Greco-Roman civilization, so they were uneducated brutes. That is why those sons massacred all of Constantine’s family, but for the very young Julian, and his half brother Gallus. Stupid brutes endowed with maximal power.
You cannot foster an empire of the stupid, and hope to win battles. The USA should meditate that one, while there is still time, under God, Allah, or whatever.
Emperor Valens lost two-thirds of Oriental Roman army and his life at Adrianople, August 9, 378 CE. Valens had rushed in before the Occidental Roman army, led by the mighty Occidental emperor Gratian could arrive on the battlefield. Valens wanted to keep all the glory to himself. So he got into battle with an exhausted, thirsty army, on a hot summer day, and forced a battle without preparations, although the Visigoths wanted to surrender, and nobody knew where the Visigothic cavalry was. As it turned out, the German cavalry surprised, by happenstance, the left wing of the exhausted Roman army, from behind.
Simplicius: What’s your point?
PA: Valen’s attitude, believing in miracles, and making little of life, was characteristically Christian. The Christians read in the Bible that their super hero, Jesus, son of whatever, would come back only after the world was destroyed (“Apocalypse”). It is natural to suspect that the many absurd, self defeating, criminal and idiotic decisions they took in the Dark Ages were motivated by that revelation.
The Christians burned public libraries, put in power men in black, hordes of vampiric monks. They killed entire regions on the ground of slight differences in doctrine. That made them less worthy than the barbarians at the gate.
Inquiring mind: Can we go back to the fall of the Roman empire? If you do not believe that Christianism was the fundamental cause of the decline of Rome, but just amplified the primary cause, fascism, how do you reconcile this view with Gibbon’s belief that Rome reached its apogee under the Antonine emperors?
PA: Indeed, I completely disagree with Gibbon about what the apogee was.
Recently an Airbus 330 crashed into the Atlantic, falling all the way into the ocean in an apparently irresistible fall. The disaster started when, after losing its speed indicators, and then its computers, the plane pitched up, and gained altitude quickly. Then it stalled, and lost lift. Gibbon is confusing that fatal rise, the early Principate, and then the Antonines, with a great success. Although it was indeed an apogee of fascism, it was also a decline, fall and catastrophe for civilization.
Simplicius: Can we remove aeronautics from the metaphors we will use in history?
PA: No. Metaphors allow to translate entire specialized and correct bodies of logic to another realm. Even the Bible uses them. Making metaphors is exactly how mathematics work. Mathematics is a set of systematically prepared metaphors, that’s all. Using new and wild metaphors allows to use mathematics where no official mathematics exist yet.
You see the three pilots of the Air France flight applied the doctrine imposed worldwide in such a case, which was to keep the nose up, and apply a lot of power. As it turned out, in two successive accidents, that doctrine is completely wrong.
Gibbon was writing in the eighteenth century, and believed that a fascist empire was the highest form of civilization. That sure made him popular within the British empire. Remember: a British admiral was hanged, because he had lost a battle, “pour encourager les autres“, as Voltaire put it. Hanging lots of children also encouraged others to behave. Gibbon was modern in his denigration of organized superstition, but not in his apology of fascism.
Inquiring mind: Have the flight directives been changed?
PA: A year before the Air France disaster, there had been a mysterious A320 crash over the Mediterranean. These planes are never supposed to crash, but for gross human error, or acts of god. The brand new plane had on board extremely experienced pilots, aviation authorities, including a civil aviation inspector, from Germany and New Zealand. Nevertheless it stalled during a test flight, in day light, good weather, with a perfectly functioning plane.
After analyzing that crash, and after its AF 447′s preliminary findings, the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA) guessed what happened in both cases. The world aviation authorities changed their recommendations. The new doctrine privileges the recovery of a correct angle of attack, rather than the old, and erroneous approach of training pilots to power their way out of a near-stall with minimum loss of altitude.
It turns out that the forward position of the two engines beneath the wing in such planes as the A320 and the A330, tends to make them pitch up, the more power is applied, thus contributing to the stall. The new recommendation applies to Airbuses and Boeings.
Simplicius: So let me get that, you think that the Roman empire somehow stalled? And the crew could not recover it, because it used the wrong understanding of the situation, so the more it applied power, the more it stalled like these ill fated jets?
PA: Exactly. Even well meaning emperors made a bad situation worse, by applying too much power, and not enough intelligence. They should have recovered the correct angle of attack, the correct attitude, first (as the Franks did).
Those well meaning and all too power hungry leaders would include the Antonine emperors (1C), or Diocletian (~ 300 CE), Constantine (4C), or even Julian (who attacked too readily in Mesopotamia, getting killed there, possibly by treachery, instead of comforting first at home his abatement of rabid Christianity). It’s hard to make a stupid society intelligent by becoming more brutish.
Simplicius: What happened to your habitual obsession with plutocracy, in this explanatory scheme?
PA: Plutocracy is the fundamental reason why civilization degenerated into fascism. I was just explaining what happened further down the line of truths and consequences, why power itself made a bad situation worse.
Rome had lots of power, and power kept on being reapplied for centuries, for trying to make work what did not work. In the Sixth Century emperor Justinian started with a pretty good situation, but, by applying more and more power, he destroyed the empire ever more, in the guise of reconquering it.
Plutocracy is not a particular tribe, nor a particular religion. Plutocracy is a mathematical effect. It happens in all and any society. It concentrates ever more power in ever fewer brains.
Ultimately plutocracy fails, because, having only a few brains in power, it lacks brainpower. So one ends down with a stupid society. Plutocracy subsumes mass, and massive, stupidity. That is what happened to Rome, Orient and Occident. A stupid society is less able to handle an exterior challenge, be it ecological or military.
Plutocracy is always abated in societies which perdured. The Vikings used to reduce the plutocratic effect by using up (so to speak), and then burning, the concubines of the chief. Indians did pretty much the same (until the Brits outlawed the time honored, religious tradition). Comanches killed the horses of the chief, sometimes thousands of them.
The Franks redistributed wealth, and power, by equal inheritance, a huge difference with Rome. Middle Age Europe switched to a civil wars, revolutions, and a confiscation model, to redistribute wealth until the modern taxes on inheritance.
When the Mongols (and their Franco-Georgian allies) destroyed Baghdad, the Khan accused the Caliph to have just accumulated wealth, instead of taking care of his people, before putting him and his family to death.
Inquiring Mind: Did the Romans lose their technological edge? Did that make the situation worse?
PA: Indeed, the Romans lost their military technological superiority. Parthian arrows from composite bows could pierce Roman armor, and so Rome could not submit the Parthians. After 300 CE, the Franks had pretty much the best steel, and the better weapons. It was a good thing that they were more faithful to older Roman republican ideals than the leadership of Rome itself. But it is also why they dominated the Roman army, from inside, starting with Constantine. Thank God.
Simplicius: Why did the Romans lose the technological edge?
PA: A preliminary question is why did they acquire it to start with. Under the Roman republic, officials were motivated by doing their official jobs well. So they tried to equip the army with the best weapons. When they saw a better weapon somewhere, they adopted it, adapted it, and rendered it superior. They did this with the Spanish sword, Carthagenese ships, etc.
Under the empire, starting at the top, with the emperor, officials were more pre-occupied by their position in the crab basket, than by doing their official job well. In a fascist empire, the moral system in force is self advancement by persuading the few, or by somber conspiracies, while piling up more riches, be it only to buy everybody, whereas in a functioning democratic republic, the moral system is all about doing the good job one is elected for, verified by the people.
Simplicius: Are you saying the military-industrial complex was corrupt in the Roman empire?
PA: It certainly was, starting well before Germanicus’ assassination under Tiberius. Germanicus was to be successor to Tiberius. He was a wildly successful general, recovering Germany, hence his name. He decided to launch a campaign by himself, instead of quelling in blood a rebellion of the legions. Top generals were pretty much to know that fate in the empire, and weapon procurement became an afterthought.
One can see a similar phenomenon in the present USA, where many weapon systems are extravagantly financed, although they are known to be ineffective against maximal threats. F22, F35, and big aircraft carrier fleets are example. The F22 has never seen combat, although it’s the most expensive fighter plane.
The F22 could not even be engaged in Libya, lest it be shot down, whereas the French used Mirage and Rafales against a fully functional anti-aircraft system. The French use active stealth, anti-noise. The Chinese have made no mystery that they would sink U.S. carriers, using ballistic missiles. The Americans have no defense against ballistics. Too busy spending money on pork barrels. This may have the perverse effect to entice the Chinese to attack Taiwan, as they believe that the island will get no support from the USA’s obsolete F18s.
Simplicius: Where does the USA stand between these the two extremes of total plutocracy, and full democracy?
PA: Pretty much on the way to Roman style plutocracy, a republic in name only.
Just look at Obama’s Director of the Budget. After helping to direct dozens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, to a particular bank, Citigroup, Peter Orszag accepted a job there, although he has no experienced in banking.
Never mind: he will be rewarded with millions. And Mr. Clean, Obama, who was going to have nothing to do with lobbyists, sees nothing to talk about there. In Great Britain, Obama’s ex director of the budget would have been thrown in jail (there is a specific law against this sort of bartering).
In the Roman empire, this sort of things was systematic. Public service was replaced by private service. Roman emperors would even be jealous of their generals, and restrained them, so that they would keep the glory to themselves. There was a bit of that showing up, when Obama personally directed, and made it known that he supposedly micromanaged, the raid against bin Laden.One can see the cult of personality rising. In truth bin laden’s capture was a deal with the Pakistani ISI, but it was presented as the personal, heroic, herculean work of the emperor. Just like in Rome.
Simplicius: how do you know the ISI sold bin Laden?
PA: Logic per se is enough. Let’s make a Star War analogy. If you found the leader of the resistance residing comfortably in the center of the empire’s Death Star, you would naturally suspect that the emperor knew about it.
As it happened, some French journalist TV crews where in the same city the night bin Laden was eliminated. They drove in early the next morning and asked witnesses. everybody agreed that the entire city is under secret service lock down, and the TV crews, with hidden cameras got some pretty enlightening sequences on the spot. Don’t expect any of this to show in the media of the USA anytime soon.
Inquiring mind: So what is exactly the connection between plutocracy, fascism, economy and technology?
PA: Well we have a four dimensional space here. A society such as imperial Rome was an object in that 4 dimensional space. Rome showed, for centuries, that plutocracy and fascism, although related, are different dimensions: the former was centered around the senate, the second around the army. Economy and technology were also independent, but related dimensions. Rome was a technological society. When its technological organization collapsed, it collapsed.
Inquiring mind: Did the emperors discourage technology?
PA: Just as they discouraged their generals (when they did not outright execute them, as Nero did with his top general), the emperors discouraged technology itself.
Some Roman emperors explicitly advocated technological stasis. They said it was to preserve employment. Machines would steal employment. Engineers got rewarded for NOT revealing their inventions. A very large factory complex powered hydraulically was found in Provence. By the Third Century, the Romans used water power extensively, for example for fulling or sawing wood, and stone.
Simplicius: And did your “Frees”, your Franks, changed that? Did those illiterate savages advance technology?
PA: They sure did. And it was not just the Franks themselves, but the regions in which Romanitas had penetrated, under the wing of Christianism. So technology progressed in Ireland, or Anglo-Saxon areas. The introduction of ship mills (originally launched by Justinian’s general Belisarius, as the Muslims controlled the land, hence the streams) spread to those regions. So did tide mills, by the Sixth Century in Northern Europe.
The Franks did not stay illiterate very long. (The case of Charlemagne was special, something about his dad wanting to make a real man of him, and not a weak intellectual.) Differently from other Germans, the Franks wanted to penetrate the higher reaches of Roman society, so they pushed their children towards education, and mingling with Romans in all ways (something below the dignity of the Goths).
Soon technology was advancing again strongly. The Frankish army annihilated the Moor and Arab armies in a series of famous battles and campaigns, something Rome had proven unable to do even once, on land. In the process, French steel proved itself even better than Damascus steel, and the Franks invented heavy cavalry, perched on monster horses.
Biotechnology was a particularly Frankish achievement. The Tenth Century was “full of beans”. Newly engineered beans, that is. Because slavery was unlawful, and it was not recommended to try to domesticate a Frank, the Franks domesticated instead all sorts of animals, including oxen and very convenient draw horses. Developing new, deep ploughs to go with them. Europe covered itself with windmills and watermills.
When Europeans made it to China, they were amazed to see that the Chinese did everything by hand, including moving huge tree trunks, hundreds of people lifting them, something which was done with few people, animals, and mechanical advantage in Europe.
By 1,000 CE, the energy at the disposal of individual European was the highest in the world. Rome had been superseded, the world was left behind. And this was accompanied by a theoretical and empirical understanding never achieved before, while the rest of the world was going around in circles.
Abelard used to be called “our Aristotle”, an acknowledgement that French theory had superseded Athens by 1120 CE. The oscillatory mechanical clocks of the 13th century contained a lot of hidden understanding of physics. And so on.
Thus the colonization of about half the planet by Europeans in the next nine centuries, and the global triumph of Western civilization was no accident, and its seed was ethical, and planted by 486 CE. Some will say it was not just the Franks, but that the Irish, and the like, saved civilization. However Saint Patricius, the so called Saint Patrick, was formed in Cannes, Provincia, where a famous festival is still held nowadays.
As fascist Rome decayed, Romanitas expanded in the guise of Christianism, and soon was found all the way to Norway, Ethiopia, and Mongolia. The Franks were particularly good at using it ahead of their armies. And told the natives that Charlemagne would be mollified, if, and only if they had converted first.
The fundamental superiority of Western civilization invented by Europeans after the fall of the massively fascist empire, was a new covenant giving more clout to individual minds. That covenant was a reversal of massive fascism, the strategy used by the Egyptian or (all too many) Mesopotamian super states from the start.
Thus, at a more advanced stage of civilization and technology, the Europeans were able to renew with the sort of freedom founds at the roots of Egypt, its most creative time, or the innovative freedom of the Sumerian cities, or of the Cretan thalassocracy.
The covenant for the mind rested on empowering individuals through more freedom , while keeping in sight that the freedom of all means the equality of much.
Simplicius: Did not Tocqueville warn against too much equality at the cost of freedom?
PA: Tocqueville was a young aristocrat who spent a few months in the USA. He is viewed as a deeper thinker than he really was. After the first massive revolution of 1789 dialed back the extravagant privileges and riches of the French plutocracy, he could only be bitter.
The white Europeans who had emigrated to North America, had just established a government, the grandly named United States of America. Tocqueville saw columns of Cherokees, the original inhabitants, forcefully deported in a scene which would be repeated only in the death throes of Nazi Third Reich. The white invaders of America were using their freedom to treat the inhabitants to extermination through deportation. However Mr. young aristocratic philosopher could not find within himself the deep mental resources necessary to say anything about it.
Inquiring Mind: Were the Franks more equalitarian than the Greco-Romans?
PA: Incomparbly much more so. The leaders of the Franks were typically great warriors and, or consummate politicians, they were also very rich, with sometimes nearly as many residences as Senator Mc Cain. However, because of the equalitarian inheritance laws, the wealth and property would be quickly distributed , and also made women rich, powerful, and influential. Hence, the most important Frank after Clovis, was queen Bathilde, who outlawed slavery.
Thus an important part of the new ethics was that women also ruled. I think I counted seven female sovereigns in 150 years. And they were not figureheads. The Imperium Francorum was a multipolar oligarchy where many ruled, from men of the cloth to kings, dukes and counts, quite a few of those self made persons (such as the runway English slave Bathilde).
The continual redistribution of riches fed the incessant Frankish inheritance quarrels. This has been confused with a weak state in later times. But such was not the case. It was a new style of state, which has a lot in common with today’s European Union (albeit with constantly changing borders which meant nothing).
Frankish civilization was enabled by constant arguing about ethical points. Kings would come out, and point out that “Saint Martin would never have done that, because of this, and the other thing, so we should not do it either. Instead, being very wise, he would have done what we are going to do.”… Differently from Roman imperators, Frankish leaders justified themselves ethically. All what Roman soldiers expected from their imperators were greed satisfied and conquest achieved. It was a completely different world.
In the first ten centuries, after the domestication of church and Rome alike, the Franks, east and west, and their successor regimes, built many of the democratic institutions of Occident. They also established a sustainable economy. Or, at least, sustainable for 8 centuries of demographic expansion, before the conflation of dramatic problems of the Fourteenth Century. This, once again, demonstrated the superiority of their civilization over greed and exploitation based Rome.
More powerful, more appropriate, more sustainable, hence more advanced technology: such is the way of the wise, running away from the problems of previous technology, towards a more understanding future always. Wisdom without science, and conscience, is only the ruin of freedom, and of the cities themselves.
Simplicius: Do you make a difference between Christianity and Christianism?
PA: I prefer “Christianism”. The French use “Christianism”, and it helps us with the notion that it is a system of thought among others. Such as “Islamism”, or “fascism”, “Marxism”, “Communism”, romanticism, scientism, relativism, existentialism, nihilism…