No Public, No Brains, Crash


Abstract; Having a republic (“public thing”) is not just nicer to the public, it’s also a military advantage.  The important concept here is “public”. Rome crashed militarily from too much fascism, that is, lack of public input. The USA stealth war in Afghanistan (1979-2013) and the rise of the USA as a surveillance state were engaged secretly and pursued without public debate. Thus no real public support, or intelligence. Time to cut the secrecy, and bring back the public. If one does not want to kiss the republic goodbye, that is.


When the fall of Rome is evoked, old fashion historians focus on military events at the end of the Fourth and beginning of the Fifth Century. Or they brandish hundreds of entangled causes of decay. Superficially the empire cracked because:

Adrianople: Fascism Is From One Mind, & If An Idiot, Toast

Adrianople: Fascism Is From One Mind, & If An Idiot, Toast

The military crash of Rome blossomed at the Battle of Hadrianopolis, August 9, 378 CE, when the Gothic cavalry decisively annihilated  the extremely experienced Oriental Roman field army (including the emperor Valens, single-minded author of the disaster).

(Although the mysterious defeat and death of Augustus Julian in Mesopotamia (earlier, in 363 CE) was more fateful.)

The disaster at Hadrianopolis/Adrianople was a near fatal blow to the prestige, military, economy and tax base of the core of the empire. The empire was unable to recover for a number of reasons. In particular because plutocrats were too mighty to be taxed.

In 400 CE, the legions were ordered out of Britain and the Rhine Frontier. The Franks, shock troops and nation “infeodated” (under treaty and oath) to the empire were left in charge. Instead of having the defense of the empire staying a public thing, it was subcontracted!

However, during the winter solstice of 406 CE, the Rhine froze over, and an enormous coalition of savage Germanic nations charged through Gallia and Hispania, all the way to Africa (in the case of the Vandals).  

That was the fatal blow to the Western empire, the “Occidental Part”. Population and economy collapsed. The Vandals, from their African redoubt, established an empire that reigned on the Western Mediterranean, cutting the grain trade, starving Italy, shutting down international trade, etc.

The Goths seized Rome four years later (410 CE). A century later, the Franks, in a full consultation with the Consul Anastasius (who reigned in Constantinople as Augustus for 27 years until his death at age 88), would finally destroy the Goths at the Battle of Vouillé, in 507 CE. Rome, that is, Constantinople, then made Clovis Consul.

Real Man: Clovis Killed King Alaric Himself

Real Man: Clovis Killed King Alaric Himself

Thus 101 years exactly after the savages broke through, the Romans (aka the Franks) turned things around militarily at last. True, they had been busy meanwhile, destroying the cause of all that turmoil, the Huns (who had pushed the Goths and other Germans west, to start with).

Vouillé had avenged Hadrianopolis. 129 years later. History can unfold slowly, although it goes faster these days.

But the most interesting question is what happened at Hadrianopolis.

And, even more fascinating, why did it happen?  Roughly, the defeat happened because the Roman system was fascist, with one single jealous man at the top. The intelligence of the collective was reduced to the intelligence of one.

Actually it was a bit more subtle: the top emperor, Valens, was jealous of the success of one of the top generals, Sebastian, who had defeated some Goths, and of his nephew, the young Gratian, emperor in Occident, who had also defeated fierce enemies, the Alamani (the Franks would finally destroy those “All Men” two centuries later).

Valens wanted his own victory. Although everybody in the Roman military structure, including the officers in his own field army, and the Frank Richomeres, head of Gratian’s guard, told him to wait for Gratian’s army, which was only 400 kilometers away. So Valens marched his army ferociously for 7 hours over difficult terrain in full sun, and when thoroughly exhausted and dehydrated, engaged battle, without even knowing where the redoubtable Gothic cavalry was.

One man had taken all the decisions, all the wrong decisions. The one-man-alone-in-command factor was the fundamental cause of the defeat.

One can compare with two other spectacular defeats, this time the defeat of famous Republics. At Cannae an enormous Roman army was annihilated by Hannibal. What happened? The Romans fell into a trap: Hannibal retreated to give the Roman center an illusion of victory, drawing it in, and then enveloping the entire Roman body with cavalry, squeezing it, similarly to what would happen, six centuries later, at Hadrianopolis.

At Cannae, the Roman army was unwise, imprudent, outsmarted. However the army was not engaged in a march of obvious idiocy because of one man’s folly, as it would be at Adrianople. If it had been, that would have been stopped right away (as happened say when the French army tried to defeat the Brits in Toulon; as France was a republic, Napoleon, then just a captain, was able to contest the strategy of his superiors, was supported by politicians, and won a great victory).

The same hold for the defeat of France in May 1940. Just like Hannibal at Cannae, but on a much grander scale, Hitler and his generals, thoroughly desperate to start with, decided to be lucky, as that was the only thing that could save them. It did. They conceived the phantasmagoric plan to draw in the army of the Republic, by smartly attacking the Netherlands first.

Just as the Romans at Cannae and Hadrianopolis, sure of victory, the French rushed in their elite armor and armies forward. Then the Nazis, undetected thanks to Lady Luck, and how crazy their strategy was, cut them from behind.

So the difference is subtle. It’s a question of degree. The mind of one, versus the mind of the many. At Hadrianopolis, the orders given to the army were outright insane. All top military officers begged emperor Valens to reconsider. He refused, because he could, being the head fascist. But his head was no good. It was permeated by Christianity, that is, superstition.

At Cannae and the Battle of France, the armies of the Republics, blinded by hubris, confronted adversaries who were desperate, in all logic, and thus could only try to be lucky. And they were.

Then, of course, luck carries only that far against the intelligence and character that a superior public brings. Rome took seventeen years to defeat Carthage (218 BCE-201 BCE), the French republic, thanks to its reluctant, or even initially hostile, but finally enthusiastic allies, six years to annihilate the Nazis.

Conclusion? War is always the most serious business. One has always to be ready for the worst. Hubris ought not to be invited. And the public is both the brains and hearts of war.

The USA started the war in Afghanistan by 1979, under Carter, to block the Afghans, Russians and… despised French to exploit the resources in Central Asia without profits for Washington/Wall Street, and to show all who was the boss (Brzezinski claimed it was just to destroy the USSR, but he is dissembling).

At the same time, to make war by proxy, the USA decided that Pakistan’s dirty work in Afghanistan was best complemented by others. So Washington recruited Bin Laden and other fanatics, in cooperation and collaboration with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and its collaborator and enemy, the Saudi Inter Service directorate (notice all these people are alive and well).

That attack on Afghanistan was hubristic, greedy, full of imperial overstrech. Those adjectives count as three moral negatives. In Afghanistan, the USA had, at best, only one (fake) moral positive: namely the specious, devious argument that their rogue mercenary Bin Laden had attacked from there. (Yeah, and who made Bin Laden into a soldier of god, and armed him, to start with?)  

Perhaps the most important asset in a long war, is moral superiority. Morality is the extension of war to the realm of the possible.

Moral superiority is why, ultimately, the Republics won against the fascists Hannibal and Hitler. Or why, ultimately, the Franks defeated the Goths (the Franks were tolerant, inclusive, more civilized, and supportive of the 97%; not so with the Arian, exclusive Goths).

Reciprocally, lack of Roman moral superiority is why the Romans were defeated by the Goths (both sides were Christian; but the Goths had made a peace proposition that was advantageous to Rome, and that Valens rejected hubristically).

A fourth moral negative in Afghanistan is that the USA made a cynical usage of a primitive superstition, precisely because it was primitive, hateful, and illogical. Right from the start, in 1979, the USA fought to establish, or re-establish, fundamental Islam in Afghanistan (as the USA had done in Iran, or Pakistan, let alone Saudi Arabia or Egypt).

Once again the prominent tactic was that superstitious people can be easily manipulated, as the CIA had done in Iran, by instrumentalizing the Shiites against PM Mosaddegh (culprit of oil nationalization, and general insolence). However, Afghanistan, as a republic, and the benign monarchy before that,  had been pretty much free of superstition and at peace, so the USA strived to re-impose, twice, on Afghanistan a fascist, sexist interpretation of Islam.

This is no way to win a war. Morality cannot foster, or tolerate, big contradictions. As it is, the West has nothing much to defend in the Islamist republic of Afghanistan. Best to negotiate directly with the Taliban. Or, barring that, to just withdraw.

One lesson of the Roman military collapse, was too much energy was spent fighting war in the Middle East without enough overall civilizational superiority to win once and for all. All this energy playing military Sisyphus was as much energy that was not spent on the crucial frontiers: the Balkans, and, especially, the Rhine-Danube gap. Or reacquiring civilizational superiority.

Instead, what we presently observe is that the USA is turning stealthily into a military regime, complete with secret supreme court of surveillance and secret laws. How can one have secret laws in a res PUBLICA? Are not laws the architecture? Are they not public, by definition, in a republic?

It’s time to stop that drift. Obama should yank the USA out of Afghanistan, after making to the Taliban an offer it can’t refuse. He should also remember that Rome rotted from inside first. The more secret the rot, the worst the gangrene. Industrial strength secrecy has no place in a Re-PUBLIC. Moral force is domineering for wars, and the survival of civilization, in the fullness of time.

History is not just complex. It has meta-layers of complexity, as psychology does, and because psychology does, on the grandest scale. Those who do not want to learn from history, do not want to learn from psychology.



Patrice Ayme


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20 Responses to “No Public, No Brains, Crash”

  1. GMax Says:

    Are you saying America lost in Afghanistan because of secrecy?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Gmax: there are two concepts, related and proximal: secrecy, and lack of debate. The secrecy state encourages the lack of debate state. Certainly the USA attacked Afghanistan initially secretly and then, under pretense. Certainly now We the People of the USA tend to be scared of speaking about the subject.

      In particular, the encouragement the USA has given to fanatical Wahhabist, Muslim Brotherhood types since 1945 has never been seriously questioned, although it violates the USA Constitution. If one dares say anything, one gets accused of “Islamophobia”, as if it were some form of racism. Whereas, in truth, to have supertitiophobia, as I do, is perfectly my right.

      If the USA government had announced in 1979 that it would attack the republic of Afghanistan, because it wanted to prevent the French Republic to access resources it does not have, whereas the USA has plenty of them, I doubt that We the People of the USA would have saluted briskly.

  2. Mike Borgman Says:

    And the entire time all this is going on we are inundated with so many different subjects that the NSA issue has just becomes one more rock on the pile. It’s quite brilliant if you want to control a society, which is exactly what’s going on here.

    At the end of the day this is about control and money for the most part, “We The People” have lost this battle and were going to have to suck it up and accept it (just look at the transfer of wealth graph over the last 40 years). Now the beauty is that even if its just 40% of us focused on the truth, sooner or later we win and there are enough of us with a very strong desire to take this country back and re-establish the New, “New Deal”.

    Patrice, please forgive me for being off subject again, but I’m a little closer this time. Don’t you think?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Mike: You are getting very close, thanks! I agree that, if enough people understood what is really going on, there would be a quiet revolution. The revolution that is vitally needed. Yet what is needed does not always occur.

      Louis XVI, king of France and main contributor to the American Revolution, tried to launch such a quiet revolution several times, before, finally using the “General Estates” (the French elected Parliament in charge of taxation since the early 14C!… Although less well known that its English version.)

      Krugman finished his last editorial in a way I have used many times, recalling that the Great Depression of the 1930s finished with a World War. And he admitted, for the first time, that we were in a Depression. We certainly will have the same finish, just way worse, should one not be very careful and active, as we write…

  3. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice i have a lot to say to your military view of history. But i would like to start with a short correction. You wrote; ………….Moral superiority is why, ultimately, the Republics won against the fascists Hannibal and Hitler…. As to my understanding Hitler lost the war mainly to Stalin who was even a worse despot than Hitler, if we judge him in terms of number of murders. He personally read “every day” before bed time the list of next day executions and arbitrarily erased one lucky name out of the list.

    As to Hannibal, the Carthaginians were not exactly fascists, rather they had kind of collective leadership of oligarchy, who failed to support Hannibal in a crucial moment and lost everything to Rome. You may call it Plutocracy, but the Republican Rome was also kind of Plutocracy. By the way the Roman victories against much more sophisticated Greeks and Phoenicians was due to their durability and commitment, as Pyrrhus of Epirus put it so famously “One more such victory, and we shall be undone.” 600 years later the Romans lost the same kind of commitment or durability. Was it because of Christianity, or people felt just too safe and couldn’t imagine that world can exist without a Roman empire? We can go through all the reasoning, but to me seems that the main reason is that the Visigoths at Battle of Hadrianopolis were not only less equipped than the Romans, but almost starved, and would have been starved within few days if not winning the battle. This seems to be a more important factor than all the other reasoning. By the way in the same situation were the Germans at 406 when they crossed the frozen Rhine. Doesn’t their situation remain a bit the situation of the Arab and African people of today?

    If to speak about the Roman example i would mention Marcus Licinius Crassus, who destroyed Spartacus even if the credit was taken by Pompey. Then he disastrously failed in a battle against the Persians. Yes the same Persians who continued to fight Rome until they both were conquered by the Muslim-Arabs. I read someone to claim that these are the same Persians at least ethnically, who challenge US in these days.

    Couldn’t be human history a wonderful story, if not causing so much personal sufferings?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      dear Eugen: one thing I tried to explain,and i do not doubt I did not make a very good job, because it’s hard, that great civilization changing battles are the apex of a much larger process.
      Republic Rome had three tremendous losses in succession to Hannibal, but, still, 17 years later, won the war. Republic France started the world war against the USSR (!), Hitler and American plutocrats in 1939, and won, less than 6 years later. they were both in tremendous moral superiority position (both Rome & France as republic, democracy v plutocracy, and outright Satanism of fascist regimes…)

      The important act was not whether a battle was lost (the Battle of France), but that the war, WWII was ENGAGED and won. It was won, mostly by correct moral positioning.

      As Hitler himself explained to all his generals, they could not win over Britain without capturing first the resources of the USSR, so they betrayed Stalin. The total losses were enormous; 28 million dead on USSR side. 3 million dead soldiers, Nazis side (plus countless millions of civilians).

      True, Stalin out-fascized the Nazis themselves. Superiors had right of live & death on their inferiors…

      OK, got to run right now, medical appointment… In the times of Hannibal, Carthage was certainly plutocratic, and recently practiced child sacrifices, for encouragement (after the defeat the great city became more democratic than Rome, though!)

      • EugenR Says:

        Dear Patrice, sometime i feel we agree too much, so i would like to have a good argument with you. All i want to say to your point is, maybe the French won the war, but then to many good people payed the price, and i am among those who carry scars caused by this war.
        As to the history lesson i always ask myself what can we learn from all it? I published few month ago in your blog an opinion about the causality in history and was harshly criticized for it.
        Still i would like to cite from it…….even if we can with certain level of security predict that the fundamental Muslims will take over the political power in most of the Arab world, we cannot predict today to where the Arab world is heading too? Are they going to implement their ideological-religious agenda, or are they going to sink in the mud of the unsolvable, urgently pressing economic problems?……

        It seems to me my correct prediction supports in a way the claim for historical causality, even if on very limited scale. I could add an other predictions, viz;

        In this article i published few month before the “Arab spring” the following; ………Europe enjoys a relatively calm political times, due to the corrupt Arab regimes, which has no legitimacy what so ever. Do you believe this situation is sustainable for ever? And remember, in these countries the population doubles every 20-30 years and the corrupt governments there give no chance to any natural economic, social and political development. So the question is not if but when it will all erupt, and when it will sweep Europe like a big hurricane, like it happened when the German tribes swept the Roman Empire. Then the barbarians did not adopt the more “advanced” more comfortable, more human Roman culture and political system. They destroyed it and started a new system from the beginning. It just took them more than 1000 years until they came close to what the Romans had achieved………..

        What i want to say is that certain historical developments can be predicted, yet the causality prevails.

        It is not easy to say, but Christendom is once again in front of a new challenge, that it is not equipped politically and socially to cope with. While in France the “Franks” make strikes to continue their 35 work hour, week and see the 2 month vacation as a sacrosanct institution, the Arab youth fights for the most basics to make their life worth to live. And they live just across the bay.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Eugen: Well, for the French anti-fascist wars (there were several), the price was high. Very high. Counted the right way, one is talking about 5 million dead or so (!!!!) This has to do with counting the losses of those who, as in my family were in the so called French empire, and died fighting fascist (American propagandists don’t count those).
          My Franco-French side of the family harbored Jews (dozens) and finished grandly fleeing the Gestapo through the woods. Some died (some in uniform, in combat, some as civilians).

          Still, there was no choice but declaring war to Hitler on 3 September 1939. The strange defeat of May 1940 was an incredible military accident rendered possible mostly by the dual use policy of the USA after November 1939 (before that, it was outright pro-Hitlerian!)… although other stupid policies were involved (such as the dispersion of the half of the French Air Force worldwide on May 10, 1940).

          More on the rest later in a separate comment.

        • Dominique Deux Says:

          “even if we can with certain level of security predict that the fundamental Muslims will take over the political power in most of the Arab world”

          You certainly gave much thought to the subject, but beware of certainties. The ability of Islamists to take advantage of turmoil is huge, but their inability to hold on that advantage is being exposed as country after country bristles under their overeager imposition of antiquated rules.

          • EugenR Says:

            Dear Dominique, I do not pretend to be an expert of Arab post-revolutionary politics, but i do believe it is possible to predict certain political-historical development (as opposite to my own claim of causality in the history), if some major economic-social paradigm changes significantly. Such a paradigm change can be a major demographic change like high population growth and the following increase in young population share in the society or vice versus, or a technological change that forces the population to adopt changes in their believes, cultural experiences and relocates the wealth and economic preferences of the population. Such a change happened in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and caused a major crisis, that brought on the Europeans and the world 2 world wars and one huge revolution. Europe never recovered from these disasters, and probably will not recover.
            Back to the Muslim-Arab world, they suffer to my opinion from a similar crisis. The Islamist did not take advantage of turmoil as you claim, but are the most popular force all over the Muslim world. The best prove is the results in all the Arab and some of the Muslim countries, where free elections were hold. The problem is the Islam politics has no real answers how to run a modern modern state that can create an efficient economy, with efficient public services, and free secular education system, that will train economically, technologically and scientifically creative people. To make such a state they would have to adopt “western” values, what they strongly oppose, because it threatens their political basis. So probably they will have to go through even a bigger crisis that they are in, until they understand, that a societies of hundreds million of people demanding all the comfort the modern world can supplement, can’t be run according to the laws and customs created 1500 years ago, when the population of whole Arab world did not exceed few millions. And this is the basis of the conflict between the secular and the non secular parts of the societies, while the first understand it and what to adopt the modern ways of life the second live in self-destructive denial.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              As I explained a bit in a re-start of the thread, there were problems with islam, right from the start. And that is why, withing two decades of Muhammad’s death, Muslims were at each others’ throats. And never stopped; see Syria.

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            Dear Dominique: Glad to see you are alive, and I agree with your statement! Islam is fundamentally fascist:

            \”Allah wants us to obey whoever detains power: \”O YE WHO BELIEVE! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and OBEY THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE IN POWER.\” (Quran’s fascist principle, S.4; v. 59).\”

            Fascism, plutocracy love Islam (as Hitler did!)

            Thus islamist countries are incapable of competing with democracies (India) or pseudo democracies half muscular plutocracies (Russia, China, etc.). The Egyptian military is fascist too, but based on reason, not superstition. The only reason that the Saudis own a country is their conspiracy with Washington and the likes of the Ben Laden family and the Bin Ladin group…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Plutocracy ought to be measured by an index. Call it P (P would be obtained in part from the Gini Index). P(carthage) was much higher than P(Rome). Arguably much of the Second Punic war was a personal matter between Hamilcar-hannibal’s family and the Roman Republic.

      I hold that the victories of Roma against Phoenicians and Hellenistic regimes was due to Rome being a republic. Pyrrhus, a mercenary with “king” pretentions, needed to be paid. Roman infantry was not bought.

      BTW, Marseilles, which was much more of a republic, with a significant empire confronting Carthage, stayed independent for a full century longer than any other Greek city, and even longer than the Ptolemic regime in Egypt. This was due to Marseilles being much more established as an independent republic (it bet on the wrong horse, Pompeii, in the Roman Civil war).

  4. Rome, Parthia, Germans and some others | EugenR Lowy עוגן רודן Says:

    […] […]

  5. EugenR Says:

    Back to our history lesson, the odd causality of history can be described also as a law of repeated stupidity of arrogant Generals, Kings and other Ego-driven narcissists, who will never learn from the mistakes of others.

    The modern example of repeated same mistake is the French honoring the Low Lands neutrality, while the Germans not. But then you have the medieval Battle of Crécy and Battle of Agincourt where the French were twice overwhelmed by the same English archers. And do not forget the similarity between the Battle of Hadrianopolis, the battle of Carrhae, in 53 BC between the Parthians and the Romans lead by Marcus Licinius Crassusand and the battle of Hattin between the crusaders and Saladin? In all these cases the generals let their soldiers to die out of thirst before the battle. All these battles had changed the course of the history.

    My historical conclusion? If there is any possibility to point on a repeatability of history, it will be that if the circumstances allow it, and accidentally a stupid and arrogant General or King driven by his Ego-narcissism will happen to be in position of sole decision maker, it may cause a dramatic change in the course of human history.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The crazy crass plutocratic Crassus’ crushing was no lasting crash, because Rome was still a republic at the time (civil war republic simmering, but still republic). Re-PUBLIC, that’s my point.
      I am not going to go back to the battles between the French from England and the French from either Paris, or then from the south (and against Paris! not just London!!) The archers were Welsh. Long bow archers. They decimated the knights because the mud was heavy and the unarmored horses could not charge fast enough.

      Bias of history: one always talk about the archers. Yet I vaguely mentioned in:
      the truth.

      At PATAY, somewhere in the middle of France, the armored knights surprised the Long Bow Welsh archers, and EXTERMINATED them.

      Within ten year, a guy called Bureau (I feel) invented field guns, and as he was working for the south against the north, won that phase of the 478 years old war, in the name of the party of the long burned to a crisp Jehanne…

      It’s not about just arrogant fascist leaders, unfortunately. Fascism is very bad, but a consequence…
      OK, let me write a little essay on the Dark Side, or, as our illustrious predecessor, Zaratustra, would have said, Angra Manyu

  6. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Dear Eugen: Speaking about Arab “post revolutionary politics” is a semantic point, but an important one. Let’s be blunt: as long as a country is “Islamist”, it has not made a revolution. Notice that, in the west, although Christianism was milked for all it was worth, there were never “Christianist” countries.

    Even the “Holly Roman German empire” did not have the word “Christian” in it. When Charlemagne officially “renovated” the Roman empire in 800 CE, the word “Xtian” was NOT there!

    Islam, from the start, as written down in the Qur’an, was not just fascist, but a leech.

    It’s explicit in the Qur’an that it’s the time for raiding as both Persia and Roma were weak at that instant in time! This is why the Muslims lived off piracy until president Washington unleashed the US Marines against them.PA

  7. EugenR Says:

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Very very nice, Eugen! THANKS! I had been vaguely thinking about doing something like this, publishing this sort of debate, but I just do not have the time.

  8. We Are All Romans Now | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] to Rome an Islamist State like tyranny, but also consequential idiotic battle management (see the Battle of Adrianople with emperor Valens doing his best to have the Goths defeat the Romans), and astounding […]

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