Geo-historical Civilizational Logic

Abstract: Geography can dominate history. Examples abound. Civilization cannot just clash: it has to be defended by the sword, and by ideas which are even sharper than steel. Unfortunately plutocracy hate to see force, physical and intellectual, in command of We the People. This betrayal from class interest is how top civilizations go down: when plutocracy gnaws into civilization as the gangrene it is. The death blow is then given by the savages who are sure to come circling like hyenas. The latter is a symptom of the former.

Such hyenas brought down the Roman and Chinese state. Lest we be careful now, the Union of Savages and Thugs, with big titles, like president of Syria, or Russia, or the “Caliphate”, will engulf civilization. Let’s crush them when we still can (the “Caliphate” is only 20,000 strong, so could be literally exterminated, at this point). But we will crush them better if we also extinguish our plutocratic form of government.

Not Conquering Germania Magna Was The Proximal Cause Of Rome's Failure

Not Conquering Germania Magna Was The Proximal Cause Of Rome’s Failure

THE TEUTOBURG FOREST DISASTER:

The plutocratized Roman republic (aka “Principate”) suffered a psychologically shattering defeat at the Teutoburg Forest in 12 CE (just left of the G in Germania above).

Rome, as a real republic and democracy, had suffered much worse, even terrifying, defeats. However it was then, being a direct democracy, of a much stronger, much clearer frame of mind, and it rebounded with astounding efficiency.

Instead the Teutoburg defeat marked and accelerated an irreversible decay, as the Roman polity was taken in a pincer between exterior enemies and interior plutocrats. An army led by “princes” is much less effective than an army by the people, for the people… As the conquest of Germany required.

Some will object that the Franks, who conquered Germany after 507 CE, were led by kings. Right. But those kings were elected (more or less by the people). Nobody elected Augustus. Moreover, Frankish society was submitted to the equalitarian principle: the richest Frank was often elected king, but there was, or ought to be, no “nobilitas” notion among them; that point was made to the Pope around 740 CE by the son of Charles Martel, Pepin Le Bref.

Notice that the traitor (he had been a Roman officer) Arminius and his German army chose the location and time of the battle (which lasted three days). The miserable rain hindered the usage of Roman artillery; a swamp and a rise, the Kalkreise, prevented the maneuvering of the legions.

The treachery of it all (the legions were trekking back to their winter quarters) took Varus’ army was complete surprise.

GEOGRAPHY IS HISTORY:

The steppe which goes from Manchuria to Hungary allowed the Mongols to spill at least three times, in nine centuries, all the way to Central Europe (thus, having gathered immense power, they were able to build a giant empire, all the way to India, Japan and Indonesia).

Isolation from the Afro-Eurasian hyper continent, or, should I say, cesspool, meant that the Americas were not going to win the biological war between the former and the later. And so on.

I explained that a lot of the effervescent mentality which has festered around the place presently known as France has to do with the three giant trade routes between Southern and Northern Europe. The Alps and Carpathians, mighty mountain ranges, extend to the east over a thousand miles, blocking the way. Until the crisscrossing of wide rivers in the Ukraine-Russian plains. That, also blocked civilization’s penetration until the Vikings (“Rus”) used the waterways to enable profitable trade between Scandinavia and “Rome” (meaning Constantinople).

Nowadays, we are confronted to an old fashion modern Genghis Khan, Vladimir Putin, playing fast and loose, in a calculus where human lives are nothing. Putin has said a great number of things which should be taken literally: that Kazakhstan was not a state, that the Baltic countries had been a gift to the West, that the disappearance of the “Big Country” (USSR) was the “greatest tragedy of the Twentieth Century“, etc. His agenda is clearly to reconstitute the empire of the Czars at it maximal extent: he said as much, he will keep on coming for as much as he can get. This is not the “Cold War“. This is not a drill, either. This is war.

HISTORY AS A STAB IN THE BACK:

Scotland’s push towards independence from the London plutocracy is related to the struggle of Ukraine against the age old, vicious mentality in Moscow. That viciousness is how Moscow grew against, but also thanks to, the occupying Mongols (aka “Tartars”, or “Golden Horde”). Now that viciousness needs to be destroyed, as it is only compatible with a world war.

As facts of preceding centuries, even millennia, determine the flow of psycho-history, looking forward, it’s important to find out what those facts exactly were. In particular the exact history of the giant Greco-Roman republic-empire and its innovative successor, the “Imperium Francorum”-Renovated Roman Empire, is paramount.

Exactitude reveals that things could have turned completely differently, from small details: that’s known as the butterfly effect. From the flapping of a butterfly, a hurricane started (that’s probably impossible, for Quantum reasons, but let’s ignore that).

Out of the many penetrations by sharp objects which put an end to Julius Caesar’s life, only one was lethal, said his personal physician. Had Caesar survived, the history of Europe, and, probably, the world, would have been very different. Caesar had been on his way to a very ambitious military campaign which, knowing him, and his army, the best Rome ever had, may well have succeeded. The anticipated result was the extension of Rome over Persia, and all of Europe, west of the Caspian Sea.

THE MORE EXACT HISTORY, THE MORE FASCINATING:

Here is Eugen R Lowy, commenting on my site along these lines:

“The tragedy of Europe was caused by its two major rivers, the Rhine and the Danube. Since The Roman times it divided the Continent. Charlemagne was the first to unite Europe across the Rhine. Unfortunately it was not long lasting. The next one who would try to do it was Napoleon. But he was too eager to fight wars. Unfortunately at the time bungee jumping did not exist, that could potentially have pacified him.

The 20th century brought three unification experiences, the WWII of Hitler, then the Soviet- Stalin ( SS ) experiment, and the last one, the EU. Fortunately this one was the only successful one.

Let us hope that this time the [European] unification will thrive in spite of all those short sighted, petty minded but loud speakers.”

Eugen has it right, at least as far as the conclusion is concerned.

But the devil is in the details. Napoleon was tough: he charged at the head of his troops when his plan against the invading British was enacted at the siege of Toulon (1792), and was severely wounded in hand to hand combat. Later, as self proclaimed “emperor”, he took great risks, and had horses killed under him no less than 19 times.

Real history is often all too different, from what legends have it: the Romans were established across the Rhine, for centuries. As the Salian Franks were from one of the zones the Romans controlled (more or less), one could argue that they never left.

But, indeed, the (lack of) junction between Rhine and Danube was a huge military problem (especially as it extended the “Fulda Gap”: go ask Putin what it is, he knows!).

The Franks, three centuries before Charlemagne, had already united most of Franco-Germania, across the Rhine. What Charlemagne did was to mop up the last resistance in the most distant part of Germany, among the Saxons, and to push the frontier of Europe as far as (much of) the present European Union to the East. That made the European frontier short and defensible, stopping indeed Genghis Khan’s Mongols (the Central Asiatic invaders penetrated Poland, and Hungary, but collided there with united European forces, and, although they won in memorable battles, suffered unsustainable losses).

Calling WWII and Stalin “unifications” is farfetched: they were standard occupations and not the nicest. The situation with Napoleon was more complicated. Although he was a scum, he did not get the catastrophe started. Even greater scums, such as the pseudo-philosopher Burke, got the ball rolling.

WHY DID ROME NOT EXTEND MUCH INTO GERMANY?

The first Roman to cross into Germany was Caesar. He build a bridge across the Rhine, and went in to punish the Germans for having raided Gaul. He did this twice. However, the perpetrators tended to flee deep inside the immense forests.

Caesar thought about it, and rightly deduced it would never end. So he decided to catch the Germans from behind. A conspiracy of corrupt, idiotic plutocrats inside the Senate decided otherwise. 300 years later, the Goths were at the gates of Roma, the city of Rome herself (they finally conquered Roma another 160 years later).

Caesar’s grand-nephew and heir, Augustus, went back to the unimaginative method of the slow grind. The Roman penetration extended well beyond the Rhine, and even Danube. When three legions (18,000 elite legionaires, plus the supporting army) were annihilated by Arminius (“Herman”), they were going back to their winter quarters, and that trek back, along a narrow path, was in extreme Northern Germany, exactly were the hills met the immense swamp which preceded the North Sea. Over three days, in very bad weather, hindering Roman artillery, and a geography that prevented their maneuvering, the legions fought, until they met a final trap. Those survivors who had not escaped or committed suicide, were assassinated in human sacrifices.

So what happened after that?

Three things:

1) Augustus plunged into a nervous breakdown, losing his composure completely. He butted his head on the wall of the palace, begging general Varus to give him back his legions (Varus died at Teutoburg).

Against all common sense, Augustus counseled his successors to not try to control all of Germany. Yet, Germanicus (grand nephew Augustus, nephew and adoptive son Tiberius) knew better. He overruled the recommendation of Augustus to stay on the Rhine. Beyond the orders he got, he drove deep into Germany, with eight legions, and defeated Arminius for years. However, Germanicus was poisoned (by Sejanus; that was revealed only 15 years later, although widely suspected at the time, making Tiberius the object of hatred).

2) Increasing plutocracy in Rome meant ever less power for the army: that was evident by Marcus Aurelius’ reign (180 CE), when new German nations tried to break through the Danube towards Italia. Soon pieces of the army, starting with the Pretorian Guard, behaved increasingly like occupying and plundering bodies: this was the situation after the demise of the Severus dynasty (“Barrack emperors” period).

That enfeeblement, in turn, made the Germans ever bolder. By 250 CE, the Franks were raiding from ships, Viking style, throughout not just Gaul, but Spain and even North Africa, where they struck the populations by their appearance of blonde giants.

At the same time, the Goths commandeered a fleet of non-sea worthy ships, and rampaged for years all around the Euxine Sea (Black Sea), and even all the way down to Athens (which they plundered and burned).

3) Why were there so many Germans? Obviously agriculture in the North was getting more and more productive, allowing to support more and more people. At the same time, exposition to the Greco-Roman empire had partly changed, and militarized the German savages, and they yearned for civilization and the wealth of Rome. Spectacular victories over the Roman army inside the empire persuaded the Germans that the empire was richer, and weaker, than expected. The Persians deduced the same simultaneously, invading Mesopotamia and Armenia.

***

WE ARE ALL ROMANS NOW:

It’s nice to philosophize about the demise of the Greco-Roman fascist plutocracy known to itself as the republic. What is the morality of all this, looking forward? Two main things:

1) The strength of Rome was its republic, its direct democracy, before the lamentable Augustus tinkered with it to transform it in a military dictatorship. The real, original republic, was a direct democracy.

2) Vladimir Putin is much more dangerous than the Europeans realize. Not just because of himself, the quickly expanding forces at his command, and the will he has proclaimed to establish a much larger empire all over Eurasia (which he calls the “Eurasian Union”). But also because he demonstrates to the world that Europe is much richer, and much weaker, than it was thought to be. And it makes the entire world, including the Europeans, used to this idea.

Fortunately some in Europe understand this vaguely: the French sent to the Kurds very effective, easy to use armor piercing weapons, that were used very effectively by the Peshmerga. French military advisers are on the ground. The Americans, who were not exactly born yesterday, are in the lead this time (differently from the Saturday when Obama made an about face about bombing Assad, while French pilots cooked in their cockpits).

A question is what can the USA do to help rise the bellicose spirit of Europeans?

The answer is to advantage the French Republic and loudly cooperate with it, for all to see. When the Germans and other neutrals realize that France is getting rewarded because of her effective role in defending civilization, they may be keener in following suit.

There is also no way that France can play an important military role while being held back by the 3% deficit Eurozone spending rule (the USA turns around the deficit through Quantitative Easing, a stealth nationalization of much of the economy that does not augment the deficit, technically, while having the same effect, under another name, balancing the Fed’s books).

Ultimately, who decapitates whom at will, is what history is all about. Facts don’t have to be nice, they can just stand there, impervious.

It will be European Unification, under a superior philosophy, or it will be war, under superior barbarity: Putin knows this, and opted for the latter. That’s how professionally trained assassins tend to be.

One may ponder why it is that Augustus took the wrong turn. First he wanted peace and control. Second, he did not have a grand plan (as his reaction to the Teutoburg massacre showed).

Institutionally, Augustus decided little besides making Tiberius his heir (under (one of his wives) Livia’s influence). That was informal, and for many weeks which dragged by, after the Princeps’ death in 14 CE, nothing was done about the exact status of the Roman Republic: a nervous Tiberius, although the top general did not dare say he was taking command (“of the Senate”: Princeps), before he was begged to do so by an official delegation.

Some historians have suggested the obvious: the (informal) Roman Constitution was made for the City of Rome, not an empire with a fourth of humanity. The only way for the empire to go on was to militarize and dictatorize the Republic as much as necessary, as Augustus did.

That’s not true. The empire actually morphed in a galaxy of local cities and provinces which were rather free. The central Roman administration was very efficient. However, when the central state could not pay for the armies, trouble ensued (and this was true by 150 BCE). The armies did public works, not just defense. Augustus did not fix the problem of paying for a Republican army, instead he instituted a moral decaying dictatorship.

That moral decay presided the fall of Rome is not just my opinion: emperor Decius, in the Third Century held it, and asked the Senate to re-establish the office of censor: Valerian got the job (Valerian became emperor later, and made history by becoming the first and only captured Roman emperor; he was rumored to have become the stool Sasanian emperor Shapur I used to mount his horse).

FREE AS A PEACEFUL BIRD:

On the positive side, the strength of Rome was local self-determination, and the ensuing peace: before the Goths rampaged in the central empire (Illyricum, the present Balkans, and Greece), the region had known three centuries of peace.

This is why letting local nations (Scotland, Catalonia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Kurdistan) being free is important: it was one of the ingredient of the Roman success. Notice also that the Franks duplicated that regionalization later. Yet, the Franks did the latter to excess: regionalization got so extreme, that it led to alienation, nationalism, and finally, war.

This is what the European construction wants to correct: a millennium, or more, of alienation. But it will not happen without weapons. Intellectual weapons, but also, against thugs such as Putin, real weapons.

Intellectual weapons are the most powerful: when Bush’s USA destroyed the Iraqi republic of Saddam Hussein, it fostered the sort of thugs that now reign there (the expression “Iraqi republic” is similar to the one, “republic”, that the Greco-Romans used to qualify the Greco-Roman state for centuries after Augustus). This was highly predictable for anyone with enough of a brain.

Republics work, but only when they can strike in their defense. Nowadays, whether know-nothing Americans, and half boiled Europeans realize it, the republic has no borders, it’s all over the planet.

It’s easy for Germany to be tired of the French deficit (4.4% predicted, whereas Germany is at 0%). Germany’s fate, and course correction, was determined by bombs, not deficit.

Work works, but, in the ultimate cases, war is irreplaceable.

Consider the invasion of China by the Mongols over 60 years. The Jin dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom and the Southern Song (which fell in 1279 CE) worked hard, and were on the top of civilization (the Xia was the most powerful Buddhist state ever). Their successive defeats were not caused by lack of industry, but by lack of military skill caused by the asinine stupor a lazy plutocracy prefers in the People they subjugate (that observation was made by Mongol generals themselves, again and again).

That, in turn, was caused by the wrong ideas all over.

Wrong ideas are all over nowadays. Examples: the fact that children should be less educated in the West than in Shanghai; that the Qur’an is a book of peace; that international law does not apply to Moscow (or George Bush), and that’s not a civilization threatening event; that we are not at war with Putin; that there are (military) borders; that banks are not public utilities, that the fractional reserve system is not a subsidy to plutocrats; that Quantitative Easing is not communism for the wealthiest; that greed will solve everything; that Earth’s biosphere is not in the greatest crisis in 65 million years; that the parliamentary system in most of the West can be called “democracy”. And so on.

All these very erroneous ideas need to be beaten into shape.

Without getting the right axiomatic first, we won’t know where, or even why, to strike. This was the problem Rome had after Augustus. This is why most of Europe is supine, as threats add to injury. That’s why Obama admitted he had “no strategy” in Iraq and Syria.

That was, at least, honest. Let’s give him a hint: hit the enemy in Iraq and Syria, while extending peace feelers to the ex-supporters of Saddam Hussein’s regime (thus splitting the enemy). That’s the most moral thing to do.

The most moral thing to do, is always the best strategy.

Patrice Ayme

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40 Responses to “Geo-historical Civilizational Logic”

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    I would dispute the parts of the Roman republic – it was not a democracy; the people voted, but they voted for their tribal representative, and for the Consul, but the Senate was established oligarchy, or plutocracy, which you seem to strongly dislike (and rightly so). The Teutoburg forest debacle was certainly a huge setback, but it was because Augustus finally realised he did not have the means of imposing imperium over the Germans, not the least because the Legion had no real advantage in fighting in forests. Augustus recognised what the US eventually realised in Viet Nam.

    Augustus was generally recognised by Romans as a saviour, because she put an end to decades of civil war, as various factions bought legions to kill other Romans. He stopped people like Crassus from trying to buy glory with the lives of legions. And it is wrong to say that Rome reached its peak under Augustus – it got even better and probably reached its peak under Hadrian. Of course the rot set in because of Augustus’ putting into place the principate. My view is the Romans put up with some of the problems of the early principate because the bloodshed of the late republic was worth it. Also, some of what we hear is rather distorted by the writings of those of senatorial class who were rightly put in the dog box by Imperators. Thus the fact that Gaius Caesar sent Seneca into exile for being associated with plots to kill Caesar (almost certainly true) would certainly colour Seneca’s writings on Caesar.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Ian: With all due respect, and I thank you for your excellent comment, you expose very well what common historians commonly say about the Roman Republic. One of these days, I should show a diagram of the organization of the Roman Republic. It was enormously complex.

      Among the notions you do not focus on is the notions of “tribunes”. There were two sorts, both Sacro-Sanct. Tribunes were not magistrates. But they got the laws to be passed by the People’s Assembly. Patricians could not be tribunes, except if they formally renounced first to their Patrician status.
      Rome was long dominated by “Tribunes With Consular Powers”. There were up to six at one time.

      The Senate’s powers became huge when the People’s Assembly conferred (much of) its power to the Senate. Yet, that was informal under the (more or less) direct democracy.

      It’s Augustus who reduced the People’s powers to nothing.

      Of course, Octavian (his true name) made sure to the called the “Augmentator” (Augustus) and being viewed as a “savior”. In truth he was a bloody tyrant, and an assassin. Even an assassin of children. I would never say that about Julius Caesar.
      Augustus killed and otherwise dismantled much of the Senate, until he got a version he could, literally, live with.

      My thesis, that Roma was actually closer to a direct democracy than is generally acknowledged, and certainly much closer than we presently are, needs to be demonstrated further, as you point out. But, as I said, simply showing the organigram of the RR, leaves one stunned. But therein its superiority, and that’s why emperor Decius ordered to re-establish the office of censor, 270 years after Augustus’ hatchet job (it did not work, too late).

      • ianmillerblog Says:

        Dear Patrice, Yes, of course I left a lot out, and there is no doubt that Augustus/Octavian demolished the Republic and imposed what was effectively a military dictatorship. The effectiveness of Tribunes is debatable. part of the reason there were a huge number of unemployed in Rome was because when the Romans joined the army to fight Hannibal, once they returned they found the senatorial class had “acquired” their land. Many of he senatorial class were simply mini tyrants, and VERY wealthy ones, mainly through stolen wealth. Julius Caesar conquered Gaul for no better reason than to steal/plunder enough money to pay off his debts, which is hardly noble. By the time Decius came, the military dictatorship had left Rome fatally flawed, however my argument is that it was as much because of the lack of productivity as anything else. In economic terms Rome was a leech sucking from the empire.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Hmmm… I agree about the Second Punic war having installed enough plutocratic nastiness for plutocracy to get totally out of control. Can’t be just my opinion either, I feel like it should be obvious.

          The giant Senatorial agribusiness manned by slaves were very efficient (although inhuman). The “lack of productivity” is only in the light when slaves are viewed as human. Senators being like tyrants was true, by that’s part of a plutocrat’s definition.
          PA

        • gmax Says:

          The Caesar thing is more complicated than Caesar’s debt. After all the Helvetiae had launched on a forced entry into Gaul, and were told not to. Still they attacked. Caesar massacred them in the middle of Gaul, and resettled them in Switzerland they came from

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            Yes. Caesar was a complicated case. His management of the Gallic nations was the chief accusation against him in Rome (at least officially speaking). It’s not clear to this day, at least to me, if things could have gone differently.

            What’s clear, though, contrarily to what Hazxan says, is that Gaul did NOT revolt after the conquest, and soon became the dominant partner of Rome. To this day.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      That the historiography is biased cannot be denied. However, recent archeological finds, and exerting newer and fresher logic, changes the Zeitgeist about Rome. For example, the Roman GDP is found under Greenland ice.
      Historians of Rome, in the last few centuries wrote interesting books (I am reading some presently). However, they wrote them to please their more wealthy masters and, or, friends. Or find employment. Reading Gibbon in an anti-plutocratic mood leads to different conclusions. For example. And then there is the problem of historians with a strong pro-Christian bias. Those too can be re-interpreted heavily.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Legions could perfectly well fight in forests. Caesar demonstrated this in Gaul. The Macedonian Phalanx was destroyed by the legions, precisely because it could fight in broken terrain.
      At Teutoburg, what finally killed the legions was a wall in the Kalkreise, a sharp limestone ridge, that traitor Arminius’ forces had erected, and that the legionnaires could not take. They had their back to a giant, horizon to horizon swamp.

      Thus Teutoburg was a battlefield well chosen by Arminius, and with perfect timing. In the following battles, German armies did not chose time and location, and suffered heavy defeats, forest or no forest.

      BTW, Caesar was known to cut vast swathes of forests along roads, to free artillery’s effectiveness from obstacles.

      In the following years, Drusus, Tiberius, and Germanicus went all over Germany, searching and punishing the perpetrators. So it was not Vietnam. Also, it was next door, so really not Vietnam. In the end, the conquest and unification of Germany could be done, as the Romanized Franks demonstrated. And it was an unsustainable error not to have conquered Germany, just as it’s one, not to conquer Moscow (at least philosophically).

      • ianmillerblog Says:

        I am not convinced (and I have said so in my novels, so I had better stick with this). The Phalanx was beaten because the legion could split cohorts off, and some go around the back. The Phalanx could not turn readily, and Alexander used it more as an anvil than as a hammer (the cavalry provided Alexander the hammer.) In forests the legions could not advance as a shield wall, because trees got in the way, and the glades only worked when the shield wall could push up as a line into the enemy, removing their room. The Teutoberg forest debacle was a failure in that Varus never scouted his route, he chose a narrow track, and worse, the soldiers did not start carrying their weapons, and had to get them from carts. The battlefield was indeed well-chosen by Arminius. However, if you read Tiberius’ records, he might have wandered over a lot of southern Germany, but he was never extremely successful, and could better be described as defensive. Germanicus had a bit more luck, but never achieved what Rome had achieved prior to Varus. It is difficult to be sure because the records of the time are not accurate as we would like, and were often written more to promote the writer, so what I am saying is in part interpretation. Others might interpret differently, and suspect we shall never know for sure.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          The battle having lasted three days, I will not resist the temptation of making an easy joke, and suggesting the legionaires had the time to get their weapons.

          Germanicus annihilated some German armies… In any case he was removed, and then poisoned. If he had stuck around, and become emperor (as he was supposed to, from Augustus’ mandate, and all of Rome knew), he would no doubt have systematically conquered Germany. He had already disobeyed orders to go deep…

          • ianmillerblog Says:

            There are very few records of the battle, and the length probably included cleaning up Romans who managed to get away. The weapons issue only mattered for the first few minutes, but that could have been critical because the Romans would not have had time to form up properly, and it would descend to hand to hand fighting where the Romans had no particular advantage and with short swords were probably at a disadvantage. The end of Germanicus is a little unclear – he may well have got one of those diseases that affect the east, or he may have been poisoned.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Legions could fight in forests, and did (say during the extermination battle of the Helvetiae). How the Phalanx got destroyed has been fully detailed: history buffs analyze every detail. The main trick was to let its elements pass, and catch them on the side, indeed. Same with elephants, after the surprise of the first battle.

  2. Standard Climate Says:

    Reblogged this on Standard Climate.

  3. pshakkottai Says:

    Hi Patrice: I find this paragraph pretty exact as a summary of what’s wrong! The para begins from ” Wrong ideas are all over nowadays.that the parliamentary system in most of the West can be called “democracy”. And so on.”

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks, Partha!
      Yes, that’s the key, indeed. In all so-called democracies, or are they are sometimes more exactly labelled “parliamentary democracies” (an oxymoron), at most 2,000 people are of influence (including a few hundreds past and present “lawmakers). OK, maybe a bit more in the USA, quite a bit less in Sweden.

      It’s easy to do like the Swiss: laws ought to be passed by referenda. Then the executive and legislative ought to just polish them, while the Constitutional system check the “votations” are indeed constitutional.

      An interesting case right now is the votation that was passed to prevent further MASSIVE immigration in Switzerland (population coming in has been around 13% in the last ten years alone). At face value, it violates EU law… But accommodations are already been found on all sides.

  4. EugenR Says:

    To turn a page in the discussion i would start a new point of view. History is more than a story. It should teach us what causes disasters and colaps of sometime very advanced and front running culture, as it happened to the Roman empire. So what caused the collapse of Rome. To my opinion definitely not Augustus, who in spite of his many mistakes, including his German policy, but even more of letting his evil wife Livia ( by the way expert on poisoning ) to kill his own children, to pave the road to the top for her son Tiberius. After all Augustus created the government system that worked pretty well for another 300 years. To my oppinion the major cause of Roman colaps was the policy of staying behind the ” secure borders”, created by Hadrian, that gave to the Roman citizens feeling of false security behind the walls that divided between the civilization and barbarism. This feeling of security destroyed the commitment of the military and the politicians to defend their civilized world. They became very easy going as to the needs of defending their civilization. Adding to it the Christianity 200 years later, and their military weakness became so deep, that a few days of frosen Rhine were enough to let the half starved barbarians to invade the empire.
    This phenomena I call the weakness of the well fed against the strength of the hungry.
    Isn’t it very relevant right now, when hundreds of hungry Africans, Syrians and Somalians have drowned and still other thousands are waiting in the desert of Libia and Egypt to board the same shabyboats, who are probably destined ti sink.

    • ianmillerblog Says:

      My view is that Rome collapsed for a number of reasons. The first was the lack of creativity, the decline of which began in the late republic, although possibly helped by Augustus who had the state control all new developments – therefore there were very few. The next one was lack of productivity, and for Rome, this was coupled with the lack of easily worked mineral deposits – they had to go deeper and they had not bothered to develop the technology after the first or second century. But the real military problem was that the famous Roman discipline fell away. The Romans declined to join the army, and the army became filled with barbarians in it for the pay. They did not accept the discipline, hence the legion ceased to work as designed.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        All of these were caused by plutocracy ran amok. Except, after Marcus Aurelius, as a consequence of plutocracy starving the army, militarism became a problem too.

      • EugenR Says:

        It seems to me we both say the same. Our differences are only semantics.
        What you call discipline, I call Roman reluctance about the military problem. This psychological change of abonding their unprecedented drive towards millitary and political honor happened because no Roman could even imagine that the Roman territory could be distroyed by some uncivilized, unorganized military force. It had to seem to them probably unimaginable that the Roman empire could be just destroyed and instead would come total fractions of mini kingships, sho will almost destroy the Roman

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Plutocracy hates brains and inventions which do not serve it. Roman emperors paid handsomely engineers to NOT use, or reveal their inventions.

      • EugenR Says:

        Sorry my previous comment just slipped from my new “smart”phone. Please see my response to Patrice farther on as an answer to you too.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen:
      You say: “After all Augustus created the government system that worked pretty well for another 300 years.”
      By 180 CE the Germans were threatening to break through to Italy, and Marcus Aurelius did not have enough money for the army… Because the Plutos refused to pay. Then he named his own psychopathic son, c0-emperor. Not what I would call something that worked well. The collapse of the state was obvious by the time Commodus was disposed of: the Pretorian guard put the imperial office for auction (and the highest bidder got it… that is until general Septimus Severus made it to Rome).
      Of course earlier, the succession of the horrendous Caligula, Nero, and Domitian (assassinated in a prodigious fight with a professional bare hand killer and wrestler, on command by his family and the Senate) was plenty of evidence that your statement is rather strange.

      I mentioned in the essay that, by 250 CE, both the Franks to the West, and the Goths, in the East, were wrecking havoc all over. They burned Athens, for god sakes!

      “To my opinion the major cause of Roman collapse was the policy of staying behind the ” secure borders”.

      Why? Because armchair strategists love to say that was the conclusion of the May-June French debacle? Well, such was not the case. The Maginot Line and the Nazi Westwall, both held very well in 1940, and in 1944-45.
      The French lost in May 1940, because they MOVED TOO MUCH!
      Yeap.
      Zorry about Blitzkrieging you.

      When the Germans broke through into the Roman Empire big time at Chrismas 406 CE, they broke through the FRANKISH defenses. Now the Franks practiced EXTREMELY mobile warfare (the Mongols adopted Frankish tricks later).

      • EugenR Says:

        The truth is the political system Augustus created had a major default, the system of life long dictators elected by the previouse dictators. Even if this system was better than the later feudal system, where the oldest living male authomaticaly get the reign it brought too many mistakes

      • EugenR Says:

        Patrice sorry, my previouse answer slipped me away.

        The truth is the political system Augustus created had a major default, the system of life long dictators elected by the previouse dictators. Even if this system was better than the later feudal system, where the oldest living male authomaticaly get the reign, while the Roman dictator could chose and addopt the next dictator. This system brought too many mistakes, when many chosen dictators like Tiberius, Caligula and Neron seemed at the time a perfect choice, but all of them, became crazy when taking the reign of power. The feeling secure behined the static border was only part of the problem. The other problem was a psychological change of abonding the unprecedented drive of the elite Romans for honor, towards reluctance and decadence. This brought reluctance about the military problem.

        This change of abonding their unprecedented lust towards millitary and political honor happened because no Roman could even imagine that the Roman territory could be distroyed by some uncivilized, unorganized military force. It had to seem to them probably unimaginable that the Roman empire could be destroyed in a way that instead of Roman empire, some form of fractions of mini kingships will come, who will almost destroy the Roman civilization.

        Regecting the previous lust towards millitary and political honor was caused probably by adaptation of Christianity, but even more by living conditions of relative plenty, as contrary to the barbarians hunger.

        The same phenomena can be observe in Europe of today. By the way later on , Christianity became very millitant, and this created the new European civilization, while today, there is no faith in Christianity and also all the secular ideologies failed and disappeared, exept of empty consumerism.

  5. gmax Says:

    Congratulations! Another many nails hit smack dab on the heads. If you had time, you could group up some of the comments questions and answers in a separate essay?

    It is my understanding that the People Assembly and its TRIBUNES made the laws in Roman Republic. Senate was ONLY consultative.

    The system was very different in the PRINCIPATE.

  6. Roman, Barbar and Medieval Europe | EugenR Lowy עוגן רודן Says:

    […] https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/geo-historical-civilizational-logic/ […]

  7. hazxan Says:

    Patrice, in recent decades, the traditional view of Roman “Goodies” vs. Barbarian “Baddies” has been challenged. Evidence emerging other than the Roman propoganda that has dominated, suggests that in many ways, the barbarians were as much, if not more civilised tham the Romans. This may be what you’re getting at, but amidst all your threats of “fire and brimstone”, it’s hard to tell.

    You write: “..the German savages …yearned for civilization and the wealth of Rome.” I think it was the other way round. Rome craved the wealth and resources of Germany. A quote from the book: “Hybrid Warfare: Fighting Complex Opponents from the Ancient world to the Present”. “Germania was far from an unproductive wasteland…Germany had raw materials that the Romans wanted. Rome also coveted the gold and raw iron that flowed out of Germania”.

    The Germans (like the Celts/Gauls/Goths etc) didn’t want to be in Rome, they wanted Rome to go away and to be freed from the yoke of Roman taxes and slavery. They wanted their own civilization back.

    That’s what the Roman Empire was: an efficient, ruthless military machine built for exploitation and expropriation of other people’s resources. The Roman Empire was based on labelling anybody who had any land they coveted as “savage barbarians”, then moving in and wiping out those “savages” and stealing their land.. Along the way, bestow some petty cash on a few locals to “divide and rule”…don’t forget the “bread and circuses”, too. A model that has served well for many Empires since and to this day, incidentally.

    They contributed very little in terms of art, literature, science and architecture. Where are the famous Roman scientists? Barely half a dozen listed on Wikipedia. If the Roman Empire had remained, we’d be an the darkest of all dark ages! Islam was soon light years ahead in architecture, in maths, the sciences, as was Persia. The Celts, Goths, Vandals all created works of art and had sophisticated social organisations. Women were equals who could rule the tribe in Britain and other Celtic tribes…not in Rome.From Terry Jones “Barbarians”: “The Vandals were highly moral, educated, literate and often a lot more civilized than the Romans”.

    Can you point me to your definition of “civilization” because I’m confused as to what part “WIPE OUT ALL ENEMIES NOW” plays in a “civilized” world. If a sword is being wielded how do we know whether it is defending civilisation or just clearing the way for yet another land grab in the “Name” of civilisation? What are these ideas that are “sharper than steel? Would these be the ideas held by someone like Rupert Murdoch? or Noam Chomsky?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hazxan: Thanks for the challenging comment… and nice to see you back. You broach too many subjects for me to cover them all. I do agree with many of your boldest statements towards the end, I have made them myself in the past.

      The “ideas sharper than steel” I try to roll out all the time. I have myself attacked both Chomsky and Murd(er)och. Yes even either has some good ideas sometimes (Murderoch never censored me, the New York Times dose, all the time, as recently as yesterday, for completely innocent stuff). “Civilization” is the universe most complex conception, it’s immensely varied.

      The Vandals, BTW, cut the food trade to Rome, durably devastating, and shrinking the city. They were a small terrorist group, and were finally wiped out by a very small Roman army, more than a century later (much larger armies earlier had come to no good, from bad luck). Never heard of that Terry Jones. Philosophical debates with Vandals are part of the historical record (they were Arians).

      Yes, (some of) the so-called “barbarians” were actually more advanced than the Roman citizens, version 300 CE. An obvious philosophical superiority trait was that the barbarians attached more importance to personal freedom (Roman citizens were more focused on peace).

      I have asserted this outright in preceding essays on the subject, and explained why. The famous “Vase de Soisson” drama involving Clovis, king of the Franks, imperator and Consul, is the symbol of this. Basically Clovis said that, from now on, the Frankish army would be led and would function like a Roman army (and not just be THE Roman army). In particular, Clovis would exert not just his Roman “imperator” role, but also that of a Consul. No more German equalitarianism: if the imperator/Consul/King decided to impose the “raison d’etat”, so he/she would.

      The “RENOVATION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE” as the Franks put it in 800CE was real, and could NEVER have happened with the Greco-Roman CULTURAL LOCK on the empire. The Germans were much more equalitarian, and the Franks OUTLAWED the slave TRADE by 655CE (Bathilde, whose statue in the Luxembourg garden, Paris).

      The Romans did not aspire to the riches of Germany enough. Having the “limes” the empire had with “Germania Magna” was unsustainable, as the Franks saw at Xmass 406 CE. The Franks drew the conclusion that they had to go on the offensive, destroying first the Goths, and then defeating most German nations in quick order (Charlemagne finished the job 250 years later).

      This was much more sustainable: the Imperium Francorum was rather peaceful, until the Islamists of the Islamic State, the Caliphate, attacked (721 CE, Toulouse). To defeat them, the Franks established the largest army since Republican Rome.

    • ianmillerblog Says:

      One comment I would make about Roman science is that one of the reasons it did not get anywhere is that they all believed that Aristotle had worked out all science and there was nothing of substance left to discover. The second point is that it had got to a point where no further advance was easily made. I have written novels set in the period where the protagonist is required to prove the earth goes around the sun, i.e. prove Aristarchus’ theory. Now, my challenge is, with what you can see with your eyes, could you do that now? Now, to make it harder, could you do it if you believed Aristotle’s mechanics? You have to overthrow those, because as I show in the novel, Aristotelian mechanics prove the earth cannot go around the sun. When you actually write down what has to be done, it is exceedingly difficult. (Just stop and think – have you ever felt you discovered anything fundamental in science? How did you do it? I assure you, it isn’t easy, and in my view, it requires a certain sort of personality that frequently does not become popular. To start with, most people will not believe you because they cling to what they believe. For all I know someone in Rome might have got started, but his thoughts are lost.)

      The second thing I would question is the assertion that Rome failed in architecture. Roman buildings were a huge advance over Greek buildings. Look at their bridges, aqueducts, sewage systems as well as their buildings. Yes, a lot of their buildings for the poor were cheap and ugly, but look at some of ours!

      The argument that the senate was merely consultative is clearly wrong. They were supposed to be consultative, and Tribunes had a certain amount of power, but who resisted the senatorial land grabs after the Punic wars? The only ones I have heard of were the Gracchi brothers, and look where that got them. From the time of Sulla, power lay mainly with the Consul, or the triumvirate, although the senate usually supported them. That was why the Principate worked; all Augustus had to do was to bully/persuade the senate into doing what he wanted.

    • EugenR Says:

      I would like add to the discussion, The Kelts never developed their own writing system. This caused that so little is known about them. This is in contrast to the Middle Eastern civilizations, like the Phoneticians, the Egyptians and all the others. The Romans adored cultures that were obviousely older than theirs, except of the Phoneticians who were their worst enemies. The pantheon in Rome was built in second century to celebrate the multiculturalism.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Agreed Eugen. The Romans led for trans-culturalism. They invented tolerance, the multi-cultural and multi-religious state, and universal citizenship.

        The Celts were a curious mix of very advanced (best metallurgy, best ships, barrels, etc.) and very primitive (human sacrifices). They had some sort of writing, but reserved it to the oligarchies. They tended to follow… Greek god, esp. Mercury, god of trade…

        I do not agree with grossly anti-Roman positions. The problem was the plutocracy. It targeted science for destruction. And soon philosophers were on the death list (starting with Domitian, Vespasian all too long lived second son).

        • dominique deux Says:

          Human sacrifices are barbarous but not especially primitive. Some belief systems simply mandated them, and other exquisitely advanced civilizations practiced them. The Aztecs are a case in point. The civilizational clash with Christian Spain was reciprocal: the Spaniards were genuinely aghast at the ritual slaughter, the Aztecs were disgusted by the Spanish system of judicial torture (which other pre-Columbian people practiced too). And it should never be forgotten that Rome’s gladiator fights were human sacrifices, under the authority of religious magistrates.

          Not to mention a certain religion which, to this day, re-enacts a gory human sacrifice every Sunday.

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            Agreed to all, Dominique! Well, the entire Jihad suicide killing thing is human sacrifice, squared.
            Actually the entire Judeo-Christo-Islamist religion celebrates the willingness to kill a child as the worst form of pedophilia, when a dad kills the son, so out of love, for another dad!

            So the Judeo-Christo-Islamists are murderous homosexual human sacrificing pedophiles, at least in the fantasy world they have in their confused heads… And that’s the exact core of their monstrous religion…

  8. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Learning from Dogs, after self declared “peace people” sent a lawyer style letter requiring LfD to not publish one of their peace homilies; looks like the “peace” people were just a commercial organization at war against those with the same message.]

    I am afraid, Paul, that you fell for a bunch of crooks. They just want to make a quick buck, so they say whatever the naïve want to hear about peace. Then they sell peace trips around the world.

    Obama is sending more than 3,000 soldiers, plus medical personnel to Liberia. To fight ebola.
    Meanwhile, Obama had to order air strikes in Iraq. And the French not only sent weapons, but troops and officers to Iraq, who have been on the ground for a few weeks (in Kurdistan).
    Madman Putin, head of the world’s largest dictatorship, is in the process of invading a country because it signed an Association Treaty with the European Union.

    Peace does not come from prayer. Peace comes from the right kind of war.

    • Paul Handover Says:

      My head tells me you are correct, my heart wishes it were not so.
      Paul Handover

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Hitler was selling peace and protection of minorities. That was the core of his message. That’s why the naive Germans fell for it. Naivety can be diabolical.
        I have an essay that is very hard to write coming on it, expanding by under-standing the famous Roman proverb: Errare Humanum Est, Perseverare Diabolicum.

  9. Chris Snuggs Says:

    You say: “One thing making ISIS strong is Saddam Hussein’s ex-officers. They should be coopted, by making them offers they can’t resist.”
    Chris Snuggs These are the people who brutalised the Shia for decades under SH. The best thing to do with them is to hunt them down and kill them.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I see that Machiavellian subtleties are not your forte. Being of an incomparable brutality myself, I have discovered Machiavellianism is sometimes the fiercest weapon. Besides being amoral, killing SH’s men is impossible: Maliki and Bush tried, forever.
      Now observe the result.

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