Lessons From Sparta, Thebes, Athens, Macedonia, Rome, Greece, Franks, On How To Beat the Dark Side (In North Korea)

Countless intellectuals, for example Salman Rushdie, hold that the those Sanders supporters who didn’t vote for Clinton are contemptible idiots. But then he admits that, when Trump was elected, he realized he didn’t understand the USA. Verily, Rushdie didn’t understand the most important thing. He reminds me of a parallel universe with Jews advocating voting for Himmler instead of Hitler.

Rushdie claims the “left” is obsessed with purity. And he rightly points at Socialists, Communists, Marxists, Trotskyists, Anarchists, Maoists. Whatever: the same can be said of the extreme right, Nazis, Fascists, etc… Or even the center (that’s why there is no center in the United Kingdom).

In a French philosophical magazine, Rushdie claims that “we have entered the era of the impossible”. Little does he seem to know. The impossible made history countless times.

Part of the Famous Chigi Vase, Showing Hoplites In Formation. Complete With Musician. Upon Hoplites, Freedom Rested. Similarly, Constant War Made the Italian Renaissance, Starting With the Florence Republic Issuing Bonds To Pay for Its Army (killed centuries later by Medici plutocracy).

Actually, Rushdie understands nothing in exactly the same way as Trump, Macron, the Clintons and Obama didn’t understand anything most important: people have had enough of the inequality which is degrading civilization.

When asked why he didn’t reveal his work on (Gaussian) curvature, the tremendous mathematician Friedrich Gauss sneered in a letter to Bessel in 1829, that:”It may take very long before I make public my investigations on this issue: in fact, this may not happen in my lifetime for I fear the “clamor of the Boeotians.”

Boeotia was the city state, capital Thebes, north of Attica. Athenians viewed it as dull, insipid and brutish. They shouldn’t have. With crucial Athenian military help, Thebes destroyed Spartan supremacy forever by freeing the lands, and at least one city-state, that it had enslaved, for centuries. Sparta’s downfall was propelled by the same mood which had brought its war against Athens 80 years prior. Namely, obstinately taking itself for a superpower, and imposing that at all cost (a bit the same as Putin’s Russia nowadays; Sparta was also led by a charismatic king, Agesilaus II, who stayed popular in his eighties, although Sparta was clearly going downhill, big time).

Later, though, Alexander burned Thebes to the ground, while Athens watched (that led to the eradication of democracy). Demosthenes had warned against the Macedonians. Recently I read a history book, just written, which claims that Demosthenes was the bad guy, as Athens should have submitted to Macedonia, more readily.

This is to forget that Athens did submit to Alexander, but not really Macedonia. Antipater took the succession of Alexander after the latter’s death. The resulting war between Antipater and Athens brought Macedonian victory and the establishment, by Antipater, of a plutocracy in Athens (only the richest could vote: destitute citizens, most of them, got deprived of their citizens’ rights).

The Theban army, around 36,000 men was roughly the size of Alexander’s. The battle was long uncertain, as Thebes fought with the energy of despair, knowing it faced annihilation. If the Athenian army had joined Thebes, the Macedonians would have been annihilated.

The Macedonians were intrinsically fascist, because of their way of life: plutocrats owned vast domains where horses were brought up, gold mines, etc. The Greeks to the south lived in cities, from more intellectual tasks, where ideas hence democracy were more productive. The opposition was total, it couldn’t be remedied: either the Macedonian brutes would conquer intellectual Greece, or Intellectual Greece would defeat the brutes. Because the Greeks didn’t act when they could, with the Macedonians as they had with the Persians, democracy and intelligence got defeated by the rule of malevolence (which is what “plutocracy” means)

***

The lesson for today’s world?

The military side of things should not be neglected. One battle can decide the world. Nor should the endurance of plutocracy, and the mind control it can exert. After Antipater submitted Athens, the mental subjugation was such that, to this day, people have forgotten all what democracy consists of. They came to call countries “led” by Obama, Trump, Macron, let alone Putin and the Queen of England, “democracies” Whereas those countries are parodies of what the ancient Greeks called “democracy”.

Contradictors would point out that Athens had only 80,000 citizens at most, with plenty of slaves and subjugated women.  However, the subjugation of women was a phenomenon specific to Athens, not to all Greek city-states (Spartan women personally owned much of Sparta, as Aristotle whined).  The fact that, at the height of her power, during the Fifth Century BCE, Athens was attacked by the greatest powers, first Achaemenid Persia, then Sparta, then Sparta allied with Achaemenid Persia, has a lot to do with it, in my opinion.

In this world war, fascism against democracy situation, Athens was first a military empire fighting for survival. When Athens sent an expedition to Egypt to free her mother civilization (yes, Egypt) from Persian subjugation, it was no time to ponder who deserved to be citizens or not (in its final struggle against Alexander, Thebes made her slaves citizens). Ultimately the Egyptian expedition failed, but it was another fracture in Persian armor (later to be exploited by Alexander).

So what to say of today? The entire world is reminiscent of Greece plus Macedonia. The “West” consists in a number of nations (including Japan). That would be the equivalent of the Delian league, headed by Athens.

Except that, nowadays, the world is militarily led by the USA while intellectually led by Europe. That was exactly the Greco-Roman arrangement which lasted for 1600 years, until it was replaced by a Franko-Greek arrangement by 800 CE, to Constantinople’s fury; however, while Rome was a always mental subset of Greece, with a superior fascist republic, the Franks came to dominate Constantinople in all ways, precisely because Constantinople versed into fanaticism, for much too long and too deep.

Indeed, as everybody knows, Constantinople, Oriental Rome, went down. In no small measure because, by the Eighth Century, the Franks looked down on Constantinople’s Christian fanaticism. Whereas all what Constantinople could see what that the savage Muslims below its walls were successful because precisely they were fanatically religious savages, so they duplicated that global mood.

***

Conclusion: Debate and Think, in a Timely Manner. Change Moods:

Sparta’s failure to change its global mood in a timely manner led to its military and then demographic disappearance (the same fate threatens quite a few countries nowadays). Worse, Sparta nearly eradicated Athens, and certainly destroyed her remarkable mood of total inquiry, all azimuths. it would have been better to mimic Athens than try to destroy civilization.

Athens survived because, under Roman hegemony, Athens was the place of higher learning and higher wisdom. Centuries later, fanatical Christian emperors tried to shut down Athens by shutting down its schools. The result is that the Franks decided that the “translatio studii” had happened: Paris was the New Athens, a translation of studies had occurred, centred on Paris’ Cathedral (not the present Notre Dame, the one before; the change of cathedrals enabled the university to become physically independent).

Don’t forget that fascism and its version with a civilized veneer, plutocracy, are extremely sticky: we got overwhelmed by fascism and plutocracy, 24 centuries ago, and didn’t get out of it yet.

The “West”, whatever that is (is the People’s Republic of China in it, or not?) has to be broad and open-minded, yet military threats should be eliminated in a timely manner (that is, before they can become uncontrollable).

In the past, the mightiest empire (Rome, China, the Aztecs) fell to relatively small enemy forces (the Goths and Genghis Khan’s Mongols had no more than 200,000 warriors; subsequent German invasions were from much smaller numbers). Cortez conquered the Aztecs with less than 1500 men, and was repeatedly teased by the Aztecs that he could not make it, because of his tiny numbers. The Aztecs didn’t know that the Conquistadores were making shots with copper warheads for their crossbows, industrially, having recruited hundreds of thousands of natives to do so to their specifications.

Tiny enemies, like tiny rattlesnakes, are the more venomous, the smaller they are, precisely because their small size motivates them more. Thus, full severity with Muslim fanatics (Jihadists), is fully justified.  Same for North Korea, if it pursues its plans to nuclear blackmail the world (Athens didn’t wait for Persia to attack, doing nothing; first it armed itself to the teeth; thus, when Persia asked for submission, Athens had enough might to say no).   

***

Kill Infamy While You Can:

Says The Economist, all too mildly in “How To Avoid Nuclear War With North Korea”:

“There are no good options to curb Kim Jong Un. But blundering into war would be the worst

IT IS odd that North Korea causes so much trouble. It is not exactly a superpower. Its economy is only a fiftieth as big as that of its democratic capitalist cousin, South Korea. Americans spend twice its total GDP on their pets. Yet Kim Jong Un’s backward little dictatorship has grabbed the attention of the whole world, and even of America’s president, with its nuclear brinkmanship. On July 28th it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit Los Angeles. Before long, it will be able to mount nuclear warheads on such missiles, as it already can on missiles aimed at South Korea and Japan. In charge of this terrifying arsenal is a man who was brought up as a demigod and cares nothing for human life—witness the innocents beaten to death with hammers in his gigantic gulag. Last week his foreign ministry vowed that if the regime’s “supreme dignity” is threatened, it will “pre-emptively annihilate” the countries that threaten it, with all means “including the nuclear ones”. Only a fool could fail to be alarmed.”

Odd? Why odd? China uses North Korea as a form of sophisticated blackmail, why Mr. Xi tries to push the other way, namely in the South China Sea (while all these tensions stoke nationalism, hence his rule). The Economist to weakly recommend to “contain” North Korea. Just as is already done. Hitler, too, was contained. Until it became clear to Britain and France that the best choice was to declare war. Next recommendation from The Economist: breathe deep and carry on.

And why does The Economist pretend that “blundering into war” is the worst. No. The “worst” would be nuclear blackmail as far as the eye can see. Within a few decades, the young Mr. Kim could have the ability to annihilate the “West” in its entirety. The obvious remark is that a war with North Korea, a cannibalistic mafia state, now, would probably not go nuclear. Wait, and it will. Nuclear War has a high probability NOT to be contained (a strike, or attempted strike, on a US city would probably mean annihilation of North Korea and all its allies, real or imagined).

***

IMPOSSIBLE IS ALL TOO OFTEN, NOT REAL:

The impossible made history countless times. One has to be ready for the impossible, that’s how to contain it. 

History beats fiction, anytime. Want to learn something drastic? Learn real history.  It’s never weak.

Patrice Ayme’

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