WHY ROME COLLAPSED Part II: Stoicism, Fascism, Death Of Humor & Senses

Seneca was one of the most famous Stoic philosophers. He talked wisdom as haughtily as Hitler talked about protecting minorities and correcting injustice. It’s one of the shortcoming of philosophy as usually taught to being unable to see, and explain what a creep Seneca was. Verily, once we can explain the horror therein Seneca, the horror therein Hitler, and the like, starts to make sense.

Seneca, looking as disheveled as his ignominy made him. Arguably one of the worst thinkers in history, still, much admired. Especially by Christians, of course. Here are extracts: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”
“Life is like a play: it’s not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters.”

***

Stoics we all are,

We, the humble animals of planet Earth,

Nature is our yoke.

Stoic,

We all have to be,

Just because we go through life

Much has to be endured and suffered

And we all find out,

Babe or old, crippled or splendid,

Human or beast,

There is only so much we can complain about and aloud

Unending tears do not bring a ploy, or a joy

Neither is too much sorrow a buoy, or a toy.

We need humor, so we all have it.

We need joy, so we all find it.

Thus what is it Seneca insisted so much on?

What are we supposed to do with this bloody multibillionaire’s

Mellifluous advice?

Why so loud, Seneca, you old criminal?

Your artful trade?

To hide your crimes, and those of your master.

And what of that other “stoic”,

Marcus, ruler of the world?

What do they teach those,

All of us,

Trudging in that valley of tears we call life?

That words of the haughty do not have to match their lives,

That we shouldn’t complain too much,

When we live in the times when only few rule?

Why? Can’t we talk to our heart’s content?

Not when infamy is in power, sure we don’t,

It’s clear that when Nero is the boss,

Not complaining enough is all the truth worth having.

Any alternative hypothesis means death.

When Marcus couldn’t pay for the army,

As the plutocrats kept all the wealth,

Not complaining, even for an emperor,

Was all the truth worth having:

Even for an emperor,

Complaint invited assassination from the other few,

Who also ruled,

And they were not joking.

So yes, stoics lack a sense of humor,

Telling us to follow nature,

When they do the opposite.

We have seen it all before,

Preaching the exact opposite of one’s true nature,

A basic trick of the vicious,

In all points similar,

To the dots of light and dark,

Adorning a forest cat’s coat.

We have seen it,

When racists accuse their victims of racism,

To better drown them in gore.

Stoicism, as philosophy,

And the closely related Buddhism,

Preaching common sense,

Supposedly,

While insisting to divest from all the senses,

And the emotions they relate to,

Starting with anger and indignation,

And figuring out infamy,

Until it makes sense,

A preaching to accept the unacceptable,

We may as well start with killing humor,

The poison of power, when it’s concentrated in a few hands.

Stoicism may be what’s left to good men,

When resistance to infamy is futile,

When weakness is erected as a virtue,

Thus drenching sorrow with the dubious pleasure,

Of the deepest anesthesia of most passions, and senses,

Conveniently, and comfortably, forgetting,

Passion is to reflection,

What looking is to sight.

If you want to think well,

Start with emoting well,

And emoting well,

Even earlier than breathing well,

Emoting right precedes all,

And die with us,

Never killed,

And only mitigated by the powers of reason.

So meditate, you the Apostles of Stoicism:

You are teaching the air we all breathe.

***

Technical Background On Stoicism:

Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. Zeno taught from his front porch (“stoikos” in Greek).

At the time, Athens was officially and effectively a plutocratic dictatorship owned by fascist Macedonia. Thinkers had to be stoic, or they would die like Demosthenes and other philosophers assassinated or suicided when the Macedonians took over. The Stoics taught that emotions resulted in errors of judgment which were destructive, due to the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature.

This is obviously idiotic, because, for at least five million years, our direct ancestors have deliberately imposed their will on nature, with the conscious goal to make nature serve us. Moreover, for several billion years, life has done the same with the entire planet, however seemingly unconsciously (depending upon what conscience really is, as our friend the Quantum physicist would point out).  Nature is the nature of life, and, in this context, life, we don’t even know what’s natural and what’s not.

Stoics flaunted their philosophy as a way of life (lex divina, they humbly said), and they claimed that an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said but how a person behaved. To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of nature, since everything was rooted in nature.

But of course, this is silly, as it ignores the nonlinear nature of human nature… which happens to be the greatest influence on nature. Humanity is grounded in nature, and the nature of humanity is to go beyond all and any limit, that’s how and why we evolved.

Stoicism blossomed in antiquity, while and because tyranny and oligarchy blossomed. Stoicism was not just a symptom, but an engine of the decay of civilization. As Seneca and Marcus Aurelius were. Seneca defended Nero’s assassination of his mother in front of the Senate (extending Nero’s rule for years; much later, after Seneca’s assassination by suicide, the Senate would finally order Nero’s execution; so Seneca’s backing up of Nero had a huge influence on history; it keeps on having one now, as nobody has bothered to enquire seriously on how such humongous creeps can become Masters of the Universe!).

Marcus persecuted Christians for no good reason, making sure Christianism would only get worse, as it did. But Marcus steered away from what was truly needed to save civilization, terrorizing plutocrats.

Here is Marcus: “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” (Retort of mine: In particular you don’t need democracy, or even a Republic).

Here is Marcus again, pain is all about you not thinking right: “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” (In particular, I would observe, if the Christians Marcus burned alive suffered, that’s just because they didn’t think right, proving it was tight, indeed, to burn them…)

When not lost in hypocritical obscenities, stoic philosophers are good at truisms everybody always agreed with (so did Hitler, explaining why Hitler, Seneca, and Marcus were incredibly appreciated by those who can’t see much further than the most trivial evidence…) However, deriving higher wisdom is not something everybody agrees with, when it happens.

Fascism gave birth to Stoicism, a case of a madness and exploitation creating the own mental environment it needed.
How do we know this?

One can look at the dates: Stoicism was created and taught 35 years after the fascist plutocracy was imposed on Athens.
More generally, fascism advocates a shrinking of (free) thinking, and that’s best implemented by a shrinking of the emotions (viewed as noble).

Christianity went further in all this intellectual fascism, as only thoughts validated by the fascist god were allowed. Conclusion? Books were destroyed, libraries burned, intellectuals terrorized, chased down, and assassinated. Civilization collapsed. In great part because of the infamy and corruption all too much of a stoic attitude enabled to thrive, unimpeached.

Voltaire recommended to “crush infamy”. We can’t crush what we learn to live with, as the Stoics advised to do.

Patrice Ayme’

p/S: The essay above was inspired by “Do The Stoics Lack A Sense Of Humor“, by Massimo Piglliucci, and the comments I sent there (the comment was not published, perhaps because would-be Stoics also lack a sense of humor!)

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5 Responses to “WHY ROME COLLAPSED Part II: Stoicism, Fascism, Death Of Humor & Senses”

  1. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Philosophy Matters.
    https://blog.oup.com/2017/09/stoicism-platonism-judaism-early-christianity/?utm_content=buffer8361a&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Fascism gave birth to Stoicism, a case of a madness and exploitation creating the own mental environment it needed https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/stoicism-fascism-death-of-humor-senses/

  2. Eupatheia Says:

    Live according to nature (so far so good), but anger is also an emotion in us (from nature), and so suppressing is by definition unnatural.
    I agree with some things with them but not their conclusions. Anger is appropriate sometimes. Also passion is what makes us human.

  3. ETHICS ARISE FROM NATURE, THROUGH LIFE, And Its SPONSOR, REASON (Rise & Collapse of Rome, Part IV.) | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] argument in “WHY ROME COLLAPSED Part II: Stoicism, Fascism, Death Of Humor & Senses”  was that basically Stoicism in Antiquity (and India, and China) became a way hypocrites, […]

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