Anti-Intellectualism Is Why Rome Went Down, And So Could We

Thinking completely new thoughts is highly disturbing, even to professionally creative thinkers. Systems of thoughts are systems of neural networks, and changing them requires a lot of energy, thus will. So, at the first sign of really new ideas, or emotions, those with little experience in the dynamical systems of thought, and why it is important to improve them, feel under personal attack. And they are. So they panic, get enraged, and hurl anti-ideas and insults, all the more as they see reason, their sort of reason, under assault.  

The question then, for creative thinkers who have to interface with the Commons, is always the same: should we accommodate lesser minds and their brutish inclinations? And the answer, from Socrates, to Demosthenes, to Hypatia, Boetius, Abelard, Giordano Bruno, the historian Marc Bloch, the philosopher and logician Jean Cavaillès, is always the same: never accommodate those  who want to kill creative thinking. Never, ever. Death is the better way.

Why? Because the will to new and better thinking is the distinctive essence of humanity. This is what babies and children do. And if we stop doing it, all we hold dear will disappear. All that will be left will be nihilism, ex nihilo.

This sort of consideration, how intellectual Rome was, may sound arcane, but it is all very pragmatic: Rome never succeeded to foster creative thinking of civilization class. Rome did not have this sort of meta-cultural tradition. Romans were very intelligent, but pragmatic. And perished as a result. Importing Greek thinkers, as Rome did for generations, did not really work, as, in the end, Roman generals outlawed creative thinking in general, and the Greek sort, in particular. You see, creative thinking was inconvenient, too hard, not respectful enough of the established order… too unmasked… 

Imperial Rome was so anti-intellectual that engineers and inventors were paid by the state to not divulge their inventions, especially if they improved productivity. The theory is that such inventions would have augmented unemployment. Europeans, once they cancelled slavery (Bathilde, circa 655 CE) had no such qualms. By 1,000 CE, windmills and watermills were found by the dozens of thousands (6,000 watermills in England alone by 1068 CE).

The final result of this anti-intellectualism was that Rome could not see far in the distance, or deep in its own structures. But then, of course, it could not happen once the Republic existed only in name, because it was fairly clear that it had been captured by a gang of bandits.

Basilica Of Maxentius And Constantine (the former died in the Milvian bridge battle against the latter…). The trees are huge, by the way. A 15 meters tall statue of Constantine used to stand in front of it. Only its head survived. Basilica were buildings with multiple functions in Rome; they became strictly religious under Christianism.

Bis repetita with the Muslim Caliphates. The reason why the Caliphates went down was, basically, the same anti-intellectualism as Rome (for the good and simple reason that islam learned this anti-intellectualism from Rome). Why did Europe not succumb to anti-intellectualism too? 

Because after the Roman state demise, the legal establishment, the religious establishments (Christian and Jew), the military establishment, all parted ways, while the Roman plutocracy embraced the barbarians: it was all a big mess… which gave a modicum of freedom, competition, diversity and the spark of intellectual debates (after all, Charlemagne talked three languages, Frankish, Latin and Greek… and took himself for King David!) 

For example, 250 years after Charlemagne, a maverick such as the Normandy Duke, William the Bastard, soon to be a Conqueror, supported maverick intellectuals who identified god with reason… Or more exactly, reduced god to reason (the Pope was furious, but couldn’t do anything as William had a much bigger army). 

Whereas in Islam until recently one could not say that the combination of hydrogen and oxygen makes water, but only that hydrogen and oxygen, god willing, result in water. Allah supervised all of Islam, including the simplest gestures, even during the so-called “Golden Age of Islam”. Whereas in contemporaneous Europe, blasphemy came as naturally as sex jokes, and everything was for the better when both got mixed and the lecherous local priest ended emasculated… (See the “Fabliaux”)     

Capture by a gang of evils and devils, war criminals and criminals against humanity, not just bandits, is the condition sine qua non of plutocracy. 

In the recent elections in the USA, strong bias, in many ways was exerted by the plutocratic monopolies. Those monopolies had been created by the preceding regime (“Bush-Obama” [1]). They have a vested interest in seeing the friendliness to monopolies resurrected (Trump is suing Google and Facebook). 

The politics the tech monopolies pushed was not just to eliminate their tormentor, Trump. They also pushed an agenda of voting favorable to themselves. It is striking that, in California, rabidly “democratic” (Biden plus 5.5 million!), the pro-plutocracy propositions passed. Deep thinking shows something is wrong here: is California pro-democracy, and “left” (as it claims) or pro-plutocracy and pro-Neofeudalism (as the voting for plutocratic propositions indicates)? Further twist: the “Democratic” Party was officially against these plutocratic propositions, by the way, it’s not just me…

Deep thinking ponders: is not something fishy going on? How come a Trump hating California votes for plutocrats? Is this another proof that the pro-Biden vote was fundamentally pro-plutocracy? Right, it’s a point I have been trying to convey, approaching with a granular analysis… Or maybe Californians just do what their masters tell them to do?   

Indeed a population seemingly addicted to demonstrating obedience, wear masks even in the wilderness, a new form of debasing voodoo in which even Europe at the peak of the Black Plague of 1347 CE, did not fall (then only doctors wore masks). Thorough stupidification precedes ultimate plutocratization: we are no doubt on our way…

Fundamentally, leading civilizations lead from leading thinking. For example, Rome led Italy, Greater Greece, Etruria, so all her competitors, neighbors and adversaries by being the first to introduce a hoplite army, under, and thanks to king Sergius Tulius. Not only this endowed Rome with the best army in Italy, it made Rome into a democracy (after a delay from the insane reign of Tarquinius Superbus). Later, when Rome fought powers, she was typically the democracy and certainly the republic… from better thinking, and won, by better thinking.

Reciprocally, when the government of imperial Rome after Augustus, now a plutocracy, refused to think to solve Rome’s problems, no doubt that was for the obvious reason. Indeed, the most lucid of the plutocrats in total power could guess that deep thinking would have led the people to conclude that they, the plutocrats, consisted in the deepest problem intelligence was affected by. So, the problems went unsolved, festered ever more. Rome first deperished in its analytical capability, and then perished. 

If a civilization cannot sustain leading, progressing thinking, it will perish, one way, or another. Not just that, but the thinking has to be good enough to master the problems at hand. The problems we have now, a potential climate catastrophe, nuclear weapons, the Neo-Feudalism plutocracy is enthusiastically cruising towards, and an on-going Sixth Mass Extinction are all potentially biosphere terminating events. So we are going a bigger boat for our intellectual adventure as we face this tsunami of man-made cataclysms…

And yes, it will hurt to think new ideas, and foster new emotions. But there is no other way. Humanity reminds me of a solo climber way off the deck, and no matter the pain and the fright, the only way, no matter what is up… At all and any cost.

Patrice Ayme



[1] Obama adopted the plan of Bush which consisted in giving public money to private financing firms of his own liking… Instead of nationalizing them, first (as Reagan had done in a similar crisis). That was the most important, and fateful, decision of Obama’s reign: it brought increasing financial influence, plutocratization and inequality. As the launching of this deplorable policy was from Bush, it is cogent of evoking the regime of Bush-Obama. Truly what else did Obama do? Aside from augmenting the profits of the healthcare industry?  

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One Response to “Anti-Intellectualism Is Why Rome Went Down, And So Could We”

  1. pshakkottai Says:

    Yes Patrice; Google has too much power of censorship and can cut you off. It does not like free speech which is called “hate speech”. Any comment questioning Islam is hate speech by definition. Who judges that? Only Google knows.
    Civilization can be beaten down as in India or collapse from within as in Rome because of unenlightened plutocracy and loss of patriotism of we the people. USA is traveling the same road as Rome.


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