Archive for the ‘Rome’ Category

ETHICS ARISE FROM NATURE, THROUGH LIFE, And Its SPONSOR, REASON (Rise & Collapse of Rome, Part IV.)

October 1, 2017

 

The ancient Greek word êthikos means “relating to one’s character“. Stoicism was an important characteristic of the Roman Republic and its citizens, individually. King Pyrrhus observed that his victories against Rome would lead of the annihilation of his army (as they did), because the Romans took their defeats stoically, and kept on coming, destroying Pyrrhus’ officer corps.

Stoicism is a Republican virtue, all Roman soldiers and officers shared, because it was drilled in them, whereas Pyrrhus’ officer corps was held together by greed.

So how come did I savage old fashion “Stoicism” (and Buddhism, and I should have included Confucianism, as I was at it)? As in many behaviors, the problem with Stoicism arise if it abused.

Greek cities, at the time of their greatest greatness, knew Stoicism (although it had not been formally invented). Certainly, Athens pursuing the Peloponnesian War, in spite of horrendous losses in population and army (up to 50%), was stoic. But, after Stoicism was made into a religion (also known as a philosophical movement), it became a submission (at least in Greece; arguably, Athens had submitted earlier to the Macedonian Pluto-fascists).  

My 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, weaklings, creeps, opportunists, and gangsters on the make found to accommodate themselves with plutocratic fascism of the oligarchies which ruled those countries.

Thus, I reckon, Stoicism contributed to the Collapse of Roman Civilization: instead of resisting with force, even violence, Stoics went with the flow, as plutocratic tyranny took over the Greek world, and then the Roman democracy. Sure enough, Stoicism merged smoothly with Christian theofascism in the Fourth Century. As Nietzsche, and others, yours truly included, there are few behaviors more unnatural than the noble Stoics’ insistence to follow what they call “Nature” by laying prone and submissive. 

Here is Nietzsche on Stoicism: 

Nietzsche should be mandatory reading for would-be “progressives”, “Antifa”, and those who claim to “resist” the established order.

I go a bit further, as I observed that “Noble” Stoics could be quite ignoble (see Seneca, Marcus Aurelius). And stupid besides: Stoicists are living according to “Nature”, we all are, so why are they trying so hard to promote what we all already do? I gave the answer: to occupy their minds, and those they preach to, away from criticizing the masters too harshly, and having emotions conducive to that. However, in the present essay I rescue “New Stoicism” from the fascist abyss and Nietzsche’s scathing critique.

***

New Stoicism: De Rerum Natura, Including Ethics?

However, there are more modern ways to claim a “New Stoicism”. Massimo Pigliucci’s analysis of  Becker’s A New Stoicism, II: the way things stand, part 1 is quite interesting. I sent a comment, which Massimo generously published. It’s reproduced here in an expanded form:.

***

Most of the texts we have from Greco-Roman Antiquity were preserved by Christian monasteries (150 out of 160, roughly). That does not mean that Christians saved us, it means that most of them killed us, while robbing us of our own civilization, whereas a few braves saved some remnants to tease us with (critical texts, say on Constantine, often went conveniently missing, although secondary works from the same historians were preserved).

Considering that, starting in 363 CE, under emperor Jovian, Christians burned books and libraries, and considering that, after 391 CE, thanks to Theodosius’ law, it was open season on intellectuals judged to be “heretic“, while the Roman imperial government merged with Christian “saints” and bishops, one can be sure that only texts and authors which pleased the Christians in charge, survived.

Greco-Roman civilization if far from us, and, for the longest time, we have looked at it with a telescope equipped with a Christian filter. (Now things are changing, because we have independent means to know antiquity, such as archeology.)

Thus all the big names and their big books and the big philosophical movements of Antiquity which were known or popular in the Middle Ages, bear a Christian stamp of approval. The rest of the gigantic intellectual production of the Greco-Romans mostly disappeared, and can only be found out, or inferred, with exquisite difficulty (such as fragments, or partly erased parchments).

For example we know the Greeks developed Non-Euclidean geometry, more than a century before Euclid, because there are six non-Euclidean geometry theorems in… Aristotle (the Christian fascists loved Aristotle, because Aristotle destroyed democracy, so they preserved him). Aristotle was not a mathematician, the survival of this mathematical activity (rediscovered 22 centuries later) was entirely accidental.

We suspected the Greeks had mechanical computers, because Cicero said so. Then one was found at the bottom of the sea. Thus we know that old arriviste Cicero, who early in his career bought himself a $100 million house (constant 2017 dollars), didn’t make that one up (how could he?)

A text such as Lucretius’ De  Rerum Natura was found by the personal secretary of several Popes, Poggio Bracciolini, in January 1417, in an obscure monastery (Fulda?). There was just one copy (and it got lost after having been copied; there were fragments in other places). Poggio loved to search for old books hidden in secret places; he found several.

The average Christian in charge of the empire around 400 CE, was busy destroying anyway to look at the world not thoroughly compatible with their apocalyptic Jihad. The Book of the Apocalypse promise the Final Judgement, once civilization had been destroyed, so they destroyed civilization. Christians detested physics. They detested Epicurus’ philosophy, inspired by Democritus’ atomism. (Lucretius is centered around atomism, the most important scientific discovery.)

Theology assumed that the universe was in some way a living being (“God”, or “Gods”). All the laws there were, were laws of God, not physics. So books with laws of physics therein, had to be destroyed.

However, we are way smarter (more exactly, we are not intellectual fascists, we just one idea, in their case “God”). Before rejecting that idea outright, that idea that the universe is in some way a living being, we need to inquire all what is meant by “living”. Nobody knows, and this is a question exobiologists, or now Quantum theorists, would like to answer. So, indeed, the search for a modern version of the deity, or deities, is incomplete. So, at first sight, it looks as if we couldn’t anchor ethics upwards.

But ethics can certainly be anchored downwards, as we are chained by the long anchor of billions of years of evolution. Indeed…

“Living according to Nature” faces the problem that, on Earth, “Nature” is life. Indeed, although “Natural”, “Nature” is an art onto itself: what is more artificial than life?

Life evolved, as it is, in part from chance and necessity, and other factors science is barely scratching at as we speak (see the mighty struggles of Quantum Computer engineers, mathematicians and physicists, to get a glimpse of the possibilities q-bits are starting to offer).

So life is an anchor for ethics, but it seems an arbitrary one. If two themes dominate it, they seem to be collaboration and predation. Yes, good and evil, light and dark. One can fairly assume that so it is throughout the galaxies. (And let the vegans recoil in horror, as we reveal to their uncouth selves that the animal most feared by African children when walking around is the elephant, a most clever herbivore…)

If life means mayhem, what is the wise to do? Well, precisely, a discourse, wisdom. And wisdom is central to life: wisdom is basically intelligence, and life is intelligence. (I maintain here a distinction between consciousness, and intelligence!)

Thus, indeed, one should follow reason, as reason (however happenstance it may seem sometimes) is the skeleton of life. (interestingly, the Gospel of John starts by saying “God” is the “Logos”, that is, Reason, a thesis obviously planted to seduce Neo-Platonists and Stoicists (because Bible-God doesn’t seem very rational most of the time). But may be the author of the idea God = Logos really believe it; certainly many did, then…)

Building character according to reason does not mean just controlling reason, but the emotions, and the circumstances giving rise to the emotions. For example, it means inspecting, controlling, even rejecting, the emotional circumstances which mold most people’s minds, while encouraging others (for example don’t expose children to team sports on TV, but expose them to “Nature”).

Ethics, according to “Nature” encompasses much more than what moderns value as “moral” (most ancient religions had human sacrifices; Carthage found ethical to crucify poorly performing generals, while Athens and 18C Britain executed admirals for the same reason).

Thus an ethical system embracing “Nature” will come to embrace much that is considered “immoral” today (therein Seneca’s amazing moral limberness).

An ethics embracing “Nature” is not just correct, it’s eminently practical. Experts consider that the risk of nuclear weapon conflict is the highest ever, and the world’s ethical system is not ready for this. It is actually because it’s not ready for this, that we got into the present predicament.

Embracing “Nature” ethically shows that no quarters shall be given by the hand of fate: “Nature” is an indifferent master. Nuclear Armageddon could kill seven billions, and “Nature” would breathe a sigh of relief. “Nature” is realistic, our masters, too, as they secretly plot our demise, consciously or not, hubristically or not…

We humans are the top predator, to the point of preying onto ourselves (something bears do). A fact & a warning. I disagree with defining as “Stoicism” as the full embrace of reason, human or otherwise, whatever “human” means.

Why? A stoic attitude, and by “stoic” I mean “stoic” in the usual sense, is, all too often, the only reasonable attitude to adopt. However, sometimes, absolute rage and fury, for example, is more appropriate. It’s so very true, many advanced species have these behaviors as completely natural outcomes (“instincts”). Including, of course, humans, and nobody does this rage and fury trick better than humans (something conventional humanism has neglected, to its eternal shame and impotence. That’s how Neanderthals extinguished Cave Bears, and Native Americans kept at bay, and destroyed the formidable galloping giant carnivorous bear, Arctodus.  

Yes, “human” may just be a qualificative for the survival of the fittest. Those at the receiving end will embrace Stoicism as the Romans of the Republic did, but they embraced much more: reason, with its full metal jacket, passion, with all the love and cruelty it implied, and fitness as certified by survival.

When Rome went down, and down, and down, plunging into the abyss of ever more functionality, the upper classes had rejected stoicism, and embraced luxury and corruption instead: Seneca, a multi-billionaire from influence trafficking alone, or even Cicero are examples of this (Cicero bought a mansion in Rome worth 100 million 2017 dollars). Yet Stoicism took ever more importance in Roman society, below the elite, as most of the Roman People had  to submit to emperors and their infernal cortege and of plutocrats.

Stoicism was the behavioral trap the best of the SPQR, Senatus PopulusQue Romanus, fell into. Sometimes one needs a revolution, and it better be violent.

Patrice Ayme’

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NO LIMIT ON WEALTH, NO DEMOCRACY. Roman Limit: $22 Million (Why Rome Collapsed, Part III)

September 28, 2017

Why the Roman REPUBLIC, Hence ROME COLLAPSED, Part III: WHEN THE REPUBLICAN WEALTH LIMIT WAS DE FACTO REMOVED BY GLOBALIZATION, ROMAN DEMOCRACY COLLAPSED.

Now has come the time to Generalize the Roman Lex De Modo Agrorum, and to succeed where the Romans failed!

The Roman Republic had an ABSOLUTE LIMIT on wealth. I compute that absolute wealth limit  to be $22 million (see below). A Roman family, under the Republic, indeed, could not own more than a reasonable amount. Why?

Wealth is power.

If only a few have relatively enormous wealth, only a few have relatively enormous power. People power (demos-kratia) thus requires to limit the power of the few. Limiting wealth of the few absolutely the ingredient which enabled the Roman Republic to last 5 centuries. This has been safely ignored by conventional historians (who are not anxious to disrupt their paymasters).

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/limit-wealth-absolutely/

When Augustus was “Princeps” (“First Man”) , he was not just the most powerful Roman, legislatively, but also materially, the wealthiest. Limiting income absolutely would be a good first step; as the UK Labor Party led by Jeremy Corbyn may propose. A tax rate of 95% on the upper margin could be even more effective.

Limiting wealth absolutely is not about being pro-capitalist, or anti-capitalist, it’s a question of being pro-democracy, or anti-democracy. This is what the highest, most educated, scions of the nobles lineage in Rome themselves thought: the Gracchi

Gracchi Brothers. Heroes. And their mission is still unfulfilled.

The Roman Republic limited wealth absolutely. At a time when 99.99% of wealth was land, the wealth law LEX LICINIA SEXTIA DE MODO AGRORUM specified that no family would be allowed to possess more than 500 jugera. That’s approximately 125 hectares, roughly 325 acres (1.32 square kilometer). Any land that they occupied above this limit was confiscated by the state (and redistributed to ex-soldiers, or would-be peasant-owners, as needed). The law was passed in 367 BCE. It also limited grazing on public land by one family to 100 heads of cattle.

Following the Battle of Telamon (225 BCE), Rome swallowed Cisalpine Gaul, adding huge swathes of land to the ager publicus, land which was given to new Latin colonies or to small freeholders.

***

Scale Of Absolute Wealth Limit: 150 Times The Poverty Level, Thus 23 Million Dollars 

It was viewed, by Republican Roman Law, that families should be given a minimum of 2 acres of fertile land, which was known to be barely sufficient for survival. So let’s do a little Patrice’s style computation (simple minded, but clarifying). Let’s view those 2 acres as defining the poverty level. Although this may sound like pata-logic, I will equal Roman property with modern income (because then agricultural land was income).

I will also compare Rome with the richest area in the United States, San Francisco (Rome in 367 BCE was pretty much around one million people total; this is my own guesswork, from a population I guess to be around 200,000 soldier-citizens; the subject is still a matter of research; it seems that the Roman census started to count women and children as citizens around 70 BCE, bringing an artificial boost in the number of “citizens”). San Francisco has a bit less than a million residents, with a poverty level, for a family of four of $72,000 (!). This is what it takes to survive in San Francisco to pay rent, eat, take care of children. Yes, that’s extravagantly high (nearly four times the median family income in the USA; life is San Francisco is outrageously expensive relative to the rest of the USA). However, the income of the Roman population was also extravagantly high relative to the rest of the Mediterranean zone, when the Lex De Modo Agrorum was supposedly enforced (say in 150 BCE; OK, I just mixed 367 CE, when the law was passed, and Rome was much poorer; however, this is an order of magnitude argument).

So, we have: 2 acres = $72,000. 300 times this is around 22 million dollars. Thus, even in San Francisco, wealth friendly terms, according to the roman Republic Law, the absolute wealth limit should be no more than 22 million dollars. Instead, the wealthiest families in the area are more than 200 times richer. 

(One could use the 2017 US Federal poverty level, $25,000 for a family of four. Then the limit on wealth should be, according to Roman Republican standards 7.5 million dollars.)

So there is definitively a distributive, socialist side to the Roman Republic.

***

Romans Made Wealth Hating Laws, In Place For More than 6 Centuries:

Not only the Roman Republic limited wealth, it limited the exhibition thereof. A number of so-called sumptuary laws were passed, including the Lex Oppia (215 BCE), after the disaster of the battle of Cannae (all in all, the Romans may have suffered 500,000 soldiers killed in the Second Punic war, more than Rome counted male adult citizens! It was a repeat of the performance in the First Punic war…). “Sumptus” means expenditure, so sumptuary laws limited expenditures of private citizens doing private things.   

Sumptuary laws limited how much gold a woman could possess (half an ounce), and the sort of numbers of colors she could wear. Lex Fannia and Didia limited how much could be spent at a dinner. Actually the first sumptuary laws were passed well before the Republic, and limited the spending during funerals. Thus Rome was in the mood of limiting wealth and its exhibition for about seven centuries, and the democracy fell with them. Greek democracies also had anti-sumptuary laws.

(However, in 195 CE, thanks to a massive demonstration of Roman matrons and women blocking the centers of powers of Rome, the law was repealed.)

***

By 140 BCE, Rome Mastered The World, And Its Masters Went Global, Escaping Taxation,Thus Overwhelmingly Satanic:

Plutarch reports that, “when Tiberius on his way to Numantia passed through Etruria and found the country almost depopulated and its husbandmen and shepherds imported barbarian slaves, he first conceived the policy which was to be the source of countless ills to himself and to his brother.”

Plutarch also noted, “Then the poor, who had been ejected from their land, no longer showed themselves eager for military service, and neglected the bringing up of children, so that soon all Italy was conscious of a dearth of freemen, and was filled with gangs of foreign slaves, by whose aid the rich cultivated their estates, from which they had driven away the free citizens.”

[This is very analogous to the immigration policy in places such as England or California in recent years: under the guise of immigration friendly practices, “sanctuary cities”, millions of immigrants without rights were imported to do the indispensable work nobody else wants to do (agricultural and domestic work in California). Those people are not technically slaves, just practically so.]

Speaking as a Tribune to a crowd at the RostraTiberius said, “The wild beasts that roam over Italy have their dens, each has a place of repose and refuge. But the men who fight and die for Italy enjoy nothing but the air and light; without house or home they wander about with their wives and children.”

Tiberius Gracchus had a lot of military experience and experience of military command (he saved a Roman army from the Numantines, by signing a treaty!) He was one the pillars of the Senate, and was destined to become as prestigious as his two famous Scipio relatives.  

Tiberius bravely fought to help Rome’s devastating victory in the Third Punic War.  His most glorious accomplishment was to become the first man over the wall at Carthage, surviving to tell about it.  He was awarded the “mural crown” for his stupendous achievement (as he was from the highest nobility, destined to the greatest commands, he didn’t need such heroics to become somebody). Tiberius’ courage in battle and at war against Carthage or Numantia enabled him to have the courage to fight the Roman plutocracy. It became a fight to death, and, unfortunately, the Gracchi didn’t win. So here we are, still fighting plutocracy, 22 centuries later!

***

WHY THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, HENCE ROME, WENT DOWN:

People have gone around like caterpillars, following each others’ butts about the collapse of the Roman State. However it’s pretty clear that MOST of the Roman State territory was settled under the REPUBLIC, NOT the fascist empire (under Nero, Britain was conquered; however Caesar had invaded there prior, and the hard work was to conquer Gaul; Trajan also conquered Dacia, and pushed to the Persian Gulf where an illness fell him). Modern PC types may smirk that I am equating conquest and civilization. Yet, the German border was highly unstable; the Romans were not necessarily in bad terms with the Barbarians, and they actually helped the Goths to fight the Huns, under Valens, before catastrophe in a refugee crisis.

It remains that the Republic imploded, crushed by plutocracy, centuries before the military empire. But the latter was created, and could only survive, thanks to the former.

Tribune of the People Tiberius Gracchus tried to enforce the law of absolute wealth limit. He modernized it, and tried to make it so that it would stop the impoverishment of the average Roman, by redistributing land. For his effrontery, he, his brother, and more than 5,000 of their followers, were assassinated (conventional historians will tend to insist on some alleged technical violations of tacitly constitutional ways Tiberius would have engaged in; earlier Tiberius had saved a Roman army by slightly bending the usual ways too, so this does not carry any weight, and misses completely the importance of what Tiberius tried to achieve). Thus the Roman soldiers, deprived of redistribution of wealth acquired in newly conquered lands, kept on getting ever poorer.

The general Marius, who had saved Rome from certain annihilation by defeating the coalition of the savage Numidians, and then later the equally as savage German Ambrones, Cimbri and Teutones, and was elected seven times Consul, had faced a situation where he had to fight hundreds of thousands of barbarian warriors with the sole remaining Roman army, transported from Africa, with just 40,000 soldiers. For being able to call on more would-be soldiers, Marius removed the legal requirement that Roman soldiers should be property owning (what he should have done, if he had been able to do it, was to redistribute wealth from the hyper rich, to the soldiers, as Sulla did for his own soldiers, a bit later;  120,000 of Sulla’s legionnaires received plots of land).

What was going on with Rome was that the globalization of wealth and political influence, thanks to globalization, had run away from the needed expansion of law and of the the Roman Republic “checks and balances”.

***

Wealth Global, Law Local: The recipe for global plutocracy, in Rome, as it is now:

We are facing the same exact situation as the Roman Republic, 22 centuries ago, but we face it on a planetary basis: wealth is global, law is local. We need to change that by making global the taxation of power, that is, wealth!

One has to start somewhere. If the so-called “Conservatives” are ejected (as they deserve) Great Britain, under a rejuvenated “Labor”, may as well be that trail blazer! Even The Economist is equivocal about Jeremy Corbyn, whereas it used to hate, despise, and disregard him only a few months ago.

The Gracchi failed to impose global assent to the law which would have saved democracy, that was a failure of theirs: instead of bringing republican consensus, civil war started. The Gracchi’s law passed, but its main proponents had been durably killed and exterminated. This precedent of ultimate violence enabled the plutocrats, in power in the Senate, to not really enforce the Gracchis’ law; in later generations, all laws pertaining to wealth and corruption were violated.

Ever since, democracy has not been fully re-established: for example all the media, that is, what people use to make up their minds, is owned by plutocrats; one can’t have democracy when the minds of people are made up by masters (example: yours truly is banned at the New York Times, although a subscriber for decades).

Ownership of media should be very limited, in a generalization of the Lex De Modo Agrorum. Hopefully, by suggesting all these measures for limiting wealth, we won’t finish as the Gracchi (Tiberius was beaten to death with the leg of a chair). Not to worry: the control of the wealthy is so great, most people have no idea what we are talking about, or even that the subject exists, let alone that there are insects, such as yours truly, and they talk! ;-)!

It goes without saying that prestigious historians from famed institutions do not teach any of the preceding: they don’t understand the economics, the philosophy and the human ethology, all of them being out of their fields of expertise. Besides, their salaries and careers depend upon them not understanding it. They are small men, or women, avid for crumbs, whereas the Gracchi were giants, reaching for the stars.

So, instead, conventional historians, in the rather dim light of their deliberately reduced mental means, all too often, question the psychology of Tiberius, affecting perfidiously to wonder why he was so ambitious (in the usual method of the petty: questioning the messenger rather than the message).

Well, that’s easy to dispose of: Tiberius was at the very apex of Roman society, in roughly all ways. He had no ambition and no power to gain with changing the law and redistributing riches. He had no fame to earn, but that which enmity brings. Tiberius pushed for change, because it was the right thing to do.

That’s what exceptional people have always done. They succumb to the attraction of what is right. Humanity is symbiotic with truth.

It could have saved the Republic, and Democracy. The Republic, and Democracy, could only be have been saved that way. This was true then, it’s even more true now.

All the more as nowadays, the Barbarians at the gates yield nukes, and the Barbarians inside the gates, mold most minds, having made them, through the media they own and fabricate, from their own petty obsessions.

Patrice Ayme’

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

September 27, 2017

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!)

Enraged Stoics

March 5, 2016

MARCUS AURELIUS, REVEALED FOR WHAT HE WAS, HIS ENRAGED “STOICS”, and related context.

[One of my readers told me to remove a more offensive title which depicted better how I felt about Marcus Aurelius and his clueless critters. Otherwise she won’t read the essay!] Yes, I know, it is curious that people who call themselves “stoic” would actually be enraged. Yet, they are. How they were led to rage, under the guidance of your truly, is instructive, and reveals much on human nature. Basically, I revealed them the truth, knowing full well, they would explode (that makes little different from Daech, aka ISIL).

And, yes, I know, Marcus Aurelius is one of the most adulated celebrities, viewed as a top intellectual, a great stoic philosopher, a towering right of life and death emperor, etc. However, my word is stronger than his sword, the true philosopher knows.

There is nothing which enrage liars more than the truth, to all revealed.  By revealing to them the truth, namely that one who, to this day, is one of their greatest leaders, is a piece of mental trash, who led humanity astray, I brought them to the abyss, where, lemming like, they jumped passionately.

Rage permeates the human condition, and reveals its nature. It’s a failing of traditional humanism that it has not yet enlighten the causes of why this happens.

Emperor Antoninus Pius Ruled For Twenty-Two And A Half Years. Pius, A Stoic, Was The Immediate Predecessor of Marcus Aurelius. Yet, A Truly Wise Leader, Following Republican Tradition, He Nominated None Of His Numerous Male Descendants Successor-Designate (“Caesar”)

Emperor Antoninus Pius Ruled For Twenty-Two And A Half Years. Pius, A Stoic, Was The Immediate Predecessor of Marcus Aurelius. Yet, A Truly Wise Leader, Following Republican Tradition, He Nominated None Of His Numerous Male Descendants Successor-Designate (“Caesar”)

Just as the Buddhists had Buddha, the Xns love Jesus, the Muslims venerate Muhammad, the Stoics are overwhelmingly psychologically dependent upon Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor, and their hero. Today I will demonstrate further why Aurelius was garbage. (Do I look enraged myself? Not really, but against Nazi-like cultish methods, only the strongest answers are appropriate. The case against Aurelius may be more serious than the case against all the monarchs of the Middle Ages, as second only perhaps to Aristotle, he generated them all. As I will show below.)

Stoics, in their admirative folly, tell a lot of (traditional) lies about Marcus Aurelius. That these lies are traditional does not excuse them, or transmogrify them into the truth. Confronted to the details making blatant that those lies, however much repeated on the Internet, are lies, would-be stoics use the traditional methods deriving from what I call “intellectual fascism”. (At least that’s coherent, as Marcus Aurelius described, one could say, invented, and sang the praises of that mental method I call “Intellectual fascism”.)

I have attracted the anger of bankers, Muslims, Christians, American fanatics, and many other critters such as “Antisemites”. Unfortunately, apparently overwhelmed by a mountain of evidence and scholarship, bankers and Muslims have become exceedingly quiet.

***

The Fascist Instinct:

The ancestors of human beings for many million of years were primates pretty much exposed, far from a thick tree cover. The survival of the genus depended upon adopting with gusto the  following behavior: when confronted to danger the whole group gathering together behind a leader, and acting as one. We will call that the “fascist instinct”.

(This depends upon a piece of mathematics observed in the wild: when two groups of predators fight, the side with the greatest total mass generally wins; by acting as one, a human group could overwhelm any predator; predators cannot afford injuries, so they avoid any potential prey potentially all too injurious.)

We do not know how a behavior, necessary for survival, becomes “hard wired”. (I have just argued against simplistic ways of doing so.) However, I think the “fascist instinct” (for want of a better phrase) is “hardwired”, whatever “hardwire” means.

I also think that the next big progress in humanities will consist in admitting that various “hardwired” traits of the human genus are actually demonic. So, instead of denying that they are there, we should recognize, own, manage, mitigate, domesticate, and civilize them.

Intellectual fascism is such a trait. Celebritism, the cult of celebrities is an aspect of it. It brings forth the confusion between knowledge and hero-worship. For example the discovery of gravitational waves was attributed to “Einstein”, a content-empty concept. In truth, gravitational waves should be attributed to field theory: any moving field source generates an energy wave radiating outwards (that can then be explained further; ironically, Einstein vacillated on the waves, for years, so he had not understood how simple they were).

***

Roman Emperors Were Generally Nominated by The Senate or Adopted By Their Predecessor:

An example is Tiberius, top general in the Roman empire, adopted son of Augustus. After Augustus died, Tiberius retired in the country and waited many weeks, until the Senate begged him to become Princeps (Tiberius was de facto already head of all Roman legions, thus imperator, from his long top military command).

Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor with a son. That’s completely false. For example Tiberius, the second emperor, had two full grown sons. Both followed the cursus honorum, and became famous generals: Germanicus reconquered the part of Germany lost by Arminius’ treachery, and in particular the locale where three legions had been lost in an ambush.

What was new, is that Marcus Aurelius used a logic that brought him to make his son a “Caesar” at age five. It is not that Marcus did not know right from wrong. He did. And what he did was obviously wrong. But, somehow, Marcus found a psychopathic LOGIC to justify his perverse action.

It was psychopathic logic, because it explicitly contradicted the explicit wisdom to choose the next emperor very carefully, if possible among the most meritorious youth after they received the best education (as Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus had been selected, and educated by the famous Grammaticus Fronto).

***

Even With An Imperator Cum Princeps, Rome Viewed Itself As A Republic;

Indeed, the truth has been in plain sight, so many can’t see it:  Why? One has to know first this striking fact: until after Diocletian’s rule, around 300 CE, the Roman Imperium was actually a Republic.

Historians have come to use the word “Principate” to qualify Rome until 300 CE. Because the Imperator was also “Princeps”, the first man in the Senate. Right now in the USA, the Vice-President is first man in the Senate: as President of the Senate, the vice president has two primary duties: to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock and to preside over and certify the official vote count of the U.S. Electoral College. The distinction between “president” and “prince” is that between “sits first” (president) and “takes first” (princeps/prince).

The Republic was supposedly going on, and “imperator”, supreme military command on a set of legions, was a military title from centuries of Republic. There were cases, during the Republic, when imperators saluted each other, with the “imperator” title.

***

A Professional Philosopher Makes A Correction:

“Patrice,

once more, your statements are incorrect. It isn’t that Marcus was the first emperor to have a son reach adulthood, but he was the first emperor of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty dynasty who had that opportunity.

And one more time: drop talk of fascism and psychopathy, it is adding nothing to the discussion.”

Well, dear Massimo, if you want to dine with the devil, you will need a longer spoon. I replied this:

During the Nerva-Antonine dynasty, an important qualification to become emperor was to be a stoic.

Emperor Hadrian adopted in 136 CE one of the ordinary consuls of that year, Lucius Ceionius Commodus, who took the name Lucius Aelius CAESAR. Lucius did not look the most qualified, and historians suggested he was Hadrian’s natural son. After another successful consulship in 138 CE, Lucius died (of natural causes).

Emperor Antoninus Pius, predecessor of Marcus Aurelius, had two natural, recognized sons: Marcus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus and Marcus Galerius Aurelius Antoninus. However, the emperor Antoninus Pius did not name them Caesars during their childhood or adolescence. That would have been… unwise.

Antoninus’ two sons died young without issue. However, their sister Faustina the Younger had thirteen children, and their descendants are attested in the Fifth Century. As Antoninus had the longest reign since Augustus, he could have named a direct descendant Caesar (as Marcus would do). Antoninus was a stoic.

Marcus Aurelius differed from his numerous imperial predecessors in two ways: he did not adopt a qualified, adult heir. He also nominated a very small child as heir (a royal habit which would reappear in the Fifth Century, and thereafter through the Middle Ages).

This is not a full case against Marcus Aurelius. His attitude against Christians was also a disaster.

***

If You Want Civilization To Survive, Reject Celebritism, Intellectual Fascism, etc., & Embrace Direct Democracy:

Marcus Aurelius sank the Roman Empire, just as surely as the Captain of the Titanic sank the Titanic. His designation of the baby Commodus as Caesar, heir-designate, at the grand old age of five, tells us he was no wise man. However much he repeated like a parrot in Greek what Greek philosophers had said before. Thus he covered his tracks for 19 centuries, but as Donald Trump would point out, here I am, to say the obvious.

The rage of the professed ‘stoics’, confronted to my naked truths with whom I crush them, tells volume. First it says that Stoicism falls short. Half of humanity lives in East Asia, and should not scoff too fast. East Asia is permeated with Buddhism and its variants and fellow travellers (Confucianism). One can viewed all these as forms of stoicism. Or, more exactly, forms of stoicism a la Marcus Aurelius. (It’s not that Aurelius influenced them directly; it’s more that to the same problems, the same solutions.

Marcus Aurelius, as world dictator, devised a system of mind compatible with his elevated role as fascist-in-chief. Many a ruler in East Asia, and their obsequious servants, such as Confucius, were drawn to the same broad conclusions.

Thus (much of) Stoicism-Buddhism-Confucianism can be viewed as an overall mentality (there are variants of the three of them which differ wildly.

As long as We The People do not admit that individuals are prone to failure and demonicity, always, we will not progress to the sort of perfection we now need for survival as a genus of mind.

That packs of stoics can exhibit the ugly side of man, reminiscent of an angry pack of hyenas, is no wonder. When a pack of hyenas of roughly equivalent mass confront a pack of lions, they attack. However confronted to one of a few humans, they flee. Why? Even hyenas know that humans are the worst of the worst, in some most important ways. And that’s why stoics love Marcus Aurelius: because he was the worst of the worst, under Stoic guise, he was ready to lead them, straight into the Middle Ages, and its hereditary absolute power, from father to new-born babe.

Marcus Aurelius, the first hereditary king? Yes. A philosopher? No.

Patrice Ayme’