Archive for the ‘Rome’ Category

Barbarian Invasions and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire

May 15, 2020

Why did the Roman Empire end in the West during the Fifth Century? Let’s assume it did (in truth, it didn’t: zombies don’t die easily). According to The Eighteenth Century historian, Gibbon, “instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long.”

A simple, directly observable reason for the fall was a domino effect causing a military-economic avalanche propelled by Germanic invasions.

The domino effect occurs when dominoes on their sides, one next to another, knock one after the other, starting with the first one in the line over into its neighboring domino. This creates a chain reaction and all of the dominoes fall down, one after another. For the fall of Rome, it was the Huns invading from the east who launched the domino effect; they invaded (pushed into) the Goths, who then invaded (pushed into) the Roman Empire. The Huns had composite bows with tiny supplements added at the extremities which augmented their power. The Huns learned to transform this apparently small advantage of weaponry into an entire industry of invasion of western central Asia. 

If one looks in more detail, as the professional Roman army had to be paid, and its equipment was expensive, the army depended heavily upon tax receipts. As those diminished, because territories were lost, domino style, the army was less paid and less equipped, had to be withdrawn, and became weaker. All the north-west (Britannia, the two Germania and Gallia) were evacuated by the legions, to save money.

Notice that the money problem occurs more in  a fascist empire organized around and from greed, which, in its most developed form, is called corruption. In a Republic, the problem would not have arisen: no corruption because of the law, and soldiers could volunteer, because they were patriots, and making money was secondary. Roman republican soldiers were paid, since 405 BCE, but, as the republic became a fascist empire, and military dictatorship, the pay became much more important was tripled by Augustus. Actually, the perverse revolution headed by Octavian/Augustus was mostly motivated by pay.

Vast Was The Empire. Actually, at full extent, the empire was even larger, as it owned or controlled the Black Sea shore, including Crimea. the Franks would reconquer the entire north west corner, plus Germany and Eastern Europe, creating a more defensible ensemble, which was indeed never invaded again in the following 16 centuries…

The fall of the Western Roman Empire is a great lesson of an exponentiating cause and effect chain. A cause leads to an effect, but the cause-effect relation can EXPONENTIATE, when the effect creates more of the same cause.

The Romans hired barbarian mercenaries to guard the borders… Not just this, but the Germans were motivated to serve in the Roman military than the Native Romans were. Just below the emperor Gratian, the main commanders in Occident were all Franks: Richomeres (who became Consul), and then Flavius Arbogast and the king of the Franks Mellobaudes (comes domesticorum).

Because, to save money, the Franks were put in charge of defending the Germano-Gallic frontiers (the local legions having been sent to Italy to defend against invasions there), and there were not enough Franks, or they were surprised by the weather, the German nations galloped across the frozen Rhine on December 31, in 406 CE. Because Roman legions evacuated Britannia in AD 410, the Anglo-Saxons moved into Britannia. You could also say the word “so” in between the cause and effect, like this: The Huns pushed other groups westward, so the Vandals invaded Spain, north Africa, set-up a maritime empire, cut off the grain supply to Rome, and sacked Rome in 455 CE.

Here is a brief (criticized) list of the generally admitted internal causes for the Fall of Rome:

Christianism was less tolerant of other cultures and religions, than had been the norm with religions under Republican and Principate Rome. Constantine imposed it, of course, precisely because it was less tolerant. Somebody who had his wife steamed and his son and nephew executed, for obscure reasons he was unwilling to describe, didn’t view tolerance has an asset. 

Starting with Gratian and Theodosius, state imposed Christianism made everybody stupid, under the penalty of death, if one didn’t join the exponentiating stupidity by “exerting choice” (heresy, Greek hairesis “a choosing for oneself).

This fanatical cult conducive to tyranny didn’t hesitate to cut into the muscle. Example: Emperor Theodosius ended the Olympic Games, a purely sportive event, 12 centuries old… officially because the olympiades honored Zeus. A petty reason hiding a much sinister truth: the Christian theoreticians hated the body… as the body is the source of common sense… and the essence of Christianism was to refute reason, thus, common sense! Thus, Christianism cut into not just the bone, but the brain. It was like a praying mantis eating the brain of a hummingbird: pretty clever at feeding itself.

As Gibbon put it:

“The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world [before Christianism] were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.”

(Hearing of such accusations about the fanaticism of their sect, the Christians generally whine disingenuously that they were persecuted by Pagans, and died in great numbers. Well, not really. There was deliberately no prosecution under Trajan whatsoever. Six (6) Christians died under Marcus Aurelius, in twenty years… And under the most terrible persecution organized (and then lifted) by Galerius in the early Fourth Century, maybe a grand total of 3,000 (and this only for those who refused to take an oath to the State).

Whereas, soon enough the Christians, directly or indirectly, would kill millions. They warmed up by hunting and killing intellectuals (something they would do again in the late middle ages and renaissance).  

The split of the empire into two parts and many emperors and an unelected miasma of powerful officials weakened the empire: it was all too often not clear who was in charge. Successful generals were often executed, lest they become a threat to those in power above them. The more honest, the greater the threat, the more executed valuable generals were.

Roman soldiers were loyal to their military leaders, who often paid them, or decided if they could sack a city, not necessarily the emperor, or whoever, or whatever was supposedly in command. This problem of dependency upon the local commander started with Marius, seven times Consul, under the Republic, and was itself a reaction to the fact that Roman farmer-soldiers were treated very poorly… Something Tiberius Gracchus condemned as early as 150 BCE.

From 211 CE through 284 CE, there were at least twenty-seven emperors (and even more “usurpers”). Only four of these emperors died of natural causes. One cause for his turnover being that drastic problems, such as pandemics, inflation shrinking the real economy, and invasions could not be solved, so there was great dissatisfaction. There was no calm way to remove an emperor, so most were murdered. Loyal soldiers picked emperors by murdering them and placing their prefered general on the throne. This weakened Rome, and signaled the decline of its Empire. Diocletian re-established the aura of the emperor by closing the gap between God (Sol Invictus) and monarch. Constantine went further, inventing Christianism as we know it (“Nicene Creed”), full of unreason, and reverence for “The Lord” (implicitly, the emperor himself).

Legend has it that Romans had become lazy and all too comfortable. There is some elements of truth in this, but this despondency was engineered by the Roman plutocracy, which wanted to achieve such a despondency. Actually, the failing economy of the middle class in Italy was greatly due to a Machiavellian maneuver, one which can be observed today: jobs were sent overseas, Italians were paid to do nothing.

The idea was that, this way, the 99% would not rebel against the 1%, at least where it mattered, in the richest part, Italy. It worked. After a few centuries of this feeding for nothing, to make sure that they really would never rebel, the Roman plutocracy, that is, the Senate, decided that Italians couldn’t serve in the army. So italians couldn’t even defend themselves. Once the richest part, Italy became poorer.

Peripheral zones of the empire, archeology has shown, stayed wealthy… as long as they were not invaded.

The Roman army in the Late Empire was paid from high taxes. There was little respect for the state, and there was little sense of patriotism (differently to what happened under the Roman Republic). All the more as local democratic councils were dependent upon local wealthy elected officials, the Curiae. As the hyper rich became wealthier, complete with a bishop in the family, the lower upper class disappeared, and nobody could, or was willing to serve in the Curiae.

Nowadays, everybody admits that the fall(s) of the city of Rome and the Western Empire did not put an end to the entire Roman Empire. The Eastern Empire survived for another thousand years. The Eastern Empire is sometimes called the Byzantine Empire, after the ancient capital city of Byzantium, a city-state crucial ally of Athens, guarding the entry to the Black Sea, where Athens got grain.

Greek was the main language in the Byzantine Empire, not Latin. Yet, those Greeks called themselves “Romans”. And they were. So were the Franks in the West, busy rebuilding, “renovating” the empire, just better. The Franks in the West were all speaking latin by 600 CE, and every citizen was a Frank. A generation later, slavery was outlawed. Slavery had caused enormous problems to the middle class in Republican Rome, as the usage of slaves had made the hyper wealthy even wealthier, thus ever more powerful and perverse. 

Right, the violent Muslim invasion of the Seventh Century nearly put an end to this beautiful adventure. Yet, the city of Constantinople on one side, and the empire of the Franks on the other, were able to resist the onslaught. Frankish armies and their proxies or allies were able to reconquer much of the West (but not North Africa), and domesticate Eastern and Northern Europe. In the Tenth Century the Saxons conquered by Charlemagne would become lead two-third of the empire, defending Europe against the Avars. Meanwhile, the Greco-Romans expanded their Christian Cesaro-Patriarchism into Russia.

One of the reasons suggested for the Fall of the West has been that it was impoverished relative to the Orient. This is false (in spite of vast transfer of art east by Constantine). Quite the opposite. Indeed, recent genetic studies have hinted the opposite: there was little immigration of Western Europe into Italy during fascist imperial Rome. But there was an ultra massive Oriental immigration, to the point that Rome became full of Orientals. Generally people migrate towards richer areas.

In truth, as we will see, the reasons for the Fall of the West are purely military: it was easier to invade, geographically… and, curiously scrupulously ignored by traditional historians, Occidental Rome had no more army. Why was that not noted? Because Christian fanaticism has everything to do with the disappearance of the Occidental army.  

Amazingly, and very tellingly, many comprehensive treatises on the history of Rome, or even the fall of Rome fail, to mention the battle of Frigidus, where the Occidental Roman army was annihilated. Although, the following campaign season, in 395 CE, the Barbarians  attacked the core of the empire massively and Stilicho, the half-Vandal, by then Regent of the entire Roman empire had to scramble against them with whatever (victorious) forces  were left after Frigidus (a battle Theodosius should have lost… But there was this Bora wind, Arbogast made several mistakes in commandment… and Theodosius had offered the empire to the Goths, so they were motivated…)

Christianism and Oligarchism are biases against reason profitable to the worst, which keep on going, once well launched… And this is why books, for millennia, keep on representing them to their best advantage: powers that be prefer books which make them look good. Dissecting the ideologies which support them do not please the powers. Hence the superficial explanations for the fall of Rome, when the simplest and the earliest is for all to see: a takeover by the wealthiest, those “Optimates”… Just like Tiberius Gracchus said.

Patrice Ayme

Why Didn’t Roman Emperors Reestablish The Republic In Full?

April 10, 2020

Augustus won the last Civil War. But then he didn’t bring back the Republic in full, but only partially, and not at the top. Why not? Because of a particular web of complex causalities. One doesn’t choose history, history chooses you.

The prominent Roman historian Suetonius (who died around 125 CE) said the following of Augustus on his book De Vita Caesarum:

He twice thought of restoring the republic; first immediately after the overthrow of Antony, remembering that his rival had often made the charge that it was his fault that it was not restored; and again in the weariness of a lingering illness, when he went so far as to summon the magistrates and the senate to his house, and submit an account of the general condition of the empire. Reflecting, however, that as he himself would not be free from danger if he should retire, so too it would be hazardous to trust the State to the control of more than one, he continued to keep it in his hands; and it is not easy to say whether his intentions or their results were the better. His good intentions he not only expressed from time to time, but put them on record as well in an edict in the following words: “May it be my privilege to establish the State in a firm and secure position, and reap from that act the fruit that I desire; but only if I may be called the author of the best possible government, and bear with me the hope when I die that the foundations which I have laid for the State will remain unshaken.” And he realized his hope by making every effort to prevent any dissatisfaction with the new régime.”

A first problem with internal constitutional reform was that the Roman empire was at war to secure a safety zone around itself after 29 BCE, when Augustus became “Senatus Princeps“. In other words, Augustus augmented (hence his title of Augustus) the empire, pursuing his great uncle and adoptive father’s work. Marius and Sulla had saved Rome from annihilation at the hands of a coalition determined, hell-bound Germanic tribes, not even a century earlier… by the skin of their teeth.

Extent and expansion of the Roman Empire under Augustus; the yellow legend represents the extent of the Empire in 31 BC, the shades of green represent gradually conquered territories under the reign of Augustus, and pink areas on the map represent client states. (High Resolution!)

Basically, if Augustus had given up power, to whom, or what would the power have gone? The Roman oligarchy, its global, international plutocracy, was immensely more influential, because of its wealth and patronage, than the Roman People. Augustus knew it would have gone back to them. This is basically what happened after Sulla.

To reestablish the Republic, Augustus would have had to weaken both the prerogatives of the military and of the plutocracy, simultaneously, and delicately, while restoring the powers of the Roman People… which, after a century of butchery, had become more interested in pax rather than libertas. All the more as Augustus profited from the aura of populism of Caesar. And, considering what had happened to Caesar, a good bodyguard was in order, everybody had to admit. Under Tiberius a new actor came on the scene, a powerful Praetorian guard, strong enough to rule the City of Rome all by itself (as the guard got used to kill and install emperors, or sell the throne, it got dissolved by emperor Septimius Severus, 200 years later…)

Indeed, there was a precedent for the restoration of the Republic: after a horrendous civil war, with more than 100,000 young men killed in combat, Sulla exerted his dictatorship. However, still middle aged, he retired from public life, without any protection, after reestablishing the powers of the Tribunate of the People. Sulla died, from natural causes, soon after getting to enjoy his country estate. He was given a national funeral (although so many had been his victims, in the end most celebrated him after his death!)

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So what of Augustus? Why didn’t Augustus, such a learned young man, with much philosophical inclination, reestablish the Respublica, as Sulla had done? It was a question of character and convenience, or maybe simply the flow of history, the sum of all histories, just as in Quantum Mechanics (Feynman way). Octavian/Augustus life was incredibly adventurous and bold… But Sulla’s life, which was quite comparable, was even more so. Appian said Sulla renounced power, because, after his astounding adventures, from Africa to Gallia, to Asia, and conducting a civil war in Italy he was sated with power.

Augustus may have thought that to renounce power, and reestablish the Respublica as Sulla had done would just relaunch the civil wars. Also Sulla renounced power, soon after having acquired absolute power. Sulla was middle aged. Augustus instead acquired absolute power when he was in his twenties. By the time Augustus was middle aged, he had been in absolute, not to say outrageous, power, for thirty years: he was used to it.

Another event happened. Once after Sulla became an ordinary citizen without any bodyguard a young man followed him all day, ostensibly bombarding him with insults, and provocations. However the once hyper violent special ops agent, general, imperator and dictator passively received the abuse all day long and then pointed out, “This bully will ensure that no-one else will ever relinquish supreme power.”

Also Octavian/Augustus was immensely shocked by the death of his adoptive father Gaius Caesar. It was not just that he loved and admired Caesar, who was launching his military career, and treated him as a son. After Caesar’s death, Octavian himself had to fight back, not just to save his inheritance, but his life. It’s likely that, if he had done nothing, and had never risen to the occasion, he would have lost his life.

Caesar had tried to pull a trick similar to Sulla… Dictating, but then acting normal (except Sulla didn’t mix both genres: when he ruled, he ruled, when he retired, he retired). Although dictator, Caesar was going about Rome and attending dinner parties as if he were an ordinary citizen. Caesar ostensibly trusted the Senate, entered it all alone, unarmed… And was stabbed in return… After what had happened to Caesar, all could only be understanding of the precautions taken by Augustus. Besides, nobody could seriously disagree, those who had agreed to assassinate Caesar were dead.

Augustus awarded himself with the tribunicia potestas, or tribunician power, which enabled him to: propose laws to the Senate whenever he wanted, veto any laws he wanted, grant amnesty to any citizen accused of crime… There were other tribunes, but because Augustus was Senatus Princeps (First in the Senate), had stuffed the Senate only with obedient Senators, and because Augustus was endowed with the most powerful imperium, other tribunes were of no consequence.

Overall, both the Roman elite and the Roman People were exhausted of the horrendous civil wars which had killed so many. The wars became a memory under Augustus, and economic prosperity came back, as never before, while local elections were held in the quasi confederacy which was the empire.

The fundamental reason for the civil wars had been the rise of a hyper powerful plutocracy. Although Augustus and his fellow triumvirs had killed thousands of their prominent opponents, the plutocratic system was still in place. Only some names had changed and some families had been eradicated. The Republic couldn’t come back, because the plutocracy was still in power.

Moreover, as the Civil Wars developed, because of the military reforms of Caesar’s uncle Marius, men without property to go back to, as in old times, became soldiers. Those soldiers made their careers as followers of their own generals. Their careers was their generals, it was not the farms they didn’t have. Starting with Caesar, the army realized its powers, and developed political acumen. What the army understood is that it had only one interlocutor: the plutocracy.

By the time of Diocletian, an Illyrian native, the army had deprived the Senate of much of its power, and reduced the non-military plutocracy to being its own instrument…

In any case, the empire became a dialogue between plutocrats and the military, and then god was added to the mix, to justify the rule of a “Dominus”, Diocletian’s practice of “Domination”.

Sulla’s restoration of the Republic failed soon after his death, because the Roman plutocracy was the enemy of the Roman Republic and its once all-powerful Plebs. Just re establishing the Republic was not enough. Plutocracy was a cancer. The patient, the Republic, had passed out because of its cancer. Reanimating the patient , without operating on the cancer, could only have an ephemeral effect. So Augustus would have had to reestablish the old Absolute Wealth Limit of the Republic and its “Sumptuary” laws, which prevented the top families to become too powerful, and too vile.

By the time of Augustus, nobody in the elite wanted to see such limits to their power and debauchery to be erected again. Everybody in the elite wanted a good time, et, as French king Louis XV put it:”Après moi, le déluge!” Besides there independent military powers a few hundred miles from Rome and her delicate trading communication networks…

When too few people, their families, descendants, followers, helpers and hanger-ons, in particular if military, have too much power, the only thing which can divest this power from them is foreign invasions. And this is exactly what happened to Rome.

Could it have been different? Those who understood the situation best were a handful of extremely well educated and intelligent courageous aristocrats, most prominent among them the Gracchi and the leader of the “Populares”, Caesar. They understood the need to redistribute wealth, at least to soldiers (they passed wealth redistribution laws; Caesar’s was in 59 BCE, when he was Consul; the Senate never forgave that). The plutocrats (who called themselves the “Optimates”) hated the Populares optimally, assassinating them as well as they could, but not enough (some of the progressive laws survived the assassinations of the reformers).

The Gracchi and Caesar were too isolated from the rest of the elite (although thousands of followers of the Gracchi were assassinated with them). What was missing in the Roman intelligentsia was an understanding of how debilitating the plutocracy would prove to the society in all ways. To achieve that understanding, the Greco-Roman society had to fail first. Now, two thousand years later, we have recovered in all ways… and we should be endowed with that understanding.

Patrice Ayme

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P/S: The causal system which made Augustus act as he did relative to the Republic is an example of a CAUSAL WEB… complete with nonlinear self-acting, exponential loops…

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P/P/S: Quora, in its latest harassment, informed me (6/20/2020) that they removed a version of the essay above for “plagiarism” (without telling me what was “plagiarized”… just the usual threat that I may be banned). There was no plagiarism, whatsoever, and the main anti-plutocratic drift is clearly mine. But somehow Quora has decided that I better be “banned” (as they threatened me of this for various reasons). All I see is one more entitled monopolistic corporation out of the SF Bay Area with secret black lists…

 

Computation Of Roman Republic Absolute Wealth Limit. Caesar A Revolutionary.

August 16, 2019

Greed, the power of a few, can’t grow to heavens, all over the solar system, then the galaxy, or we will end with evil so great, we can’t even imagine it.

The Roman Republic had the same problem, and succeeded to limit greed and power for around 5 centuries… This is why it lasted so long, until it was increasing replaced and displaced by the imperial plutocracy known as the Principate. 

By 150 BCE, Roma had a gigantic empire, taking weeks to cross. Plutocracy got out of control, thanks to globalization which, then as now, enabled the wealthiest to escape local laws. 

In -133, the tribune of the plebs Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, a very high level military official renounced his (topmost) Patrician status to be elected Tribune of the People. He attempted an agrarian reform in Rome (lex Sempronia) which stipulated that no citizen can personally occupy more than 500 jugeres of the ager publicus (public lands), with a maximum of 1000 (250 hectares) if he had two sons and forbids grazing on the public pasture more than one hundred head of cattle or five hundred of small. The land, taken over by the State from the large landowners (compensated), was to be distributed in inalienable lots of 30 jugeres to the poor citizens. Tibérius hoped to encourage the inactive plebs to return to the land and fight against depopulation of the countryside, and the increasing underclass..

Tiberius passed his law by relying on the tradition (the limitation to 500 jugeres was a return to the agrarian law of Caius Licinius Stolon) and on the liberal fraction of the Senate. The proposal is first supported by the consul P. Mucius Scaevola, the ex-consul Appius Claudius Pulcher, Pontifex Maximus  P. Licinius Crassus, Q. Metellus  and some others. The tribune M. Octavius, who opposes the reform, is deposed of his office unanimously by the comices summoned by Tibérius in violation of the constitution. The agrarian law passed in an aggravated form (no indemnity).

Now think of it. Say one acre is worth 4,000 dollars… 

https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/land0818.pdf

The maximum wealth is then 2,000 x 4,000 ~ 10 x 10^6= 10 million dollars.

This gives an idea of the order of magnitude of what Roman Republicans thought was reasonable as wealth limit. Later, under the fascist Principate (the degraded republican oligarchy Augustus set up), individuals worth many billions (of today’s dollars) were many: they would build entire circuses or theaters, organized and financed extravagant, extremely costly “games”…

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Topmost general, top revolutionary… But too trusting in human nature’s rationality… Iulius Caesar…

Roman censors punished those culprit as what was viewed as extravagant living (and they were busy). When that became not enough, the Roman Republic enacted “sumptuary laws”, limiting extravagant private wealth exhibition: no woman could wear more than half an ounce of gold, for example (Lex Oppia, 213 BCE, passed during the Second Punic War). Lex Orchia, passed three years after the Censorship of Cato the Elder (181 BCE), limited the number of guests at parties, among other things.

SUMTUARIAE LEGES, was the name of various laws passed over the centuries to prevent inordinate expense (sumtus) in banquets, dress, &c. (Gellius, II.24,XX.1). In antiquity, and not just in the Roman Republic, it was considered the duty of government to put a check upon extravagance in the private expenses of persons. The censors, to whom was entrusted the disciplina or cura morum, punished by the nota censoria all persons guilty of luxurious mode of living: a great many instances of this kind are recorded [Censor, p264, a.] 

There were many such laws. An example: Lex Didia, passed 143 B.C.E, extended the Lex Fannia to the whole of Italy, and enacted that not only those who gave entertainments which exceeded in expense what the law had prescribed, but also all who were present at such entertainments, should be liable to the penalties of the law. (Macrob. Sat. III.17.6). But as the love of luxury greatly increased with the immense foreign conquests of the Republic and the luxurious moods of various potentates thereupon infected the Republic, the sumptuary laws went by the way side too.

Nowadays, we could start sumptuary laws by not having We The People subsidize private jets… Or having cruise ships pay tax on fuel, etc. The French put a tax on business and first class air travel…

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Julius Caesar, Redistributive Revolutionary:

Caesar was elected consul for 59 BC. The most controversial measure Caesar introduced was an agrarian bill to allot plots of land to the landless poor for farming, which clashed with the traditional conservative opposition. In historian Cassius Dio‘s opinion, Caesar tried to appear to promote the interests of the optimates as well as those of the people (POPULARES). Caesar read the draft of the bill to the senate, asked for the opinion of each senator and promised to amend or scrap any clause that had raised objections. 

The optimates were annoyed because the bill, to their embarrassment, could not be criticised. Moreover, passing the law would give Caesar popularity and power. Even though no optimate spoke against it, no one expressed approval. The law would distribute public and private land to all citizens instead of just Pompey’s veterans and would do so without any expense for the city or any loss for the optimates. It would be financed with the proceeds from Pompey’s war booty and the new tributes and taxes in the east Pompey established with his victories in the Third Mithridatic War

Private land was to be bought at the price assessed in the tax-lists to ensure fairness. The land commission in charge of the allocations would have twenty members so that it would not be dominated by a clique and so that many men could share the honour. Caesar added that it would be run by the most suitable men, an invitation to the optimates to apply for these posts. He ruled himself out of the commission to avoid suggestions that he proposed the measure out of self-interest and said that he was happy with being just the proposer of the law. 

The senators kept delaying the vote. Cato advocated the status quo. Caesar came to the point of having him dragged out of the senate house and arrested. Many senators followed suit and left. Caesar adjourned the session and decided that since the senate was not willing to pass a preliminary decree Caesar would get the plebeian council to vote. He did not convene the senate for the rest of his consulship and proposed motions directly to the plebeian council

Appian wrote that the law provided for distribution of public land that was leased to generate public revenues in Campania, especially around Capua, to citizens who had at least three children, and that this included 20,000 men. When many senators opposed the bill, Caesar pretended to be indignant and rushed out of the senate. Appian noted that Caesar did not convene it again for the rest of the year. Instead, he harangued the people and proposed his bills to the plebeian council. Suetonius also mentioned the 20,000 citizens with three children. He also wrote that the allocations concerned land in the plain of Stella that had been made public in by-gone days, and other public lands in Campania that had not been allotted but were under lease. Plutarch, who had a pro-aristocratic slant, thought that this law was not becoming of a consul, but for a most radical plebeian tribune

Land distribution, which was anathema to conservative aristocrats, was usually proposed by the plebeian tribunes who were often described by Roman writers (who were usually wealthy aristocrats) as base and vile. It was opposed by ‘men of the better sort’ (aristocrats) and this gave Caesar an excuse to rush to the plebeian council, claiming that he was driven to it by the obduracy of the senate. It was only the most arrogant plebeian tribunes who courted the favour of the multitude and now Caesar did this to support his consular power “in a disgraceful and humiliating manner”.

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The Gracchi were assassinated. By the wealthiest. Because of the land redistribution law. So was Caesar, leader of the POPULARES… Caesar was in a league of his own. He was not just a fantastic general and a dictator, or, as some have erroneous said, the first “emperor” (there had been many “imperators” before). Caesar was also a genuine revolutionary, just what Rome needed. Like the Gracchi, he took shortcuts (they all may have had to). Their biggest mistake was to have been assassinated.

A few months ago, I was reading a new misinforming book by a famous historian from one of the wealthiest universities (most of the book was good, but that made the misinformation within that much more lethal). The professor pontificated that there was not a shred of revolution in Caesar’s bones. But, actually, the Lex Iulia, Caesar’s agrarian reform, passed… 15 years later, the plutocrats killed Caesar…

The absurd, counterfactual position of this US university professor teaches us that, to this day, the quarrel of the Populares with the plutocrats is ongoing. His wealthy sponsors (through his wealthy university) instilled in that historian, a spirit of dismissal of Caesar, where it could really hurt plutocracy….

Now Elizabeth Warren 2% wealth tax above 50 million dollars is far from the ferocity of the Roman Republic laws against wealth, power, and luxury. But one has to start somewhere…

Patrice Ayme

Rome Fell While Rising, Rome Won By Losing

June 12, 2019

How Rome fell is not easy to conceive: as aspects of Rome were falling, aspects of Rome were rising. Ah, and what is “Rome”? A civilization, that is, the embodiment of systems of thoughts and mentalities, moods. Some of these moods went down in flames, and had to do so, while, and because, others blossomed.

For example, way back, Romans made human sacrifices (as did everybody else, it seems). After severe military losses against Celts, Rome sacrificed a couple of prisoners. After doing away with the raiding Celts, Rome was ashamed of those sacrifices and never did one again (some will sneer that executions of war prisoners for centuries to come were little else…) So that was a mood which crashed and burned.

More cogently, in the ancient Republic, the Pater Familias, father of the family, had right of life and death on the entire family. That right was removed later. Another mentality that went down the trashcan of history.

Other progressive legislations ascended, even in the thick of imperial fiat. Caracalla for example made Roman citizenship universal (the Franks would duplicate that idea later: by 600 CE, all denizens of the Frankish empire were “Franks”… although a century earlier the Franks were a small minority of Gallia). Cynics have pointed out that enabled the Roman government to tax everybody…

Lead Emissions are proportional to overall metal production, for technical reasons. The Frankish renaissance of metallurgy is blatant on this graph. It happened because the Franks conquered Eastern Europe, and one can see that was even before Charlemagne’s birth. Data from Greenland ice cores.

The forceful, ordered from the top, rise of Christianism brought the rule of softer notions, for example that the most cruel games of the circus were overindulged in. While that was good, the Christian drive against animal passions of the worst type was accompanied by a drive against some of the most necessary animal or specifically human passions. For example, criticism against authority, thus against the emperor as god, or god himself, became a capital crime. But there is no more fundamentally human passion than harsh thinking.

Christian theofascism brought, in no small measure, however indirectly, the fall of the Occidental Part (Pars Occidentalis). Indeed Theodosius, using the Goths, defeated the secular army of Occident, made mostly of Romanized Franks fighting under the banner of Hercules (symbolizing the most altruistic hard work for the community), in 394 CE. That left Occident without defense, but for a curtain of Slatic Franks which was pierced at the 406 CE Winter Solstice, when the Rhine could be galloped across…

This said, there were nice, progressive aspects to Christianism: although, overall, a catastrophe in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, some elements of civilizations invented them, very few of them, were worth keeping.

Those progressive elements were brandished by the Franks shortly thereafter. See, for example, Martin of Tours, a Roman officer who as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, met a scantily clad beggar. He cut his military cloak in half to share with the man (around 350 CE).  

The Franks, under Consul Imperator King Clovis, invented Christianism with a human face. And the first application of that newly found humanity was to annihilate the Goths (Vouillé  507 CE). Being more human doesn’t just make you a better beast, it makes you win wars.

Another mood the Franks resurrected, after 5 centuries of Octavian-Augustus launched intellectual fascism, was the pleasure of debate and iconoclasm. Clovis, a fierce fighter, who killed the king of the Goths with his own hands, was excellent at that.

The basic undoing of the Roman Republic was its capture by a class of super wealthy idiots. They comprised the Senatorial class. Sounds familiar?There were up to 600 Senators; numbers varied; Octavian-Augustus, the first “emperor”, who called himself “First”, Princeps, executed 100 Senators… Not counting the many killed in battle during the Civil War, just prior.

Having the entire society guided and owned by a few hundred families was antithetical to the Republic: the Plebs had gone on strike against that, centuries prior. But this time, the reaction of the Plebs was too little too late.

The wealthy idiots owners of everything important censored any deep thinking that contradicted them. We see this nowadays.

But the hyper wealthy couldn’t censor the gathering ecological and military crises. Roman society depended crucially upon metals, to make tools and weapons. As the Islamists swept all in the way (they had just eradicated Persia), emperors desperately needed metals to make the equivalent of big guns then, the Gregian Fire. So the emperor came from Constantinople, and striped the metallic roofs of Rome. The gathered metal never reached Constantinople, as the Islamists seized it:

***

Paul the Deacon’s History of the Lombards, book 5, chapters 11-13 (PL95, cols 602 and 604):

  1.  But the emperor Constans, when he found that he could accomplish nothing against the Langobards, directed all the threats of his cruelty against his own followers, that is, the Romans. He left Naples and proceeded to Rome.  At the sixth mile-stone from the city, pope Vitalian came to meet him with his priests and the Roman people. And when the emperor had come to the threshold of St. Peter he offered there a pallium woven with gold; and remaining at Rome twelve days he pulled down everything that in ancient times had been made of metal for the ornament of the city, to such an extent that he even stripped off the roof of the church of the blessed Mary which at one time was called the Pantheon, and had been founded in honor of all the gods and was now by the consent of the former rulers the place of all the martyrs; and he took away from there the bronze tiles and sent them with all the other ornaments to Constantinople. Then the emperor returned to Naples, and proceeded by the land route to the city of Regium (Reggio) ; and having entered Sicily during the seventh indiction he dwelt in Syracuse and put such afflictions upon the people—the inhabitants and land owners of Calabria, Sicily, Africa, and Sardinia – as were never heard of before, so that even wives were separated from their husbands and children from their parents. The people of these regions also endured many other and unheard of things so that the hope of life did not remain to any one. For even the sacred vessels and the treasures of the holy churches of God were carried away by the imperial command and by the avarice of the Greeks. And the emperor remained in Sicily from the seventh to the twelfth indiction, but at last he suffered the punishment of such great iniquities and while he was in the bath he was put to death by his own servants.

XII.  When the emperor Constantine was killed at Syracuse, Mecetius (Mezezius) seized the sovereignty in Sicily, but without the consent of the army of the East.  The soldiers of Italy, others throughout Istria, others through the territories of Campania and others from the regions of Africa and Sardinia came to Syracuse against him and deprived him of life. And many of his judges were brought to Constantinople beheaded and with them in like manner the head of the false emperor was also carried off.

XIII. The nation of the Saracens that had already spread through Alexandria and Egypt, hearing these things, came suddenly with many ships, invaded Sicily, entered Syracuse and made a great slaughter of the people – a few only escaping with difficulty who had fled to the strongest fortresses and the mountain ranges – and they carried off also great booty and all that art work in brass and different materials which the emperor Constantine had taken away from Rome; and thus they returned to Alexandria.

The problem we have now are all too similar. Not yet military disasters, but ecological disasters are already upon us, and they have everything to do with the ravenous class which owns and direct today’s modes of thinking. And feeling.

After its near-death experience in the Fifth Century, Rome rose again, but on better principles. Rome won, by losing its most evil ways. Too bad much of the population died in parts of Occident (in the Orient and Spain this would happen from Islamist conquest). One may have to thank the do-goodism of Christianism which led to the outlawing of slavery by Saint Queen Bathilde.

However, we don’t have the luxury now of waiting centuries for better moods to gather momentum. We may run out of oxygen well before that.

Patrice Ayme

Seneca’s New Order Of “Security & Tranquility” (Fall of Rome XII)

April 15, 2018

I accuse the philosophy of Stoicism to be fascist compatible (and that is why it flourished under the fascist imperial Roman regime, ultimately morphing, after three centuries, into Christianism). This is not just about what happened two millennia ago. Some of us are making the same mistake, all over again.

Stoicism is making a come-back, and strangely, among those opposing (they self-allege) right wings policies. Whereas I claim Stoicism was a philosophy invented to thrive in symbiosis with hard-core fascism. A total hero of Stoicism is Marcus Aurelius… However that emperor was a disaster for Rome (Common Wisdom claims the opposite!)… Marcus started an imbecilitic drive against Christianism, protected the wealthiest, promoted his ridiculous, ill-minded biological son… Those following Seneca and Marcus Aurelius are not suspicious enough, they remind me of sheep going to the slaughter, happily bleating all the way…

Seneca, Nero’s teacher and adviser is highly esteemed by would-be modern Stoics (Claudius gave Seneca to Nero at age eleven, to teach him the ways of the world; the result of Seneca’s teaching speaks for itself). Instead of admiring Seneca, I view him as a liar (that Seneca has some excellent quotes is a fact, but it can be said about any author, any author whatsoever). An engineer of huge lies, one of them being that he wanted to “perceive the truth in all its completeness” (dictators are prone to preach the exact opposite of what they do; thus Hitler was a protector of peace and minorities… At least so he screamed for two decades… And was believed by most Germans, so they voted for him).

Seneca said: “The happy life consists solely in perfecting our rationality … What is a happy life? It is security and lasting tranquility, the sources of which are a great spirit and a steady determination…” Security and tranquility are a must, once one belongs to the .001% as Seneca did: one enjoys power and property, thanks to industrial crime, the perpetuation of which rests on imposing “security and tranquility” on the oppressed masses. (Seneca once joked (?) that he didn’t even know how many large properties he owned on all the continents.)

So We The People imagined that they were suffering under the dictatorship of Seneca and Nero, when, in truth, they were not…

The definition of happiness was certainly different for the 99% under the Principate led by Seneca and his pupil. The 99% couldn’t not enjoy “security” (the secret police and its informants watched their every breath), nor “tranquility” (they knew they were one bad idea away from providing free entertainment at the Circus…) Actually emperor Domitian (a few years after Seneca) executed systematically all philosophers who didn’t exhibit “great spirit”. Not an anecdote in the history of ideas: it means that the philosophies which survived Domitian were those compatible with the Principate.

Result? Increasingly deficient thinking among those advising the leadership of the empire. This is why the Principate turned away, deliberately, loud and clear, from technological innovation (which had fostered the rise of the Roman Republic). Just when innovation was a matter of survival for civilization itself.

The Decline and Fall of Rome was first philosophical and started as soon as the New Order of “security and lasting tranquility” was imposed on all minds. Mental creativity of the highest sort is antagonist to “security and lasting tranquility” (even Christ spoke of this, and shared this observation). One can’t understand the world ever more, without going through periodic turmoil of the greatest kind.

Periods and places of great mental creativity, like Normandy, or Italy, starting in the Eleventh Century, the true start of the so-called “Renaissance”, were places of enormous turmoil.

As the eleventh Century enfolded, most cities were basically in revolt. Higher authorities like popes, kings and emperors were often completely disobeyed, so they had to go to war, which they often lost; clerics like Archdeacon Berengar of Tours preached that Christianism was all about rationalism, not blind submission to simplistic interpretations of sacred texts (and had to fight them all, during his entire life, all the way to the Pope). William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, king of England, is on the record for evoking heliocentrism as a possibility.

The extreme political and philosophical turmoil in Europe, starting in the Eleventh Century, is no coincidence: the regrowing of grassroot power (consider Italian republics), was a regrowing of ideas. Technology blossomed, another ecological crisis (circa 1300 CE) was avoided.

As imperial Rome was suffering from a unique party (the plutocratic party leading Rome: until emperor Septimius Severus from Libya, the throne was passing among only a few families), and from ecological collapse, a sober assessment of what reality was made of, was in order. However, that meant great mental, even civilizational, turmoil (as happened every few year during the Roman Republic), the exact opposite of the “mental security and lasting tranquility” imposed by those few families who ruled. 

Patrice Aymé

Note 1: Some may say my depiction as the Flavian dynasty (Vespasian, Titus, Domitian) as among the few Roman families which ruled is off . But that’s correct, as Vespasian’s family rose in 4 generations under the Julio-Claudian dynasty and was entangled with it (the great-grandfather was a tax collector for Augustus, thus becoming immensely rich…)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavian_dynasty

Note 2: Roman emperors would pay inventors for not exploiting their inventions and even for not making their inventions public.

DON’T BLAME ME, I Am Only Human After All?? (Aurelius’ Perversity, Fall of Rome XI)

April 8, 2018

Abstract: Of Rome we talk, but the present worldwide civilization we ponder… What went wrong with Rome? The most basic spiritual strategy. Philosophy. Rome’s disease was to be ruled by a philosophy unable to resist plutocracy, while deliberately preventing innovation, as befits a highly conservative regime… the exact opposite of the philosophy which brought the irresistible rise of the Roman Republic. The greatest names in philosophy originated that infection, that gangrene of the mind: Plato, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius…

Could it have been different? Could Rome have pulled out of her philosophical disaster? Could imperial Rome, extending from Scotland to the Persian Gulf, and from Northern Germany to the Sahara, Armenia to Egypt’s long Red Sea coast, have reverted to the philosophy which made the success of democratic Republic?

Once fascism was installed, helped by the opiate of economic success, it was a question of leaders. The Roman Senate’s leading influence tended to be entirely negative, as Septimius Severus, dying in Britain, told his sons.

Aside from the well-known creeps (Nero, Caligula, Domitian, Constantine, Theodosius I) and the abysmal cases (Augustus, Constantine, Theodosius, Valens), it seems to me that Marcus Aurelius, considering his tremendous influence, was one of the leaders into the abyss. Marcus’ philosophy was radioactive, so to speak: it looks wise, but it brings death. Worse: Marcus’ influence is alive and all too well to this day: just as Constantine is a saint of Christianism, Marcus is a saint of a particularly perverse version of stoicism. Marcus is also an intellectual fascist, under the purest form. 

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/marcus-aurelius-intellectual-fascist-why-rome-fell/

Make no mistake: it is a version of stoicism on trial here, that many influential philosophers subscribe too, and, worst of all, which is perfect for the growth of unbounded plutocracy!

And yes, it could have been different, if “dictator perpetuo” Julius Caesar and emperor Trajan had lived longer, and been able to find successors with similar mindsets and capabilities… All of this to  establish a plutocracy hating republic: Julius Caesar and Trajan were both what’s derogatively called “populists” nowadays; but populism is the only thing which could have saved Rome from lethal stagnation, and ecological aging, a weakness naturally followed by horrible invasions.

All this long gone history gives vivid lessons valuable today: we, as the world civilization many Greco-Romans dreamed to establish, are more or less repeating some of the errors Rome made. However, enlightened by the dramatic collapse of the Roman State, Europe has not quite, so far, repeated to the same extent, Rome’s errors… including Russia! Consider Czar Peter The Great, who cracked down on Christianism, and embraced progress, thence saving Russia from the Swedish reconquista… Peter the Great, circa 1700 CE, had fully understood, in his heart of hearts, that it was crucial NOT to repeat the errors of the Roman state’s long agony.

Some historians hold that the Roman empire was even larger under emperor Caracalla, son of Septimius Severus, a century later. Under Caracalla, the law of universal citizenship was passed, something now taken for granted by all states (with the possible exception of Burma…) The Franks, a confederation of Germans equipped with Latin Lex Salica, succeeded Rome after 476 CE in the North-West. In particular, they owned the orange part of Northern Germany which Augustus had stupidly, and selfishly loudly given up in 9 CE. By 507 CE, the Franks had defeated the Goths, and controlled Belgica, Gallia, and Aquitania, not just much of Germania… The main difference with the Romans was that the Franks re-engineered Christianism as an asset, whereas the terrorizing Roman version of Catholicism due to Constantine and Theodosius, had crippled Rome.

Very practical consequences of behaving according to the exact opposite attitude to Rome, explain how and why Europe avoided collapse since Rome. Enough friendliness to technology, & law, enough abatement of plutocracy, enabled the extrication of Europe from ecological devastation (~ 1300 CE). Having enough of these three philosophical pillars also explains why Europe has not been devastatingly invaded for 15 centuries! (ultimately Muslim, Viking, Avar, Turk, and Mongol invasions were crushed and repelled… differently from what happened to the Muslim, Chinese and Indian civilizations, which were conquered, periodically destroyed; similarly, the invasions of the Germans and Huns in the Fifth Century, and Muslims in the Seventh Century, destroyed the Roman state, east and west, leaving imperial remnants in north-west Europe and around Constantinople. The resulting lesson, the enormous devastation it brought, has not been forgotten. At least until a few years ago).

If nothing else, we have engaged the planet in ecological collapse. David Attenborough, 91 years old, observed this in New Scientist.

… And Attenborough issues a “call to arms“. Rightly so. We are also one short-circuit away from devastating nuclear war, a pure case of tech gone mad. And not too many care. Rome was crazy. We are much more so. This is no age to try stoicism again… Activism is more appropriate.

***   

We The Wise Know No Blame, Says Marcus!

An excellent song, from someone looking like an overweight Viking is going around: “Don’t Blame Me, I Am Only Human After All… Don’t blame me, you are only human after all…”. The same idea has a long pedigree. It already affected Rome. The idea that: no blame, no shame… came to be viewed, in all too many influential circles, and all too long ago, as the principal message of the Greek philosophy known as Stoicism. “Stoicism” from stoa, a column below which it was taught by Zeno of Citium, became a philosophical school after the fascist Macedonian plutocracy and its descendants “Hellenistic” tyrannies and kingdoms took over the Greek civilization, pretty much crippling it. Including Marcus Aurelius, ten major Stoic philosophers followed in Greco-Roman civilization. Marcus was also single Roman emperor, and played a major role for civilization, and not for the best, contrary to repute, as I have already written and will show some more below.

Nowadays, Stoicism has become business (as it started: Zeno of Citium was wealthy, although he lived modestly). Massimo Pigliucci commented on “Marcus Aurelius: a guide for the perplexed by Stephens”.

In it is found the following gem: it is futile to blame! Let me quote Massimo Pigliucci quoting Mr.Stephens:

”My preferred example is in the context of Marcus’ discussion, in VIII.17, of the idea that it is futile to lay blame, regardless of what particular metaphysical view of the world (the Stoic, the Epicurean, or any other one) we happen to hold. Here is Stephens’ reconstruction of the full argument:

  1. The matter is either in our control or in the control of someone else.
  2. If it’s in our control, then we can handle it appropriately without blaming ourselves.
  3. If it’s in the control of someone else, then we could blame either atoms (if the

Epicureans are right about how the cosmos works) or the Logos (if the Stoics are right about how the cosmos works), or no one and nothing.

  1. It’s stupid to blame atoms (since they have no intentionality).
  2. It’s stupid to blame the Logos (since the cosmos — which for the Stoics was a living organism — knows best what should happen).
  3. Hence, if it’s in the control of someone else, then blame no one and nothing.
  4. Therefore, blaming is pointless.

QED.”

***

I Blame Us, We Are Only Human After All!

In the past, Massimo Pigliucci censored many of my comments on Marcus Aurelius: he even accused me to have made up the facts and quotes I evoked, which cast a sinister light onto his idol (I actually made up nothing, just pointing at little known facts, and even getting trouble in my own family with some who also rever Marcus, for having lifted them of an otherwise dreary childhood…)

It’s hard for admirers of Marcus to recognize his culpability in the repression of Christians (I don’t like Christianism very much, but what Marcus did to Christians was not just criminal, but made the situation worse, and more stupid; moreover, Christians laid the blame on the wealthy, rightly so, and, as I make clear below, Marcus Aurelius exchanged the health of the Roman empire against the wealth of the few, the core of the lethal disease which affected the empire, according to me! Positive point: Marcus got to blame no one around him. Negative point: that attitude brought the collapse of civilization! The motive of Marcus may have been plain old selfishness, the easy way out…)

This time professional philosopher Massimo Pigliucci allowed this comment from me, accusing Marcus of the worst crime someone with intellectual pretense can commit: …”a different perspective I have developed shows why Marcus Aurelius made the mistake of making Commodus a Consul, while still a child (and so on, until making Commodus co-emperor at… 16). In other words, Marcus’ error was no error, but system. Marcus Aurelius thought that ‘non-useful’ thoughts should be banned! He wrote that explicitly!”

Nobody can know, when creating a thought, what it could turn out to be useful for. Banning “non-useful thoughts”, as Marcus Aurelius wanted to, is to ban a better logic for the future, to ban any better future. In other words, Marcus didn’t want to improve things. Unsurprisingly, thanks to such a towering absolutism from above, such plain banning of thinking, so inhuman, the Roman state went from bad to worse, until it collapsed.

Massimo replied, April 2, 2018 • 8:08 am: “Patrice… At any rate, I don’t see what banning non useful thoughts has to do with it.”

I retorted: “Dear Massimo, trying to explain myself a bit more:

Can one be a creative, or rigorous thinker, and not attribute blame? I think not.

Marcus Aurelius said (paraphrased): “If a matter is in the control of someone else, then we could blame either atoms (if the Epicureans are right about how the cosmos works) or the Logos (if the Stoics are right about how the cosmos works), or no one and nothing.”

Is that a typo? What happened to blaming people? Isn’t that the most natural blame to attribute? If I don’t like Trump’s tax reform, shall I blame atoms, the logos… or no one and nothing? I prefer to blame Trump, and his ilk.

Let’s be cynical, as the fine hounds we are. Those who refuse to attribute blame to anybody seem to say: ‘I can’t be blamed, I am only human, after all!’

Those who claim “nothing” can be blamed say: ‘everything that is, is true and innocent. And there is no scientific method, as nothing is false, hence our rule is above any suspicion…’

The essence of the most advanced thinking is to disconnect the motivation which brings it from any utilitarian objective. Advanced thinking is born from the honor of the human spirit, not from whether the emperor finds it of some use. Marcus could not conceive of this.

Although Marcus was strong and determined against the German barbarians, not being a believer in advanced thinking, he didn’t realize that the way out of the invasion crisis, was the one launched by the Roman Republic, seven centuries prior: mental creativity to invent new strategies, weapons and mechanisms, all to be paid by higher taxes on the wealthiest. Instead, emperors went to fear inventions, imagination, and taxes, at the cost of hundreds of ever more crippling invasions (the same problem would occur with the Carolingian/Renovated Roman empire, in the second part of the Ninth Century).

The Roman empire understood finally that one had to tax the wealthiest, to pay for a sufficient army, under Aetius, 250 years later, when it was too late, and more than half of the Roman tax basis, let alone food supply, had been occupied or demolished by the savages (Marcus Aurelius had pathetically ‘solved’ his tax crisis, by selling state property, like the palace’s silver…).

If one is really human, after all, one is rational, and reason requires correction, correction arising from blame.”

The entire subject is, for me, like visiting the Moon: where is the air? If one spends one’s time only engaging fools, not only does one become one of them, but one gets depressed, as one subjects oneself to the cruel and unusual punishment to debase, and contradict oneself, just out of respect, for what one has worked so long to rise above… And the same happens with foolish subjects. But still someone has to address them”

Massimo, as many who are all too busy, doesn’t like long comments, but he replied:  April 2, 2018 • 12:48 pm

“Patrice,

there are a number of things in your comment that I think are off the mark, but I will comment on just two.

First off, “not blaming” is a standard Stoic attitude, meant to recognize that all human beings err, and that nobody does evil on purpose. I find it refreshing and very useful in dealing with others. It doesn’t mean one should not stop others from doing bad things.

Second, there is no way Marcus could have reverted from empire to Republic. He would have been killed instantly. It has nothing to do with not believing in advanced thinking, which by the way is not what the Stoics counsel. They counsel that the best way to prepare for the future is to act rightly here and now. Not the same thing.”

I felt like a Neanderthal contemplating a smirking mammoth deep in a pit I digged.

The nature of the Greco-Roman empire is deeply misunderstood, to this day: it was way wealthier, more populous and more democratic, than generally assumed. Yet, in some philosophical ways, it was far removed from what we take for granted today (and the situation is complex: on cruelty, contrarily to repute, the Romans got it basically right, we don’t. On progress, the situation changed completely from the very progressive Democratic Republic to the fascist empire. We are not as progressive as we need to be, in great part because we are repeating the plutocratic mistake Rome made….)

It was an ideal occasion to set the perception right about the Roman empire. My reply:

“Dear Massimo:

Thanks for your answer. The description of the “standard Stoic attitude”, that “all human beings err, and that nobody does evil on purpose”, it seems to me is exactly what prevented Marcus Aurelius to put back the “Republic” on the correct trajectory it was clear it desperately needed during Marcus’ reign.

Ah, yes, the “Republic”, not a detail: the “Principate” was considered to be a Republic by those who partook in it. The Roman Republic justice system and Senate were still going on during the “Principate”. As emperor Decius said in June 251 CE, after his son was struck by an arrow at the battle of Abbritus: “Let no one mourn; the death of one soldier is not a great loss to the republic.”

So it was not a question of “restoring the Republic”: the first emperor, Augustus, claimed to have done so (27 BCE). Local democracy was alive and well (until the first German raids deep inside the empire, starting with Alexander Severus, circa 234 CE!)

Marcus Aurelius had two major problems, one fiscal, the other technological. Trajan had taxed the wealthiest to create an empire which was more social, more expanding, and giving advanced education to meritorious youth through scholarship. (Unfortunately Trajan died at 63, preventing consolidation of his enlightened rule, all the way to the Persian gulf.)

Marcus had a disastrous situation: the Germans had learned to become a military threat to Italy. All what Marcus did was to battle away against the Germans, for a continuous 20 years, in the here and now, with insufficient means, insufficient militarily, fiscally, technologically, democratically. Marcus should have followed Trajan fiscal, educational, social policies. Marcus’ closest policy to Trajan was in military matters: Marcus understood the Marcomanni and their ilk had to be crushed (Commodus inverted his father’s conquests). However he didn’t have the fiscal means for his army, that Trajan gave himself by hating the wealthiest.

This lack of inclination of Marcus for finding in-depth revolutionary change prepared for a future of more of the same, precisely because Marcus enjoyed an enormous prestige as a philosopher-emperor. Marcus just had to follow Trajan, he didn’t.

Thus, for an astounding three centuries of war (176 CE-476 CE) the Romans fought as Marcus did, not realizing that, as long as they couldn’t integrate the Germans into the empire, they made them stronger, and more ferocious, just by battling with them. (The only emperor who understood the problem was Julianus, Julian “the Apostate”, who studied philosophy in Athens, and was elevated to Augustus by the Parisians. Unfortunately he died from combat in Mesopotamia, 363 CE.)  

Marcus had to raise the taxes on the wealthiest, on the .1%. Marcus had to blame the wealthiest, as Trajan did. The other philosophical solution, which Marcus didn’t embrace, was to reject Plato’s hostility to technological change, and re-embrace the Roman (true Republic) love of technological innovation.

Individuals drunk on the neurohormones of cruelty and domination exist, denying it is counterproductive to progress: the head of the Brazilian army just made a threat (on Twitter!) Hence the Brazilian Supreme Court decided to jail Lula, who leads by a very long shot the 2018 Brazilian presidential race.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/world/americas/brazil-lula-corruption-prison.html”

[Please excuse the length, more on my site…]”

Amazingly, considering our turbulent history, and his unbounded admiration for all things Marcus, he used to be afflicted by, Massimo published my comment on his site: we are progressing in the right direction, at last! (Massimo may be learning to practice what he teaches…)

What I didn’t say, lest I be accused of digression, how low Rome had already fallen: a few hours later after his statement that Rome was a republic (which it was, by present standards, adapted to the times), Decius would die, first emperor to do so, with most of the Roman field army. Rome had sunk that low, 70 years after Marcus Aurelius’ passing, and as a result of his overall outlook.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decius

By the way, it is important to realize that seriously creative thinking blossoms from digression… An important meta principle Marcus Aurelius doesn’t seem to have conceived of.

***

By Marcus’ Time, Solutions For Imperial Rome Should Have Been Obvious:

Two changes were needed. To my knowledge, Marcus Aurelius doesn’t seem to be conscious of the necessity of these two changes, changes back to the distant past, a renewal with what made the success of Rome in its first seven centuries.

The first problem facing Marcus Aurelius was not restoring the Republic (justice was nominally independent, local democracy, the Curiatii, was flourishing), it was to raise taxes on the 1%.

A plutocracy of ferocious, tax-free 1% backed-up the imperial system under its “Principate” form (and would back-up the “Dominate”, starting with Aurelian, before, in the end, backing up the barbarians!) They are the real cause of the Decline and Fall of Rome, as their tax evasion and subjugation of We the People left imperial Rome with too small and too powerful a professional army. The wealthy, when faced with invaders in the Fifth Century, would make nice with them. Being entangled with the Christian Church helped.

Contrarily to what Massimo brazenly asserts, it is not clear that if Marcus had tried to restore the rights of the Populus Romanus, he would have been killed: Marcus enjoyed enormous prestige, and was surrounded by devoted advisers and generals. Marcus spent 20 years on the battlefield, at the head of the Roman field army, he had no rivals (Commodus profited from the awe and competence of his father’s government for years, after his death).

Head of the army Aetius and others, in the Fifth Century, made the 1% pay taxes, way too late, after military collapse and annihilating invasions (⅔ of the spending went to the professional Roman army). If Aetius, not even an emperor, could do it in the Fifth Century, Marcus could have done it in the Second Century. By then half of the Western Empire had been invaded and occupied by savages.

On the other hand, in 235 CE, Maximinus Thrax, head of Legio XXII Primigena was elevated to Augustus, as the army was furious young emperor Severus Alexander was busy paying the barbarians, instead of making war to them. However Maximinus rose taxes on the wealthy, to pay for his successful war making, and the Senate revolted for that reason in 238 CE. However, Maximinus was of peasant origin and had acquired Roman citizenship from Caracalla edict. So it was natural for the Senate to revolt against him. Whereas, if Marcus Aurelius had risen taxes as Maximinus did, it is unlikely that the Senate would have done anything, considering Marcus’ pedigree and his total control of the army (as Cassius’ short usurpation, cut short by a centurion, showed).   

The Senate would lose (nearly all) its prerogatives later, in the late Third Century, turning into Rome municipal council (de facto).

So could something have been done to prevent the ongoing slow degeneracy of the Roman state? Yes, and it is clear what: Rome had to become as smart as the times required. Because of a massive ecological crisis caused by its very success, Rome had to get as smart, or smarter than when the Republic ascended. Instead, it became ever more stupid.

Marcus Aurelius had to lay blame onto the plutocracy, do reforms in the spirit proposed by the Gracchi Brothers. (However, he blamed laying blame, as a matter of weird logic…)

Another type of PHILOSOPHICAL reform needed was to lift the ban against inventions, inherited from… Plato, an Athenian conservative who was so afraid of change, he preferred to ban tech (an attitude which was fundamentally anti-Roman, as the Respublica triumphed from invention!)  This is a pernicious effect of the conquest of Greece by Rome: Greek philosophy, and not the best, corrupted Rome in turn…

From examining history, it is clear to me that some individuals and even many political leaders, did evil on purpose. Either because they thought they were doing good, or also because they thought they were causing pain and suffering. When Charlemagne deported to South West France a substantial part of the Saxon population, he thought he was doing good, as the alternative was just to massacre them (something he also did…)

***

On the Haughtiness Of, and Redemption by, Advanced Thinking:

One can blame, one should blame, some reasons of some people, sometimes, I blame mine quite often, but that doesn’t mean that blaming some ideas impell to view others with hostility, or that I hate them, or view myself with undisguised hatred. Quite the opposite: viewing defects, mental errors, inappropriate emotions, for what they are, where they come from, deepens the love (including self-love). Explanation is, often redemption. The passions can be precise, clever, if one teaches them well.

By blaming blame into oblivion, emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius blamed the most advanced, most powerful weapon against mental lethargy and thus the most powerful tool for liberating reason into oblivion.

Impermanence of things and individuals, permanence of virtues. The fundamental error of old fashion “virtue ethics“: not putting ENOUGH intelligence first, foremost, and most fundamentally. Only most farsighted intelligence enables not to mitigate the paving of the road to hell with good intentions!

Enlightenment exists as a loud and clear superior notion since Ahura Mazda, 40 centuries ago. To oppose it as Marcus did, by opposing blame (something the Christians, rightly, brandished), or condemning “useless” thinking, Marcus condemned what Rome needed the most; the catharsis of Enlightenment. In particular, realizing Rome had become a dictatorship, where even new ideas not only couldn’t grow, but were condemned, just for being new. The enlightenment that new ideas bring is only forged by intense criticism.

In the strangest, most pregnant times we are. Lest we be careful, a monster will be born. But, if we do it right, paradise… History should be the most revered teacher, a cult worth having, never boring, always surprising.

Patrice Aymé

***

Note about Marcus Aurelius and change: Just as in physics one can “see” an object by its absence, in systems of thought one can see an idea, precisely because it’s avoided, as a “non-said” (“non-dit” in French philosophy). I accused Marcus to be against new ideas. This is demonstrated, in absentia, by the very way Marcus describes change. According to Marcus, change is about anything you can imagine, except the obvious:

“Is any man afraid of change? What can take place without change? What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature? And can you take a hot bath unless the wood for the fire undergoes a change? And can you be nourished unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Do you not see then that for yourself also to change is just the same, and equally necessary for the universal nature?” (Meditations, VII.18)

The most obvious, most profitable change there is, and should be, for a thinker, is the change of ideas. Marcus Aurelius doesn’t mention it.

***

Note from Massimo: “Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, one the few philosopher-kings (well, okay, emperor) in the history of the world, is a fascinating figure. Despite being one of the most famous Stoics, he was not a philosopher and teacher like Zeno, Chrysippus, or Epictetus. Unlike Seneca, he wrote just one book, the Meditations, which was actually addressed to himself, meant as a personal diary of philosophical reflection, not to instruct others, let alone as a treatise on Stoic philosophy. He was by all accounts an extraordinary man, who tackled some of the greatest challenges the Roman empire had to face, including a war against the irreducible Parthians, another one against a coalition of German tribes led by the Marcomanni, an internal rebellion by one of his most trusted governors, and a plague that killed two or three million people. He … leaned on his philosophy to do the best job he could. And ended up in the disastrous choice of his son Commodus to take up the purple mantle (but see here for a nuanced analysis of that episode), a decision that ended the prosperous and relatively peaceful age of the five good emperors of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.”

(Emperor Nerva had a short rule, but he adopted top general Trajan as his successor, and Trajan was the best of them; the adopted Hadrian succeeded, after Trajan’s sudden stroke, and it has been suspected Trajan’s wife modified Trajan’s will to do so. In turn, Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius, making him adopt the teenage Marcus Aurelius; Marcus, instead of adopting a promising candidate, heaped impossible honors onto his son, starting as a child… Whereas the Roman Republic, when it was democratic, had draconian limits on mandates, and all representatives were elected, it was hard to duplicate these electoral means in a giant empire, where it took months to travel, away from the sea…)

EMPEROR CONSTANTINE CHRISTIAN TERRORIST 325 CE (Fall Of Rome Part X)

March 25, 2018

Had that bloody, mass murdering tyrant, the Roman emperor Constantine, not invented, and subjugated, the Roman empire with his invention of Catholicism, would the apocalyptic collapse of the Roman empire, state, economy, society and population have happened?

Probably not.

Yes, the Roman State collapsed under the terrible holocausts of multiple invasions. So, at first sight, the collapse of the empire has to do with encroaching barbarians, not the (then) ruling bishops.

But there is direct mental causality chain of increasingly irrational stupidity and darkening moods between Constantine’s Theocratic State and the invasions. Indeed, once Constantine ordered the burning of books, under the penalty of death, as part of what he called Catholicism, launching the concept, principle, and practice of prohibition of learning, and critique, such a mighty blow against intelligence made for generations of self-satisfied imbeciles… thus rendering the survival of the empire nearly impossible.

Because the survival of civilization depended, and depends, upon intelligence, abrasive intelligence, and one can’t have intelligence without reading books, and engaging other media, fiercely, especially those blossoming with ideas and emotions critical of established thinking.

Thus, should one want to keep civilization alive and well, censorship is never a good idea. (Yes the present system on the Internet, with the mobbing effects of “cancelling”, “likes” and “trends”, and selecting only those who are alike, are going against critical thinking, thus any thinking…)

All the more as, since emperor Diocletian, a few years before Constantine, God (“Sol Invictus”) had been made in the image of the emperor, Master (“Dominus”), Dominator, of the universe. And indeed, the leadership of the Roman empire (now known as the “Dominate”) proceeded to make a succession of aberrant decisions, steadily making the situation worse over the Fifth Century.

An example of idiotic decision: using the Huns, yes the Huns, as allies against the Goths, and others, thus giving to the Huns the knowledge and inclination to ransom the Roman empire ever more, and live off invasion and empire, as the Islamized Arab invaders would do in the Eight Century, under broadly similar circumstances… 

Some may prefer to speak about Islam, in light of the latest Islamist attacks in various countries, including Britain, France, and the USA. However, it is the exact same subject. Indeed, in case you ask, the system of thought of Constantine’s Catholicism directly led, three centuries later, to the genesis of Islam, and its most awful practices (the cousin of Muhammad who got the idea of Islam, was a professional Christian, the most famous in Arabia, and it had to do with Arianism, see below). In the West, Catholicism subjugation (Islam means subjugation to the same god as Constantine’s) was mitigated by the survival of the old secular Roman and Salic laws (both written in Latin; Roman secular law’s foundation was a millennium old by the time of Constantine’s birth).

Thought is the architecture of advanced life. Be it with individuals, tribes, and empires. Be it mammals, or birds. Trained Cormorants in Yunnan can bring 50 kilograms of fish a day. They can’t swallow, because of a tight collar. However, they expect a tasty reward every seven fishes. If they don’t get it, they go on strike. The collaboration between a fisher and a bird depends upon intelligence, and even a computation.

Smarts aren’t necessarily very smart: a video just released show an automatic car killing a pedestrian pushing a bike in Arizona. It was at night, 10 pm in winter, and the automatic car didn’t have its high beams on…which any safe driver would have had in such a case, driving on a dark road; I know the car has a LIDAR to see in the dark, but, this is where the nerds went wrong: two systems are safer than one. Learn, stupid programmers!

When Rome and the “Central State” (Zhong Guo, China) failed, it was because of a failure of high level thinking. Typically, the degeneracy of thought took generations to unfold (consider the Carolingians, and Tang or Qing China…).

Thought is the architecture of civilization. Thinking, debating together, is one of the main causes for the existence of cities.

***

Abstract: CATHOLICISM WAS INVENTED, AND ESTABLISHED BY ROMAN EMPEROR CONSTANTINE, MOST VICIOUS MASS MURDER, AND IT SHOWS:

Here is my sword…Who Shall I kill Today, among those who I suspect want to displace me? Constantine’s Christian Terror Still Rule! (The beautiful statue above is from… 1998, it sits in front of York Cathedral; Constantine was proclaimed “Augustus”, supreme emperor, by his troops, in York, to Constantinople’s great rage…) This is a cute, boyish interpretation of Constantine’s face. The real thing was more frightening, imperial and domineering, with really ferocious eyes… The entire imperial court was afraid of Constantine when he was barely 16. He also fled the court to join his father in Britain at some point, in the sort of action James Bond himself won’t dare accomplish (Constantine respected “the king”… as long as it was himself…) See the sculpture below.

The historian Gibbon, an Englishman with a considerable bit of French Enlightenment mixed in, rightly accused Christianism to have caused the Fall of the Roman Empire (so the Catholics “prohibited” his famous “Decline and Fall of Rome”).

My point of view on the Decline and Fall doesn’t contradict Gibbon’s thesis, but put it in much more general malevolently degenerating context. Rome took six centuries to degenerate ever more (example of degeneracies in China often take many generations: the Tang went down over two centuries).

I believe that the rise of plutocracy in the Roman Republic led the fall of the latter, replacing it my the Principate (a kind of Republic with one man above all, first, the Princeps, the Prince; the system we have presently is similar. Princeps are Trump, Xi, Putin, Macron, Merkel, May, etc.; the German fürst is an imitation),

The problem is that a Principate works according to the Leader Principle (dear to Hitler as Führer Prinzip, Stalin, Mao, Xi), and smothers rebellious intelligence (China being right now an excellent example). So problems arise, which the state doesn’t have the intelligence to solve: as happened in Rome… Except through more authorianism. Indeed, after 300 years, the Principate turned into a Dominate, under Diocletian, who found Darius, or Stalin-like solutions. Diocletian retired, and was spectacularly succeeded by Constantine (who killed a number of his colleagues, including Lucinius, coldly assassinated in his prison cell, in 324CE).

Constantine imposed the rule of Christ, molding the Trinity God he connived, into a mysterious (Trinity, one as three), jealous, ferocious, omnipotent, vengeful, sadistic, cruel despot, just like him, justifying him and his tyrannic descendants reigning over, and propping up a morally, judicially, socially, politically, mentally and intellectually degenerating Rome!

Some will scoff, that, for example, what does the “jealous” god have to do with the fall of the empire? Because the “jealous” god was jealous of the ideas of all and any. Moreover the “jealousy” of “God” made jealousy a highly respectable emotion, thus one wants to duplicate. Hence emperor Valens, jealous of his highly victorious young nephew Gratian, emperor of the Western empire.

Ideas and emotions are highly contagious. Here is an example out of billions: After “Communist” Prince Ceausescu from Romania visited “Communist” Emperor Mao Tse Tung in China, he was so impressed, that he went back to Romania and established a dictatorship as bad as the one oppressing China. It ended up, with mass starvation, same as in Venezuela today, and for the same exact reason (Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who was jealous, malevolent, domineering, and head of the feared “Securitate”, the Secret Police, thus perhaps more powerful than her husband, were summarily executed, as deserved, when their rule was destroyed).

The officialization and sanctification of mental subjugation to plutocracy got started with the order, by emperor Constantine, of burning books which he didn’t like.

***

Catholic State’s Crimes & Terror:

After seven years of incarceration and torture, astronomer Giordano Bruno was tortured and burned alive by the Vatican, after piercing his palate with a blunt instrument, for alleging that the dots of light one sees in the sky on a clear night were other stars, some with other inhabited planets circling them, complete with men (burned 1600 CE).

This tragedy, testimony of the Christian horror which terrorized Europe for centuries is something that used to be well-known, Giordano Bruno was one case of many. In France alone, in the Sixteenth Century, smart, cultured noblewomen, printers, atheists, were burned alive for reading “prohibited” books. Thus setting back civilization (uppity women, uppity publishers, uppity thinkers were burned alive; those who were not, like Luther, Calvin, Rabelais and Montaigne, were extremely well-connected with, or instrumentalized by, the most powerful of the elite).

For example Buridan’s works were put at “Index Librorum Prohibitorum” in 1474 CE, hiding to history this giant of thought’s enormous contributions to physics, astronomy, mathematics, logics, or even politics… And thus disappearing these enormous advances from even the most advanced circles. All those who attribute heliocentrism to Copernicus are unwittingly collaborating with the fascist theocrats. To this day.

The penalty for having prohibited books was death. Everybody should know this, it’s a historical and moral point of the greatest importance. One has to know it, so as not to repeat it, say with the Islamofascists who have fascinated the so-called European left, since there are Nazis and they think (the Muslim Brotherhood of Tariq Ramadan’s grandfather was closely tied to Nazism; with sheer malevolence, the European pseudo-left, being deprived of Stalin and Mao, fell in love with Oxford Muslim propagandist Tariq Ramadan, a violent rapist prone to beating up women, finally at last jailed in France, after 20 years most loved by French TV and media…).

***

Catholic State’s Ongoing Disinformation, Lies, Fake News About Its Own Crimes & Terror:

Then came a big surprise: as I checked Wikipedia, I was told the “Index” started a century later. That’s an obvious lie. Little Christian rats in the Vatican have been busy rewriting history, in the Internet, to further their miserable chewing up of reality into something more digestible to their gullible public.

As I checked around the Internet, googling away, I was so astounded by the amount of fake news, disinformation & outright lies from Catholic and Orthodox Churches, that I decided to write an essay on these rodents, lest the anti-civilizational plague they afflicted by further, and again, contaminate the innocent masses. Indeed a flurry of fake thinkers blathered in recent years, that Giordano Bruno had not been killed for his idea of exoplanets (he was). An article in Scientific American (March 2018) carefully examined the charges against Bruno:

By analyzing all accusations, I found that the Inquisition’s strongest case against Bruno was, in fact, and contrary to the conventional wisdom, his belief in many worlds. It was the most frequently recurring charge. For example, one accuser testified that in prison one night Bruno brought a fellow prisoner “to the window and showed him a star, saying that it was a world and that all the stars were worlds.”

Thirteen times, in 10 depositions, six witnesses accused Bruno of believing in many worlds. No other accusation was invoked even half as much….. in nine books Bruno did assert his cosmology of many worlds. It was one of 10 propositions the inquisitors censured: “Again,” they wrote, “he posits many worlds, many suns, necessarily containing similar things in kind and in species as in this world, and even men… In 1597, Bruno was confronted by inquisitors, including  the authoritative theologian Robert Bellarmine. Bruno ‘was admonished to thus abandon his delusions of diverse worlds.’”

Nineteen years later, Inquisitor Bellarmine would go on to confront the extremely well-connected Galileo, personal friend of the Pope. Bruno, his palate pierced, was burned alive in 1600 CE.

***

The viciousness of Catholicism emanates from his author, Roman emperor Constantine:

Saint Constantine, emperor, inventor, Apostle, and murderer: I kill, therefore I am, just like the God of the Christians. If you have a problem with that, my sword will solve it, although I can get you legally executed, like my son the Caesar Crispus, who didn’t like my Catholicism, or I can get you steamed alive, like my second wife, who had displeased my mom, Saint Helena…

Killing for reading books displeasing Catholic authorities was started by the most vicious emperor Constantine, inventor of “Orthodox Catholicism” in 325 CE! Edicts to kill all “heretics”, those “who have made a choice” were ordained by sole Roman Emperor Theodosius I in 380 CE!

***

SAINT & EMPEROR CONSTANTINE STARTED TO KILL PEOPLE FOR HAVING BOOKS:

Wrote Constantine:”…Now this also I ordain,
that if any one shall be found secreting
any writing composed by Arius,
and shall not forthwith deliver up
and burn it with fire,
his PUNISHMENT SHALL BE DEATH…”
Constantine, one of the greatest criminals ever, is a saint of the Orthodox… (Christo-fascists attacked me on the Internet, specifically, Twitter, for telling the truth about mass murderer and serial killer, wife boiling Constantine, and then added, Christian style… “Sorry”, see in comments…)

Here his Constantine criminal megalomania in its entirety and in full context:

Preserved in Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History 1:9 and elsewhere, the following letter of sole Roman Emperor, Augustus Constantine, self-described as the “Thirteenth Apostle”, a so-called “Saint” of the Orthodox Church  contains explicit references to the banning and burning of books written by Porphyry, and that Porphyrian Arius of Alexandria immediately following the council of Nicaea, circa 325 CE. In his following letter to “Everybody”, Constantine classifies the “Prohibited Books” as:

(1) Evil, wicked, rebukable, rejectable, unlawful, and anti-Christian

(2) To be the subject of righteous destruction, along with their memory

(3) to attract the death penalty: if found in possession of any “banned books”

(4) The banned books and the heretics were to be dealt with by fire.

Here it is in its megalomaniac entirety:

CONSTANTINE THE KING,

TO THE BISHOPS AND NATIONS EVERYWHERE:

“Inasmuch as Arius imitates the evil and the wicked,

it is right that, like them, he should be rebuked and rejected.

As therefore Porphyry, who was an enemy of the fear of God,

and wrote wicked and unlawful writings

against the religion of Christians,

found the reward which befitted him,

that he might be a reproach to all generations after,

because he fully and insatiably used base fame;

so that on this account his writings were righteously destroyed;

thus also now it seems good that Arius

and the holders of his opinion

should all be called Porphyrians,

that he may be named by the name

of those whose evil ways he imitates:

And not only this, but also

that all the writings of Arius,

wherever they be found,

shall be delivered to be burned with fire,

in order that not only

his wicked and evil doctrine may be destroyed,

but also that the memory of himself

and of his doctrine may be blotted out,

that there may not by any means

remain to him remembrance in the world.

Now this also I ordain,

that if any one shall be found secreting

any writing composed by Arius,

and shall not forthwith deliver up

and burn it with fire,

his punishment shall be death;

for as soon as he is caught in this

he shall suffer capital punishment

by beheading without delay.”

So much for the goodness of “Saint” Constantine.

Speak as you wish, little Patrice! Catholicism survived me 17 centuries! Me, Constantine, I am God, I decide who God is, you are nothing! And, anyway, you owe your 21st century to me!Instead my thesis is that, as soon as book burning Catholicism was in power, the Roman empire was condemned. In China, the prohibition of “one hundred philosophical schools”, and the destruction of related books (but not of historical, accounting, science and tech books) preceded only by a few years the destruction of the Qin dynasty, which had just unified China (greatly, I believe, like Rome, from respect for the law; the state of Qin had blossom for centuries, its swift demise after prohibition of variegated thought is no accident; however, in that case, the replacement regime, the Han, immediately pursued the Chinese “central state”, whereas Rome fell to thoroughly destructive invaders…)

What Gibbon said about Augustus, Rome’s first tyrant, mostly hold for Constantine, with just two details vastly different:

“The tender respect of Augustus for a free constitution which he had destroyed, can only be explained by an attentive consideration of the character of that subtle tyrant. A cool head, an unfeeling heart, and a cowardly disposition, prompted him, at the age of nineteen, to assume the mask of hypocrisy, which he never afterwards laid aside. With the same hand, and probably with the same temper, he signed the proscription of Cicero, and the pardon of Cinna. His virtues, and even his vices, were artificial; and according to the various dictates of his interest, he was at first the enemy, and at last the father, of the Roman world.”
― Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

One difference: Constantine replaced the Republican Constitution, what was left of it, by  that Catholicism he had invented. The other difference: Constantine was no coward, but just the opposite. (oh, by the way, the Vatican put Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on its “Index” of its “Prohibited books“)

***

What does this all mean? The place of the Logos! Thus of Tyranny!

Arius clearly argued that the Logos had a beginning and that the “Son” (the mythical creature so-called “Jesus Christ”), therefore, was not eternal. Moreover, and more importantly, the Son is clearly subordinate to the Father, the Logos being the highest of the Created Order.

In other words, when logic confronts Jesus, logic should win!

In particular, when logic confronts the tyrant, the Roman emperor, Constantine, logic should win!

No wonder the fascist murderous tyrant Constantine, who had just invented “Catholic Orthodoxy” (translation: “Common Sense Universalism”), was upset, and couldn’t let it be. Bishop Arius (of Berber origin) was dismissed and exiled. But he had a huge support throughout the world of Christians. Upon returning to Constantinople, in 335 CE, Arius was apparently poisoned (a violent “descent of his small intestines” having affected him suddenly).

I am not making this up from secondary sources, like a vulgar Internet parrot, but from my own reading, as like Arius’ god, I tend to be a primordial being. Here it is:

”ἡ σοφία σοφία ὑπῆρξε σοφοῦ θεοῦ θελήσει. (Wisdom came to be Wisdom by the will of the Wise God.)

επινοεῖται γοῦν μυρίαις ὅσαις ἐπινοίαις πνεῦμα, δύναμις, σοφία, (Hence he is conceived in innumerable aspects. He is Spirit, Power, Wisdom,)

δόξα θεοῦ, ἀλήθειά τε καὶ εἰκὼν καὶ λόγος οὗτος. (God’s glory, Truth, Image, and Word.)

σύνες ὅτι καὶ ἀπαύγασμα καὶ φῶς ἐπινοεῖται (Understand that he is also conceived of as Radiance and Light.)”

***

THE FALL OF ROME INTO STUPEFYING STUPIDITY:

Forbidding books is NEVER a good idea. Either a book is not terrible, and it shouldn’t be censored, or it is, really, terrible. If the latter, it shouldn’t be censored either, as it is a testimony of the terrible ideas and emotions people can have, and, thus, a warning and a data set. (However categorisation, plausibility and significance indexes should be assigned, whenever possible, as I argued; not a question of censorship, but of providing some assistance to the unsupported reader…)

Things went quickly from bad to worse: under the pretext of Christianity, all creative though was “making a choice” (which is what “heresy” means), punishable by death by burning, typically. The formidable Qin dynasty quickly succumbed after its own book burning…

***

Civilization is, first of all, a mental phenomenon, and plutocracy attacks minds, to subjugate them:

Plutocracy, the power (kratos) of the Dark Side (“Pluto”!), the Invisible Side (Pluto could make himself invisible) over society, an exponential disaster, has struck many times Rome, Egypt, China, France. It rots intelligence, individually, and socially. Plutocracy happened to Venice, Baghdad, Florence, Spain (chronically, starting with Ferdinand and Isabella), 17th, 18th century France, the German Second Reich (twice). Mental decay implies political, moral and then strategic decay, military defeat, extermination, or revolution.

Paradoxically, economic decay doesn’t necessarily follow plutocracy, far from it: consider Great Britain, which thrived in the 18th century under a plutocracy so strong, revolution was avoided, differently from the US and France. But, in Britain, soldiers and sailors could die from flogging (differently from the French and American armies, where the practice had been stopped).

Archeology of the Roman empire, pioneered by the work of a French archaeologist in the 1950s, has SHOCKINGLY demonstrated clearly in the case of Rome that the economy was thriving, prior to the invasions by bloody savages determined to kill as many as they could, to avoid the Roman authorities military backlash (the smart idea of the bloody savages, considering their small numbers, was to deprive of men and taxes the potentially massive Roman counter-attack: the invading Germans and Huns after 406 CE did this deliberately, so did the Arab Muslims of the first Caliphs…)

Both around 406 CE, when the Western empire collapsed, under Germanic and Hunnic pressures, and under the Muslim aggression started by Muhammad himself, the local economy and demography was at its peak, when the invasions occurred… And it is why they happened, actually!

The exact phenomenon was at play when the Carolingian empire, or what was left of it, was attacked by the Hungarians, the Vikings, and the Muslims. As in the case of Rome, original version, enormous internal fighting (plutocracy at work!) made the invasions possible. As in the case of Rome, an enormous collapse ensued, especially from the Scandinavian invasions: Western France, dismayed by the inability and apparent unwillingness of the imperial army to defend the core of Western France, exploded in 60 states, after subjugating the Viking; however Charlemagne’s Roman empire, Saxon led version(!) was able to throw out both Hungarians and Islamists (Eastern Rome helped for the latter)  

The same happened clearly in the case of Egypt, or China’s Song dynasty. Actually the Jurchen in 1127 and then the Mongols invaded China in 1237 CE, just when new rice cultivars enabled a doubling of production, hence population. One lends to the wealthy, one also invades the wealthy: that’s where the money is. It happened to Egypt, Babylon, Rome, China, Aztecs, Incas. The massive illegal immigration flux into the European Union is an example.

***

Conclusion: Rome fell militarily (twice: once in the West, from Germans and Huns, circa 406 CE; and then in the East, from the Islamists in the Seventh Century). Military collapse was one consequence of political collapse, itself a consequence of mental collapse.

Emperor Constantine, and his imperial successors (Julian excepted) were looking for a metaphysical justification for their bloody rule, and a way to make it sustainable, while, added bonus with a dreadful consequence, making all their subjects stupid. (Yes the present state of the Internet makes people more stupid than they should be, and even dangerously stupid; I have proposed remedies, such as a government of We The People sanctioned voluntary validity and significance ratings…)

The Roman tyrants found, in the invention of Catholicism, the ideal weapon against intelligence and creative minds. However, the first most significant effect was military collapse: first, with Valens god-like jealousy bringing the crucial defeat of Hadrianopolis, second when British legions revolted, defeating Gratian, and then killing him in Lyon, the bottom line was hatred with Gratian’s ways, the imposition of Catholicism (“Nicene” faith). Magnus Maximus became emperor.

When Magnus Maximus lost to Theodosius, five years later, Britain and part of Gaul became practically independent and fell off the empire. Details are important: emperor Maximus’s edict of 387 or 388 which censured Christians at Rome for burning down a Jewish synagogue, was condemned by Milan’s bishop Ambrose, who exclaimed: ‘the emperor has become a Jew. Ambrose, patron Saint of Milan, was no doubt, malevolent by 1946, Nuremberg tribunal standards… I propose to demote him as a Saint…

Saint Ambrose was the deus ex-machina of several emperors. You look for Hitler? Contemplate bishop Ambrose! (One of the so-called “Doctors of the Church”… The notion of “Doctor of the Church” itself is dissembling, as the true father, the self-described “13th Apostle, was Constantine!.. )  And yes, it connects to the burning of G. Bruno: the Catholic church, the world’s oldest institution is very consistent with itself: in 384 A.D. the belief in many worlds was categorized as heretical by Philaster, Bishop of Brescia, in his Book on Heresies. This condemnation was echoed by subsequent hateful Catholic authorities, including Saints Jerome, Augustine and Isidore.

All of this can be repeated today. The monopolies of some media outfits, and the governmental manipulations of public opinions they bring inaugurate, should they persist, a little Dark Age. However, in the thermonuclear age, a little darkness will go a long way… The considerable darkness of the Catholic Church has gone a very long way. Its malevolent descendancy was not just crusades such as against the cathars (millions massacred), and centuries of terror, Inquisition, and religious wars, but even the creation of Islam (directly inspired and launched by a Catholic monk, cousin of Muhammad’s wife…).

Some may say it was all a mistake, a good Christianism, not book-burning Catholicism, could have been devised. However, the omnipotent god is obviously not omnigood, or then suffering is good (as Christ said, squirming on his cross in ecstasy). Yes, suffering is good, said Constantine, and for reading books Constantine doesn’t like, Constantine shall be good to you, and burn you. Amen. 69 years later, the empire was collapsing beyond repair as several small tribes streaked through the dumbstruck empire, destroying all in their path….

Patrice Aymé

***

Some technical notes:

A (Small and Partial) Depiction of Rage And Destruction of Antiquity By Savage Roman Emperors:

Constantine is probably the emperor who killed the most of his closest relatives and friends… (And Constantine had lots of competition, in the realm of relatives’ massacres from Claudius, Nero, Commodus…) Constantine unified the empire and imposed the intrinsically fascist and violent religion known as that of Christ. But truly that Christian violence was enacted by Constantine,

Constantius II, Gratian, Theodosius I, all tyrants, so-called “emperors” who buried Rome, or, at least, the Roman spirit, what was left of it.

Late in his reign Constantine ordered the pillaging and the tearing down of pagan temples, in particular the Temple of Aphrodite in the Lebanon. Constantine ordered the execution of eunuch priests in Egypt.

His son, Constantius II passed laws dating in the 350s ordering the death penalty for those who performed or attended pagan sacrifices, and for the worshipping of idols. After the unfortunate death of Julian in an ill conceived war in Mesopotamia, the army scrambled to nominate Jovian as emperor, and the burning of libraries became systematic (363 CE). “Men In Black” (monks) would destroy the libraries, for example in Alexandria.

Gratian played a major role encouraging raging Christian superstition: like his uncle Valens, he took advice from the ilk of (“Saint”) Ambrose, bishop of Milan (and so would Theodosius). However, he dressed too much like a Scythian (meta group including the Huns), and an insurrection from Britain defeated him in Paris, killing him in Lyon. Gratian had selected Theodosius as co-emperor. Theodosius reiterated Constantine’s ban on pagan sacrifice and haruspicy on pain of death. He criminalized and punished magistrates who did not enforce the anti-pagan laws. He broke up pagan associations and temples.

Between 389-391 Theodosius imposed the infamous “Theodosian decrees,” which established a practical ban on paganism: visits to the temples were forbidden, remaining pagan holidays were abolished (although Christ’s birth was moved from Spring to the Winter Solstice, the Saturnials, so the Saturnials won Christ over!) The Sacred fire of Vesta in the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum was extinguished, the Vestal Virgins disbanded, auspices and witchcraft punished. Theodosius refused to restore the Altar of Victory in the Senate House when asked to do so by pagan Senators.

In 392 Theodosius became sole emperor of the whole empire. He authorized or participated in the killing of pagan priests, destruction of many temples, holy sites, images and objects of reverence throughout the empire. The Franks Arbogast (military head of the Western empire) led a rebellion against Theodosius’ mad Christianism… But was defeated by a hurricane wind blowing the wrong way, on the second day of a crucial battle.

Theodosius later decrees were effectively an extermination of tradition. Anyone caught practicing the ancient cults, was killed, his or her property confiscated, even for private familial rites within the privacy of a home. Many covertly still chose to do so in defiance of the edicts, despite the risk to themselves and their heirs. As a symbol of his wanton rage and destruction, Theodosius also cancelled the Ancient Olympic Games; the last record of the Olympics being celebrated in Greece is from 393 CE.

***

The Edict of Thessalonica was jointly issued by Theodosius I, Gratian, and (nine years old!) Valentinian II on 27 February 380:

The edict came after Theodosius had been baptized by the bishop Ascholius of Thessalonica upon suffering a severe illness in Thessalonica. Like the modern French (and Americans, Romans loved abbreviations). I reproduce it as it was, this depicts well the authoritative mentality imposed on  “We The People”. Actually, such a notion has disappeared, all what are left are “populos” (“nations”) which are ruled (“regit”) by our “clemency” (“clementiae”): in other words, the “populos” are ruled by “imperators” who are gentle, placid, mild… Just like the Christian God.

IMPPP. GR(ATI)IANUS, VAL(ENTINI)ANUS ET THE(O)D(OSIUS) AAA. EDICTUM AD POPULUM VRB(IS) CONSTANTINOP(OLITANAE).

Cunctos populos, quos clementiae nostrae regit temperamentum, in tali volumus religione versari, quam divinum Petrum apostolum tradidisse Romanis religio usque ad nunc ab ipso insinuata declarat quamque pontificem Damasum sequi claret et Petrum Aleksandriae episcopum virum apostolicae sanctitatis, hoc est, ut secundum apostolicam disciplinam evangelicamque doctrinam patris et filii et spiritus sancti unam deitatem sub pari maiestate et sub pia trinitate credamus. Hanc legem sequentes Christianorum catholicorum nomen iubemus amplecti, reliquos vero dementes vesanosque iudicantes haeretici dogmatis infamiam sustinere ‘nec conciliabula eorum ecclesiarum nomen accipere’, divina primum vindicta, post etiam motus nostri, quem ex caelesti arbitro sumpserimus, ultione plectendos.

DAT. III Kal. Mar. THESSAL(ONICAE) GR(ATI)ANO A. V ET THEOD(OSIO) A. I CONSS.

EMPERORS GRATIAN, VALENTINIAN AND THEODOSIUS AUGUSTI. EDICT TO THE PEOPLE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.

It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency with moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, SINCE, IN OUR JUDGMENT THEY ARE FOOLISH MADMEN, WE DECREE THAT THEY SHALL BE BRANDED WITH THE IGNOMINIOUS NAME OF HERETICS, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.

GIVEN IN THESSALONICA ON THE THIRD DAY FROM THE CALENDS OF MARCH, DURING THE FIFTH CONSULATE OF GRATIAN AUGUSTUS AND FIRST OF THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS[4]

— Codex Theodosianus, xvi.1.2

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’

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!)


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