Posts Tagged ‘Fall of Rome’

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…)

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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 Catholicism, would the apocalyptic collapse of the Roman empire, state, economy, society and population have happened? Under the terrible holocausts of multiple invasions? Maybe not under its most gentle form. However, once Constantine ordered the burning of books, under the penalty of death, as part of what he called Catholicism, launching prohibition of learning, and critique, such a mighty blow against intelligence made the survival of the empire nearly impossible.

Because the survival of civilization depended, and depends, upon intelligence, and one can’t have intelligence without reading books, and other media especially those which are critical of established thinking. Hence censorship is never a good idea. (Yes the present system on the Internet, with the mobbing effects of “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, just 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 proceeded to make a succession of aberrant decisions, steadily making the situation worse over the Fifth Century (for example 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 Muslims 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 France. 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

Gibbon’s “Decline & Fall of Roman Empire” In Pluto Context (Fall of Rome Part 2)

September 12, 2017

The British, yet French educated historian Edward Gibbon explained that he accomplished the work of “philosopher” in his justly famous “Decline and Fall of Rome” (DFR). 3,000 pages of dense text! Gibbon explained that the art of the “genius” historian was to select, as a “philosopher”, among a morass of facts “which are just facts”, those of higher significance. The irony, of course, is that his life’s work eschew highest significance, although he himself pulls the curtains for a brief instant, flashing the reality his work misses entirely…

To detect facts of the highest significance, and make them speak, is the fundament of the art of highest thinking. (This is true for all of philosophy, including of the natural sort, as Albert Einstein pointed out.).

Under Trajan, the Empire was at greatest MILITARY & territorial extent, when Gibbon starts his story. Later, the empire would extent much further, spiritually speaking through the concept of “Christian Republic”.

Trajan also introduced welfare and taxes on the richest. He could have gone further, but bemoaned he was too old to emulate Alexander (who didn’t introduce welfare and taxes on the richest, BTW…) Indeed he promptly died and his successor Hadrian was not cut from the same cloth, and precipitously evacuated much of the empire Trajan had conquered. (The map above shows clearly that the German barbarians were too close from the heart of the empire, just north of Italy, and sure enough, Marcus Aurelius spent his reign repelling them there; his ignorant son, Commodus withdrew further, Hadrian style…).

Under Augustus, legions reached Ethiopia and Yemen, but Augustus was full of avarice, and the notion of a world civilization didn’t appeal to him. In any case, he had none to propose. So he pulled the legions back from Germany, Africa and the Indian Ocean shore, and left a will, read in the Senate, advocating a shrunken empire, the exact opposite notion from his great uncle, Julius Caesar….

The “Decline and Fall of Rome” embraced not just the Roman empire from 100 CE to 1453 CE, but also Islam, and the Crusades. Gibbon, rightly, wrote an entire history of the West, from 100 CE, to 1500 CE!

Indeed, the idea that Rome survived the Decline and Fall of Rome was not a new observation: the empire of the Franks, the Imperium Francorum, was, de facto, Rome: it used the latest refurbished (Justinian legal code) Roman law, etc. It could be argued that the Frankish Empire was more Roman than Constantinople, because it spoke Latin, not Greek. By 800 CE, the Imperium Francorum proclaimed itself  “RENOVATION of The Roman Empire”..

Thus, then, of course, Gibbon, by his own implicit admission, should have called his book: The Decline, Fall and Resurrection of Rome! When Gibbon was writing his book, the British empire was much larger than the Roman empire, and arguably better organized and centralized. The French empire was not far behind, and, by his own admission, Gibbon recognizes that the Russian empire dwarfed Rome, in some sense.

Something even stranger is that Gibbon recognizes the obvious: most of the Roman Empire was created under the Republic. And it was because the soldiers defended their rights and their properties. Whereas, in the period Gibbon considers, when the Republic has been replaced by what he calls a “monarchy”, soldiers were motivated by greed, obedience and “religion”.i

Thus, however broadly he encompassed the history of the West after 100 CE, Gibbon could only miss the true cause of the corruption which he bemoaned, and caused the decline and fall of the Roman State.

But there was no choice: for 8 years a Member of Parliament (where he was “mute”), Gibbon enjoyed fame and clout in the British plutocracy. Gibbon could not sing the praises of the Republic. All the more as he made clear, in 1793 CE, that however admirable French artillery was, the valor of French soldiers deserved a better cause (or words to this effect). Gibbon had seen the conspiracy and alliance of European plutocrats attacking the French Republic. Gibbon had actually seen a battle (and was part of a militia ready to defend England against a French invasion, a rather ironical matter, as it was France which was invaded by everybody from the gang of all “aristocrats” united, not England!.

However deliciously informative reading him is, Edward Gibbon was deeply biased. So was all of history, ever since “politics” was founded. “Politics” means “looking at the City-State”. That look was not friendly, because most Greek City-States had democratic characters lost, ever since. To the sort of regimes Gibbon admired… and was a part of.

Gibbon didn’t draw the obvious conclusion from the sketch, in a few lines which he made of the Roman Republic, or how the Roman Empire came to be. His entire “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” is biased, from context alone. From the universe which he chose to consider.

Today the British Parliament voted 326 to 290 the previously named “Great Repeal Bill” overturning the law from 1972 infeodating  British law to European law (by accepting the supremacy of the latter). This displaces sovereignty on 12,000 laws.

It’s as Mick Jagger put it in an excellent video “England lost”. In it a dishevelled English gentleman loses his mind from imagined frights, and dashed hopes to turn England into Singapore. At the end, the Briton runs straight into the sea, then stops, dazzled. A black man helps pull him out. A terse blonde 14 year old.girl tells him:”where do you think you could go?..pull yourself together”.

Clearly, by the time of Gibbon, the delusion was going strong. We don’t harbor it here. To understand the Decline and Fall of Rome is to understand the decline and fall of the RESPUBLICA Romana. It’s the Republic and its republicans which built the empire, not the evil imperial baboons the English plutocrat Gibbon is fascinated by…

Patrice Ayme’

Why The ROMAN STATE COLLAPSED (Part I; Plus Contemporary Analogy)

September 9, 2017

The climate is, and will, collapse incredibly fast, at some point in the near future. Same, potentially, for civilization.

The hints of climate collapse are in, they are piling all over. Irma, a hurricane packing recorded gusts of 363 kilometers an hour appeared. It got enormous: 330,000 square kilometers. At the same time, hurricane Katia attacked the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Behind Irma, Jose, a category 4 hurricane, nearly as nasty as Irma. When things collapse, they collapse fast: think of the proverbial Twin Towers of “9/11” twisting, turning and leaning, and then down in 8 seconds. This is what happens during a transition to a new equilibrium. 

Collapses of civilizations have happened many times before. The most famous case, by far, is Rome. Roman society was the most complex, and the one most similar to the world civilization we have today. It collapsed, and it was first a psychological collapse.

Rome collapsed amazingly fast. Early in 379 CE, there was a refugee crisis, caused by a million Goths (including women and children) begging to enter the empire. The empire was at the height of its powers. By 406 CE, the empire had collapsed. The one million Goths  had been allowed to enter the Roman empire. Under the condition of coming, unarmed. They cheated. Disaster ensued.

By 400 CE, though, a German Confederation, the Franks, had been put in charge of insuring the defense of the two Germania and the richest Roman province, Gallia (Gaul). In 406 CE, the Frankish curtain broke when the Rhine surprisingly froze, and many tiny German nations broke through Gaul, and even Spain and North Africa. By 410 CE, the city of Rome herself had been conquered by the Goths.

The Vandals, with 40,000 warriors, went quickly all the way to the Roman province of Africa, where they established a maritime empire, comprising the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta (439 CE)… 

The Great Barbarian Invasions By Tiny German Nations Were Preceded By Roman Mental Collapse of the “Antifa” Type. Situation in 435 CE, after 29 Years of Invasions.

The Romans tried to dislodge the Vandals many times, but failed. In 455 CE, the Vandals sacked Rome (their fleet just went up the Tiber). Having seized control of the sea, the Vandals were able to control and cut the grain supply to the city of Rome (and much grain came from North Africa). This starved Rome, and the population collapsed. The Vandal empire would last more than a century, until an army sent there by Roman emperor Justinian defeated them.

By the late Fifth Century, Italy had fallen under the control of the Ostrogoths (who were relatively benign, except they killed the president of the Roman Senate, the philosopher Boethius; the king of the Ostrogoths had believed, erroneously, some lies about Boethius, he later bemoaned).

Emperor Justinian, the same one I just mentioned, decided to grab back Italy, and, in particular, Rome. The city was lost and taken several times. Ultimately, Oriental Romans won, and the Ostrogoths got annihilated (I say “Oriental Romans” because “Byzantine”, is an erroneous concept and word I try not to use: the Romans were calling themselves Romans, not “Byzantines”; the Romans had selected Byzantium as Oriental Capital; Byzantium, an ancient Greek city, had not selected them). However being besieged many times destroyed the city of Rome. Especially, most of her aqueducts. It was said that there was just one individual observed living in the ruins.

In ancient historiography, the Roman empire is described as declining, and then falling. However, the bias may have been introduced by the Christians, who controlled which books were worth saving. Christians hated (the) Greco-Roman civilization (which had created them), and were crucial to its demise, with the supine mentality which they promoted. So they committed a crime, and had interest to present the victim, civilization, as so decrepit, they had nothing to do with it. In truth, their fanaticism helped bring down a thriving civilization.

This is a clear bias, not supported by recent archeology. Archeology shows that the Roman State was actually richer, and more powerful, just before it collapsed. On the face of it, the army was the largest Rome ever had. Roma was much powerful in 379 CE than it had been, facing Hannibal. By a factor of ten. Rome should have been able to rise armies numbering millions in 379 CE (because a ten, or twenty times smaller Rome was able to rise armies numbering hundreds of thousands, facing Hannibal, or the German invasion around 110 BCE, by the Cimbri, Teutones and Ambrones!) The difference between the Punic and Cimbrian wars, when the Roman Republic faced annihilation, and the Germanic invasions of the Fifth Century, when it didn’t (the Germans being then half-civilized and anxious to become Romans), was mood. The Roman mood.

So what happened? How come that mightiest Roman army ever could be defeated, again and again and again, or shrink from battle? The Goth refugees had done whatever was needed (such as prostituting their wives and daughters, on an industrial scale) to keep their weapons. Mistreated by corrupt local Roman official, so corrupt that they didn’t take basic military precautions, the Goths, ably led by a charismatic leader, Fritigern, rebelled.

The Collapse of the Roman empire was sudden. This is the situation around 440 CE.

Emperor Valens rushed from Mesopotamia with the Oriental Roman field army. Thanks to an hubris reminiscent of that French generals around May 13, 1940, Valens rushed its dehydrated, exhausted army into battle on a hot August day, without having figured out where the mighty Gothic cavalry was.  The Occidental Roman army chief of staff, the Frankish general Richomeres  advised Valens to wait until the Occidental army arrived. The Oriental Roman field army was annihilated, Valens killed (in unclear circumstances). Richomeres kept discipline and saved part of the force (he would later become head of the army in the Orient, magister militum per Orientem, and a Consul).

We have some of the ingredients of the fall of Rome there: dictatorship by the emperor not listening to advice, and most of the top military genius of the empire having to do with Frankish generals.

The Roman State was severely defeated at Adrianopolis in 379 CE. That battle, against the Goths, was reminiscent of the massacre of Cannae, 600 years before. Cannae was a tremendous Roman defeat originating straight from Hannibal’s genius. Roman legions, including 60 Senators found themselves so compressed by Hannibal’s army of mercenaries, that they couldn’t fight: they had been drawn to the center by Hannibal himself, at the head of his Gallic troops. Adrianopolis was more of the same. However, whereas Hannibal was crafty at Cannae, the Romans were stupid at Adrianopolis.

After Cannae, the Romans rose another two large armies, and Scipio “Africanus” landed the main one in Africa, next to Carthage. . After Adrianopolis, the Romans didn’t rise a new army so much as they showed Constantinople to the Gothic king, who was mesmerized. The Goth thus decided to make peace. And to celebrate so much, that he died from it (his successor honored the accord).  

Clearly, by the end of the Fourth Century, the immensely wealthy empire, much richer than Rome six centuries earlier, was able to rise armies (hence the systematic recourse to Frankish armies, forces and general; even emperor Constantine had a crucial battle won by the Frankish general Bonitus; another Frankish general, Arbogast, was emperor in all but name, as he tried a secular, laic counter-coup).

This lack of armies explains why the empire of more than 60 millions was defeated by tiny German armies (the Goths had by far the largest army, around 100,000 men).

Gibbon would perhaps point out that the Christian mentality was antagonistic to war. Right. Actually the Christian bishops were heading the empire by 400 CE (this government of bishops had started under Gratian, when he became weird after Adrianopolis; maybe he was weird because he had to name Theodosius emperor of the Orient; Gratian was barely 20, Theodosius, 33, and accomplished, however his father had been executed earlier for high treason…).

The Late Roman empire had become a very strange place. While the Germans threatened to roam all over the place, with their own Sharia (although they were Aryan Christian, but for the Franks, who were obdurate Pagans), the bishops declared that murderous highwaymen should not be executed (so the roads became impassible).

All this weirdness was there to hide the main fact: the Roman plutocrats prefered experiencing German invasions to paying taxes to the Roman State, to feed the prodigious army Rome could have had, and the Roman plutocrats had the means to NOT pay taxes by influencing people and blocking others. They married the invaders, and that was it.

Does this remind you of today?

It should!

Meanwhile, Trump operated a 180 degrees (long announced). He announced a deal with his new-found friends “Nancy and Chuck”. The buxom Nancy Pelosi has headed the Democrats in Congress since before 2006 (when she acquired control of Congress); “Chuck” is the head of the Democratic Senators. So the rising of the US debt ceiling was passed (it had been attached to 20 billion dollars heading to the relief of Houston). I wonder if all those who called racist whoever had a nice word about some aspects of Trump, will now direct their fury towards “Nancy and Chuck”. Probably not: too complicated for their simple minds.

To come back to Late Imperial Rome, all the wealthiest families had a bishop in their ranks: Christianism was a smokescreen for plutocracy. Among plutocratic families, Christian propaganda was basic civic service. By superficially embracing Christianism, and imposing it deeply, plutocracy made We The People into We the Sheeple.

The empire, in tatters, rose again thanks to the Franks, but the destruction caused by the collapse was beyond a force 8 hurricane. Because the minds, the rational, republican, democratic culture, had collapsed so entirely.

It would take seven centuries for civilization to rise higher. Even then, it got poisoned again by the second plutocratic wave known, with misleading semantics, as the “Feudal” system. That rose again with a second Christianization wave known for the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Religious Wars,and various terrors, which wrecked Europe for another eight centuries after 1026 CE (when burnings for “heresy” got launched again, after centuries without.)

More than 200 potential or known causes for the Decline and Fall of Rome have been listed. The plutocratic explanation therein suggested implies them all, so it is the master explanation.

Why was the collapse of the Roman state so thorough and so fast? Contemplate the present North Korean crisis. Suppose it would evolved in the way most unfavorable to civilization: Kim threatens the West, atom bomb a few cities, like Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, and then one makes a treaty with him, and North Korean and Jihadists become the overlords, under special laws applying to them alone. Meanwhile the “antifa” are in charge of the justice, police and military systems and impose to not fight crime in any form.

This is roughly what happened to the Roman state, and it happened within a few years. At the time, some Romans were indignant, and tried to react, to prevent the Decline and Fall of the Roman State. Maximus in Britain led his legions into Gaul, defeated (next to Paris) and killed emperor Gratian (in Lyon), because Gratian was roaming around dressed like a Scythian, and had put the Catholic bishops in power. Maximus became Augustus, and Theodosius had to live with him. Yet, the rot within average minds was already too deep.

The facts above are mostly ignored in the major universities, because such facts would disrupt them by disrupting their major sponsor, the plutocratic system, which feeds so well the top university leaders (they earn up to 2 million dollars a year in the USA). Still we, humble philosophers, shall obstinately preach the truths, just because they are there, and need to be conquered even more than the highest imaginable mountains.

Patrice Ayme

Marcus Aurelius, INTELLECTUAL FASCIST: Why Rome Fell (Part VIII)

February 16, 2016

Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (“Marcus Aurelius”) is generally revered both as emperor and philosopher. Both attitudes are grievously erroneous, and have a bearing to what very serious people have considered, ever since, as the highest wisdom to be embraced when trying to lead civilization, or the individual lives which sustain it. I will presently roll out some (new) reasons why the Marcus Aurelius’ cult is so wrong.

What endangered the Roman State? The question has been considered since the Third Century’s turmoil, the time of the “Barrack Emperors”, which started with the elimination of young emperor Alexander Severus, for buying the Germans, instead of crushing them.

In 360 CE emperor Julian explained why Christianism was bringing Romanitas down. Christians worshipped a secondary and “evil God” (and that the Serpent, bringing knowledge, was “good”!). Julian removed Christianism’s extravagant privileges (such as the right to execute heretics). However, Julian ruled only three years as Augustus (after 5 years as “Caesar”, subordinate emperor). Immediately thereafter, the Christians came back with great vengeance, burning libraries to the ground.

Inventor Of Intellectual Fascism Catches Flies With Philosophical Honey

Inventor Of Intellectual Fascism Catches Flies With Philosophical Honey

The thesis that Christianism nearly destroyed civilization is obviously true, and was supported in detail by Gibbon in the Decline and Fall of Rome (eighteenth century). However, it’s not the whole story. In truth, it’s plutocracy which brought Rome down, through a succession of ever more dreadful instruments to insure its reign. Christianism was only plutocracy’s latest weapon of civilizational destruction. Political and intellectual fascisms had arrived centuries earlier, rabid theocracy was only a twist therefrom.

Marcus Aurelius, emperor from 161 to 180 was the last of theFive Good Emperors” (his abominable son succeeded Marcus at the grand old age of nineteen). Marcus is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. Generally revered, he will be condemned here as a stealthy, sneaky, subterraneous yet explicit proponent of INTELLECTUAL FASCISM. Marcus’ elevation of Intellectual Fascism to a virtue explains a lot of things, from the “Fall of Rome” to the present sorry state of world governance.

I agree that this is shocking, and all the little ones will run for cover, squealing: Marcus Aurelius has a saintly, superficially justified reputation (and that, per se, is revealing: Marcus is a bit to philosophy what Einstein is to physics: a naked emperor whom the commons imagine fully dressed; critters prefer to have 140 characters anchored by a few celebrities they adore, like simple baboons adore the alpha females and males).

Even more shocking, Stoicism is supposed to be the behavior one adopts when a victim of fascism. Thus Stoicism is a behavior one would not expect from a proponent of fascism…. Until one realizes that, precisely, stoicism is, par excellence, the behavior in the masses which makes fascism possible. So Marcus fed what made him possible.

So let me severely criticize, as deserved, the following passage of Marcus Aurelius kindly provided by Massimo Pigliucci:

There are four principal aberrations of the superior faculty against which you should be constantly on your guard, and when you have detected them, you should wipe them out and say on each occasion thus: this thought is not necessary; this tends to destroy social union; this which you are going to say comes not from the real thoughts — for you should consider it among the most absurd of things for a man not to speak from his real thoughts. But the fourth is when you shall reproach yourself for anything, for this is an evidence of the diviner part within you being overpowered and yielding to the less honorable and to the perishable part, the body, and to its gross pleasures. (Meditations XI.19)”

[I don’t understand Marcus’ last sentence, he seems to take himself for god, but that’s besides the points I will make, so I will ignore this obscure sentence. I will address the two “principal aberrations” accented above. They define what wrecked the Roman State, what will wreck any state, and any civilization: intellectual fascism in its purest form for the first one, and even explicit political fascismo for the second.]

This thought is not necessary.” Says Marcus Aurelius. The emperor calls the apparition of ‘unnecessary thought’ one of the “four principal aberrations”. Sorry, Your Highness. When is a thought not necessary? When it’s not necessary to Your Excellency? And if a thought is necessary, what is it necessary for? Necessary to worship you and your kind, such as your five year old son, Commodus, whom you made a Caesar then, such a genius he was? No Roman emperor had been that grotesque, prior to you. Is that a non-necessary thought?

Is a thought then necessary when it embraces the desire of been guided by only a few thoughts reigning over the entire mind, just as Marcus Aurelius reigned over all men? In other words, is a thought necessary, and only then, when it embraces intellectual fascism? Or is that the big “stoic” philosopher thinks like the general of an army (something he was)..

Another of the Marcus’ “four principal aberrations” is lying… or more exactly “you should consider it among the most absurd of things for a man not to speak from his real thoughts”. In other words, the idea of “bad faith”. To trash and condemn Bad Faith is good. Many philosophers have done it, all the way up to Sartre. But then notice that Marcus Aurelius puts ‘unnecessary thoughts’ in the same category as “Bad Faith”.

Marcus also frowns on as a ‘principal aberration’: Any “thought [which] destroys social union”. Thus “social union” is part of the leading intellectual principles which should rule on the realm of ideas, just as Marcus Aurelius rules on men.

Now, any mental progress will disrupt brains, thus the “social union”. A society which knows “social union” and no revolution is condemned to stagnate mentality until the situation becomes uncontrollable. And this is exactly what happened to Rome the day Marcus died and his teenage son succeeded to him. A spectacular fall, driven by his son Commodus’ fateful decisions, in a matter of days, from which the Roman State never recovered.

Marcus Aurelius had decided that embracing intellectual fascism was the highest behavior, and imposed for more than two decades on 25% of humanity. I would suggest removing that element, that drive to mental shrinkage, from modern stoicism.

Those who know the history of the period with enough detail will not be surprised by my scathing critique. Instead they will realize that this was the missing piece to the logic of the disaster which befell civilization.

Indeed, immediately after Marcus Aurelius’ death Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus (“Commodus”), at the grand old age of 19, inverted all his father’s decisions (after saying he won’t).

Where did Commodus’ madness come from? Commodus, had been named “Caesar” at age 5… by his father, the great stoic parrot. How wise is that? It would feed megalomania, and indeed, Commodus was much more megalomaniac than the present leader of North Korea.

Commodus was accused of being a megalomaniac, in his lifetime. Commodus renamed Rome Colonia Commodiana, the “Colony of Commodus”. He renamed the months of the year after titles held in his honour, namely, Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus, Augustus, Herculeus, Romanus, Exsuperatorius, Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, and Pius. Commodus renamed the Roman Senate the Commodian Fortunate Senate, and the Roman people were given the name Commodianus.

Cassius Dio, a senator and historian who lived during the reign of both Commodus and his father wrote that, with the accession of Commodus, “our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust, as affairs did for the Romans of that day.” Soon, it would descend even lower, in part because Marcus’ poisonous ideas would be revered so much.

It is probable that Marcus Aurelius was assassinated by his 19 year old son (officially Marcus died suddenly of the “plague”; but sophisticated poisons were well known, and had been used before in imperial affairs: Tiberius, the second Roman emperor, did not realize, for more than 15 years, that his two own adult sons, both of the most famous generals, had been poisoned to death by Rome’s prefect Sejanus: that was revealed after Sejanus tried a coup, and his accomplices talked). Commodus would kill his own sister shortly after his accession (she had opposed him).

In a way, Marcus’ assassination was well deserved. His superficially noble, but deeply despicable stoicism, and his brazen advocacy of political and intellectual fascism enabled Roman plutocracy to own the entire empire as if it were its own colony.

Whereas imperator Trajan had brought up taxes on the wealthiest to make education free for poor children, Marcus Aurelius went the other way: he did not have enough money to pay the army, when savage German tribes were trying to cut the empire, civilization, in two.

Some may sneer that I am condemning Marcus Aurelius for an unfortunate passage or two. Not so. Marcus’ entire work, both in philosophy, and as imperator, is an extension of his fundamental view that thinking should be restricted to what was useful. As if one could know in advance what thinking will be useful for. In his context, to boot, what Marcus meant by “useful” was what was useful to him, the one who proffered the thought.

Thought reduced to what was useful to just One, the One? How much more stupid and immoral can one be?

Nowadays, we face the fast rise of colossal inequalities which foster impoverishment, be it material, intellectual, or even cognitive. We have to realize that some of the apparently wisest, most respected and ancient philosophy is fully compatible with, and an engine of, this lamentable development.

Philosophy, poorly done, is the ultimate propaganda for the demise of the many by the self-chosen few.

Patrice Ayme’