Posts Tagged ‘Seneca’

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.

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!)