The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, August 27, 2007

Veni. Vidi. Koo-koo, koo-koo.

Okay, this is strange. For a couple of months, my mp3 player has included 'lectures on tape' in addition to music. Because why not spend the daily commute learning about the atmosphere of Neptune or Ptolemaic Egypt, right?

Anyway, I've been listening to a series on the late Roman Republic and their conquest of pretty much everything. Most recently, Julius Caesar's war against the Gauls and its relation to the civil war brewing back in Italy. It's interesting to note that the civil unrest was in no small part due to the disenfranchisement of Rome's middle class-- veterans were finding themselves increasingly unable to make a living after finishing service, and the wealthiest families were snapping up vast amounts of their property at bargain prices. Reformers were attempting to level the playing field a bit to avert a civil war and maintain the republic, but the wealthy few unsurprisingly used their wealth and influence to portray the reformers as would-be dictators and treasonous enemies of the people. In other words, using cheap demagoguery to appeal to the middle class even as they took them for every denarius.

Digby has turned up another fellow who's been thinking about the late Republic as well. Only it's a neo-con. And he's a big picture kinda guy-- not really interested in the greed and corruption that precipitated the war, but really awed by the resultant dictatorship.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome – thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege [sic] while terrifying American enemies.

The date is this thoughtful meditation on foreign policy? August, 2007. It's difficult to decide whether this article is founded more on ignorance or madness. That first paragraph-- a mere two sentences-- manages to get wrong just about everything it mentions.

And as far as mental health, check this out:

The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable – for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. . .

By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.

The nice thing about democracy? It tends to prevent a lone, delusional jackass from nuking a few million Iraqi civilians, killing countless others in many nations through radiation poisoning, and initiating a third world war that would kill tens of millions more-- for not posing a threat to us. When world leaders decide it's time for an arbitrary nuclear genocide, you generally want them to run it by a few people first.