Saturday, July 10, 2004

Cicero

A surprisingly* reflective collection of musings on the final days of the Roman Republic, masquerading as a book review.

When I consider how vicious American politics has become, how the Democrats and the Republicans (both of whose leaderships are drawn mostly from the same highly educated and prosperous class) either pander to the greed of the masses or the fears of the rich, just like the Optimates and Populares of old, how foreign military adventures have come to matter more for what they can do for the domestic political careers of those who either wage or oppose them than for any real impact they might have on the nation's safety, how supposedly intelligent men can excuse works of deceitful propaganda for speaking to "essential truths" - when I consider all these things, I wonder if the fate of the American Republic isn't bound to be the same as that of the Roman one, destined to expire in an orgy of ever-increasing violence as desperate and ambitious men resort to ever more extreme measures in their efforts to seize the reins of power. Political partisans who think the right ends justify any sort of rhetoric or political foulduggery would be well considered to reflect on the history of the Roman Republic, though I suppose like much else these days it is one of those things that simply isn't taught any longer in most classrooms.

*I say "surprisingly" because of the source. Salon has gone way downmarket since the days when I used to enjoy reading it.