The whole thing is well worth the read. I’m only going to quote parts of it so as to encourage folks to “hit the link”. The case is made, and rather well, that the arc of history is once again rhyming with itself and we can likely see our future in a Roman past. I’m pretty sure he’s got some truth in it. The one missing bit is China. I see no exterior force of Globalists and no exterior force of an equally massive Empire working to subvert from within. To the extent those forces change things, we may yet escape The Wheel turning…
OTOH, I don’t know enough about that particular point in Roman history to say if there were some larger external party who is just not mentioned in this essay. I do know that at various times the Celts, Germans and Goths of various sorts caused Rome grief, occasionally even sacking Rome. But the timeline needs aligning.
Remember the Gracchi
Published 21st Jan at 10:00 am
What if I told you that the political situation, as it is unfolding in the United States, has happened before – in another time and place? What if I told you that it has, in fact, happened a great many times before, all over the world, and in shockingly similar circumstances? It is playing out with eerily familiar tones, almost as though the actors themselves have little agency left and the merciless and invisible hand of history is now holding the reigns and cracking the whip independently of any further human intervention.
Allow me to tell you a story. The story of a rich kid who entered politics as a populist, entered office against the odds using a touch of strong rhetoric, tried to reform the establishment on behalf of the greater good of the people, but was demonised, hounded, and eventually destroyed by an entrenched and vicious deep state that simply could not abide.
A long time ago, in a republic far, far away (from Washington) there once was a man named Tiberius Gracchus. This Tiberius Gracchus lived in a time before Caesar and Augustus, before Marius and Sulla, before the near-endless succession of military rulers of Rome, in a time when the mechanisms of republican government were firmly established and seemed to function well. For centuries the popular assembly and the senate had conducted their business, with the occasional veto from the tribunes of the people, and had enjoyed a period of phenomenal growth in every possible metric.
Perhaps that growth was too prolific, some historians have noted, for Rome’s system of government began to creak under the weight of its newly acquired wealth and power. The scope for corruption increased and so too did the opportunity for cartels and cabals to develop, most notably in the realm of land distribution. In Tiberius Gracchus’ lifetime, the most pressing issue was that the common Roman had been largely dispossessed by monopolistic senatorial landholders who refused to allow legal reform to redress the concerns of the average smallholder and had replaced their labour with newly acquired foreign slaves.
Tiberius was a fair-minded and noble soul, the ancient historian Plutarch tells us, and felt compelled to tackle this issue when he gained the hitherto relatively junior office of Tribune. This venerable and sacrosanct position held a power to veto any decision of the government on behalf of the people, in order to avoid their complete political negation. But its powers had fallen into disuse and were not expected to be exercised to their full capacity; until Tiberius Gracchus.
Gracchus used the powers of his office to legally block the ruling elites, the senatorial class, from expanding and cementing their cartels. He proposed legislation that would, in fact, benefit the broad citizenry, and when immensely powerful political interests arrayed against him, he attempted to legally frustrate them and block their path.
[…] Tiberius Gracchus was very much attempting to drain Rome’s swamp. Both men were accused of wanting to be a king, and despite a groundswell of popular support, they were also met with a wall of hostility from a deep state committed at all costs to remove them from office.
[…]the senators and their retainers resorted to force. They simply gathered a mob, over-powered their opponents in a naked display of desperation, and clubbed Tiberius to death before throwing the resulting sack of bones into the river Tiber.
Trump can probably expect a less violent cancellation, retiring to Mar-a-Lago and endless rounds of golf, I imagine. But the spirit with which he and Tiberius Gracchus were thwarted are exactly the same. The spirit of contempt for populist sentiment among an entrenched ruling class. The near-hysterical need to silence and baffle the authentic voice of a long-ignored underclass. A type of political and social revenge whose repercussions far outlast the careers of anyone involved at the time. A spirit of malevolence which is sure to bring in its wake yet further cycles of resentment and reaction.
What happened next in the great story of Rome’s republic may serve as a vague guide to how things might pan out in the United States over the next few presidential races. In Rome’s case, the Gracchi family were not finished in their attempt to champion the grievances of the exploited and ignored. All good Roman history nerds will be well aware that Tiberius had a little brother, Gaius, who subsequently, and at first reluctantly, took up the cause.
I wonder who will live out the role of a modern-day American Gaius Gracchus. Giuliani? Tucker? Not Palin, surely? … Whoever it is, they will be facing incredible odds.
Yet the forces unleashed by the Gracchi could never be contained again. Their arguments could not be unsaid, could not be unheard. Their political journeys were short, yet they set the stage for hundreds of years. They set in motion a series of events which killed the republic and ushered in an age of military rule. Their little corner of history echoes through the ages, like a beacon of forewarning, screaming out to anyone who will listen: ‘Remember, remember the Gracchi!”
I doubt our “cover” of this song will take hundreds of years to play out. Things move much more swiftly now. But the same dynamic of things said that can not be un-heard or things seen that can not be un-seen persists.
Will we end up under a Military Rule? Will we end up an Empire, not a Republic? That’s just asking which way the Rhyme is bent, how true to the original is the ‘cover’of it.
I only learned that use of the word “cover” about 15 years ago from my Son. He’s a pretty good musician, I’m not. In the music world, a “cover” of a song is the same (or very similar) song done by someone other than the original artist. It may be a common word to all of you, now, but was new to me, then. So for anyone else who might be a bit baffled by it, that’s what it means.
Then the other issue is the atonal background beat of Marx, Lenin, and the Communist Manifesto that did not exist then, interpreted by China as a pentatonic inharmonious undertone to the western scale of 8 notes of freedoms, liberties, rights, and tolerance. Will that cacophony overwhelm the original score?
So we are now firmly on this roller coaster, the lift is ratcha ratcha ratcheting us up to the top of the plunge, and soon enough will find out where the tracks lead on the other side. Or if they are there at all…