The lessons from Ancient Rome-Autocrats come along like buses

As the Roman Republic began to falter in the first century BC, its democracy began to flicker on and off like a failing computer. For hundreds of years there had beene free elections and people took turns in offices. Then came the first Dictators, Marius and Sulla. They passed, and everyone seemed relieved. But gradually undemocratic periods became more and more common as triumvirs and duumvirs struggled for power. Finally only Octavian was left. Quickly he proclaimed himself Emperor and Augustus, and there was never another free election again.

Last week (LSS 4 November 2020) we stated that although Donald Trump may have been defeated, and we still don’t know that for certain, the forces that brought him to power remain. They are the same conditions as prevailed in the late Roman Republic. The same immense sums of big money driving politics. The same rage of a vast impoverished proletariat, bewildered by the rapid social and economic changes around them. The same yearning for a Strong Man, so that we never have the bother of thinking again.

George Monbiot of the Guardian is very much alive to these dangers; we link his piece below. The essence of his piece is the headline: ” The US was lucky to get Trump-Biden may pave the way for a more competent autocrat.” And in this piece, George links to a piece by Zeynep Tufecki in The Atlantic who looks at a list of the runners and riders in the race to be our new Master (sadly, Britain’s fate is inexorably tied to the United States). It’s a thoughtful piece, but for us the key take-away was:…

The situation is a perfect setup, in other words, for a talented politician to run on Trumpism in 2024. A person without the eager Twitter fingers and greedy hotel chains, someone with a penchant for governing rather than golf. An individual who does not irritate everyone who doesn’t already like him, and someone whose wife looks at him adoringly instead of slapping his hand away too many times in public. Someone who isn’t on tape boasting about assaulting women, and who says the right things about military veterans.…………..

Chilling? At this point we remember the words of the Irish poet WB Yeats who, in The Second Coming, wrote:

The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

We have taken this last quote from the website of the Poetry Foundation, a major source of cultural riches

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/11/us-trump-biden-president-elect

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/trump-proved-authoritarians-can-get-elected-america/617023/

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43290/the-second-coming

#donaldtrump #joebiden #theatlantic #authoritarian #autocracy #2024 #wbyeats

2 thoughts on “The lessons from Ancient Rome-Autocrats come along like buses

  1. Some quotes for the Trump administration… ‘Anybody can be president of the United States’ ‘You can’t fool all of the people all of the time’
    ‘Sometimes the president of the United States has to stand naked’
    ….even so 71million people voted against the Biden presidency !
    That was more than who actually voted for Obama!
    How about a piece about Joe Biden,Keir, an amazing man and I’m not even his biggest fan!

    Like

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