In his Dec. 22 OpEdNews article, Looking at the Bigger Picture: Criminals and Rogue Organizations Within, Rob Kall begins with this observation:
"We have, deeply ensconced within our power infrastructures, institutions, organizations and job categories where there are gross violations of the law, of the constitution, of the rights of citizens. These organizations and the people who operate freely as perpetrators of crimes and abuses of the constitution are protected by the power hierarchy that is supposed to supervise them and hold them accountable."
Yesterday I was reading a book about Cicero in Rome's late republican period, just as Pompey and Julius Caesar were coming to power. The book, Cicero, was written by Rev. W. Lucas Collins, a Welshman, a Church of England presbyter, in 1871, when the British Empire was still going strong. Collins, writing in the approving, reverential tones of a sycophant to Britain's ruling class, clearly equates the 'glory' of corrupt Rome with Britain's own empire.
The mind of empire, in any age, shares the same psychopathic "values" that make imperial rule not only possible but perceived as positively virtuous, exemplifying the "manly" attributes that win no-holds barred, winner-takes-all competitions. Cunning, subterfuge, betrayal, domination, murder. Mass murder, national plunder, and Genghis-style "scorched Earth" destruction as a military commander (or as an economic hitman). And a talent for leveraging other men's ego-vices (rapacious greed, envy, revenge, vanity) and character flaws (ruinous profligacy, scandalous licentiousness) to build political support. All while hypocritically proclaiming some virtuous religious or humanistic motive. "Pax Romana". "Spreading God's word." "Pax Britannica". "Spreading democracy."
It is astonishing how closely the ruling-class mentality and political environment of Rome, still paying lip service to the Republic's rule of law, resembles the present US political mentality and practice. All the institutionalized evils that Rob Kall enumerates are there. But from Collins' 1871 perspective as a courtier to the British Empire, Rome's deadly political power games are perceived as "good sport", the weaselly tactics used to win power and wealth are seen as "brilliant", and the crimes against humanity committed by the worst of the provincial plunderers are excused by the "noble" qualities Collins sees in the perpetrators as 'men of empire'.
It occurs to me this descent into empire is a social devolution, a fall from civilization into barbarism. An evolutionary step backward from the mind-based rule of rational republican law that serves the long-term interests of the powerful and weak alike; to the lust-based rule of animal passions pursuing only the immediate kill that temporarily gratifies an urgent appetite with no thought for the longer-term consequences.
A Republic is governed by men of enlightened reason acting within the bounds of a constitution whose laws they have agreed to live under for the long-term benefit of all. An Empire is ruled by lawless barbarians constantly seeking advantage and advancement at each other's expense. A Republic is a deliberate human civilization whose leaders act under rational law. An Empire is a jungle, red in tooth and claw, whose rulers are driven by unreconstructed predatory instincts and animal passions. Civilization calls dangerous predators "beasts", and protects itself against them. Empire calls dangerous predators "Your Highness", and worships them as demi-gods. Lord of the Flies. King of Beasts.
Empire is all about a ruling class and their power struggles and their vices and predations. The people are seen as sheep/pawns who have no understanding of the power politics but who are readily manipulated by cynical appeals to their base passions. The Romans didn't need Fox 'news' shouting propaganda at them day and night from the 51" screen hanging on their living room wall. All it took was some noble going into the street and spinning some outrage to get up a mob ready to riot and rage against the noble's target. Today all it takes is some blatant false-flag 'attack on America' to boil the patriotic pawns into a blood frenzy against the appointed foe.
I think we're up against empire, folks. Ruling-class ambitions and power politics, not enlightened reason and law, determine what America's rulers will do and not do. The people's needs and interests, the constitution, the Republican nation, the future, are of no concern to the ruling class. Only personal ambition making temporary alliances toward winning the immediate gain.
Virtue is punished, vice is rewarded. The leaders and their corrupt institutions bring out the worst animal traits in the people, not the best human traits. The people go down with their rulers, as a "rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born" (William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming).
Chris Hedges doesn't think there's any legal or peaceful way to defeat an empire. I don't think there's any realistic way, period, to take power from the rulers and restore it to the people. Not unless the rulers, who own and operate the nation's political and legal institutions and occupy all the positions of decision-making power, can be moved to sign a people's Magna Carta and voluntarily submit to laws that limit the powers and wealth they now possess.
Will a marauding hyena and a ravening lion voluntarily give up their strengths? I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen. I think our best bet is to fade out of their corporate systems as much as possible and try to live as decent human beings on the geographic fringes of the empire, far from its centers of power.
Collins reports that Cicero's most effective orations against ruling-class crimes involved graphically exposing a noble's abuse of another Roman citizen. Though the corrupted Republic would soon descend into outright Empire, Roman citizenship still held a sanctified place in the hearts of the Roman ruling class and the people, who believed Roman law protected all Roman citizens, including the weak and powerless.
The last thing a republic loses on its road to empire is respect for the lawful rights of its citizens. The US ruling class has long since passed that milepost, and is now openly tyrannizing citizen-resisters such as protesters and whistleblowers, the very people who are true patriots to the US republican constitution. Raw power, not a constitution, is now the law of the land. Power can only be defeated by superior power. It looks like the "reform" options are limited to revolution or retreat.
The American Revolution was instigated by America's commercial class who were dismayed at the British government's support of British East India Company predations against American commercial interests; and by the general population against the British government's outlawing the colonies' issuance of their own enterprise-enabling colonial scrip money, to preserve the monopoly of the English bankers' gold-backed debt money. The victorious Americans wrote a constitution to preserve themselves against empire. But already by 1870, American capitalist and Senator Richard Franklin Pettigrew saw the American robber barons and colonial conquests as the acts of a plutocratic empire, not of a lawful republic. (Triumphant Plutocracy: The Story of American Public Life from 1870 -- 1920; Pettigrew, published 1922.)
The French Revolution was instigated by farmers, peasants, and small businesspeople who revolted against centuries of aristocratic abuses, and who also wrote a republican constitution, but who found themselves a scant few years later living under the absolute rule of Emperor Napoleon.