There is a school of history that believes that it is only the actions of great men and women that make a difference in what happens in the world. That history is the struggle between humans of superior wealth, power, position, and intellect against one another, or against a system that is trying to destroy their potential greatness by opposing it. Hannibal of Carthage against Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus and Rome is an example of the first, Julius Caesar's struggles against Rome's Senate is an example of the second.
One of the reasons for this historical point of view is that most of the history books for the last twenty-five centuries have been written by members of the upper class. They never take into account the effects the middle and working classes--let alone the poor--have had on the decision making process in history. This has led to the colossal conceit expressed by Edmund Burke in his 1756 monograph, A Vindication of Natural Society, "The whole business of the poor is to administer to the idleness of the rich."
In the matter of war, there are those who will tell you that it is only important to exalt the glory of the commanders and the nation. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," Sweet and proper it is to die for one's country, to quote Horace in his Odes. It is too often serving the rich for their benefit, rather than the nation as a whole.
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent," as Isaac Asimov wrote in his "Foundation" books, and "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," to quote Dr. Samuel Johnson.
The historians of the upper classes do not write about the drain on money and manpower that continuous wars place on a nation. Seventy thousand Romans and their allies died at the hands of Hannibal's army at Cannae. A little more than one hundred years later, 80,000 Romans and their allies were slaughtered by Germanic hordes at Arausio in Gaul. These losses represented at least five percent of the non-servile males on the Italian peninsula at the time--roughly equivalent to the United States losing 15,000,000 soldiers in a single day's battle today.
After Arausio, the Roman Senate was forced to recruit men from the capite censii, the Roman poor who could not afford to purchase their own armor and weapons. The purchase of weapons and armor for Rome's legions fell to the Roman Senate, creating a further drain on Rome's Treasury.
Generally, for the wealthy, society is divided into two groups, the rich and the poor, as Burke states above. For most of the rich, a continual state of class warfare exists, because if, and only if--to paraphrase Jay Gould--they play off half of the non-rich against the other half, can the rich maintain their ascendancy. This is why the rich hate a large, educated, and energetic middle class: People with enough money and time to take an active part in the political process of their nation.
The rich claim that self-interest is what motivates humankind, and leads to all of humanity's advances: political, social, economic, and technological. The middle class know that fairness, and watching out for the interests of our friends and neighbors, is what brings those advances most rapidly. The middle class know instinctively what Aristotle stated in his Politics twenty-five centuries ago: The best form of government is a constitutionally-limited one, dominated by a nation's middle class.
That is what men such as Jefferson,
Madison, Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, as well as John Kennedy
dreamed of for the American people. It is also the type of nation that is
anathema to Alexander Hamilton, Jefferson Davis, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay
Gold, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and the Koch
Brothers. This is because that sort of constitutionally-limited government, dominated
by the middle class, has the ability to say "No!" to the wealthy, and make it
Thomas, in his dissent last week against the Supreme Court's decision that
acknowledged that gays and lesbians have the right to be protected by the same legal
protections inherent in the human concept of marriage as the rest of us, said
that there is no Constitutional right to dignity. I answered Justice Thomas's
foolish assertion four years ago, in my 13 September 2011 OpEdNews article "Dignitas:"
"Dignity lies at the root of all individual worth.
Dignity declares there is a difference between being truly humble and
being humbled, and resists the latter with all of its strength; it allows one
true humility, but never permits unresisted humiliation; it defines the
difference between making a place for ourselves in the world, and accepting
one's 'place' in the world.
Dignity is the basis for all self-expression; conscious doubt; privacy
in our persons, our thoughts, and our homes; our private beliefs; our public
dissent. It is the cornerstone of freedom, and the foundation of liberty.
Freedom and dignity are inseparable components of one another. To deny another
human being their dignity is to surrender any claim you might have to it
yourself. And with that forfeiture, all claim to any freedom of your own."
If you don't have dignity, you aren't free. The oligarchs and their
lapdogs, who would destroy our Constitution, know this. They know if they can
keep us busy denying one another our rights, and dening one another our dignity;
they deny our essential liberties, and our very humanity, turning us into
things, not humans. When that happens, the rich can again hire half of us to
kill the other half, and keep the rest of us in a state of perpetual poverty,
both morally and economically.
Freedom and dignity are the twin horses who pull the chariot of liberty
and human rights. Freedom without dignity is a farce: Lip service to the ideals
of liberty and human rights, without the reality.
For marriage, the farce is over. We still have other work to do.