Friday, June 27, 2003
THE CULTURE OF IMPERIALISM
...Roman slaves had a great deal of what, today, we would call freedom; they were free to fornicate, to indulge in every sort of vice, to bring children into the world without benefit of marriage, all the better to serve the tastes of their masters, which, by the time of the Imperial era, had become quite decadent. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but by the time the stern republican virtues of yeoman farmers gave way to the Rome of Petronius, the muscular young republic had long since morphed into a monstrously bloated and misshapen empire. As to which is cause, and which effect, I'll leave it to the sociologists to decide. Suffice to note the connection, and wonder what it portends.
Speaking of decadence, is it just a coincidence that the same news channel that is the most belligerently pro-war and pro-Bush is the same network that broadcasts the sleaziest entertainment? The War Party is hoping that we're all too preoccupied with living out our personal Satyricons to notice what's happening in the world – and on the home front.
For all their moral posturing, the neoconservative faction of the War Party is better served by hedonism. The more people tune out, and turn to purely personal affairs, the more the neocons can lie about nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction" and get away with it. Americans are just not paying attention: large numbers believe the Iraqis used WMDs during the recent war, a number roughly equivalent to those who fail to distinguish between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
The link between personal morality and the life and health of the American republic is subtle, yet unmistakable. As the neo-pagan ethic takes hold in the cultural arena, a neo-imperial policy is proclaimed by an American President. The Roman pattern is being repeated. The Bush Doctrine of preemption, as capricious and brimming with hubris as Caligula's edict proclaiming himself a god, is the sort of outrage that simply would not have been possible in an earlier, and better world. Nor would the depredations of the Patriot Act and its successor. ...
Posted by JLT at 7:26 AM