Monday, October 02, 2023

"Drama Caesar?"

      I was all set to do a sober think-piece on the dangers of Caesarism and why it's a bad thing, filled with links to current books and articles and historical references.

     But it's a waste of time.  The people who care about the ideals underpinning our system of government don't need the reminder and the folks besotted with splendid things they imagine a strong man holding the reigns might accomplish if only he weren't hampered by the legislature, the courts and the U. S. Constitution aren't listening.  Institutions that once espoused a deep respect for the American federal republic, like the Claremont Institute and Hillsdale College have become havens for authoritarian nutters as bad -- and as willing to inspire bloodshed -- as any Mercedes-driving Ivy-League Marxist.

     Not a one of them knows how to get bloodstains out of tweed or would be willing to do the work if you showed them how, either.

     At one time, the Right's thinkers and opionators* inveighed against Caesarism as soberly as any orator of the Roman republic warned the Senate and people about the dangers of monarchy.  While Cato never wavered (and he didn't succeed, either), the supposed inheritors of Buckley's mantle reached a certain point in warning about the "Man on Horseback," looked at the notion and thought, "Cato had to stab himself after a series of frustrating struggles; Caesar and subsequent Emperors ruled Rome for centuries," and changed sides, hailing Caesar as full-throatedly as they'd been cautioning against him.

     It's not a good look.  I don't know how to fix it.

     History has been rife with would-be Caesars ever since he hoodwinked Rome into returning to kings in all but name; I wish their Senate had done a more thorough job of stabbing him and much earlier, but here we are.

     The only good news I have is the boosters of Caesarism are a dime a dozen.  They show up all the time and their efforts fall well short.

     The bad news is that they only have to succeed once.  Constitutional government has to succeed every time.
* Two groups with surprisingly little overlap all across the political spectrum except for how heedlessly they egg one another on, like small children working themselves up to toilet-paper the Mayor's house.  And somehow, there's always one of them playing with matches.


Anonymous said...

"It's not a good look. I don't know how to fix it."

The upcoming election has a considerable possibility of being a disaster for our nation. I fear for the Republic.

Tam said...

The problem, alas, runs way deeper than stabbing Caesar can solve.

Gaming the system becomes a route to personal enrichment, and eventually the temptation to game it permanently for perpetual enrichment becomes too strong for mere mortals to resist.

“What’s the Matter With Campania?” presaged “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” and “What’s the Matter With Kosice?” by two millennia.

The Founders tried really hard to engineer around the worst of populism, factionalism, and centralized power, and it’s had a good long run, but it’s starting to run into limitations.

Joe in PNG said...

The really tragic thing is that a lot of Caesarist will loudly proclaim to love the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, American History, and the Principles that Built America... and not realize that all those things were expressly against Caesarism.
Because many don't actually know what all that stuff actually says.

Stewart Dean said...

Anonymous, ....or there's Jefferson's musing: "When I reflect that God is just, I fear for my people".

Joe in PNG said...

Tam- Machiavelli pretty much says the same thing in "Livy" in Chapter XVII- That a corrupt People obtaining
Freedom can hardly preserve it

"But the strongest example that can be given is that of Rome, which on the expulsion
of the Tarquins was able at once to seize on liberty and to maintain it; yet, on the
deaths of Cæsar, Caligula, and Nero, and on the extinction of the Julian line, was not
only unable to establish her freedom, but did not even venture a step in that direction."