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Destiny’s crook’d finger

After 20 years of work, Gibbon finally completed his history of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776. The final paragraph of that monumental work reads as follows:

“… every reader(’s) … attention will be excited by an History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: the greatest, perhaps, and most awful scene in the history of mankind. The various causes and progressive effects are connected with many of the events most interesting in human annals …”

There is another, perhaps, more awful scenario being played out on this most post-modern of ages. While one cannot, without access to intimate details of a nation’s military tactics, report accurately on the strategies of foreign military policy, one can see certain organic scenarios being acted out by our government, albeit with the most ham-fisted clumsiness of a disorganised acting troupe, those anti this or that ethnic group that is perceived as the current threat da jour of our right-wing leadership … so infused with a sweaty paranoia that it can only be a matter of time before the local Mah-jong clubs will be forced to integrate with the bridge or euchre clubs in their area or risk being “cleansed” of Chinese sentiment … such is the pathetic political excuses directed in so obvious accusations to so many red herring victims.

But it’s from another source that we see destiny crooking it’s beckoning finger to the West and its failing leadership. It is the corruption of the democratic system and its Houses of Parliament by right-wing politics. Right-wing politics is so corrupting that it turns citizen against citizen, for while it was true in those ancient dictatorships that with a corrupt emperor, the social rot starts from the top and works down. But with our modern democracies, we have to concede that by voting in a corrupt prime minister and his corrupt party, we; the People, are the element of corruption that has chosen and backed the rotting that starts from the voter base and works it way to the top … we are to blame for the government we have chosen.

“Which resulted from that corruption which the party of Marius had spread among the people, at the head of which was Caesar, who was able so to blind the multitude that they did not recognize the yoke which they themselves were placing on their necks.

And although this example of Rome is to be preferred to any other example, none the less on this proposition I want to refer to people known before our times. I say, therefore, that no incident (although grave and violent) can ever restore Milan or Naples to freedom, because those people are entirely corrupt. Which was seen after the death of Filippo Visconti, who, wanting to restore liberty to Milan, did not know how and could not maintain it.” (Machiavelli: Discourses).

What we saw recorded in the history of the decline and fall of Rome, was rotting of a civilisation from within, first the ruling Houses of the prominent families, then the corruption of the armies and finally the complete decadence of the citizens themselves until there was no moral justification for the State to stand. The system became terminal, the rest is history.

What we are witnessing on our media in this very epoch is the visible, unabashed and seemingly uncontrollable corruption of both the governing body AND through selected pork-barrelling; the citizen body of politically favoured demographics. The recent by-elections of New England and Bennelong demonstrated that the electorates of those communities were more interested in a party that would, as promised, pour money and infrastructure into those favoured communities, and so they returned the sitting incumbent without regard for the broader interests of “the State”. In one case returning a person so decadent that he ought to have been rejected from the citizen body on immoral behaviour alone! … showing a callous disregard of that man’s spouse and family within their very community … they can now no longer claim moral propriety as a ruling condition of their lives … their community … that particular community can be called “decadent”.

“Perhaps in a democracy the distinctive feature of decadence is not debauchery but terminal self-absorption — the loss of the capacity for collective action, the belief in common purpose, even the acceptance of a common form of reasoning. We listen to necromancers who prophesy great things while they lead us into disaster. We sneer at the idea of a “public” and hold our fellow citizens in contempt. We think anyone who doesn’t pursue self-interest is a fool.

We cannot blame everything on Donald Trump, much though we might want to. In the decadent stage of the Roman Empire, or of Louis XVI’s France, or the dying days of the Habsburg Empire so brilliantly captured in Robert Musil’s “The Man Without Qualities”, decadence seeped downward from the rulers to the ruled. But in a democracy, the process operates reciprocally. A decadent elite licenses degraded behavior, and a debased public chooses its worst leaders. Then our Nero panders to our worst attributes — and we reward him for doing so.

“Decadence,” in short, describes a cultural, moral, and spiritual disorder — the Donald Trump in us. It is the right, of course, that first introduced the language of civilizational decay to American political discourse. A quarter of a century ago, Patrick Buchanan bellowed at the Republican National Convention that the two parties were fighting “a religious war … for the soul of America.” (James Traub: Foreign Policy Centre, The United States of America is Decadent and Depraved).

The final stage of the corruption of empire was the corruption of the armies of Rome … where the Praetorian Guard even took the Empire hostage and in an act of the most vile cynicism, put the position of Emperor up for sale by auction to the highest bidder. It was purchased by Didius Julianus, who was overthrown by the armies of the Danube who chose their own man; Septimius Severus.

A time will come when our armed forces will be politicised and used not solely for the defence of our nation, but, like that Praetorian Guard, as a political tool to be used against their own citizens or for corporate gain against weaker States. The USA already uses its military for expansion of empire and will arm those despotic states most sympathetic to furthering its corporate doctrine.

With the election of a corrupt government here in Australia, the electorate has given a mandate to those unscrupulous lobbyists and “right-wing think-tanks” to push policies most suited to a favoured few and by that consensus of electorate choice, the voting public can no longer claim that the voting majority have been “hard done by” when they are duded … more the fool they … more the victim the rest of us.

Is the electorate now decadent? You bet it is!

Is all this going to end well? You bet it isn’t! … You bloody well bet it isn’t!


12 comments

  1. Joseph Carli

    I would have liked to extrapolate on this theme above, but not having the astute foreign policy judgement of our current Minister in that portfolio, I would have to make calculated guesses..So here we go..: I note that while the best and brightest minds of military strategy in the West have been howling in paroxysms of outrage against the antics of North Korea and it’s shooting off of a few missiles, in effect like the crowd at a performing circus shouting ; “Ooooo’s and Ahhhhh’s!” at the juggling clowns and seals and whatnot…that quiet performer ; China has nearly completed the militarisation of those disputed islands in the South China Seas.. https://amti.csis.org/chinas-big-three-near-completion/ I would now suggest that any resolution of dispute over those bits of reef is well and truly over…

    And given that China has also been developing military establishments in other strategic areas in East Africa and the sub-continent, alongside the now familiar sight of Chinese warships berthed at some South Pacific Islands.. http://www.pireport.org/articles/2017/06/26/two-chinese-navy-vessels-visit-vanuatu I would hazard a guess that China has now developed a southern borders security boundary that stretches from the south pacific to the Arabian Peninsula…and if we focus our attention on it’s border with Russia…we will see that there are in contrast very few strategic defence posts…and a casual search will uncover an almost warm and cuddly cohesion between the two nations..and I suspect the China: “One belt – One road” project will only enhance the economic prospects of those two nations..resulting, if we add together the implications of the above military security, the cutting off of those nations south of the equator that are currently issuing unfriendly insults to the Red Star administration.

    And harking back once again to the Roman connections, I would suggest that like Rome in its last days, the imperialist powers of the West have left it too late to instigate action against its biggest fear or foe..and when the time comes for a bit of the old “push and shove” between the declining power and the new kid on the block..,we here in little ol’ Oz because of that magnificent political judgement of our Right-wing leadership, will be left to hang out to dry by that ” ancient ally that we can rely upon and who can rely upon us”…just like they have done to every one of their allies in the modern times when the realisation comes to them that there is no longer “any money in it”.

  2. Vixstar

    Yep magnificent political judgment by the Liberals gifting a 99 year lease Darwin Port only extends the grip of a foreign power over our Oz while Chairman Mal dances around in the poor peoples mission in Sydney in his $850 D&G shirt yep our very own Septimus Turnbull ready to kill everything Australia stands for in the name of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  3. Jack Russell

    Sitting in a Grade 3 classroom, we were looking at a large map of the world and having various features pointed to us (while flicking balls of paper – as you do) and one thing of note not forgotten in the intervening 63 years is that Australia is geographically part of Asia … and, as we haven’t been towed anywhere else since then … still are.

    On another recently seen map I also note that the Port of Darwin is included in China’s One Belt-One Road network. No doubt the Port of Newcastle will also be linked in at some point.

    What fate awaits Pine Gap?

  4. Jack Russell

    PS: Yes, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire reads like an expose on current political events.

  5. ColinSC

    Blaming the electorate for the elected only works if the elections are not flawed. Many, including myself feel elections throughout the west are being controlled, probably at the electronic counting stage.

  6. Glenn Barry

    Wonderful expose, and it has me wondering, being a client state of the US for all intents and purposes, will their implosion initiate our own disintegration – we have comparable levels of corruption.

    If the US Empire does go kaboom in the very near future I hope the various tendrils don’t also spontaneously ignite, given the armaments dispersed globally.

    US belligerence internationally coupled with Trump’s stupidity is giving nations the opportunity to distance themselves diplomatically, and at some point the incompatibility between their defence spending and national debt will matter

    “astute foreign policy judgement of our current Minister in that portfolio” – this had me guffaw out loud, I didn’t realise Jewellery Bishop’s earrings and outfits constituted foreign policy

  7. Joseph Carli

    Glenn…The stupidity and gullibility of the political right has them chasing after will-o-the-wisps in the manner of “rocket man”, while the real intent of those they ought to be concentrating on go about their own business almost under their very nose!…One has to believe there are those in defence more astute that their gormless overlords..BUT…But..can they act independent of those political fools?…or will this be but another example of “Varrus’ lost legions”?

  8. lawrencesroberts

    Most recent research on the Roman Empire has put its decline down to the loss of its wheat belt due to deforestation. We may view a new American civil war as a possibility with a well armed civil population but the fire power of the government with drones and choppers is extreme.

    No chance for us to have an armed militia with the choice between two political parties who are either petty pinchers. Or the current incumbents smash and grab grand larcenists with lack of subtelty.

    They are taking away our cash money by 2022 and Trump has just run a budget to shake out the last of the loose change in the american economy. What are we looking at?

  9. Glenn Barry

    That would be cunning of them, hiding astute intelligent people amongst the military, the last place any sensible person would think to look.

    I’m not sure the US military transformed to mercenaries world wide is an improvement to the global outlook

  10. Jack Russell

    By 2022? Here?

    With the state of our NBN, anything transferred to internet use only – like a cashless economy for instance – or any other of our necessary services for that matter will be a guaranteed disaster for the peasants … so that’s the most probable grand plan at a guess, seeing as the only ones not likely to be affected will be the usual culprits.

    What an absolute frak of an idea!

  11. Wam

    The fall of the roman empire is a myth to disguise the rise of the god in the empire.
    Like a pre-doctor the regeneration of the empire was split with west and east god botherers.
    Both dripping with the power of gold and the fear of satan.
    These men, and their words, outstrip the pre-christian empire in population control, decadence towards women and children, schisms abound as men discover godly words to all schisms.
    Yet leave no roads, no aquaducts, no social developments beyond man’s memory.
    Sorry Joseph, just as god ruined pax romana, he is noisily fucking fairness and honesty in our government.

    We cannot blame trump for anything yet(indeed he is running along swimmingly) but rome certainly rules the boys in our political houses.

    Is there help at hand?? Cherchez la femme!!!!

    ps vixstar gifting was right the clp also gifted TIO and who knows what. Wonder who got the ‘spotters fees’??

    pps Jake
    Your grade three teacher and the world map had Africa as part of Europe?

  12. Jack Russell

    Destiny’s crook’d finger:

    Hot yesterday. Put out water for birds – my roasting pan. Didn’t bring it in overnight. Delivery van zooms into yard this morning. Driver spots the u-shaped driveway. BIG van. Slams on brakes. Go out to collect parcel and help him reverse out. Young Indian guy and first timer. Learnt to drive in Delhi … 😱 … need a new roasting pan!

    To Wam: I decided Oz was Asian … all by my 7-year old self … didn’t notice Africa at the time. 🙃

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