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Five marks on the Tablet

By freef’all852

Five marks on the Tablet,
Three cuts in the Stone,
Five loaves for the masses,
Then it will all be gone …

My comrades, fellow country folk … We are in deep shit …

After a working lifetime of research and writing, after a working lifetime of total dedication to his craft, Edward Gibbon signed off on a magnum opus of extraordinary depth, breath and vision with the modest words of:

“It was among the ruins of the Capitol that I first conceived the idea of a work which has amused and exercised near twenty years of my life, and which, however inadequate to my own wishes, I finally deliver to the curiosity and candour of the public.”

With these closing words, Gibbon undersigned a work (“The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire”) revealing amongst a legion of information the causes and effects both on those contemporary times and right up to his times examples of human aspiration toward a “civilising” of cultural practices (however badly executed) through the promotion of universal civil institutions; libraries, senate houses, universal laws, and monetary stability and exchange. What was termed; “Romanisation” of their world … All those institutions and bureaucracy we take for granted now.

What was unforeseen in this intricately archived empire was that alongside the expansion of governance and commerce there grew an infection inherent in the human condition, not completely understood within the aristocratic politics of the “City States” of the past (at least, not in the Western sphere of influence) that along with such enormous power, keeping in mind the Roman world extended over ALL the recognised realms of then known civilisation and beyond … there grew the infection of extreme hunger for unbridled wealth … riches beyond the imagination of King Croesus … where entire provinces could be bought and indeed, even the rule of the empire itself was sold to the highest bidder. Capitalism unrestrained.

Do we see a pattern arising?

Recorded toward the end of Gibbon’s monumental work, there is a reflection on what it was caused the decline and eventual fall of that mighty “empire” that stood from go to whoa for nearly two thousand years. Putting aside continual wars and domestic conflicts, Gibbon came to the conclusion of what marks a decaying culture and although the quote below is a modern paraphrase, it can be construed as a reasonable condensation of his conclusions:

“The five marks of the Roman decaying culture:

Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth;

Obsession with sex and perversions of sex;

Art becomes outlandish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original;

Widening disparity between very rich and very poor;

Increased demand and need for state subsistence.”

One can add to this list the effects of turning the Italian small, mixed-farming rural countryside into large beef-cattle estates run by slave labour with a Freed-man overseer to capitalise on the need for meat-protein to feed the enormous Roman armies continually on the march to new frontiers and wars of conquest or defence. That in turn forced the importation of cereals and other essential food items from as far afield as Sardinia and Egypt, leaving the city of Rome itself at the mercy of weather, swindlers and profiteers. A situation not unfamiliar to many modern societies today, except it is climate change now that is creating the most havoc with cropping risk.

What we witness in the fateful display of that greed and selfishness are the symptoms of a much wider malaise; the situation of a feeling of isolation from the central core of one’s own birth nation. The lack of “connection” with the IDEA of “The State” to the notion of “every person for themselves”. Every citizen must have a sense of identity with the country into which they were born – live- work – die.

The deliberate demonising and destabilising of this or that section of society by the political right-wing politico-economists to create a competing class of job-hunters has disrupted social cohesion almost to the point of collapse. The resulting five marks of cultural decay we read above are now seemingly indelibly in-situ in our society, with an even greater risk of pushing those marginalised outside the “privilege tent” being further isolated till they can take no more.

There is nowhere to go anymore with the Conservative right-wing political forces in Australia. They have pushed their envelope of “Economic rationalism”, “Free-market”, “Trickle-down economics” and “Mutual obligation welfare” to beyond the limit. They have butchered our nation state with underfunded infrastructure, social and structural. The rich have got so much richer it is disgusting and unsustainable. The workers have no longer a reliable, full-time employment situation they can use to plan for their future or the future of their children and the poor/disabled are absolutely knackered. It is totally unreasonable and unsustainable – the right-wing philosophy is unfair and unworkable – there will have to be a social revolution to change the perception of governance.

It is the imbecility of an IPA “wish-list”, the selfish greed of the mining lobby groups, the destabilising media of a foreign mogul and the bumbling obsequiousness of the LNP politics “in office” that have brought us to this horrible place. They must be removed from office at the next election, but with all the nasty deeds committed against their own citizens and those seeking refuge from other places … With so many of their members under scrutiny for corrupt practices and the rest too indolent and morally challenged to act responsibly, coupled with an oligarchy of plundering, robbing millionaires seeking to smash and grab anything of the nation’s resources not “nailed down”, the next election could be one they cannot and certainly WILL NOT afford to lose … if you get my drift?

The result? Well, if we look to the example of the once mighty Roman Empire … the rest, as they say …?

This article was originally published on


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  1. Hettie Lynch

    Very scary. Would they dare?
    Refuse to go to an election, or corrupt the process, falsify results?
    The obvious naked corruption now suggests that is a real possibility.

  2. paul walter

    So it has come to pass.

  3. freefall852

    Hettie..although this may smack of a tad “conspiracy theory”, I have suspicions about the “postal-vote victory” of the last election, where strangely, so many postal votes seemed “targeted” toward those marginal seats most in need of the sympathetic vote and the LNP ended up winning by just one seat..and THAT ONE seat has to be said was won on the strength of those postal votes..Well, so what? many would which I would add; Well, all those overseas voters who were abroad for such a long time, then their residential or electoral address could have changed and if you were only going abroad for a short time, there is the much less inconvenience of the “pre-poll” vote. And I would have liked to see all those postal votes, PARTICULARLY the ones directed to or through the Australian Embassy , London..aka the residential address of one ; A. Downer, have their bonafides thoroughly checked.
    But hey..I could just be a tad paranoid.

  4. Peter F

    Now we are to believe that they are a ‘caring’ government, and now, no doubt, we will.

  5. jamesss

    There could be severe consequences, there is always consequences, its an outcome of any action.

  6. stephengb2014

    Frightening thoughts – I do hope its the wrong conclusion of this unholy mess


  7. stephentardrew

    The rot is deep the options very limited. The capitalist neoconservative paradigm past its use-by date. Where to now ? Labor? A temporary palliative beholden to exactly the same system of greed and corruption. The rot is deep the solutions malformed. I fear we are in deep trouble. Modern Monetary Theory is offering a transitional non-disruptive alternative point is are we smart enough to take it. I have my doubts.

  8. freefall852

    Stephen-t..I’d like to see govt’ take control of vital utilities and infrastructure to re-bbot the apprentice system those state enterprises once guaranteed and was a source of solid, permanent, well-paid employment for a good enough percentage of the workforce to maintain reliable local services and suppliers both domestic and industry.

  9. Halfbreeder

    the right wing persist with the class war. even if they become less dogged for a time they will return to it in due course. They fight the war by increments one battle at a time.A major confrontation is inevitable.

  10. Matters Not

    the right wing persist with the class war

    Yep! The real problem is that the ‘left’ don’t realise they surrendered some time ago. In most cases, the so called Left didn’t even recognise that they were and are in a contest. Still don’t!

    Let not the Sleeper Awake.

  11. win jeavons

    ” It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven…..” , when Jesus spoke of this kingdom he did not speak of an after life, But a kingdom that already existed on earth. Perhaps among other things, a truly just , caring society, which does exist in tiny pockets here and now.

  12. Yusuf Feidel

    Matters Not please you tell me who Left are and why they so lazy to have action.I go to March in March but no people come to protest government and bad policy but sit in homes and complain on The AIM Network just but not strong in belief like in France where I was before Australia.One man says talk is cheap but action take effort and lazy do not like effort.Is Left lazy? English poor sorry but am angry at government and lazy people

  13. Freethinker

    IMO the left is just doing what the majority of people want in Australia and that is “nothing as long as I am still in the comfort zone.”
    Matter Not, remember that the situation now it is complete different to what it was 40 years ago or so, now the people have mortgaged their freedom and rights.
    Who will be the first one to lose their home to fight for his rights? No one.
    We have to wait until the greed of the ones at the top is so big that the ones in the bottom will have nothing to lose to fight for their rights.
    Napoleon Bonaparte was spot on when he said, quote: A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.

  14. Yusuf Feidel

    Freethinker please my english not good but is Left selfish and lazy and wait for other people to do protest and make change and just do talk while Right do action.Many think young people make a change but not in France
    The angry under-30s driving the French far-Right
    young people to join far right is now times 2 and half of Le Pens member are under 30
    Opinion polls showed that around a third of 18-24-year-olds planned to vote for Front National leader Marine Le Pen
    I do not see young in Australia interested or even care

  15. Freethinker

    Yusuf, do not worry about your English, my “spanglish” is worse but that will not silence this old grumpy man.
    IMHO, the only that can do the left and progressive people like in this site is educating others and spread the word.
    Will be a political suicide for the left or any politicians for that matter to fight for the people basic rights and not for the materialistic interest.
    Further more, the neoliberal macroeconomics model that the left support by being part of the ALP is going against progressive policies.
    The right and even more the extreme right have used the greed and need for consume more by the masses to their own advantage by creating division between the ones that have more and the rest, by creating people dependency in working more for less to protect the material things that they posses.
    Regarding the young Australians, you are correct, they are politically immature, to a degree ignorant.

  16. Matters Not

    In general, the ‘left’ can be distinguished (intellectually) from the ‘right’ by locating their relative positions re important ‘concepts’ on a spectrum. While both are concerned with the ‘individual’, those on the left tend to stress the role played by the ‘other’ (society) as essential to establishing who they are whereas the right tend to downplay, if not disregard entirely, the importance of society (the other). Accordingly, the left, recognising the importance of the ‘other’, see ‘government’ in a much more positive light (can contribute to freedom etc) than do the right who tend to see government in (negative) terms as a constraint on freedom – among other limiting qualities.

    To investigate fully would require exploring (at minimum) the concept of ‘human nature’, the concept of the ‘good society’ both the ‘good’ and ‘right’ relationship between the human and his/her society. Leading to the role of government, in the ‘good’ society, ethical systems (deontological, teleological or existential), values and so on.

    And even then, there would be overlaps. In short, it’s impossible to distinguish the ‘left’ from the ‘right’ (politically) speaking in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions.

    It would seem that you are from France – perhaps you might be familiar with Sartre, Derrida, Foucault, Althusser, Camus, Durkeim et al. The list goes on. But I am unsure if you are asking in good faith. But to me, it matters not.

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