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 freefall852.wordpress.com.