Brian Lamb interviewed Michael Parenti on C-SPAN about Parenti's new book, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome. Parenti says that contrary to popular belief, Julius Caesar was not an emperor (his title was Imperator, or Commander); nor was he the power-grabber and usurper portrayed by conventional history. Rather he was the last leader of a 500-year republic, and the last of a long line of reformers who were murdered one after another by the aristocratic members of the Senate who felt they had a lot to lose in social reform. His nephew Octavius took over the government after caesar's assassination, took the name Augustus Caesar, and became the first true Emperor of Rome.
So why is that relevant here? What does it have to do with the Bush League, or 21st-century America?
Joseph Schumpeter was a conservative economist who was read widely in the first half of the last century. I used to read him when I was an undergraduate in 1950. And in 1919, one of his earliest writings, this is what he wrote. He was describing Roman imperialism, the Roman empire, which the republic had an empire at the time. I won't read every word of it, but I'll just say -- and he said, "Rome was governed by that policy which pretends to aspire to peace but unerringly generates war, the policy of continual preparation for war, the policy of meddlesome interventionism. There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies. And if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for breathing space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome's duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs."
Now, does any of that sound familiar to you at all? So he's writing in 1919 about Rome, and that could be about the American empire. We are constantly -- and I think that's one of the tricks of ruling groups, which is to distract the people from their immediate problems and interests by -- Alexander Hamilton made this point in Federalist paper No. 6. He said, "Many a sovereign has" -- how did he phrase it? -- "has conjured up a crisis abroad to distract the people from their domestic grievances." And I think that's what we have going today.
There are other parallels between the Roman Empire and George W. Bush's America. Read the PNAC's manifesto to learn of their blueprint for world dominion and a Pax Americana. Ignore it at your peril--for those who do not learn from history, as Santayana said, are doomed to repeat it.