Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Dishonest and Dishonorable

“Power isn’t just an abstraction: It has possessors, supplicants, and hand servants. It can bought and sold with money, integrity, favors and sacrificial blood — usually not one’s own...

For those who chose to be on the other side of activism — or for those who didn’t have a choice because of birth or circumstance — watch out, because Power has “prosecutorial discretion.”

You can file all the petitions you like with the powers that be. You can try to make Power –whether in the form of wiretapping without warrants or violating international conventions against torture — follow its own laws. But Power is, as you might suspect, on the side of Power. Which is to say, Power never pleads guilty.”

You do not change Empire by cozying up to it and becoming bedfellows. That just makes you an extension of Empire, and its vehicle by proxy.

Occasionally, I run across folks who want to regenerate neo-Paganism that is, in fact, an extension of Empire and the State religions that ended up fucking over polytheism. By being complicit with the Empire, they were subject to the flows of Empire. And when the decline arrived?

They drowned, as they were warned, in a flood of barbarism that culminated in the destruction of the Sibylline Oracles, the gradual (though initially factitious – see Arian Christianity versus early Catholic Christianity) enshrinement of Christianity as the new State Religion, and the collapse of the mystery cults.

In the end, the “Foederati Barbarians” that destroyed the Sibylline Oracles and sacked Rome ended up seeming more heroic than the violently racist, completely broken Roman Empire.

Because, in a very real way, they always had been. Juvenal comes to mind:
“Though I’m disturbed by an old friend’s departure, still
I approve his decision to set up home in vacant Cumae
And devote at least one more citizen to the Sibyl.
It’s the gateway to Baiae, a beautiful coast, sweetly
Secluded. I prefer Prochyta’s isle to the noisy Subura.
After all, is there anywhere that’s so wretched and lonely
You wouldn’t rather be there than in constant danger of fire,
Of collapsing buildings, and all of the thousand perils
Of barbarous Rome, with poets reciting all during August!
Now, while his whole house was being loaded onto a cart,
He lingered there by the ancient arch of sodden Capena.
We walked down to Egeria’s vale with its synthetic grottos.
How much more effective the fountain’s power would be,
If its waters were enclosed by a margin of verdant grass,
And if marble had never desecrated the native tufa.
Here, where Numa established his night-time girlfriend,
The grove and shrine of the sacred fount are rented out
To the Jews, who’re equipped with straw-lined baskets;
Since the grove has been ordered to pay the nation rent,
The Muses have been ejected, and the trees go begging.”
On that note, The Dishonest and Dishonourable (which immediately follows) also comes to mind.

Note: Stilicho, the Foederati warleader that initially stopped Alaric I, was accused of ordering the destruction of the Sibylline Books. However, there is no proof that he was the one that did it. In Romans and Barbarians (whose author's name escapes me at the moment, and isn't near by to take a look at), the author supposes he was motivated by the rabid Anti-Barbarian sentiments of the Roman Senate. She added that the Sibylline Books warned that the decline of Rome would culminate with Barbarians becoming King-Makers, and by this time in history they more or less were. The Foederati were both created to maintain order in the fractitious Empire, but the Senate pretty consistently fucked them over and drove them to defection. Following Stilicho's death around 407 CE, I think, Alaric finally succeeded in sacking Rome itself. Although Alaric's ambitions were finally thwarted by another Visigoth Warlord, and tribal enemy, Sarus.

The anti-barbarian sentiment is preciously what I mean by 'violently racist.' (Hell, even Juvenal shows more than a bit of it.) But getting back to brass tacks: Empire has been the number one failure of the last 5000 years, with the desire to establish order across vast tracts of land regardless of who lives there, and the establishment of laws that favor the powerful over the people.

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