Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, February 24, 2004  

Amending the Constitution

I wish President Bush luck on the marriage amendment. I will be pleasantly surprised if it passes. It strikes me, though, as similar to the Emperor Augustus' attempts to reform culture in Rome (even to the extent of exiling his own promiscuous daughter).

I have not been able to discover, though, whether 1st century Rome was the low water mark of morals in the city and empire. Juvenal, Petronius, Apulius illustrate a depraved society in the Silver Age, and one Christian commentator before the sack of Rome around 400 A.D. refers to Roman licentiousness as the cause of its weakness.

It is difficult to be certain if later Rome was as immoral as the 1st century city and empire.

The reason, I wonder is that it would be interesting to know if Roman morals improved at any time while it still continued to weaken due to bureaucracy, taxation, falling economy; for if there are two things a society must rightly fear, it is widespread depravity in its ordinary, daily culture, and destruction of economic incentive plus innovation due to taxes, socialism, an unequiped or adequately trained and manned military.

The historian theorists like Toynbee and Spengler assert that civilizations reach a point of decline in which they never recover. Toynbee called it "challenge and response". Civilizations eventually become unresponsive or incompetent in response to the problems besetting it. Spengler simply sees a natural cycle at work of rise and fall like the seasons.

Toynbee points out that it is never one thing which destroys civilization. Roman military might was destroyed at Cannae by Hannibal, but the culture was sufficiently flexible, dynamic, intelligent enough to patiently reconstruct its forces, promote talented generals, and defeat Carthage.

In the later Western Roman Empire, internecine struggles for the Imperium decidedly sapped it of strength. How many thousands of soldiers became sacrificed as their generals fought each other to become emperor (for usually a short time)?

We witness a slight parallel in our two political parties as they jockey for the White House. The Democrats have become rabid in their lust for control, and the fact that they remain within the law (while usurping or flouting it in or before the courts) is only for the time being. Eventually the violent language will spill over into violent actions - demonstrations and riots at first, but then it will become a matter of assassinations, and perhaps paramilitary groups.

Such violent division can only distract Americans from their external enemies and internal economic folly and tragedies. When the Round Table is broken (adherence to civil law and majority rule), the civilization will be lost.

What is rather amazing is how long Rome withstood calamity once its Republic fell.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:12 PM |