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

Monday, November 08, 2004  

The end of the Roman Republic

For unexplained reasons, Hugh Hewitt posted this link to a brief history synopsis of the the Roman Revolution.

It is a marvelously concise illustration of what led to the fall of constitutional government in Rome.

We begin in the year 133 BC, with Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus.

Tiberius descended from the aristocracy (on his mother's side), of a fine and ancient house - very respectable. He had had a successful military career and was a war hero. His political goals were nothing more than to introduce certain reforms in order to take care of veteran soldiers and improve the quality of active soldiers.

All of this hardly sounds like the program of a revolutionary, and he was not one. Tiberius Gracchus was an experienced commander who saw a real need for serious reform. What marks him apart from others is the lengths to which he was prepared to go to achieve his reform, and the lengths to which his opponents were prepared to go to stop him.

. . . Tiberius tried to work through the Senate to enact his reforms, but he was opposed at every step.

Gracchus became a tribune. An office not normally held by patricians. He passed his bill for land reform but the Senate had a trump card which it intended to play against the reform.

. . . Any tribune could veto a bill simply by walking to the speaker's podium and announcing veto, which is Latin for "I deny."

When the moment came, and it was obvious the Land Act would pass, the other tribune went to the podium, whereupon some of Tiberius' men grabbed him and carried him out of the assembly. The veto had no effect unless it was delivered personally by the tribune, so he shouted in vain. The bill passed.

This is the traditional beginning of the Roman Revolution because it marks the use of violence for political ends. This was certainly not the first instance, but it was dramatic and public and there is a thread between this event and Caesar that is essentially unbroken.

Read the rest. It's fascinating how the Republic eroded through incremental steps by the use of force to affect change. The dictator Marius maintained all the regular constitutional structures except, of course, the freedom to change the head of state.

Consider also that the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany corresponds to the destructiveness of the Communists and their violence. The Communists continually accused the Weimar Republic of monstrous nazi-like crimes, so that when the actual Nazis appeared, the rhetoric of outrage was meaningless. Hitler couldn't be honestly portrayed as worse since all the moderates had already been villified in the most vicious terms.

This is like our Left's Bush=Hitler meme. Were an actual Hitler to arise in America, what would the Left have in its arsenal to categorize him, or to scare others with?

When I see creeps attack the police in SF here, I tend to want to see some perpetrators heads broken myself.

We are not in the same situation as Rome although it is interesting to note the Gracchi brothers did institute welfare in Rome with bread, money, entertainment giveaways and entitlements to them. And political factions were essentially street gangs.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:28 AM |