Wednesday, 15 March 2017

This ides of March and that one

The Ides of March, to quote Shakespeare, are come. And this year, 2061 after the murder of Julius Caesar that took place on that date – 15 March – it’s particularly apt to mark the event.

Julius Caesar, populist and autocrat
Sadly, we have indeed seen his like again.
Why? Because the assassination of Caesar was an attempt to prevent the conversion of Rome, and its growing empire, into an autocracy. The driving force towards dictatorship? Caesar, a populist who, though an aristocrat himself, had won himself a powerful reputation among the common people as a man to speak for them.

My problem is that I’ve never known who to sympathise with in that incident. There’s no doubt that Caesar was an opportunist, a narcissist and a budding tyrant. He had shown not merely his effectiveness in warfare but his ruthless cruelty, as he wiped out thousands of his defeated enemies, including women, children and the old.

Unfortunately, though the men who opposed him spoke for the Republic, it was nothing like the kind of Republic we’ve come to know and admire since the revolutions – notably in France and America – in the eighteenth century. Entry to the senate wasn’t by election but by appointment from within a wealthy elite. And even elective office was, in effect, bought by those who could win themselves the most short-term popularity with Roman voters.

Certainly, Cassius, Brutus and the rest weren’t fighting for any kind of democratic or popular government that we would recognise. They were trying to defend a system in which they represented the establishment, and which worked to protect their interests and power. It was a system rotten with corruption and principally focused on the needs of the wealthy.

Essentially, the assassination was the culmination of a battle between an autocratic Republican maverick reaching for power on the back of a populist wave, and a corrupt Republican establishment intent on defending its privileges. I can sum up my feelings in another line from Shakespeare: a plague on both your houses.

My main feeling, though, is a sinking one, at the thought that the choice is as poor today as it was 2061 years ago.

Still, today we have a better solution than assassination: we can vote for change. We just need a genuine alternative. Come on Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the United States.

And in Britain, come on you successor to Jeremy Corbyn – whoever you may be.


Anonymous said...

And always remember you voted for J. C. Judgment?

David Beeson said...

The only people who never make mistakes are those who never make anything. I made the error of wanting to Corbyn a chance. The thing with mistakes is to recognise them quickly and correct them as soon as possible. I fully recognise my error and am doing what little I can to put it right...

Anonymous said...

Well a very week excuse for what every U.K. Citizen outside the Labour / Mmentum party knew what was the logical easy peasy radical 1970s non choice. How can so many individuals make such a totally disaserrous choice Especially when all the evidence was so so obvious to every individual in this nation other than the left of Labour or and Momentum, what a total shambles.

David Beeson said...

Well, I can only apologise for getting it wrong - so I'm sorry