Rome n' Republic

FUSION JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010

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The fault, dear Americans, is not in our stars but in ourselves!

By Pia Varma

OK, I’ll admit it. I didn’t pay much attention in high school English class. Julius Caesar? Yawn! To be honest, I didn’t really get it. I thought that Caesar was the good guy and Cassius and Brutus, the two men who led the plot to kill him, were the bad guys. But it was the ‘90s, the Cold War was over and I had prom to think about. To snap up a line from Shakespeare’s play, it was all Greek to me!

Flash forward several years to our new post-9/11 America. We are fighting two wars, a global battle against terrorism, low interest rates and cheap money have caused a credit crisis of gargantuan proportions, the Treasury has become a free-for-all, the welfare state is growing quicker than you can say Nancy Pelosi, the government is becoming more powerful and corrupt, rampant inflation is imminent, and corporate-cronyism has replaced the free markets.

Maybe it’s time for us all to re-read history.

You see, many, many years before there was the United States of America, there was a Republic called Rome. Actually, I never realized that “Ancient Rome” as we’ve come to know it existed in three phases that spanned the course of almost a thousand years. It was founded some time between 758 and 728 B.C. and existed as a monarchy for over two centuries. It then became a democratic Republic, which lasted for 460 years, and finally transitioned to an empire for the final 200 or so years.

The heroic beginnings of the Roman Republic were actually very similar to those of America. In 509 B.C., a rebellious group of rugged individuals, tired of abuses of the monarchy, overthrew King Tarquin and put into place a new system of government. In order to safeguard personal liberties and prevent another monarchy from emerging, these founding fathers replaced the monarchy with two elected magistrates who would each serve a maximum of one year. Each magistrate would check the ambition of the other and never again would one man be allowed to rule supreme over the Roman citizens.

The Roman “constitution,” known as the Twelve Tables, was completed in 449 B.C. with an emphasis on individual liberty. The legislation would come from an elected body of officials, also known as the Senate. Under this new system of government, Rome flourished as a fledgling, agrarian republic where citizens were able to vote, hold public office, engage in trade and commerce and own property. Although Roman citizenship, or civitas, was limited to adult males, it was incredibly revolutionary at the time and, therefore, became a source of great pride for the Romans. It meant you were free!

And what does freedom bring? Prosperity!

Rome became the most rockin’ place around. Toga parties, drinking, wrestling, sporting games, bathhouses, you get the idea. Everyone who was anyone wanted to be Roman.

Life was pretty good for a few centuries. Rome grew and prospered. The Romans built roads, bridges, aqueducts, buildings, apartments, stadiums and had the most powerful military in the world. And we all know it wasn’t built in a day! The Roman Republic even had a booming financial sector, with early forms of futures and equities markets. But in 49 B.C., the party finally came to an end as Julius Caesar stood at the bank of a small river in Northern Italy known as the Rubicon.

Roman law stated that no General could cross the Rubicon and enter Italy with a standing army. If Caesar crossed, he would be declared an “Enemy of the State,” plunge Rome into a civil war and turn the once shining democratic republic into an empire and himself into Emperor. The Senate was terrified of such an outcome. Even Caesar, himself, hesitated. But he was too ambitious to turn around and give up all that he had worked to achieve. He wanted power, even if it meant ending the Republic. He marched forward and, in his own words, the “die was cast.” He had crossed the point of no return and became Emperor of Rome.

Brutus and Cassius did eventually assassinate Caesar in an attempt to restore the Republic, but it was too late. By then, the problems were greater than one man and had been developing under the surface for many years. In fact, many Roman citizens were happy to have Caesar take the reigns as dictator of Rome to get things under control. I guess Sallust was right when he said, “Only a few prefer liberty—the majority seek nothing more than fair masters.”

So, what exactly led to the moment at the Rubicon? Why did Rome fall?

Perhaps the malaise began 150 years earlier when Rome’s biggest external threat, Carthage, was defeated in the Second Punic War. While most Roman citizens were ecstatic, many were concerned that, without a common enemy holding the Republic together, a sense of apathy would set in. They were right. Over time, by the consent of the masses, Rome began to destroy itself from within. The citizens ceased to care what the Senate was doing, so long as their needs were being taken care of. The Senate began a policy of expansion, conquering new lands and looting gold and silver for the Treasury. In the early days of the Republic, the tax rate was about 1-3 percent. By 167 B.C., Romans were no longer obliged to pay taxes, as the burden could be carried by others.

There was enough revenue coming in from conquered lands to pay for everyone. As a result, a new brand of crony-corporatist, known as the publicani, emerged. The publicani were also known as tax farmers, who were in the business of collecting taxes abroad for a profit. The tax rate was progressive, with the publicani deciding who would pay what taxes. Corruption ran rampant.

To make matters worse, in the middle of the Second Century B.C., two brothers with great political ambition came to power. The Gracci brothers emerged from the Populares Party. They understood that they could gain enormous amounts of political power by making grand promises and using propaganda and charisma to woo the Roman citizens. They promised grain at prices below market and, eventually, for free. They promised to redistribute land, and they put into place sweeping “New Deal” like social reforms, which increased the welfare state. Essentially, you name it, they probably promised it. As a result of these progressive reforms, farmers rushed to live in the cities for their free grain and slaves were freed in order to qualify for the dole.

It didn’t help that there was also lots of money floating around the Roman economy from the conquests abroad. Since money was cheap and interest rates were kept very low (and, at one point, even forbidden), individual Roman citizens racked up considerable amounts of debt. The publicani were also in the money lending business but eventually cracked down on borrowers so they could invest their money into new markets opening up in Asia. This led to a huge credit crisis in 88 B.C.

The economy continued to crumble as debt increased and more and more hands grasped at the treasury. By the time Caesar came along, more than 300,000 Roman citizens were on the dole and an increasing number were making greater demands on the government. In fact, more legislation was passed during the end of First Century B.C. than any other time in the Republic’s history. Politicians were becoming increasingly corrupt and self-interested. By the time Rome became an empire, there were so many obligations that taxes began to rise to crippling levels and emperors began to adopt a policy of devaluing the currency. Rampant inflation ensued. In fact, during the 200 years of the Roman Empire, the Denarius (Rome’s coinage at the time) went from containing 95% silver to containing .02% silver. It became virtually value-less!

Roman Emperors, such as Diocletian, began grasping at straws: regulating industry and trade, nationalizing businesses and fixing prices and wages. However, despite all the concerns from the more rational members of the Senate, Rome continued to collapse. Cicero had even warned, “The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome becomes bankrupt.”

So there you have it, the breakdown of the Roman Republic (and maybe the breakdown of the American Republic) in a nutshell. We’ve modeled our government after Rome, we looked at the writings of Roman philosophers like Cicero and Cato to create our Constitution, we got terms like “senate” and “citizen” from Latin. We even designed our nation’s capital after Roman architecture. And, in a way, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others gave us the ultimate “mulligan” when they founded America. But they also warned us of what happened to Rome and urged us not to go in the same direction. And what did we do? Like sheep and cowards, we didn’t listen, didn’t learn from past mistakes and, eager for security and temporary quick fixes, have been voting ourselves back into bondage ever since.

American, wake up! We don’t want to be Rome! Let’s not forget that this shining city on a hill ultimately burned down with Nero fiddling away!

As our leaders in Washington stand at the bank of the Rubicon, ready to cross, we must remember Cassius’s wise words in Julius Caesar when he said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings.”

I hope my high school English teacher is impressed.

Acclaimed environmentalist and author of "Apocalypse Never" Michael Shellenberger joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to warn us about the true goals and effects of climate alarmism: It's become a "secular religion" that lowers standards of living in developed countries, holds developing countries back, and has environmental progress "exactly wrong."

Michael is a Time "Hero of the Environment," Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He has been called a "environmental guru," "climate guru," "North America's leading public intellectual on clean energy," and "high priest" of the environmental humanist movement for his writings and TED talks, which have been viewed more than 5 million times. But when Michael penned a stunning article in Forbes saying, "On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize for the Climate Scare", the article was pulled just a few hours later. (Read more here.)

On the show, Micheal talked about how environmental alarmism has overtaken scientific fact, leading to a number of unfortunate consequences. He said one of the problems is that rich nations are blocking poor nations from being able to industrialize. Instead, they are seeking to make poverty sustainable, rather than to make poverty history.

"As a cultural anthropologist, I've been traveling to poorer countries and interviewing small farmers for over 30 years. And, obviously there are a lot of causes why countries are poor, but there's no reason we should be helping them to stay poor," Michael said. "A few years ago, there was a movement to make poverty history ... [but] it got taken over by the climate alarmist movement, which has been focused on depriving poor countries, not just of fossil fuels they need to develop, but also the large hydroelectric dams."

He offered the example of the Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Congo has been denied the resources needed to build large hydroelectric dams, which are absolutely essential to pull people out of poverty. And one of the main groups preventing poor countries from the gaining financing they need to to build dams is based in Berkeley, California — a city that gets its electricity from hydroelectric dams.

"It's just unconscionable ... there are major groups, including the Sierra Club, that support efforts to deprive poor countries of energy. And, honestly, they've taken over the World Bank [which] used to fund the basics of development: roads, electricity, sewage systems, flood control, dams," Micheal said.

"Environmentalism, apocalyptic environmentalism in particular, has become the dominant religion of supposedly secular people in the West. So, you know, it's people at the United Nations. It's people that are in very powerful positions who are trying to impose 'nature's order' on societies," he continued. "And, of course, the problem is that nobody can figure out what nature is, and what it's not. That's not a particular good basis for organizing your economy."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to explain why he agrees with Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

Baucham, who recently drew national attention when his sermon titled "Ethnic Gnosticism" resurfaced online, said the phrase has been trademarked by a dangerous, violent, Marxist movement that doesn't care about black lives except to use them as political pawns.

"We have to separate this movement from the issues," Baucham warned. "I know that [Black Lives Matter] is a phrase that is part of an organization. It is a trademark phrase. And it's a phrase designed to use black people.

"That phrase dehumanizes black people, because it makes them pawns in a game that has nothing whatsoever to do with black people and their dignity. And has everything to do with a divisive agenda that is bigger than black people. That's why I'm not going to use that phrase, because I love black people. I love being black."

Baucham warned that Black Lives Matter -- a radical Marxist movement -- is using black people and communities to push a dangerous and divisive narrative. He encouraged Americans to educate themselves on the organization's agenda and belief statement.

"This movement is dangerous. This movement is vicious. And this movement uses black people," he emphasized. "And so if I'm really concerned about issues in the black community -- and I am -- then I have to refuse, and I have to repudiate that organization. Because they stand against that for which I am advocating."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

We're going to be doing an amazing broadcast on Thursday, July 2nd, and we will be broadcasting a really important moment. It is restoring truth. It is restoring our history. It is asking to you make a covenant with God. The covenant that was made by the Pilgrims. And it's giving you a road map of things that we can do, to be able to come back home, together.

All of us.

And it's never been more important. Join us live from the Standing Rock Ranch on Blaze TV, YouTube and Facebook at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday July, 2nd and restore the hope in you.

Make sure you join us and use the hashtag and spread the word, fight the mob today and you'll save $20 on your year of subscription. We need you now more than ever.

RESTORING HOPE: Join Glenn live from Standing Rock Ranch to restore the American covenant youtu.be

On last week's Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck revealed where the Black Lives Matter organization really gets its funding, and the dark money trail leading to a cast of familiar characters. Shortly after the program aired, one of BLM's fiscal sponsors, Thousand Currents, took down its board of directors page, which featured one of these shady characters:

Ex-Marxist professor and author of "Beyond Woke," Michael Rectenwald, joined Glenn Beck on the TV show to fill us in on the suspicious change he discovered on the Thousand Currents webpage and the Communist terrorists who is now helping run the organization. (Fortunately, the internet is forever, so it is still possible to view the board of directors page by looking at a web archive from the WayBack Machine.)

Rectenwald revealed the shocking life history of Thousand Currents' vice chair of the board, Susan Rosenberg, who spent 16 years in federal prison for her part in a series of increasingly violent acts of terrorism, including bombing the U.S. Capitol building, bombing an FBI building, and targeting police for assassination.

"Their whole campaign was one of unbelievably vicious, murderous cop killings, assassinations, and bombings," explained Rectenwald of Rosenberg's terror group known as the May 19th Communist Organization or M19.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


Glenn's full investigation into the dark origins of the funding behind Black Lives Matter is available for BlazeTV subscribers. Not a subscriber? Use promo code GLENN to get $10 off your BlazeTV subscription or start your 30-day free trial today.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.