It would be naive to think that on the surface, the United States model is entirely original and without precedent. From the architecture of the Government buildings, to the idolising of it’s founders, the influence of the Roman Republic can be seen throughout American politics. From it’s conception in the late 18th Century, America has retained much of it’s Roman influence. John Adams modelled his own style of writing on the great Roman Orator Cicero, often quoting him. Adams viewed Cicero’s political decline, as a mirror image of his own. Madison, Jay, and Hamilton – Romulus and Remus’ American counterparts – wrote a collection of 85 essays promoting the new U.S Constitution, they signed it using the allonym, “Publius” after Publius Valerius Publicola, the joint first Consul of the newly found Roman Republic, in 509bc. The Plebian Council of Rome acted as an dubiously elected House of Representatives, the Tribune could propose legislation and call the Senate, a Speaker of the House, if you will. The Roman Senate, acted almost as a supremely powerful Senate, filled with members of rich families (The US Senate, in 2003, was found to have 40 millionaires). The business class of the day, the Equites, grew ever more rich and politically influential as the territories and provinces increased (similar to the advancement of Oil opportunities with the “liberation” of Iraq). Whilst the Tribunes did indeed work in favour of the public (Tiberius Gracchus for example), the shadowy Equites influenced policy from behind the curtains.
Split powers, term limits, the veto, and the Senate itself are all aspects borrowed from America’s imperial predecessor. Of course there are substantial differences between the two (party politics isn’t particularly Roman, the two consuls of the Senate was not adopted in America), which is more down to the problems facing the founders in 1776, their need to create something different, something that broke away from previous English rule, but did not emulate to the core, the failings of previous Republican systems, such as the Republic of Rome. The Roman system was, after all, original and so had many, many flaws. Ultimately, the Roman Republican, the principle of the SPQR on which it stood, crumbled into Empire, because the Republican system of checks and balances just could not cope with such a widespread Empire.
The importance and the Patriotism of belonging to a particular National identity, the largely insular attitudes, their belief in the Republic, their military might, and their insistence that their way is superior and so should be spread across the World, their international cultural influence; all are derived from Rome, and passed on to it’s successor, a contemporary Renaissance, if you will, the United States of America.
There is one less obvious claim America has to be the new Rome.
Stoic Philosopher Panaetius left Athens and headed for Rome, with his new powerful friend; Roman Consul Scipio around 138BC. Earlier Stoics and Romans had decided long ago, that true Virtue came from knowledge, and so only the wisest of men could be considered virtuous in the eyes of the Gods. Panaetius introduced a new idea into the Roman every day life. He would offer help and teachings to those people who requested a life of virtue, he would provide the knowledge needed, he would be the way. And so suddenly, the idea that anyone could potentially become a supremely virtuous human being, in the eyes of the Gods, gave Politicians who sought advice from the teachings of Panaetius, a divine purpose for their serving in Rome. They would insist that the God’s had empowered them, which ultimately gave them much control over the public. This, directly influenced the notion a century later, that Caesar had a divine calling to “save” the Republic. Cicero drew heavily on the teachings of Panaetius. Suddenly individual “virtue” in the eyes of the population, became more important than the protection of the Republic.
In 2005, George Bush claimed the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the disastrous wars in which thousands upon thousands of innocents have died, was a “calling from God“. He is quoted as saying “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.” A grotesque manipulation of the emotions of Christendom in it’s entirety. Those soldiers, those innocent Iraqi’s appear to have died for a reason none of us are aware of. Perhaps a lavish extension of Western Oil investment opportunities, perhaps the need to revert Iraq back to trading Oil in U.S Dollars. Certainly not a “war on terror“, certainly not a vengeful attack for the horror of 9/11. They died, because Bush thinks he’s ordained by God? The idea that the most powerful man on the Planet, turned the Republican White House into a Theocratic mess, by claiming he felt he had a calling from the mythical God of the Christian faith to destroy a Nation, is no different to Julius Caesar embarking on a mission from the Gods of Antiquity, to “save the Republic“.
Ex-White House Press Secretary, under Lyndon Johnson, Bill Moyer said:
“What is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America’s great political parties. The country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is, and they are driving American politics, using God as a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation, energy, regulation, social services and so on.“
Suddenly, politicians of a particular persuasion, simply because they consider themselves Christians, have decided that morality comes directly from their apparent virtuous Godly knowledge, and that the rest of us just aren’t privy to their misguided “wisdom“. They try to discredit the faith of opponent politicians, purely for their own political ends. They embarrass themselves and then say “Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God“, which translates to “I forgave myself, and that’s all that matters“. Republican Congressman Trent Franks, whilst trying to justify torture, starts with a quite depressingly inaccurate claim that “America’s distinguishing hallmark, its bedrock foundation, is that we hold to the self-evident truth that all men are created by God”.
Republican appointed Supreme Court Justice Scalia, is quoted as saying “..Government…derives its moral authority from God.“.
The Anti-Abortion lobby use phrases like “We will not stop until this nation once again honors God—or we die trying“, Theocracy by any means necessary? Why do you need to include an unprovable God in your argument?
The concept that as a politician, you are doing the work of God, or that your playing a part ordained by God, is an incredibly powerful concept. The race for the Minnesota Senate seat between Republican candidate Norm Coleman and Democrat candidate Al Franken, took a turn to the Religious Right, when Coleman stated “God wants me to serve“, as if to suggest a vote for Franken, would be a vote against God.
Gary Mcleod, running for House of Representative seat against Jim Clyburn, in South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District, writes on his home page “Socialism is immoral because it requires the violation of God-given property rights“. A horribly manipulation of Biblical principles to support Political gain.
Rumsfeld would send memo’s around, regarding the ongoing war in Iraq, filled with Biblical Quotes.
It is an incredibly manipulative environment, to bring Religion into the political landscape. It shouldn’t happen. One disgruntled blogger writing on the Huffington Post site, suggests that the Republicans just cut out their religious dogmatic nonsense, and run God for President.
The use of Religious propaganda and manipulation was utter nonsense during the height of the Roman Empire, it similarly possesses the same utter nonsensical “qualities” during the height of the American empire. The influence of the fallen Rome, is far more widespread than may seem on the surface.