Gender and racial discrimination, surveillance, exploitation and so forth are only effects. The real problem is – that it is possible to suppress the people by false Science or false descriptions of the world – that supports Might Is Right. Or like this. We are not genuine citizens.

14 April 2017

The celebrated author Robert Harris about Cicero and the Destructiveness of Politics

As I write about the importance of to understand Cicero's formulations in chapter 30, in order to grasp the Western world of today, the following is as good as it can be.


An excellent sign of how essential Cicero (106–43 BC) is right now, in the total collapse of the world that he was central to manufacture, is that BBC World Book Club has produced, a discussion with Robert Harris regarding the first of his Roman trilogy, Imperium (2006), that is based on Cicero's life.

The BBC show is available as a podcast was first broadcast 3 April 2017.

Another example of the popularity of Cicero and Harris is that his story will be transformed to the stage; Royal Shakespeare Company to stage Robert Harris's Cicero trilogy, Maev Kennedy, The Guardian, 1 February 2017.

Observe Harris definition of Imperium in the beginning of the podcast. Harris says.
Imperium is the power of life and death as invested by the State in an individual; it is in essential the official power witch was confirmed by the senate and the people of Rome and the magistrate.
Perhaps, as he mumbles a bit here, he says the senate, the people and the magistrate.

The Roman Senate

The Roman Magistrate

The Modern use of the concept Magistrate

Nevertheless, Harris has almost the same definition in the book as a presentation of the content.
… By power I mean official, political power – what we know in Latin as imperium – the power of life and death, as vested by the state in an individual. ...
Google Books
Definition of Vested is according to Merriam-Webster: “fully and unconditionally guaranteed as a legal right, benefit, or privilege”

A conventional definition of Imperium according to Law Dictionary (Black's Law Dictionary) is.
The right to command, which includes the right to employ the force of the state to enforce the laws. This is one of the principal attributes of the power of the executive.
The conventional explanations offer the same relations as Harris definition; but Harris exposes the concrete meaning.

In short. The Roman doctrine or ideal, that also is, the foundations of the current Western culture; is that the State owns the people in order to eliminate the Athenian tradition based on, the opposite relation, that the people owns the State to make it possible for the citizens to improve the State.

Unfortunately, appears Harris at least the at the moment to have the political correct perspective of Cicero; consequently is Harris unable to grasp, that Cicero was one of them that constructed the current Western culture of total terror.

Regardless of my critique it is well spent time to listen to Harris explorations as he strives to be correct regarding the facts he mentions; and especially Harris reflections on how (not why) Cicero is essential today.

In the podcast, Harris answers this question (25:42): "What is the connection between the politics of ancient Rome and the political atmosphere now?"
I think power is something like nuclear energy it is highly destructive to anyone who handles it. It has to be encased in various lead lined boxes and dispersed; otherwise it will burn everything ... and that is a timeless theme. Almost inevitably we see parallels with the Roman world ...
But, it is hard to grasp that someone that has written so much about the area Politics and has for years studied the Romans have not stumbled on the simple fact that it was the Romans that made the area of Politics dangerous and very very, exceedingly stupid.

Perhaps the explanation is here.
… His smile is wry. “In my old age, I find I’m a Burkeian conservative, a believer in the power of institutions. …
From: Robert Harris: ‘MPs should elect the Labour leader as cardinals elect the pope’, Rachel Cooke, The Guardian, 18 September 2016

Perhaps will Harris someday realise that institutions is not the same as the existing institutions.

Some links to stuff that Harris talks about

The Personal life of Cicero

Writings and Speeches of Cicero

Pompey (106–48 BC)

The Renaissance

Plutarch (c. 46–120)

Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans,Wikipedia, Full text

The former French president François Mitterrand (1916–1996) and indifference.
“… Mitterrand, who said the most essential attribute in politics is “indifference”. ...”
François Mitterrand: The great deceiver, Andrew Adonis, New Statesman, 21 November 2013.

Observe, to be indifferent or to not care is can easily be said to be the same as the deadly Sin called Sloth.

Lenin (1870–1924) says in Our Revolution, 16 January 1923, Marxists Internet Archive.
Napoleon, I think, wrote: "On s'engage et puis ... on voit." rendered freely this means: "First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens." Well, we did first engage in a serious battle in October 1917, and then saw such details of development (from the standpoint of world history they were certainly details) as the Brest peace, the New Economic Policy, and so forth. And now there can be no doubt that in the main we have been victorious. ...

Bismarck and Sausages

This quote is according Wikiquote Misattributed with reference to Quote . . . Misquote, Fred R. Shapiro, The New York Times, 21 July 2008.

Wikiquote suggest it was the American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887) that made the formulation:
Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.


Post a Comment

Will be posted at once. OK to be anonymous. Please observe, if you are logged in at gmail, or other google services, you must log out to be anonymous.