« "Madaya’s Starvation Falsification" Global Research | Main | SHORT AND SHARP: SYRIAN WAR MOVING CLOSER TO STRATEGIC BREAKING POINT ? »

11 January 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


One reason commentators on Roman history have not looked kindly upon the Gracchi and the Populares is, as I am aware, that their story ultimately culminates in the Caesars, Julius and Augustus/Octavian. While, compared to their adversaries, they were generous victors that avoided the bloody proscriptions of Sulla and Marcus Antonius, they could do so because (although somewhat mistakenly it turned out in case of Julius Caesar), they were so completely triumphant that no one could dare rise up against them. The real crime (that led to the more obvious crime of copious bloodletting) of the Optimates was not so much a lack of generosity as their inherent weakness.

Maybe a Caesar is a better alternative to a rabble rouser. But I am no more favorably disposed towards a man who should hypocritically call himself just the first citizen than those who would presume to style themselves the best men. I certainly don't want to see a Caesar, even a generous one, rise to power in this country.


Mr. Trump is using techniques borrowed from Tony Robbins and Norman Vincent Peale to hypnotize the nation. And he makes them laugh. From the state that elected Arnold governor, the only qualities that actually count become obvious:
1. Who has the most Tigger-like energy
2. Who has the most celebrity / brand with highest name recognition and favor
3. Who is the most entertaining, and makes you smile every time they open their mouth.
Trump guested on McMahon's WWE, he ran The Apprentice like pro wrestling for five years. Based on these criteria, the contest is not even close. Trump sweeps the Repub nomination and wipes out either Clinton or Sanders. 80% chance.

Also note Mr. Trump has been complaining America is not respected because its armed forces are underfunded (!) and do not assert themselves as much as they could. (Apparently having 20 aircraft carriers against Russia's 4 makes us weak.)

History echoes. Given a strongman president arguably more powerful than Nixon, and a stalled/crashing global economy; optionally using Caesar or Il Duce for extrapolation, if you wish; what happens next in 2017-2018?


The "imperial era" of Pax Americana now [truly] begins...



The last POTUS...

Thus the "imperial age" beckons.

Richard Sale

Excellent comments.

I do not want to see a Caesar either.

Richard Sale

Richard Sale

Who is Tony Robbins?

Trump reminds me more of Morton Downey.

Richard Sale

William R. Cumming

Thanks much for this history! And the so-called "Marian Reforms"?


Mr. Sale,

He meant the famed coach Anthony Robbins.



I think you bring up some very interesting points yet I think the comparison of current political changes is only partially apt though the warning very timely. It took more than a century for Rome to finally destroy Carthage and in doing so eliminate the then existing power that was truly an existential threat. But Carthage also destroyed not just the standing armies of Rome (more than once) those men killed, especially in the second Punic war, were a generation (or two) of the middle and lower middle classes (to use today’s terms). The economic devastation of the remainders of those classes only came at the later end of the last war. Our economic decline of the middle classes is being brought about by different social forces not loss in combat in a victorious war.

“We are still imprisoned by those who promise everything and end by doing nothing. In America these days, the public is hardly aware of true merit.” I couldn’t agree more. In this land of college graduates we have a multitude of credentials and not much in the way of learned thought. The fight for political power we are likely to see though will not begin with the beating of a Senator inside the Capital, but a multitude of self-created “crisis” affecting the very processes of basic governance. The current list runs along the line of: water (California’s continuing woes; Flint Michigan’s lead problem), health care (a collapse in affordable health Insurance after the enactment of Obamacare), pensions (Illinois, Detroit and a growing list of other municipalities), affordable college level education and job opportunity (no one even mentions technical training now), immigration, gun ownership rights, etc..When enough self-created crisis have been “resolved” (with a lessening of local controls and further enhancement of executive or unelected powers) or come into existence at once, then the pressure to answer the calls for changes to the Constitution will exist. It is there that the fundamental change in America and a free people will take place.



I always worry if we have already crossed that bridge.

Politically speaking, Marian reforms shifted the responsibility for maintaining Roman armies to the generals rather than individuals. On the one hand, this meant that the smallholders were no longer burdened with having to support their military service (the problems that instigated the social problems RS was talking about), but it also meant that they were now personally loyal to their generals rather than the Roman state.

The weight of individual political leaders at the top of US political pyramid has been increasing, regardless of their party affiliation: Reagan, Clinton, and Obama have all become bigger than their respective parties in their appeal to the masses. While to say that this is new would be a lie, it bothers me to hear people talk as if the Democrats are Obama's people and the Republicans are Obama's enemies. Both parties had some collective identity independent of the White House even during FDR's presidency--such times are no more. And with this personalized politics comes the politics of exclusion, where the other side is completely and thoroughly rejected--again, increasingly from both sides.

What bugs me about Trump is not that he is a crass two bit wannabe fascist: I think he is much better politician than that. He is a real prospective Caesar (or a Pompey, or a Crassus--all the Triumvirs share the same set of characteristics), someone who is neither an Optimas or a Popularis but with connections to both, with personal resources that frees him from being bound to any interest other than himself, with a genuine skill at mobilizing masses, and who, rightly or wrongly, is looked at as having actual commonsense solutions to very genuine problems of the society, and who would casually do away with the republican system more or less in the name of these solutions...which would be welcomed by many because the system has become increasingly dysfunctional. If Trump is indeed a problem, he should be taken seriously and genuinely feared...and we should worry about those problems he proposes to solve even more.


"Zip It!!". Good catch. Both use anti-discussion. But Downey flamed out briefly, whereas Trump has had decades to perfect his art.

Ehn, I guess the advantages of actually talking about the pros and cons of what to do are overrated. We need an ACTION hero. Like Rambo.

["rambo": Japanese for gratuitous, excessive, mindless violence]

In all cases, America will receive what it deserves. May God be merciful.


Agree. The real bitch comes in assuming simple Manichean solutions to complex problems. This often leads to xenophobia, persecution, then fascism.

William R. Cumming



Or Marius? But I doubt it. Both Sulla and Marius were firmly partisans of their respective (and established) factions, made little effort to broaden their supporters beyond them, and burned all bridges by treating the other faction brutally.

The Triumvirs, on the other hand, were not firmly beholden to any faction: all three jumped between the factions and recruited their supporters broadly. They didn't really need to, because they were reliant on their own resources and could afford to pursue their agendas more freely. While they often still treated their enemies brutally, if and when they could (I always thought of Caesar as shedding crocodile tears--irony very much intended--when he was presented with Pompey's head by the Egyptians, for, had Pompey lived, Caesar undoubtedly had to execute him one way or another. Egyptians made his task easier and made themselves a convenient scapegoat), their enemies were no longer obvious "factional" enemies but were personal rivals.

If we are to continue with the Roman analogy, I could see, say, Paul Ryan becoming a modern Sulla (or, perhaps Tom Delay, in an era already past) and Hillary Clinton as another Marius. But I think Trump is a modern day triumvir--maybe Crassus rather than Caesar?


Tony Robbins is the "life success coach"
motivator. Perhaps not unlike Peale's
power of positive thinking mantra?


All this is interesting.

As something of a side point, it doesn't have much to do with success in the 3rd Punic War, which changed little. If there was any chain saw, it cut through the fabric of Roman society 70 years earlier. Rome had already brought most Carthaginian allies under her influence in 201 BC at the end of the 2nd Punic war, contemporaneous with the solidification of Roman influence in mainland Greece, and the decline, partly under Roman pressure, of the Hellenistic monarchies, who were no longer strong enough to resist the pretensions of Roman legates.

The wars of the 140s just made it all final, bringing annexations of territory that had been Roman clients for decades. If anything, the wars of the 140s were themselves a response to the unrest in Italy. "If there was only some place we could establish these restive Italians - Aha! what if we cooked up a reason to raze Carthage and make it a veterans colony."



Tony Robbins is also the author of such books as ULTIMATE POWER and was known for having his students walk across hot coals to prove they could control their minds over their bodies. He was also tight with the Clintons.


Thanks, Steveg.

But what's your point?

Appreciate your Sentiment tho...


nope, extremely sophisticated use of language for quasi-hypnotic purposes, without need for "trace", partially codified as "Neural-Linguistic Programming" and/or "Persuasion Engineering". On a mass basis. The entire stadium leaves with a "seminar high". Obama and Bill Clinton were quite good at this, but Trump has substantially more practice and is world-class. It's what demagogues have. Fifth-level "charm" spell from the old D&D game...



Isn't the more important fact not the individual personalities but the trend the Roman precedent sets of defeating an existential threat only to have the domestic parties (to use the modern term) begin to look at each other not as political opponents but as enemies with all the implies?


I think the analogy still fits: unlike Rome, we don't have a Carthage now. There is no Hannibal sitting across the Potomac. Whatever existential threats against us that existed were eliminated one way or another, by 1991 at the latest.

While there are dangerous threats or rivals, whether IS, Iran, North Korea, or even Russia and China, none of them is "exitential" the way USSR or Nazi Germany were. The closest thing that the Romans had, perhaps, was the Arsacid Parthia--a real rival empire and a powerful enemy, but not something that could march on Rome. While foreign affairs and military adventures abroad might be still dangerous (and Rome's rivals were quite dangerous also well into the Triumvirate...as shown at Carrhae and elsewhere), they are secondary in import to capturing power domestically--indeed, they are the means through which one ascends politically at home.


on the other hand Trump still is the only candidate who came close to an honest answer when he was asked whether he would spy on Israel:

"I would certainly not want to do it ... But I have to say this. We're being spied on by everybody. And it's terrible what is going on in that whole thing. We find out that we're being spied on by them. And they're being spied -- everything is out ... would say that I would leave open possibilities of doing whatever it takes to make our country very, very strong and to make our country great again.”

Despite Trump's vulgarity, egotism and other character flaws, such talk is at least refreshing. It probably is also deceptive.

I think Scott Adams series on Trump is illuminating and worth some pondering:

"My prediction months ago that Trump’s persuasion skills would set off a swarm of competing (and wrong) explanations for why Trump is defying expectations. This is a classic “tell” for cognitive dissonance on a mass scale, which is what we are seeing. That is the fingerprint of a Master Persuader.
To put a size on Trump’s skill level, I believe that as president he could depose a foreign leader with words alone. It would not work in all cases. But his skill set in persuasion is, in my opinion, weapons grade. I have never seen that level of skill. Luckily, he has a history of opposing unnecessary wars. I can’t think of a better way to prevent a war than removing a dictator with words alone.

I remind new readers that I do not endorse Trump or anyone else for president. I’m not smart enough to know who would do the best job. All the candidates look qualified to me, assuming their health holds out.

But I am a certified hypnotist with decades of study in the field of persuasion. My predictions are based on my knowledge of that skillset and the recognition that Trump has mastered those tools."


On Trump's first ad:

"All the buzz today is about Trump’s new ad. Some people on Twitter asked for the Master Persuader filter on it.

Note: For new readers of this blog, I don’t endorse Trump, or anyone else. I’m not smart enough to know who would be the best president. My interests are in Trump’s persuasion skills. I have a lot of background in that area.

My overall grade for the ad is A++++. It might go down in history as one of the best political ads of all time. I’ll break it down.

1. It is horrifingly racist FEELING to some people, and scary, and that is enough to keep it in the news and click-worthy forever. Literally. Your great-grandkids will be studying this ad in history class. This is an intentional part of the ad’s design, and perfectly executed.

2. The best part of the persuasion is cleverly concealed in all that noise. The most active part is the part you probably think is nothing but bad writing. It sounds too folksy, and out of place against the seriousness of the background images. That’s why those words stick out like a dollar on the sidewalk. Here is the active part of the persuasion:

“…until we figure out what’s going on.”

If you have been reading my Master Persuader series, you might recognize that as the High Ground Maneuver. It works every time, unlike weaker forms of persuasion. “Works every time” doesn’t mean it instantly changed your mind, but it does mean it nudged it. And you can’t go back. The High Ground Maneuver is a sign of a Master Persuader.

The low ground on the immigration topic (the weeds) is where everyone else is. That includes endless chatter about the vetting process, the visa process in general, statistics, our national brand, terror recruitment, and on, and on.


The high ground is that this is a complicated topic full of disagreement about just about everything except that the risk is greater than zero. So Trump says the one thing that everyone can agree: Collectively, we need to better understand our enemies. But in the short term, let’s lock the front door while we figure it out.

Who disagrees with that way of thinking? In other words, first you apply the tourniquet, then you figure out why the car crashed. You don’t do those things in the other order.

That’s the high ground maneuver. He moved the focus from the weeds – where everyone disagrees – to the high ground where everyone agrees:

1. We all want our fellow citizens and our government to better understand the terrorists’ motivations. (But personally, we think we already know.)

2. We all solve problems in the same order (tourniquet first).

But there is even more “work” in Trump’s sentence fragment, and that’s the magical part. You don’t often see this kind of layering.

In hypnosis class, we learned to avoid introducing any thoughts that a subject would reflexively find disagreeable. For the same reason, Trump isn’t giving us the answer for why we are under attack. He is letting you fill in the question with your own answer. Why?

Because you always agree with yourself. You’re a genius that way.

None of this persuasion technique will flip the average Democrat, but a Master Persuader only needs to persuade 20% of the other side in order to win in a landslide. And a person with Trump’s skills can persuade 20% of the public of anything."


"Whether you love Trump or hate him, you probably wonder why he never apologizes and never changes his story, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that he should. Trump seems otherwise intelligent – he graduated from an Ivy League school and built a business empire. So what the hell is up with not admitting when he is wrong?

Is it narcissism?
Is he mentally unstable?
Is he a big liar?
Does he use hyperbole just to get the media involved?

He does use hyperbole for effect, but the deeper explanation is simpler. It is Persuasion 101.

The first rule of persuasion is that you nudge the other person, but you NEVER let them nudge you. Let me repeat this word a few times: NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER.

That’s exactly how often a good persuader should admit a wrong: NEVER.

If you show a willingness to get nudged, you lose your power in the negotiation. Your opponent will try to nudge you from that point on, and you will be on defense. Once you get nudged, it never ends. A good persuader is always the nudger and NEVER the nudgee. You want to keep the opponent off-balance.

Have I said NEVER enough?

Probably not, because you might be thinking that anyone who fails to acknowledge a truth that is right in front of their nose is probably a narcissistic, mentally unstable liar who is just saying things for attention.

Like Trump.

In the 2D world, Trump appears to be all of those things. In the 3D world, where you NEVER want to let yourself be nudged, it is a sign of a Master Persuader.

What you see in the 2D world is Trump the egomaniac who “can’t admit when he is wrong!” What I see in the 3D world is the most disciplined persuader I have ever seen. Trump intentionally accepts the scorn of many as a cost of winning. And it works."


That said, I still don't know what to think of Trump.

David Habakkuk


'While there are dangerous threats or rivals, whether IS, Iran, North Korea, or even Russia and China, none of them is "existential" the way USSR or Nazi Germany were.'

What do you mean by 'existential' threat? Are you referring to capabilities, or intentions? If you are referring to the latter, do you want to suggest that the threat posed by the Soviet Union was comparable to that posed by Nazi Germany?

It was possible, throughout the Cold War, to be very strongly anti-communist, and also to be acutely sceptical about conventional wisdoms about the forces driving Soviet policy and also about nuclear 'deterrence'.

As with immigration policy, this was a matter on which the late Enoch Powell thought conventional wisdoms were nonsense.

In a 1983 speech, he dismissed Thatcher's view on the Soviets with complete contempt:

'I refer to the misunderstanding of Soviet Russia as an aggressive power, militaristically and ideologically bent upon world domination – ''seeing'', to quote a recent speech of the British Prime Minister, ''the rest of the world as its rightful fiefdom.'' How any rational person, viewing objectively the history of the last thirty-five years, could entertain this 'international misunderstanding' challenges, if it does not defeat, comprehension. The notion has no basis in fact... If Russia is bent on world conquest, she has been remarkably slothful and remarkably unsuccessful.'

(See https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Enoch_Powell .)

What makes Powell's views of particular interest is that he had a serious intelligence background – and is also an interesting case study in the role of academics in wartime. Starting the war as the youngest professor in the Commonwealth, he had joined up as a private, and became a pivotal figure in military intelligence in the Middle East and South Asia. (He was one of only two people to make it from private to brigadier in the British Army during the war – and was, if briefly, the youngest brigadier in the Army.)

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_Powell .)



I am tempted to say "capabilities," but that seems to be a potentially tricky assertion. The analogue I was thinking was Carthage of the Third Punic War. There was no reason to believe, at least in the near term, that Carthage was actively hostile to Rome. But the idea of a powerful city state just across the Mediterranean that was re-emerging, one that had just fought the Romans bitterly for years only a generation before, was unthinkable to the Romans and delenda est carthago, as the saying goes. In this sense, USSR, whether it was actively hostile and aggressive or not, becomes a bit immaterial. It was as much of an existential threat to United States as Carthage of the Third Punic War was to Rome.

I suppose I am walking a fine line with analogies, then, when I try to liken the modern Russia to Arsacid Parthia, a distant and powerful kingdom that was not quite an existential threat. After all, USSR was not exactly destroyed: it was transmogrified into Russia. There are clearly many who would wish it obliterated as Cato the elder did to Carthage.



Again I must disagree (though I will concede the point on a basis of influence exercised internationally, up to the latest campaign in Syria) that the Russian Federation is like Carthage after the Third Punic War. They still posses hundreds of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and the ICBMs (amongst other methods) to delivery them. They, like us, can destroy mankind. The threat that I see however is the conduct of our own political leaders domestically who I think view the Russians in the manner you describe in your Carthaginian example. It is the increasingly polarized domestic political rivalries that threaten Constitutional government here and not threat of a foreign conqueror.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad