In Hannibal's day, the name Roman meant a people. Two centuries later, it meant simply a population. What happened?
Actually, three things happened. First, the Roman soul died. Oswald Spengler in The Decline of the West defines a culture's soul as, "the inwardly lived experience of we." Secondly, Greek or Hellenistic culture morphed into Roman civilization. And thirdly, Rome entered its age of Caesarism as the Republic became the Empire.
Placing proper signposts at seminal historical events is somewhat like properly identifying Elliott Waves. A wide-angle rear view mirror is required. Let's take a glance, shall we?
This morning I was reading Matt Taibbi's excellent piece in Rolling Stone Magazine titled, The Great American Bubble Machine. He writes that, "Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression -- and they're about to do it again."
I asked myself, "Is this what America is now about? Bubbles?" Of course, the answer to the question depends upon whether you see the American dream as just another empty phrase. More precisely, it depends upon whether you see America's cultural soul as being dead or alive. In my opinion, it's quite dead. "I drove my Chevy to the levy and the levy was dry." Even the bankrupt word Chevy has lost meaning!
"Caesarism is essentially the death of the spirit that originally animated a nation and its institutions," according to Spengler. I cannot say we're fully there but we appear awfully close, I fear. So, apparently, does Taibbi:
"You can't really register the fact that you're no longer a citizen of a thriving first-world democracy, that you're no longer above getting robbed in broad daylight, because, like an amputee, you can still sort of feel things that are no longer there."
Here are a few signs of Caesarism we can recognize in American society (summarized from the above cited Wiki entry on The Decline of the West):
People cease to take part in elections and the most qualified people remove themselves from the political process. The immense majority renounces war, yet submits to the minority that has not renounced war. The world peace that began in a wish for universal reconciliation ends passively in the face of misfortune, as long as it only affects one's neighbor. In personal politics, the struggle becomes not for principles but for executive power.
History is progressing at a record pace and important crossroads can easily be missed. Keep a good lookout in the rear view mirror, my friends, for banksters on elephants.