Summary: An important message for your Independence Day reading, between the hot dogs and fireworks.
“There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.”
— The Roman Emperior Marcus Aurelius, in the film Gladiator (2000).
The coming years might test America more than anything in our past, even more than the Revolutionary and Civil wars. America might lose what we hold most dear: our Constitution, our vast wealth, and our role as global hegemon. Such trials appear throughout history. Consider Russia in 1942. Ruled by a madman who betrayed the hopes of the revolution and killed tens of millions of his own people. Most of their generals were dead, their armies were in retreat, with vast areas controlled by a ruthless invader. Yet they hung together and won. The mark of a great people is the ability to carry on when all is lost, including hope.
Unlike Russia, the Romans responded to the death of the Republic with resignation. The popular philosophies during the Empire were Stoicism, Hedonism (including Epicureanism), and Christianity. How will Americans react when they realize that the Constitution has died? Reform, rebellion, or resignation?
I believe that there is no cause for despair no matter how dark the peril becomes.
- Our wealth is just things (“hardware”), an inheritance from past generations. What we lose we can work to replace. Our aspirations to global hegemony were revealed as a mirage in Vietnam and Iraq, lasting less than two generations after WWII.
- Our culture is a collection of discordant ideas, mixing lofty and base elements in a manner despised by much of the world — a disgust easily understood by watching our TV shows and movies, or listening to some of our popular music.
- Our Constitution is just an idea inherited from the founders. We created it, and its death will give us the experience to do better with the next version.
We are strong because of our ability to act together, to produce and follow leaders. We are strong due to our openness to other cultures and our ability to assimilate their best aspects. We are strong due to our ability to adapt to new circumstances, to roll with defeat and carry on. We will be what we want to be. The coming years will reveal what that is.
This transition will be like a singularity in astrophysics, a point where the rules break down – beyond which we cannot see our future. We will have to build a new future for ourselves. For more about this, see the next post: After Independence Day, look to America after the Republic.
“There was a dream that was Rome. It shall be realized. These are the wishes of Marcus Aurelius.”
— Maximus Decimus Meridius, in the film “Gladiator” (2000).
For more information
This post changed everything: A new, dark picture of America’s future.
Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- Important: A 4th of July reminder that America is ours to keep – or to lose!
- A third American regime will arise from the ashes of the present one.
- For America to prosper it must first burn.
- Origins of what may become the 3rd American Republic (a plutocracy).
- Lewis Lapham explains why America needs a Third Republic.
- We’ve worked through all 5 stages of grief for the Republic. Now, on to The New America!
- Can we love the Constitution without knowing what it says?
- Our institutions are hollow because we don’t love them.
- Let’s recall the lost meaning of Independence Day.
- America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s worse.
- The Republic’s foes reveal themselves. They are many & strong.
- We have forgotten who we are. Let’s remember, and win.
Inspirational books for the 4th, now and in the future
The Founders looked to the Roman Republic for ideas and inspiration. In this time of peril, we too can do so. See two books about the people who were the poles of the forces that could have saved the Republic, but instead destroyed it.
Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni – The life and legacy of Cato, the mortal enemy of Caesar.