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Archive for September 16th, 2022

Circus of Cruelty

cicero-bread-and-circuses



Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.

–John Adams, XVIII, p. 484 – Letters to John Taylor (1814)



A couple of passages to start today’s post but let’s focus on the last few words above from Founding Father and 2nd American President John Adams in describing the effects from unchecked greed, selfishness, vanity, and ambition on a democracy:

…when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.

Wow. Could there be a better illustration of the situation which we have been witnessing for the past several years?

We have stood by while truckloads of fraud, violence, and cruelty have passed by us like floats in a nightmarish parade. And nobody with any authority to step in to put a stop to it was willing to speak up.

For me, the recent political stunts pulled by the Governors of Texas and Florida, where they ship unwitting migrants, who are coerced with empty promises of jobs and housing, to far flung destinations, has broken the proverbial camel’s back for me. The pure cruelty of using these beleaguered people as pawns in a blackhearted political stunt just sickens and infuriates me.

But cruelty is the one of the overriding values of the current iteration of the now MAGA Republican party. They don’t want to build bridges or find compromise. They no longer produce public policy or potential solutions to the problems that plague their constituents.

Hell, they don’t even pretend to want to govern anymore.

They just want to grandstand and rile people up, anything that keeps the money and control in their hands.

As a result, the MAGA-GOP sees the People only as sources of money and their angry mob power, in much the same way a vampire sees its victims, who serve them even as they are being drained. But to keep the People willing and ready to be drained they have to something with which to lure them in, to keep them close at hand.

And that lure has become cruelty.

Punish the poor for their poverty. Punish the desperate for their desperation. Punish the Others for their differences.

And make a show of it.

It’s like the Bread & Circuses of the Roman Empire as it was heading towards its fall. It was a term coined by the poet Juvenal when describing how the values of Rome had degraded:

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

The term basically refers to the means employed by those wishing to hang on to power. They generate public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy, but by diversion, distraction, or by satisfying the baser qualities of the People.

The Romans of that time believed that their reign was secure so long as they provided just enough sustenance to keep the People satisfied and a Circus or spectacle to keep them distracted.

Bread and Circuses.

Some things never change, as Adams noted above.

Cruelty– the discarding of all humanity as seen in the stunts of the governors of Florida and Texas– plays the part of both Bread and Circus here. Cruelty is sport and a spectacle for them now, one that also satisfies the hunger of its base audience for the suffering and pain of others.

It’s the false full belly feeling of the weak believing they are somehow made stronger by this.

And while cruelty has become sport for the MAGA-GOP, it also their industry. As they wallow with delight at the sport they find in their malignant cruelty, they use it as well to fundraise, draining every penny from the howling masses they can gather with their grubby little fingers.

Meanwhile, the People are left with crusts of bread and a circus.

As Cicero wrote at the top, they have sold their rights for full bellies and the excitement of the games.

I would rather go hungry than abdicate my duty.

Elections are approaching quickly. Every race at every level is vitally important this year.

Each and every vote is crucial.

Please vote for humanity, not for cruelty.

If we fail to keep the MAGA-GOP from taking power this year, an even bigger and crueler Circus featuring even more fraud, violence, and cruelty will soon be coming to every city, county, town and village in this country.

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