They make a desert and call it peace
Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium,History, does it move in cycles as some say? Seeing like acts committed again, only the actors names having changed. The atrocities larger in scale, the perversion like as before, yet the extent greater. Or is it a progression where the difference is only to be found in the use of new technologies to perform deeds ages old and ever part of the more base aspects of human nature. The indulgence of the tyrannical is never sated, and their appetites, have they not but grown?
atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem apellant.*
When a tyrant "returns," is it truly a return? Or a mere growth, more vile, more insidious, more deranged? More sick. An expression only of the wider reach of the canker, the rot?
Years ago, reflecting upon the history of the world, of the nation which I have come to call home, I would seriously joke about how the Vikings were long gone. How their "descendants," peasants for the most part, in praising their exploits merely sought a means to raise their own self-esteem by way of association. A fully conquered people's feeble way of exacting retribution, in false history, in literature. And it was not just true here, in my view, but almost everywhere on the outer edges of the empire.
That empire did not die with the death of Rome, the last of Caesars. It lived on in the papal state which seized by the cross of Sol Invictus what the eagle's talons had let slip. (Are eagle and Sol not the two faces of Janus? One and the same rough beast?) I saw Rome retract, weaken, time and again, but only for a period. Only to wait, restore itself by an infusion of fresh blood brought into the fold, and return, refreshed, to subjugate further, to form in its own image a greater number of two-faced minions: Uncle Toms who jump to the master's bidding but secretly harbor a hatred of him only dwarfed by their self-hate and hatred of the little Tommys: their offspring.
Having reached the ends of the western world, finally, what does empire do? Doubles back towards the center. Sends its army of Tommys in to pacify the unruly indigenous who still, to this day, refuse Pax Romanum. These Tommys, born into and later chosing the soft life of unquestioning slaves, then turn their savage anger not on their master but anyone who does not wish, as they have, to submit. They turn their anger on the uppity Indians, Blacks, Asiatics, Arabs: the expendable, the uncouth, "uncivilized" insurgents, rebels – label them terrorists. Even the old and feeble, women, children, the infant.
And should all else fail the empire has the aborigines savage each other, thinking themselves free in their own land, under their own flag. But there are no nations, only provinces of Rome – not self-governing, no, governed – subjugated.
A friend once told of visiting Yemen and finding there to his surprise that one of the movies most favored by the Yemenis was Braveheart, the Scots tribal uprising. They identified with it. It spoke to them of their own predicament. Which is ironic given that the current view of things in Scotland probably is more along these lines:
I hate being Scottish. We're the lowest of the f****** low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can't even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. We are ruled by effete arseholes. It's a shite state of affairs and all the fresh air in the world will not make any f****** difference," (Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting).To be fair it might be both: frustration and rebellion at the same time, though I doubt it. House-broken or doped and drunken self-destructive Indians on a reservation are not found in North America alone. Nor are they all Indians. The senior Roman slaves sell dope to the recently defeated. Visit the Highlands and see for yourself. Visit Australia. Even better, raise your head and look around you. But things weren't always so. Nor do all Romans resemble the current Caesar and his deputies and sycophants in being thieving, murderous, honorless scum. The Roman historian Tacitus compared Roman polity to the Scots and found the former wanting. He recorded this speech by a Scot freedom fighter for posterity:
Whenever I [Galgacus] consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain.And the words are applicable today. Philip K. Dick believed that "the Empire never ended." That realization is but the first step of anamnesis, the path toward awakening: the abolition of tyranny. May it be final.
To all of us slavery is a thing unknown. There are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery.
To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain's glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous.
But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To larceny, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace," (Tacitus, Agricola XXX).
* Tacitus, Agricola XXX.