Good and Bad Emperors

Last week when I was railing against Joe Biden’s regime, I compared him to the Roman Emperor Tiberius.  Now this wasn’t meant to indicate a great similarity between these two politicians.  It was only to indicate that at a certain point in their careers each one was a debauched old man in charge of a great empire whose heir was a lunatic.  Honestly, the comparison is grossly unfair to Tiberius.  In his younger days Tiberius was a highly skilled and successful general who conquered several important provinces along the periphery of the empire.  By comparison, Joe Biden’s greatest achievement was getting hair plugs.

But it does bring up once again the comparison of the period at the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Empire with our own time.  The end of the Roman Republic was a tumultuous century of greater and greater outrages against the Roman citizenry.  By the time the Caesars ended the farce all that remained was a plutocratic oligarchy harvesting the Roman citizens as legionnaires to conquer the rest of the world for use as slaves on Roman plantations.

But those legions were successful enough that they allowed the corrupt, mismanaged, Empire to expand for another two hundred years and after that to at least survive for another three hundred years.

And how about us?  Will the corpse of the American Republic, hijacked by the managerial mandarins of the federal government in association with the corporate oligarchs continue to rule the Global American Empire for its own half a millennium?

I guess that’s the quadrillion dollar question.  Based on the looks of Joe Biden you might say that five hundred days might be more realistic than five hundred years.  But let’s not be too hasty.  Currently our government is still masquerading as a representative republic where elections decide who is in charge.  A place holder like Joe Biden whose name is still familiar to those who remember him as a senator and vice president might be a very good way to begin the transition to the imperial model.

And after all most emperors aren’t necessarily “good emperors.”  You got Augustus and (arguably) Tiberius in the good column.  Then you get Caligula.  With the right public relations team even Caligula can last a few years.  So, with the right press secretary and national press Joe can survive.  Kamala, on the other hand is more in the Incitatus category.  Like Caligula’s horse, she is just a bridge too far and cannot pass the smell test.

And right in line with this common-sense limit no one is speaking of Kamala Harris as a realistic successor to Joe Biden, either in 2024 or afterwards.  The powers that be are respecting the instinct for self-preservation that still exists in the American populace.

But we could end up with an actor like Gavin Newsome or Elizabeth Warren or even AOC (God forbid.)  So, it’s well within the bounds of possibility that this empire could sputter along almost indefinitely with cretinous puppets in charge.  But what could shorten the span of time of the empire is military disaster.  All the way up to around 180 AD the legions provided a reliable bulwark against the incursions of the external enemies of Rome.  Germanic tribesmen and Persian armies alike still had to reckon with a relatively well-trained and professional army that could be brought to bear against an enemy.

Unfortunately for us this same military preparedness doesn’t seem to be available any longer.  But at the same time, the bluff is still being used to attempt to intimidate the other powerful regimes.  So, the spectacle of the Middle Eastern retreats (especially the rout from Afghanistan) is a recent indicator.  And now the bluster toward Russia and China rings quite hollow.

A true military debacle would be the catalyst for a much quicker loss of prestige and possibly the destabilization of the oligarchy that currently calls the shots in America.  After all, if we can’t even hold off medieval goat herders like the Taliban then why exactly would we allow the IRS and the FBI to treat us like slaves?

So, I guess my thought is that the American Empire can last practically indefinitely as long as it retains the competency that maintains it as a great power.  But if its military prowess declines then so does its ability to coerce the American people to knuckle under to its tyrannical demands.  The outcome of Biden’s saber rattling against Russia and China may be very instructive concerning the future of our oligarchs and their junta.

And by the way, where is our Caesar?

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3 months ago

As you noted, even imbecilic incompetence of an empires ruling class can be sustained if there is a military strong enough to enforce its rule. A cursory glance at the state of the GAE fighting force quickly shows the paper tiger status it is in.