Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Some of you might think I'm talking about Star Wars. The slighty more learned might think I'm on about Rome. But really what I want to talk about is the United States. Now I am not about to equate the United States with either the Galatic or the Roman Empire. That is foolish and inaccurate at this stage. Rather, the point I want to make is this: Rome was a successful, if somewhat expansionist republic for several centuries. Then something happened, starting with Augustus, we start to refer to Rome as an empire and not a republic. Now Augustus did not wake up one day and say, "Right, from here on in, this is an empire, and guess what, I'm the emperor!" In fact, Augustus goes to great lengths in his Res Gestae to claim that what he did was secure republican rule for Rome. He does not take the Ozymandias approach and claim that he is the king of kings, rather he goes to great lengths to explain how he was such a modest guy who really had all his authority thrust on him. Clearly Augustus saw some kind of interest in at least keeping the appearance of a republic. The point here is that republics can be ended in a variety of ways. They can be vanquished in some sort of military conflict, but at the same time, they can slide into empires without anyone realizing it. The Romans never really accepted that they were anything other than an republic, and I think it is safe to say that the same would be true were something like this to happen in, say, the United States. I don't think that Bush is an emperor, I don't think he will be one by the end of his term either. But I do worry that he is continuing the slow distmantling of the American Republic. The cult of personality, the increase in presidental prerogatives, the erosion of civil liberties. If America is not careful, it could one day find itself under the rule of an emperor. Something to consider for the future, that's all.