Thursday, August 2, 2007

Unholy Alliance I

I have been giving some thought to the concept of Unholy Alliances in particular those carved out by the Left (some well meaning others not) with various unsavoury groups to thwart the center – the rational choice. Very often these alliances only serve to resurrect a new evil.

Unholy Alliance I - Brutus with Cassius and Casca against Julius Caesar

Brutus (the champion of Republican virtues who family had driven out the Roman kings) allies himself with the opportunists Cassius and Casca and several others to kill Julius Caesar. Brutus believed that such an act would save Rome from what he deemed to be Caesar’s tyranny.

Why this was short-sighted? Caesar was a powerful force but not a tyrant. He was responsible for a more equitable land distribution amomgst the population and worked to curb some of the powers of the Senate – who were often self-focused and opposed to the buregeoning power of the lower classes (the same classes that Caesar drew his military support from). In addition he secured Rome’s grain supply from Egypt and believed in expanding Rome’s neophyte democracy. His philosophy was in a way closer to the reformist Gracchi brothers and opposed to the Diktat of the Senate (who had earlier backed Caesar’s enemy Pompey – a former ally of the the actual tyrant Sulla). Caesar in short was the wrong target and Brutus identified the incorrect enemy. He should have picked on the bad 'apples' in the Senate but was side tracked by the noise of jealousy and chose to vent his wrath at Caesar.

Results in brief : Caesar was murdered in a gruesome manner. Rome enveloped into a bloody civil war. The forces of Cassius, Casca and Brutus were defeated at Philipi. The Roman controlled territories dividedi nto three domains of power (Second Triumvirate) then later two. Octavian, Caesar’s nephew defeated Mark Anthony at Actium and consolidated Roman power with himself as the Emperor (he will be known as Augustus Caesar). The Republic died as did the last shreds of democracy. An Empire took its place. Augustus would prove to be a competent figure but not so some of his successors: Tiberius, Caligula and Nero, who will each rule with brutality unchecked by the systems of the Republic of Old. In short Brutus’s intentions of saving the Republic failed miserably not only did it end his beloved Republic but instead created the foundations that the very tyranny that he himself so despised could grow.

(on a positive note though George Lucas two thousand years later would gain a historical context – Republic-Empire transition on which to play out his Science Fiction Soap Opera fantasy, Star Wars).

Next posting: Unholy Alliance II - Girondins and the Jacobins

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