Comment by Jim Campbell
September 27th, 2021
The myth that “Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned is just that, a myth.
That’s not to say he wasn’t on par with today’s so-called political elite, they will all likely burn in hell where they belong for raping, pillaging and plundering their constituents from the day most were sworn into office.
The source of this phrase is the supposed story that Nero played the fiddle (violin) while Rome burned, during the great fire in AD 64.
There are two major flaws with the story. Firstly, there was no such instrument as the fiddle (violin) in first century Rome. If Nero played anything during the Rome fire, it was probably the lyre.
Secondly, the story may be completely false and Nero may very well not have neglected his duty at all. Nero died four years later, and we should remember that history is written by the victors. The historian Suetonius records the Nero was responsible for the fire and that he watched it from a tower while playing an instrument and singing about the destruction of Troy. Others record this story merely as a rumor.
By modern-day standards Nero certainly appears a bizarre character, but that doesn’t make this story true. Roman scholars differ over interpretations of events surrounding the fire.
The rivalries and conflicting accounts, even those in contemporary reports, make the ‘fiddling’ story uncertain.
Fear not, this is not the end, but the beginning for us and the end for them.
If you missed it, please read” The left in Washington smells fear
A Rot Pervades America’s Institutions
September 26, 2021
At the end of his magisterial book “How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower,” Adrian Goldsworthy compares the fate of imperial Rome with contemporary America.
The dominance of a civilization, he notes, depends not only on resources and military prowess but also on “culture,” that hard-to-define yet palpable mixture of confidence, savoir-faire, and commitment to foundational principles beyond the calculus of individual profit or aggrandizement.
Beginning in the third century, Goldsworthy writes, Rome began to turn away from that cultural compact and decline wove itself into the sinews of Roman society.
“The rot,” Goldsworth observes, “began at the top, and in time a similar attitude pervaded the entire government and army high command.”
I predict that future historians, seeking to understand the decline of the United States, will settle on the annus horribilis of 2021 as the terminus a quo. [The current cabal in D.C.]]
Immersed in the moment, it is often hard to disentangle the main story from the cacophony and chatter of mere events.
But can anyone who is not Jen Psaki contemplate America’s leadership and not discern the rot at the top?
Goldsworthy mentions the army high command. Take a look at the American high command, beginning with Sec/Def Lloyd “stand down” Austin and Mark “White Rage” Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A lot of ink has been spilled trying to assess them both, their surrender to identity politics and to the corrosive sentimentality of political correctness.
General Milley’s treacherous effort to circumvent the chain of command and pretend that America’s military answered first of all to him, not the President, has attracted some measure of the obloquy it deserves, but he continues on in his position instead of being courtmartialed.
I doubt that he will be able to remain for long in the army—public sentiment against him is strong and growing—but I also doubt that he will be disciplined.
The rot that he himself embodies is too widespread to require it.
Indeed, “rot at the top” describes our situation to a T.
At the pinnacle we have an erratic practitioner of glossolalia whom everyone, friend and foe alike, understands is well on the road to senility.
Then cast your eye down the line of succession: Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President pro tempore of the Senate Patrick Leahy, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellin, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
A depressing cavalcade, isn’t it?
But the rot is not confined to political figures.
What Robert Frost called “the slow smokeless burning of decay” has installed itself in the heart of many of our most cherished institutions.
I already mentioned the military. What about our intelligence and crime fighting institutions?
Roger L. Simon, writing in these pages recently, got it exactly right about the FBI.
It must be dismantled, and not just the leadership “but the whole organization and everyone in it.”
With every passing week, its role in concocting and disseminating the whole “Russia Collusion” narrative against Donald Trump becomes more obvious and more disgusting.
And note well that its activities on that front are not done and over with.
Christopher Wray, the Director of the Bureau, is assiduously pursuing the successor to the Russia Collusion Narrative: the Jan. 6 insurrection hoax, according to which American citizens exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech are branded as “domestic extremists” and hunted down.
The closer you look at that institution, the worse it looks.
Even the mild mannered Holman Jenkins, writing in The Wall Street Journal, argues that the Bureau “should be scrapped and something new built to replace it.”
Recent revelations about the Bureau’s role in planning and abetting the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as well as the Jan. 6 protest at the Capitol—even The New York Times had to acknowledge that—underscore the depth of the rot at the once-respected institution.
And what about other institutions, higher education, for example? It speaks volumes, I think, that Harvard’s new chaplain, Greg Epstein, is a self-professed atheist.
Reflecting on the experience of Rome, Adrian Goldsworthy notes that when “governments or agencies forget what they are really for, then decline will occur.”
Moreover, he writes, “bureaucracies are stubborn” and “tend to expand on their own and develop their own agendas.”
The rot that was likely yesterday becomes inexorable tomorrow.
Can the trend be reversed? Maybe. But Goldsworthy is right. “If the trend is to be reversed, then this process needs to start at the very top.”
What do you suppose the prospects of that are?
Perhaps it is an illustration of Franz Kafka’s mordant observation that “there is hope, but not for us.”