The End of the Republic?

News Abroad

Mr. Johnson's new book, forthcoming at the end of 2003 from Metropolitan Books, is The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.

The collapse of the Roman republic in 27 BC has significance today for the United States, which took many of its key political principles from its ancient predecessor. Separation of powers, checks and balances, government in accordance with constitutional law, a toleration of slavery, fixed terms in office, all these ideas were influenced by Roman precedents. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams often read the great Roman political philosopher Cicero and spoke of him as an inspiration to them. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, authors of the Federalist Papers, writing in favor of ratification of the Constitution signed their articles with the name Publius Valerius Publicola, the first consul of the Roman republic.

The Roman republic, however, failed to adjust to the unintended consequences of its imperialism, leading to a drastic alteration in its form of government. The militarism that inescapably accompanied Rome's imperial projects slowly undermined its constitution as well as the very considerable political and human rights its citizens enjoyed. The American republic, of course, has not yet collapsed; it is just under considerable strain as the imperial presidency -- and its supporting military legions -- undermine Congress and the courts. However, the Roman outcome -- turning over power to an autocracy backed by military force and welcomed by ordinary citizens because it seemed to bring stability -- suggests what might happen in the years after Bush and his neoconservatives are thrown out of office.

Obviously, there is nothing deterministic about this progression, and many prominent Romans, notably Brutus and Cicero, paid with their lives trying to head it off. But there is something utterly logical about it. Republican checks and balances are simply incompatible with the maintenance of a large empire and a huge standing army. Democratic nations sometimes acquire empires, which they are reluctant to give up because they are a source of wealth and national pride, but as a result their domestic liberties are thereby put at risk.

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These not-particularly-original comparisons are inspired by the current situation of the United States, with its empire of well over 725 military bases located in other people's countries; its huge and expensive military establishment demanding ever more pay and ever larger appropriations from a supine and manipulated legislature; unsolved anthrax attacks on senators and newsmen (much like Rome's perennial assassinations); Congress's gutting of the Bill of Rights through the panicky passage of the Patriot Act -- by votes of 76-1 in the Senate and 337 to 79 in the House; and numerous signs that the public is indifferent to what it is about to lose. Many current aspects of our American government suggest a Roman-like fatigue with republican proprieties. After Congress voted in October 2002 to give the president unrestricted power to use any means, including military force and nuclear weapons, in a preventive strike against Iraq whenever he -- and he alone -- deemed it"appropriate," it would be hard to argue that the constitution of 1787 was still the supreme law of the land.

Checks and Balances

My thinking about the last days of republics was partly stimulated this past summer by a new book and an old play. The book is Anthony Everitt's magnificent account of the man who had his head and both hands chopped off for opposing military dictatorship -- Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician (Random House, 2001). The play was a modern-dress production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, seen at San Diego's Old Globe theater. The curtain opened on a huge backdrop of Julius Caesar looking remarkably like any seedy politician with the word"tyrant" scrawled graffiti-style beneath his face in red paint. At play's end, after Octavian's hypocritical comments on the death of Brutus, who was one of the republic's most stalwart supporters ("According to his virtue let us use him. . . ."), the picture of Caesar dropped away, replaced by one of Octavian -- soon to become the self-proclaimed god Augustus Caesar -- in full military uniform and bearing a marked resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, Octavian's military rule did not actually follow at once after the suicides of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42 BC and Shakespeare does not say it did. But that is what the play -- and the history -- are all about: killing Julius Caesar on the Ides of March, 44 BC only prepared the ground for a more ruthless and determined successor.

The Roman republic is conventionally dated from 509 to 27 BC even though Romulus's founding of the city is traditionally said to have occurred in 753 BC. All we know about its dim past, including the first two centuries of the republic, comes from the histories written by Livy and others and from the findings of modern archaeology. For the century preceding the republic, Rome had been ruled by Etruscan kings from their nearby state of Etruria (modern Tuscany), until in 510, according to legend, Sextus, the son of king Tarquinius Superbus ("King Tarquin"), raped Lucretia, the daughter of a leading Roman family. A group of aristocrats backed by the Roman citizenry revolted against this outrage and expelled the Etruscans from Rome. The rebels were determined that never again would any single man be allowed to obtain supreme power in Rome, and for four centuries the system they established more or less succeeded in preventing that from happening."This was the main principle," writes Everitt,"that underpinned constitutional arrangements which, by Cicero's time [106 to 43 BC], were of a baffling complexity."

At the heart of the unwritten Roman constitution was the Senate, by the early years of the first century BC composed of about 300 members from whose ranks two chief executives, called consuls, were elected. The consuls took turns being in charge for a month each, and neither could hold office for more than a year. Over time an amazing set of" checks and balances" evolved to ensure that the consuls and other executives whose offices conferred on them imperium -- the right to command an army, to interpret and carry out the law, and to pass sentences of death -- did not entertain visions of grandeur and overstay their time. At the heart of these restraints were the principles of collegiality and term limits. The first meant that for every office there were at least two incumbents, neither of whom had seniority or superiority over the other. Office holders were normally limited to one-year terms and could be reelected to the same office only after waiting ten years. Senators had to serve two to three years in lower offices -- as quaestors, tribunes, aediles, or praetors -- before they were eligible for election to a higher office, including the consulship. All office holders could veto the acts of their equals, and higher officials could veto decisions of lower ones. The chief exception to these rules was the office of"dictator," appointed by the consuls in times of military emergency. There was always only one dictator and his decisions were immune to veto; according to the constitution, he could hold office only for six months or the duration of a crisis.

Once an official had ended his term as consul or praetor, the next post below consul, he was posted in Italy or abroad as governor of a province or colony and given the title of proconsul. It is absurd for journalistic admirers of the U.S. military today to pretend that its regional commanders-in-chief for the Middle East (Centcom), Europe (Eucom), the Pacific (Pacom), Latin America (Southcom), and the United States itself (Northcom) are the equivalents of Roman proconsuls.1 The Roman officials were seasoned members of the Senate who had held the highest executive post in the country, whereas American regional commanders are generals or admirals who have served their entire careers away from civilian concerns and risen to this post by managing to avoid making egregious mistakes.

After serving as consul in 63 BC (the year of Octavian's birth), for example, Cicero was sent to govern the colony of Cilicia in present-day southern Turkey, where his duties were both civilian and military. Over time this complex system was made even more complex by the class struggle embedded in Roman society. During the first two centuries of the republic, what appeared to be a participatory democracy was in fact an oligarchy of aristocratic families that dominated the Senate. Not everyone was happy with this. After 287 BC, when the constitution was more or less formalized, a new institution came into being to defend the rights of the plebs or populares, that is, the ordinary, non-aristocratic citizens of Rome. These were the tribunes of the people, charged with protection of the lives and property of plebeians. Tribunes could veto any election, law, or decree of the Senate, of which they were ex officio members, as well as the acts of all other officials (except a dictator). They could also veto each others' vetoes."No doubt because their purpose in life was to annoy people," Everitt notes,"their persons were sacrosanct." Controlling appointments to the office of tribune later became very important to generals like Julius Caesar, who based their power on their armies plus the support of the populares against the aristocrats.

The system worked well enough and afforded extraordinary freedoms to the citizens of Rome so long as all members of the Senate recognized that compromise and consensus were the only ways to get anything done. Everitt poses the issue in terms of the different perspectives of Caesar and Cicero; Caesar was Rome's, and perhaps history's greatest general; whereas Cicero was the most intellectual defender of the Roman constitution. Both were former consuls:"Julius Caesar, with the pitiless insight of genius, understood that the constitution with its endless checks and balances prevented effective government, but like so many of his contemporaries Cicero regarded politics in personal rather than structural terms. For Caesar the solution lay in a completely new system of government; for Cicero it lay in finding better men to run the government -- and better laws to keep them in order."

"Remember that you are human"

Imperialism provoked the crisis that destroyed the Roman republic. After slowly consolidating its power over all of Italy and conquering the Greek colonies on the island of Sicily, the republic extended its conquests to Greece itself, to Carthage in North Africa, and to what is today southern France, Spain, and Asia Minor. By the first century BC, Rome dominated all of Gaul, most of Iberia, the coast of North Africa, Macedonia (including Greece), the Balkans, and large parts of modern Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon."The republic became enormously rich on the spoils of empire," Everitt writes,"so much so that from 167 BC Roman citizens in Italy no longer paid any personal taxes." The republic also became increasingly self-important and arrogant, believing that its task was to bring civilization to lesser peoples and naming the Mediterranean Mare Nostrum (our sea), somewhat the way some Americans came in the twentieth century to refer to the Pacific Ocean as an"American lake."

The problem was that the Roman constitution made administration of so large and diverse an area increasingly difficult and subtly altered the norms and interests that underlay the need for compromise and consensus. There were several aspects to this crisis, but the most important was the transformation of the Roman army into a professional military force and the growth of militarism. During the early and middle years of the republic, the Roman legions were a true citizen army composed of small, conscripted landowners. Differing from the American republic, all citizens between the age of 17 and 46 were liable to be called for military service. One of the more admirable aspects of the Roman system was that only those citizens who possessed a specified amount of property (namely, a horse and some land) could serve, thereby making those who had profited most from the state also responsible for its defense. (By contrast, of the 535 members of Congress, only seven have children in the U.S.'s all-volunteer armed forces.) The Roman plebs did their service as skirmishers with the army or in the navy, which had far less honor attached to it. At the beginning of each term, the consuls appointed tribunes to raise two legions from the census role of all eligible citizens.

When a campaign was over, the troops were promptly sent back to their farms, sometimes richer and flushed with military glory. Occasionally, the returning farmers got to march behind their general in a"triumph," the most splendid ceremony in the Roman calendar, a victory procession allowed only to the greatest of conquerors. The general himself, who paid for this parade, rode in a chariot with his face covered in red lead to represent Jupiter, king of the gods. A boy slave stood behind him holding a laurel wreath above his head while whispering in his ear"Remember that you are human." In Pompey's great triumph of 61 BC, he actually wore a cloak that had belonged to Alexander the Great. After the general came his prisoners in chains and finally the legionnaires, who by ancient tradition sang obscene songs satirizing their general.

By the end of the second century BC, in Everitt's words,"The responsibilities of empire meant that soldiers could no longer be demobilized at the end of each fighting season. Standing forces were required, with soldiers on long-term contracts." The great general Caius Marius undertook to reform the armed forces, replacing the old conscript armies with a professional body of long-service volunteers. When their contracts expired, they expected their commanders, to whom they were personally loyal, to grant them farms. Unfortunately, land in Italy was by then in short supply, much of it tied up in huge sheep and cattle ranches owned by rich, often aristocratic, families and run by slave labor. The landowners were the dominant conservative influence in the Senate, and they resisted all efforts at land reform. Members of the upper classes became wealthy as a result of Rome's wars of conquest and bought more land as the only safe investment, driving small holders off their property. In 133 BC, the gentry arranged for the killing of the tribune Tiberius Gracchus (of plebian origin) for advocating a new land-use law. Rome's population continued to swell with landless veterans."Where would the land be found," asks Everitt,"for the superannuated soldiers of Rome's next war?"

During the last century before its fall, the republic was assailed by many revolts of generals and their troops, leading to gross violations of the constitution and on several occasions to civil wars. These included the uprisings of Marius and Sulla and of the failed revolutionary Catilina. There was also the Spartacus slave rebellion of 73 BC, put down by the immensely wealthy Marcus Licinius Crassus, who in the process crucified some 6,000 survivors. Crassus was a member of the First Triumvirate, along with Pompey and Caesar, which attempted to bring the situation under control by direct cooperation among the generals. Everitt writes,"During his childhood and youth Cicero had watched with horror as Rome set about dismantling itself. If he had a mission as an adult, it was to recall the republic to order. . . . [He] noticed that the uninhibited freedom of speech which marked political life in the republic was giving way to caution at social gatherings and across dinner tables. . . . The Senate had no answer to Rome's problems and indeed sought none. Its aim was simply to maintain the constitution and resist the continual attacks on its authority. . . . The populares had lost decisively with the defeat of Catilina, but the snake was only stunned. Caesar, who had been plotting against Senatorial interests behind the scenes, was rising up the political ladder and, barring accidents, would be consul in a few years' time."

Caesar became consul for the first time in 59 BC enjoying great popularity with the ordinary people. After his year in office, he was rewarded by being named governor of Gaul, a post he held between 58 and 49 during which he earned great military glory and became immensely wealthy. In 49 he famously allowed his armies to cross the Rubicon, a small river in northern Italy that served as a boundary against armies approaching the capital, and plunged the country into civil war, taking on his former ally and now rival, Pompey. He won, after which, as Everitt observes,"No one was left in the field for Caesar to fight. . . . His leading opponents were dead. The republic was dead too: he had become the state." Julius Caesar exercised dictatorship from 48 to 44 and a month before the Ides of March had arranged to have himself named"dictator for life." Instead, he was stabbed to death in the Senate by a conspiracy of eight members, led by Brutus and Cassius, both praetors, known to history as"principled tyrannicides."

Shakespeare's recreation of the scenes that followed, based upon Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, has become as immortal as the deed itself. In a speech to the plebeians in the Forum, Brutus defended his actions."If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I lov'd Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and all die slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen?" However, Mark Antony, Caesar's chief lieutenant, speaking to the same audience, had the last word. He turned the populace against Brutus and Cassius, and as they raced forth to avenge Caesar's murder, said cynically,"Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war."

Who will watch the watchers?

The Second Triumvirate, formed to avenge Caesar, ended like the first, with only one man standing, but that man, Caius Octavianus (Octavian), Caesar's eighteen-year-old grand nephew, would decisively change Roman government by replacing the republic with an imperial dictatorship. Everitt characterizes Octavian as"a freebooting young privateer," who on August 19, 43 BC, became the youngest consul in Rome's history and set out, in violation of the constitution, to raise his own private army."The boy would be a focus for the simmering resentments among the Roman masses, the disbanded veterans, and the standing legions." Cicero, who had devoted his life to trying to curb the kind of power represented by Octavian, now gave up on the rule of law in favor of realpolitik. He recognized that"for all his struggles the constitution was dead and power lay in the hands of soldiers and their leaders." In Cicero's analysis, the only hope was to try to co-opt Octavian, leading him toward a more constitutional position, while doing everything not to"irritate rank-and-file opinion, which was fundamentally Caesarian." Cicero would pay with his life for this last, desperate gamble. Octavian, allied with Mark Antony, ordered at least 130 senators (perhaps as many as 300) executed and their property confiscated after charging them with supporting the conspiracy against Caesar. Mark Antony personally added Cicero's name to the list. When he met his death, the great scholar and orator had with him a copy of Euripides' Medea, which he had been reading. His head and both hands were displayed in the Forum.

A year after Cicero's death, following the battle of Philippi where Brutus and Cassius ended their lives, Octavian and Antony divided the known world between them. Octavian took the West and remained in Rome; Antony accepted the East and allied himself with Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt and Julius Caesar's former mistress. In 31 BC, Octavian set out to end this unstable arrangement, and at the sea battle of Actium in the Gulf of Ambracia on the western coast of Greece, he defeated Antony's and Cleopatra's fleet. The following year in Alexandria Mark Antony fell on his sword and Cleopatra took an asp to her breast. By then, both had been thoroughly discredited for claiming that Antony was a descendant of Caesar's and for seeking Roman citizenship rights for Cleopatra's children by Caesar. Octavian would rule the Roman world for the next 45 years, until his death in 14 AD.

On January 13, 27 BC, Octavian appeared in the Senate, which had legitimized its own demise by ceding most of its powers to him and which now bestowed on him the new title of Augustus, first Roman emperor. The majority of the Senators were his solid supporters, having been handpicked by him. In 23 BC, Augustus was granted further authority by being designated a tribune for life, which gave him ultimate veto power over anything the Senate might do. His power rested ultimately on his total control of the armed forces.

Although his rise to power was always tainted by constitutional illegitimacy -- not unlike that of our own Boy Emperor from Crawford, Texas -- Augustus proceeded to emasculate the Roman system and its representative institutions. He never abolished the old republican offices but merely united them under one person -- himself. Imperial appointment became a badge of prestige and social standing rather than of authority. The Senate was turned into a club of old aristocratic families, and its approval of the acts of the emperor was purely ceremonial. The Roman legions continued to march under the banner SPQR -- senatus populus que Romanus,"the Senate and the Roman People" -- but the authority of Augustus was absolute.

The most serious problem was that the army had grown too large and was close to unmanageable. It constituted a state within a state, not unlike the Pentagon in the United States today. Augustus reduced the army's size and provided generous cash payments to those soldiers who had served more than twelve years, making clear that this bounty came from him, not their military commanders. He also transferred all legions away from Rome to the remote provinces and borders of the Empire, to ensure their leaders were not tempted to meddle in political affairs. Equally astutely, he created the Praetorian Guard, an elite force of 9,000 men with the task of defending him personally, and stationed them in Rome. They were drawn only from Italy, not from distant provinces, and were paid more than soldiers in the regular legions. They began as Augustus's personal bodyguards, but in the decades after his death they became decisive players in the selection of new emperors. It was one of the first illustrations of an old problem of authoritarian politics: create one bureaucracy, the Praetorian Guard, to control another bureaucracy, the regular army, but before long the question will arise: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

Augustus is credited with forging the Roman Peace (Pax Romana), which historians like to say lasted more than 200 years. It was, however, a military dictatorship and depended entirely on the incumbent emperor. And therein lay the problem. Tiberius, who reigned from 14-37 AD, retired to Capri with a covey of young boys who catered to his sexual tastes. His successor, Caligula, who held office from 37-41, was the darling of the army, but on January 24, 41 AD, the Praetorian Guard assassinated him and proceeded to loot the imperial palace. Modern archaeological evidence strongly suggests that Caligula was an eccentric maniac, just as history has always portrayed him.2

The fourth Roman emperor, Claudius, who reigned from 41 to 54, was selected and put into power by the Praetorian Guard in a de facto military coup. Despite the basically favorable portrayal of him by Robert Graves (I, Claudius, 1934) and years later on TV by Derek Jacobi, Claudius, who was Caligula's uncle, was addicted to gladiatorial games and fond of watching his defeated opponents being put to death. As a child, Claudius limped, drooled, stuttered, and was constantly ill. He had his first wife killed and married Agrippina, daughter of the sister of Caligula, after having the law changed to allow uncles to marry their nieces. On October 13, 54 AD, Claudius was killed with a poisoned mushroom, probably fed to him by his wife, and at noon that same day, the sixteen-year-old Nero, Agrippina's son by a former husband, was acclaimed emperor in a carefully orchestrated piece of political theater. Nero, who reigned from 54 to 68, was a probably insane tyrant who has been credited with setting fire to Rome in 64 and persecuting some famous early Christians (Paul and Peter), although his reputation has been somewhat rehabilitated in recent years as a patron of the arts.

The short, happy life of the American republic

After Augustus, not much recommends the Roman Empire as an example of enlightened government despite the enthusiasm for it of such neoconservative promoters of the George W. Bush administration as the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal's Max Boot, and the Weekly Standard's William Kristol. My reasons for going over this ancient history are not to suggest that our own Boy Emperor is a second Octavian but rather what might happen after he is gone. The history of the Roman republic from the time of Julius Caesar on suggests that it was imperialism and militarism -- poorly understood by all conservative political leaders at the time -- that brought it down. Militarism and the professionalization of a large standing army create invincible new sources of power within a polity. The government must mobilize the masses in order to exploit them as cannon fodder and this leads to the rise of populist generals who understand the grievances of their troops and veterans.

Service in the armed forces of the United States has not been a universal male obligation of citizenship since 1973. Our military today is a professional corps of men and women who join up for their own reasons, commonly to advance themselves in the face of one or another cul de sac of American society. They normally do not expect to be shot at, but they do expect all the benefits of state employment -- steady pay, good housing, free medical benefits, relief from racial discrimination, world travel, and gratitude from the rest of society for their military"service." They are well aware that the alternatives civilian life in America offers today include difficult job searches, no job security, regular pilfering of retirement funds by company executives and their accountants,"privatized" medical care, bad public elementary education systems, and insanely expensive higher education. They are ripe, it seems to me, not for the political rhetoric of patrician politicians who have followed the Andover, Yale, Harvard Business School route to riches and power but for a Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, or Juan Perón -- a revolutionary, military populist with no interest in republican niceties so long as he is made emperor.

Given the course of the postwar situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it may not be too hard to defeat George Bush in the election of 2004. But whoever replaces him will have to deal with the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, our empire of bases, and a fifty-year-old tradition of not telling the public what our military establishment costs and the devastation it can inflict. History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless. Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic is in serious trouble -- and that conversion to a military empire is, to say the least, not the best answer.


1. See, for example, Dana Priest, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military (New York: Norton, 2003).

2. Shasta Darlington,"New Dig Says Caligula Was Indeed a Maniac," Reuters, August 16, 2003.

This article first appeared on www.tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, a long time editor in publishing, the author of The End of Victory Culture, and a fellow of the Nation Institute.

Copyright C2003 Chalmers Johnson

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Krystn Kyie Karolinska - 1/26/2004

J Edgar Hoover, Crossdresser?

Where might I find any photos of Hoover in dress

Dave Livingston - 12/28/2003

According to a dictionary, one definition of a totalitarian society is it is one the government for which exercises arbitrary and absolute power. This doesn't describe the U.S. gov't? IMHO the U.S. gov't does indeed fit that description & has since F.D.R.'s New Deal program was instituted.

An example of American totalitarianism at work was made manifest to Yours truly during the time Clinton was trashing the White House.

Whilst Wicked Willie was in the White House UPS, the private shipping company, experienced a strike of its employees, effectively shutting down the firm. This was more than passing concern to me, one who at the time owned & operated a small gunshop. Why important to me? Because UPS ordinarily handles the shipment of perhaps 90% of the firearms sold by whoesalers & shipped by them to retailers across the country.

At the time of the UPS strike it was (& still is, as far as I know)illegal to send handguns through the U.S. Mails across state lines. Because of that latter & because in an effort to gouge customers a couple of the other major private shipping firms jacked up their prices for shipping firearms tremendously. As a consequence, the sale of handguns by retailers, especially small such as I, was made not only difficult but threatened to put some of us out-of-business. But the sneaky, grossly hypocritical Clinton administration very quietly passed the word to gun makers, importers, wholesalers, & to retailers that for the duration of the UPS strike it was O.K. for handguns to be shipped across state lines through the U.S. Mails, that no legal action would be taken ahgainst any firm doing so. I know because I took delievery of six handguns mailed to my shop from out-of-state wholesalers. The Clinton administration sought no law to be passed voiding the then in effect law forbidding the mailing of handguns across state lines, nor did Willie sign an executive order permitting mailing handguns. If that wasn't an
exercise of arbitrary and absoilute power, what would you call it?

Kady ashley shon tyler - 12/1/2003

COMMUNISIUM SUXS.......Saddam Hussein

Jenny - 11/11/2003

i think its a nice idea on paper but when you actually try doing it its hard.

Grace leo - 11/11/2003

Well,u said marxists is nonsense,but i refuse to accept it.
maybe,guys u couldn't understand it accurately.u told a lot about the history,but only the history can prove that marxists is right.
Marx stood with the third world people,and take them out of the war and darkness.i believe,capitalism isn't able to do so,but marxits have done it already.capitalism cares about money and elect,but not people 's idea and feeling.

Frank Lee - 9/22/2003

Your comments are a welcome exception to the norm around here, Mr. Dresner. 37 articles by Daniel Pipes and nothing by even a moderate Palestinian (at least that I recall ever seeing) hardly represents "a variety of viewpoints" on that very important set of issues (Palestine-Israel, etc.), however.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/22/2003

That's pretty much it. NYGuy parrots the party line (and he's not alone in the parrot business here), but he certainly isn't much of an "operative."

HNN publishes articles from a variety of viewpoints (including mine) but is limited by issues of space, relevance and cost in its selection. I think they swing a little too hard to the right to correct the traditional assumption of the liberal academic (which is a bit overstated in historical circles, I think) but the articles are worth arguing over, at least.

If we can dig our heads out of our categories, we can have some good discussions, I've found. But then, I'm a liberal do-gooder egghead type....

Frank Lee - 9/21/2003

I might believe this, if it were accompanied by a proposed course of alternative action.

Frank Lee - 9/21/2003

I doubt this. It is more likely that HNN itself is a plot by the neo-conservative branch of the Republicans.

Hector Rasmussen - 9/21/2003

Dave, I have visited Switzerland frequently in recent years and highly doubt your statistic about Spanish superceding Italian there. If you have a source documenting this please give it, and if not please be more careful in the future.

As I understand it, the lack of Arabic speakers and translators has been a colossal deficiency of U.S. forces in Iraq. If we Americans can't learn to speak other languages, let's at least appreciate where and in which proportions other tongues are used.

Dave Livingston - 9/21/2003

Here I must agree with Dr. Thomas to an extent. Recently a job-hunting historian acquaintance told me that tenure-track was not in cards for him, because in job interviews he didn't provide the correct response to the "litmus test question," "How would you educate White Conservative males?"

Dave Livingston - 9/21/2003

It is npo surprise that Johnson, an urban near city-state Liberal, favors destroying the Constitutional protections provided for those of us who chose to live in less populated states &/or as rustics. Some 25% or of Americans yet live in rural environoments, including Yours truly. Johnson's direct democracy would enslave us. Screw him and his notion! A long-time acquaintance of mine, a Left Coast urban journalist never tires of referring to the Constitution an out-dated relic. Screw him, too. The Founding Fathers were far wiser in their formulation of the Republic than many on the Left wish.

Dave Livingston - 9/21/2003

Friend Ian August,

As to you, it appears to me what has thus been tried in Israel hasn't worked, but neither do I have a solution to the problem. The Arabs full of sel-pity and rage are not going to leave Israel in peace because its success as a culture and econmy points up neighboring Islam's failures as a culture & civilization.

Perhaps part of Israel's answer could be to evict all of the Moslem Palestinians, permitting the 15% or so who are Christian to remain in Israel, if Israel needs them as workers.

Should Israel need more workers, a ready source is Latin America. After all, Europe is expericing a flood of Latin American immigrants, a flood so mighty that recently Spanish superceeded Italian as Switzerland's third most popular spoken language. In short, Latin America has poverty and warm bodies, Europe has jobs.

Dave Livingston - 9/21/2003

Please don't drive Dr. Dresner away (metinks he too is a P.hd). I get a kick out of his ranting, save the one, on aother topic & thread, wherein he was expressing self-pity.

ian august - 9/21/2003

i agree with you hector. All one has to do is look at Israel to see that terror can be faught with terror, but to obtain victory by those means is another story. We must look toward a new option, something not tried before. I am not claming I know the answer but how about a truce, ??

ian august - 9/21/2003

dont listen to ny guy he is a spy sent into our website to promote the agenda of the republican (not a party) religion

Hector Rasmussen - 9/20/2003

Thanks, NYGuy.

I'm not a psychologist, but I really doubt whether committing suicide by killing thousands of innocent people is some kind of inherent human trait. Murder yes, suicide, yes. But this sort of combination has to be taught. And the actions of the U.S. can make it easier or harder for the teachers of such terror. When the U.S.supports brutal dictatorships all over the Mideast and then suddenly singles one of them out, one it previously helped, for unusual violent attention, it does not make a good impression on young impressionable minds being trained for suicide terrorism and makes them more susceptible to such terrorism. Prevention is much cheaper than cure in this case, yet Bush seems to understand or care about only the latter, more expensive option.

Paul H Stokes - 9/20/2003

Excellent if long overdue warning of the results of a Constitutionally proscribed Large Standing Army.I was in three wars and one invasion: only one was for the defense of our nation. Meanwhile another calamity awaits just over the horizon,namely; the Communist China Syndrome. Here is a burgeoning nation with a traditional hatred for the U.S. One who has been given the American market place with the slave labor,American Finacial largess, and the monopoly on the trasportation to serve it. Surely George Orwell's dire future was faulted only in timing. The immediate future makes facing the Grim Reaper less terrorizing, as well as a just reward for the current Breed of Greed.

Carol Wolf - 9/19/2003

The fact is, touchscreen voting machines are about to bring about the end of the U.S. Republic, if they have not already. In their inaugural act, in 2002, they secured the Senate and the House for the Republicans (at the same time exit polls, the only possible check, coincidentally failed all across the U.S.). Check out http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0309/S00131.htm, and http://www.crisispaper.com. Arnold will win in California, and Bush will win in 2004 by a landslide; it won't matter how voters vote; the machines will "fix" it for them.

NYGuy - 9/19/2003

Thanks Hector,

I enjoyed your comments and thanks for the response.


I would go even further to add "sensitive" and "caring" to "feisty".


Forgive me HR I should have realized that but I think I knew when I sent my reply. Those are admirable traits. Don't change.

I must say that I look at stopping terrorists a little different then you do. First I think that bringing the issue out in the opern is good. And my opinion is support to stamp out terrorists will grow.

Neighter one of us can prove this, but I believe recruits for terrorism were already escalating and if we did nothing the threat would grow very much larger. But, that is just an opinion.

I am glad to hear you had a chance to live in New York City. It makes one a better person and builds character. :)


Jonathan Dresner - 9/19/2003

Stephen Thomas writes: "If you noticed, one of the first rationales that Bush advanced for invading Iraq was the feminist argument that he had to free Iraqi women."

Actually, that was Afghanistan. Iraqi women had, before our conquest, more rights and civil privileges than in any other country in the Middle East besides Israel (we could argue about Egypt and Jordan, I suppose). Now they are being forced back into veils and tribal customs privileging male authority over female sexuality and autonomy are resurging.

Hector Rasmussen - 9/19/2003

I will try to still give you some benefit of doubt, NYGuy, because, unlike some others on this website, you seem to have the ability to change your mind when you get new information (like any good financial analyst should).

Saddam did not suddenly become an imminent threat in 2003. He was a threat from 1979 to 2003, and at 2003 his threat was probably the lowest since 1979. I agree that we had to get rid of him, but not in a sudden huge rush, not without making a good faith effort to get the UN with us (as it was in 1991 and more often than not generally is). The corrupt behavior you are suggesting on the part of the UN (Broadway shows, etc.) exists in all governments everywhere. It is not a reasonable excuse for overturning two centuries of American traditions to suddenly adopt a Likudnik doctrine of preemptive war. Read about the “Project for A New American Century” and study W. Bush's political past, and I think you might start to appreciate that fighting terrorism is NOT the real reason we had to suddenly defy and insult the world and bungle our way into Baghdad.

The "consumption"/ "production" analogy was probably a clumsy metaphor. What I meant, as I think you understood anyway, is that if you fight terrorism in a short-sighted way (or even worse make mistakes pursuing other agendas but call it "war on terrorism"), you end up generating more recruits for terrorism and more terrorism in the long run. I believe that is what Bush is doing.

I'm not from Brooklyn, but did live there for some years and agree with your positive comments about it and its residents. I would go even further to add "sensitive" and "caring" to "feisty". I also worked for a few months in Tower 2, World Trade Center, back quite a few years ago. I've not been back there since 9-11-01, but I'm sure when if I were to visit there today, it would make a big impression on me to see the site, and remember what it used to be like, and strengthen my outrage at a President who is cynically exploiting this tragedy for his own short term political purposes and to the long term detriment of all us. A lot of family members of those killed on 9-11 also seem to be outraged at the Bush Administration's exploitation of them, by the way.

Ex NYGuy

Stephen Thomas - 9/19/2003


Jake Lee - 9/19/2003

Even Dubya himself has publicly denied the 9-11-Saddam connection, yet that carefully sculpted myth spread by his spin doctors lives on in the minds of dupees like NY Guy.

And which major international leader today does NOT have more experience than Dubya who had hardly ever been outside the borders of his country, and never served in his national government, prior to his selection as U.S. president ?

Horace Mann - 9/19/2003

There you can read about me (under the subject of education).

Stephen Thomas - 9/19/2003

Yes, you do have a lot to learn.

As I said, the reason that you abhor authoritarianism is that you don't approve of anybody practicing it but you.

You make me laugh.

Elia Markell - 9/19/2003

Couple of things, Barb.

Supreme Court COUP? Is it really the case that you and your side are going to go all the way to 2004 with this delusion. Because if so, I am sure glad. No one is going to unelect any President on the basis of this sort of resentment. American pragmatism has functioned flawlessly in every election I am aware of in this regard anyway -- people vote on the basis of what they expect to happen, not what did happen.

As for specifics, the Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court, which had overruled just about every other court and agency. SEVEN, not five, Supremes found Fla's court in violation of equal protection. Two of them thought another week would be fine for recounting votes YET again. The others wisely (in light of the months-long recounts that were conducted) concluded time had run out. If you think you can spin this into a COUP, you have been watching too many reruns of the second year of "24," where fans referred to that bizarre plot as the Koo-koo Coup. Be my guest. W will laugh all the way to the Electoral College Ball.

Then there's that bit of yours about an "illegal holocaust against Iraq." Do you have any idea how absurd you sound? Can you even imagine what most Iraqis would say to you if they heard you utter such absurdities? Here, read this account by Johann Hari (NOT a conservative) on what her Iraqi friends have told her about their incredibly positive and hopeful attitudes (as long as your side does not muck things up for them).


Read it. Seriously. And try to imagine these people talking to you about the "illegal holocaust" against them. By the way, what exactly would a legal holocaust be?

I really can't go on with this, because believe it or not your hyperbole only intensifies from these two items on. All I can say is, that I am at least with you all the way if you think ABC should be made to pay for those WMDs it has. Go girl.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/19/2003

Mr. Thomas,

Please confine your abuse to posts which I actually author. I do not use pseudonyms or aliases on this board (or anywhere else on the internet, to date) so you can be sure that if it doesn't have my name on it, that I didn't write it. (and so far, nobody has written anything under my name that wasn't me)

For the record, you don't know me, you don't understand me, and you have nothing to teach me. Anything you say to the contrary is uninformed malicious slander.

NYGuy - 9/19/2003


I am at a loss. Who are these more experienced leaders? GW did talk to world leaders and if they all disagreed with him we would not be in Iraq. Secretly they are happy GW and the Americans are doing their dirty work, a task we have undertaken in the past to protect the world.

I don't think we have months or years to wait after seeing the terrorists pull off the greatest engineering feat in the history of the world, i. e. taking down two 110 story towers in a matter of hours. And this is without nuclear or biological weapons.

Can you imagine what these cunning murders have in mind for the next time. Unlike WWII if this menace is not stopped there may not be "a next time". I think all the "experienced" world leaders understand that, and although they play their cards to their benefit, they are happy someone had the courage to take on this problems and they support this effort.

Stephen Thomas - 9/19/2003

Poster operating under a pseudonym operates under an alias.

Pretty rich.

Stephen Thomas - 9/19/2003

You'll make a great patriarch once you decide to be upfront about your own authoritarianism. Imagine, demanding a resume as a requirement for posting to a chat board!

And you know big words, too.

Sky's the limit in the future. Have some children. Discipline them. You'll learn. I might even take you on as a student.

NYGuy - 9/19/2003

When I read your post in which you said:

“Although I would be a bit more willing to give NYGuy some benefit of doubt,”

I was deeply touched and though this is a nice guy who thinks for himself and does not want to be associated with a bunch of thugs, and I should acknowledge that. But when I read your first paragraph that suggested:

In this instance, the garbage you seem to have swallowed whole is the self-serving propaganda dished out as part of the Bush Administration's oxymoronic "war on terrorism".

I was deeply hurt and have only now composed myself to write back. J

I was not aware that there was only a limited number of terrorists in the world and that we had done away with most of them. That adds to my education and I will have to rethink this issue.

However, as GW told me there was also a nuclear threat out there. As a NY Guy you may have seen the new hole in the ground down near Wall Street. In my mind, taking down two 110-story towers in a matter of hours is one of the greatest feats of engineering in the history of the world. Imagine what could be done with nuclear or biological materials by these cunning individuals..

GW then told me that he was worried about N. Korea and tried to resolve the Iraq nuclear and biological program in the UN as people wanted. And although the UN agreed that Saddam had not complied with their resolutions, the members explained that they had dinner dates set in restaurants were reservations were difficult to get, and there were some new Broadway shows that were opening, and of course the Metropolitan Opera ball at the end of the season, a must on their calendar. In addition, they were getting ready to open their homes in the Hamptons so they did not think this was the proper time to deal with these problems and told GW he should take care of it himself. This came to me through a good friend who says he knows both Cheney and Rumsfeld very well. So you see my sources are impeccable. I hope this answers your question about exhausting alternatives. As far as consulting with the wise advice given by long-standing allies I believe he did. If no one agreed with him I am sure he would not have undertake this, …..er…er…er schoolboy adventure for excitement.

I was not clear on what the “consumption” and ‘production” side of the arguments are, can you fill me in.

I never had any trouble with the SEC with my outstanding recommendations, and our customers were very pleased too.

I don’t assume the two wars are similar, my starting point is we have to protect ourselves and this course of action is justified in accomplishing that goal. And most other countries agree with my analysis.

I figure that with a name like Rasmussen you came from Brooklyn and true to form you have shown yourself to be a feisty opponent in the tradition of that Borough. Enjoy our correspondence.


Stephen Thomas - 9/19/2003

Opinions on any board always seem so polarized.

The issue vetted by NYGuy and Mr. Rasmussen seems pretty complicated to me.

While I have, in general, supported the president, I have more than once been troubled by this question: What kind of precedent is the invasion of Iraq? What happens when another country cites that precedent and acts in kind?

These questions are, indeed, very troubling. But, then again, I am not an proponent of programmatic thinking.

Stephen Thomas - 9/19/2003

Tough questions. I'll think about it and reply.

Dewey de Small - 9/18/2003

Using prior education as yardstick might unfairly tag the genuinely inquisitive and open-minded participant whose "ignorance" is a mere lack of knowledge. The more virulent strain of ignorance, hundreds of times more prevalent on this website, is one where ignorance is brandished, worshipped even, as a bulwark against the slightest attenuation of personal grievance or propagandistic agenda. In agreement with the proposition that this latter and recently quite prolific species is under-regulated here, the following modest proposal is suggested by way of antidote:

1. A software program identifies those commenters with an unusually high percentage of posts on a given page, and/or an unusually large share of secondary comments relative to primary comments overall.

2. A diligent HNN staffer (preferably not the same one who incessantly chooses articles by Pipes and Klinghoffer week after week) reads at least a sizable representative sample of these "high volume low content" commenters' comments.

3. A composite rating (e.g. 1-10) is periodically computed for each such mouth-foaming commenter (and posted next to his or her name on each subsequently appearing comment).

4. The rating is calculated based on (a) relevance of comments to the original article, (b) their relevance to History generally, (c) consistency with prior posts of that same individual, and (d) lack of ad homina. (The greater the display of these attributes in the comments the higher the overall rating of the commenter).

Hector Rasmussen - 9/18/2003

Well NYGuy, call me NYGuy2 because I also worked in the Wall Street district once upon a time. There I learned to beware of "GIGO": analysis based on "garbage in garbage out". Insert faulty assumptions into correct logic and out comes faulty conclusions. In this instance, the garbage you seem to have swallowed whole is the self-serving propaganda dished out as part of the Bush Administration's oxymoronic "war on terrorism".

There are two pretty clear-cut and very recent historical examples which show the error to you have fallen victim. The faulty assumption is to conflate these two example, as White House spin doctors very much want you to.

In Afghanistan, we killed and captured quite a few terrorists and liberated a country. Our President might have apologized for America having indirectly helped to bring the Taliban to power in the first place, and certainly ought to have apologized for his support of the Taliban in early 2001, and we could have used fewer cluster bombs, but nevertheless going into Afghanistan reduced terrorism in the world. It reduced terrorism because we got rid of many terrorists without CREATING many NEW ones. And that was because the world was 110% behind us in THAT war.

In Iraq, a totally different war, fought for quite different reasons, we did again liberate a country from tyranny. But this time things were different. Apart for Britain, Poland, and a few other governments (not strongly supported by their publics) the world was NOT with us then. Any 3rd grader in a schoolyard fight could tell you why. In the eyes of most of the world, in Afghanistan “they started it” and in Iraq “we started it”. This perception is, of course, an oversimplification, but remains vastly closer to reality than the perception, deliberately fostered by Bush Administration propaganda, that Saddam was behind 9-11.

Thus, in Afghanistan we reduced the number of existing terrorists without creating or laying the ground work for new ones (at least not to any significant extent, so far). In Iraq we attacked a brutal government, but not terrorists. Furthermore, Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush’s clumsy arrogance has sown the seeds of future terrorists, violently angry at the arrogance and hypocrisy of a hasty hypocritical and preemptive war arrogantly pursued without first exhausting alternatives or even bothering to listen to the wise advice of long-standing allies advocating a more measured timetable.

If you blithely assume that the two wars were similar and look only at the "consumption" side of terrorism, while ignoring "production", you end up at the wrong-headed conclusion that the Bush Administration is "reducing" terrorism. Fortunately, there is still time to correct your "analyst report" before the SEC fraud squad gets going.

Horace Mann - 9/18/2003

Go ahead and tell us your degrees and institutions and dates. It would be a public service akin to Ridge's color codes.

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/18/2003

Good point on Hitler, Mr. Thomas.

You could have also pointed out that the environmental movement, the anti-smoking, anti-obesity, "public health" movement, and the "family planning" movement, also sprang from National Socialism.

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/18/2003

The "National Review" is Mr. Buckley's magazine, not the "New Republic". As for the "Free Republic", it posits itself as a libertarian publication, but flunks the first test of libertarianism: the non-aggression test.

Jesse Lamovsky - 9/18/2003

"Marxism continues to have relevance, because aspects of its analysis of society have been widely accepted."

Maybe so, but I'm not sure that was the point Mr. Thomas was trying to make. After all, aspects of fascism- the "mixed", capitalist-socialist-corporate economy, for example- have been widely accepted. But it's not acceptable on college campuses for people to go around calling themselves fascists, or national socialists. Besides, most people who call themselves socialists or communists are utterly ignorant of any of Marx's "analysis of society". They are driven not by knowledge, but by jealousy and hatred of the white, European, Christian "oppressor class".

Mr. Thomas is right. Marxism is a philosophy that appeals only to the basest parts of man's nature- to his envy, his greed, his desire for vengeance. The mass murder and mass impoverishment that characterized Communist states was not a perversion of Marxism, but its logical end. Supporters of Marxism support theft and murder.

Oscar Chamberlain - 9/18/2003

Stephen, I'm intrigued by this statement of yours: "I think that we are all searching for a way to make something that is out of control seem sensible and suceptible to reason."

I think you are onto something.

Just as a starter:
What do you think has been the range of the possible in the 90s in the chaotic world order? Why have we been constrained (or forced) to intervene?

NYGuy - 9/18/2003

Hi Hector,

I know I got off on the wrong foot with you, but I do want to thank you for your kind words in the last post.

I enjoyed the historical discussion by Johnson, you and others but do not accept the the political projections which are usually uninformed spin and totally biased.

I was a Wall Street analysis during my career and followed many of the world's leading international companies including those in technology and I see how rapidly the world is changing, making it smaller and therefore changes the way we will have to interact in the future. Terrorism is not good for business for China, India, Korea, Japan, as well as the U. S. and Europe. I believe that is now recognized by all the world Powers.

Therefore I think America's leading roll in fighting terrorism is vital and will be supported in many ways by other countries.
Perhaps there are connections between the ancient world and todays high tech world, but I have really never seen it proven. Any way that is where I am coming from.


Stephen Thomas - 9/18/2003

You are a very impudent young man, Mr. Dresner.

It is obvious that you can't keep up with me. Try behaving like an adult.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/18/2003

Mr. Mann asks "How do you handle students who repeatedly dominate discussion sections but refuse to do the assigned reading?"

It's not a problem I've had to deal with much: mostly the students who dominate the discussions are the only ones who have done the readings and more besides. But the techniques are pretty well established (more or less in ascending order): structure discussions to involve more people; penalize students who don't do the readings (pop quizzes are my favorite method); speak to the student outside of class; public rebuke.

On a board like there there are basically two methods that you can use. Ignore them, unless they are making a substantive point or a gross error (which is what I do to the vast majority of the anonymous posters). Or, you can do what I do until I am sure it's useless: engage them and see if they can get past their pain to talk about real issues. Sometimes it does work, and sometimes your fingers just get tired.

NYGuy - 9/18/2003

U.S. stocks surge on good employment report
Thursday September 18, 1:47 pm ET
By Steve Gelsi

NEW YORK (CBS.MW) - U.S. stocks rose Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallying to a 15-month high as positive reports on the economy helped offset concern over the impact of Hurricane Isabel and NYSE Chairman Dick Grasso's resignation.

Stephen Thomas - 9/18/2003

I don't think that I agree with you that Prez Bush is doing these things as a matter of choice. The fall of the Soviet state left a power vacuum throughout the world that will be filled by the U.S. either through action or inaction. You see the U.S. as having a lot of choices. I see the U.S. having virtually none but to do as it did.

Don't see myself as a conservative, nor do I see myself as an ardent supporter of Bush. If you noticed, one of the first rationales that Bush advanced for invading Iraq was the feminist argument that he had to free Iraqi women. I think that we are all searching for a way to make something that is out of control seem sensible and suceptible to reason.

I don't see freedom as the issue. I see the issue as that of the traditional, religious cultures versus a non-religious west determined to undermine tradition wherever it is encountered. And, frankly, it's often hard for me to know which side to root for. The destruction of family, tradition and culture that is the west is a very frightening thing indeed.

The short reason for the "obsession" with Marxism. I've lived my adult life in San Francisco and New York. The indoctrination in the liberal arts is not producing critical thinkers. It's producing legions of malcontents who are fit for nothing except a life of misery. The secretarial and word processing department of the businesses I've worked in are filled with these malcontents who were dispatched by their professors with the mission of saving the world. My daughters went through this indoctrination in being a malcontent, and it was not what they needed to live a good life.

It's pointless, too. At the very moment when the fields of technology and the arts are merging, our children are still being taught a 19th century view of the world in which technology and the arts are polarized enemies. A de-Marxification of the liberal arts is the answer to this stupidity. The liberal arts don't have to suspend their traditional mission of teaching critical thinking. It is time to revise that critique to reject the revenge motif of Marxism, and to reject the hatred of tradition, religion and family that has as its source Marxism. The rhetoric of class hatred and revenge (often advanced by those who do not even recognize Marxism as its source) must be rejected before we can begin to find something new.

John Cuepublic (aka S R Kasim) - 9/18/2003

It seems to me that a prime beneficiary of goodwill abroad -the Administration of George W. Bush in the first months after 9-11-0- ought to have been less disdainful of international opinion generally, and of the suggestions from foreign leaders vastly more experienced than he, in particular.

Actually, I am an American who has lived many years both in and outside of the U.S. and while I felt occasional moments of pride and embarrassment over past years and decades, the last twelve months have repeatedly given me feelings of horror, shame, and sadness at the appallingly incompetent and arrogant global image of our country presented by this President and his devious advisors. If only Tom Paine's fire and energy could be channeled into registering Democrats to vote in 2004.

Hector Rasmussen - 9/18/2003

Although I would be a bit more willing to give NYGuy some benefit of doubt, I concur with your concise and insighful summary-plus-commentary on Johnson, with the decided exception of the rather gratuitous insults (via unflattering contemporary comparisons) to Alexander Hamilton and the Republican Party of Greeley and Lincoln.
I also find it unfair to tar Lincoln Chafee and John McCain with the brush of Crawford,Texas Neo-Caesarism.

Barbara Cornett - 9/18/2003

I am not making a career out of defending the Clintons but I would be interested to learn who the people are whose careers were destoryed by them and which people they sent to jail for sexual trangressions.

why would you not support Clinton? He believed that the US should spread freedom around the world just as the philosphers at PNAC believe we should do. He fully supports Bush's empire building and Hillary voted to give Bush permission to start a war.

You keep running around talking about Marxist college professors but the Allan Blooms of this world are the ones whose philsophy the US is following right now, not Marxist ones.

The experiment of Communisium has been tried and it failed. Now we are witnessing what happens when people who believe that freedom and democracy are universal and apply to all people and who seek to force freedom upon others.

In seeking to force democracy upon the rest of the world, are these people not seeking power just as Communists did? Are they not doomed to fail?

Are we not bankrupting ourselves just as the Communists did? How can the US gov control or rule the world? We can't. We should be abiding by international laws instead.

Bill Kristol, Donald Rumsfeld and others who want to force freedom on others betray their true selves when they plunder other countries and seek to deny people their constitutional rights at home.

Marxism and Communisum may have failed but the philosphy of the people at PNAC and in the White HOuse is completely wrongheaded and doomed to failure also.

Rumsfeld is already trying to rush the building of an Iraqi military and readying the country to turn it back over to the Iraqis. Bush is desperate to get UN help now. When he went into war he attempted to destory the UN and behaved in an arrogant manner but now he is forced onto his knees before the UN and is seeking a resolution to get other countries to help in Iraq. An indication of failure.

I don't understand your obsession with Marxism. How is it revelent to anything today? If you hate big government then you should hate the people in the White House. In case you hadn't noticed they believe in big government. They believe in using the gov to build a military so big that it can never be challenged. They believe the mission of forcing democracy around the globe is dependent upon a big government.

You are behind the times Mr Thomas. Being against Marxism was convenient when conservitives wished to deny that the US was a big country with big obligations for its own people and the world. Now that the object of their desire is forcing freedom around the world they have suddenly discovered the need for big government and big spending.

If tax and spenders were bad, how do you like non-taxers and big spenders.

NYGuy - 9/18/2003


Thank you again for the further insight into your thought process and your opinions. As has been stated here we can still learn from stupid questions and answers.

But, perhaps you may want to stop, I think we understand you fully.

NYGuy - 9/18/2003


Today’s situation differs from the Cold War in that there is nothing to
counterweight,divert and fix the enormous power of the Executive Branch.


Is this the extent of your knowledge of the changes since the cold war. Like Johnson it seems pretty shallow, but if you like to write you may be able to fool those who don't know better.

NYGuy - 9/18/2003

Well Paul Revere what are you doing to alert the troops of the impending economic disaster. You might try reading the daily newspaper or watch a little TV to learn we are the early stages of a major recovery. It is better than sitting in your cushy office and talking to immature students.

There is a real world out there you know.

NYGuy - 9/18/2003


Good to get your point of view. As has been pointed out we can still learn from dumb questions and answers, for at the least it gives us insight into someone's abilites and philosophy and helps make us become surer of our own ability to be right in our opinions.

Stephen Thomas - 9/18/2003

And now I'll surprise you. I voted for Bill Clinton twice. Mr. Clinton was not nearly impeached for having sex and lying. Mr. Clinton lied before a grand jury, committed sexual harassment in the Oval Office and disgraced the presidency.

Mr. Clinton and his wife were the vanguard of the sexual harassment and sexual violence movement. They and their followers had no qualms about destroying the careers of other men, or sending other men to jail over these transgression.

You are a total hypocrite, Barbara. And your attitude makes it clear that your real goal in subscribing to feminism is not the solution of the phony sexual harassment hysteria. Like all good Marxists, the problem is simply an opportunity for destruction, and an opportunity to defame. You are good at it. You've been well taught.

Do you know how to do anything constructive? Usually, people with your mentality are just about totally useless, unskilled and uneducated in anything except the PC game of assassination.

Stephen Thomas - 9/18/2003


Stephen Thomas - 9/18/2003


Stephen Thomas - 9/18/2003

Don't subscribe to or read any of the sources tom paine lists.

Don't even know who a couple of them are.

Beats responding to what I have to say, doesn't it?

Don Williams - 9/17/2003

1) I've seen a similar pattern, but with additional details, to the one discussed by Mr Johnson. Some additional parallels between today and the fall of the Roman Republic, which I posted on the historians' H-OIEAHC list last year:
The USA’s situation today has a
number of parallels to that which existed prior to the collapse of the
Roman Republic and it’s replacement by Augustus' veiled dictatorship. (
Note that I’m talking about a 70 year process ­not an overnight event.
) Some analogies are: collapse of a major military competitor and end of a
long period of military competition, the use of the resulting
massive military advantage to establish a global empire, concentration of
wealth and political power, replacement of a citizens army with a long-term
professionals, defeat of a significant Reform Party (Gracchi) , increasing
domination of politics by money not votes, impovishment of the middle
class due to cheap labor and goods imported from abroad, competition for
power among two major factions, use of lawsuits to attack political
opponents, strains introduced by extending a government designed for a
local area to ruling a global empire, a large standing military without a
major opponent, etc.
Source: H-OIEAHC 5/10/2002 post "Why H-OIEAHC should _Arming America_" at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lx&list=H-oieahc&user=&pw=&month=0205

2) It is also interesting that this is the first time in US history in which we've had a huge peacetime army unconstrained by an opposing force -- a result of the Cold War. As I noted on
in a 6/3/2002 post on H-OIEAHC:
A look at historical tables of the Army’s personnel strength shows that the
US followed Washington’s advice from the early republic up to the Cold
War. The regular army was kept very small and wartime surges were handled
by militia reserves. (See
http://web1.whs.osd.mil/MMID/M01/sms211r.htm .) While the standing army
was kept small, the size of the militia increased greatly as the US
population rapidly grew.

During the decades of the Cold War, however, the US kept a large standing
army. Although the US military has been reduced since the fall of the
Soviet Union, the military we have today is still sized to enforce order in
a global empire—not to defend the homeland. The US defense budget is
roughly $393 billion ­greater than the combined budgets of the next 25
largest military powers. Both major allies (Germany, Japan,UK) and major
opponents (Russia, China) only spend on the order of $20-$60 billion:

Today’s situation differs from the Cold War in that there is nothing to
counterweight,divert and fix the enormous power of the Executive Branch.

Today’s professional military is probably the most virtuous and loyal group
in our society ­but it is becoming estranged from society since the end of
the civilian draft. Some professional military officers have commented on
this in recent years --see
http://carlisle-http://www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/1992/dunlap.htm and

During the Cold War, it was necessary for Congress to give the Executive
Branch enormous resources and free rein. Today, however, Congress should
be reasserting it’s primacy but is having trouble doing so. For example,
the Executive Branch’s secrets are supposed to be available to the House
and Senate Committees which oversee Intelligence. Yet in 1996, the
Clinton Administration asserted that personnel with high level security
clearances (i.e., for “Sensitive Compartment Information” ) could not
report concerns or crimes to Congress ­not even to the Intelligence
Committees -- without permission from an Executive Branch official. See
OF 1998 at
(cut and paste this URL into your browser’s address line. )

Horace Mann - 9/17/2003

"...with so many Freeps and Stalinists participating in the debate..."

My point above.

Horace Mann - 9/17/2003

Well, Mr. Dresner, I'm not so sure what the real purpose of HNN is, but if you want to use it to educate, more power to you. And I agree about there being no stupid questions, although questions seem to a rarity amidst Stephen Thomas's copious posts.

Out of sheer curiosity, may I ask a simple-minded question of you ?

How do you handle students who repeatedly dominate discussion sections but refuse to do the assigned reading ?

Jonathan Dresner - 9/17/2003

Ms. Cornett,

Thanks for clearing that up. I'm a little suprised I hadn't heard the term, now that I know what it means.

Though I do wish HNN could get past the "Freep" v. "Stalinist" level a little more often.

Of course, with so many Freeps and Stalinists participating in the debate, it's hard......

Barbara Cornett - 9/17/2003

Are you familiar with Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and newsmax? They are rightwing 'news' organizations. The Free Republic is another of that ilk and people who follow their 'news' are called freepers. They are notorious for their willingness to get down and dirty and to forget about facts or truth.

They mimic the tactics of their idelogical leaders which means doing dirty political things like impeaching President Clinton over lies about sex and calling Chelsea the White House dog and even in an article in The New Republic calling for a hit on Chelsea because she is the off spring of Bill and Hillary.

The New Republic is william Buckley's magazine so that should give you an idea of how dirty the whole right is, even Buckley.

You get the picture.

The freepers gained a reputation on the web for their tactics and are called dittoheads and freepers. They will go along with anything and everything the rightwing propaganda machine churns out and will fight to the death.

They are impervious to intelligence, facts, logic and reason and damned proud of it. They proudly refer to themselves as dittoheads, Rush's army.

Barbara Cornett - 9/17/2003

The thrust of the article is about how the Roman republic slipped into empire and self destructed. It offers a warning by showing how the present administration is taking us down the same road. We don't have statesmen leading the nation, we have corporate thugs just as Rome had devients and never do wells.

Bush seized power through a Supreme Court coup. Then our Congress illegally and unconstitutionally gave him the power to start a war. Only the elderly Robert Byrd spoke eloquently and often in defense of our Constitution which he carries a copy of in his pocket at all times. The rest of the senate was mostly absent in its defense.

Recently democrats stated that they would not persue an investigation into the lies told by the administration that led us into an illegal holocaust against Iraq. Bush consolidates his power and plans the invasions of other soverign nations.

We suffered thru 8 years of constant harrassment of a legally elected president and eventually impeachment over a manufactured crime that was not a high crime or misdemeanor or impeachable offense. Now this president commits crimes and lies with inpunity.

The people are allowing these things to happen.

We are having the Patriot Act forced upon us which police agencies are already using against citizens in an unconstitutional manner. There was a recent case in NC where a local AG used it.

Empire enriches the few at the expense of the many. Empire is anti-democratic.

The Pentagon is probably developing genetic weapons at the suggestion of PNAC. What will happen to us when these people don't need standing armies? Anyone who wants empire, and those in the White House clearly do, would use that weapon on their own people if they had to wouldn't they?

Haliburton, Carlyle Group, the military/industrial complex,
have complete control of foreign policy at this very moment. They didn't have to bid for contracts in Iraq. They do not even care that the people know full well what they are doing. No one has stopped them. No one has indicted them for doing something that is completely illegal. They do not care that we know that they will reap trillions of dollars from blood and oil. They believe there is nothing we can do about it.

We are no longer a nation of laws.

They control our military. Millions marched against war but it had already been decided that we would invade Afganistan and Iraq. Bush had been negociating with the Taliban and the Taliban walked out on the talks because of bait and switch and other tactics that caused them to believe they couldn't trust Bush's negociators. Bush/Cheney gave them millions of dollars and promised them a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs for a pipeline thru Afganistan. They have their pipeline and Afganistan is in chaos. Bush made a deal with the leaders of Pakistan that they can allow bin laden to hide out there. Bush invited the Taliban back into power to bring order in Afganistan.

Bush and his inner circle are using our military against us because they are creating more terrorists by invading Iraq and leaving us defenseless against them. ABC News has smuggled ingredients for WMD into the US twice and no one caught them. Republicans refused to give 5 billion dollars to secure our ports and borders and to build barriers around nuclear sites such as Oak Ridge. They said, haha, we couldn't afford it. They refused to fund first offenders and fire departments closed in NYC.

The article is predicting that we may very well slip from a republic to empire. Perhaps we are already well into it and Mr Johnson was being conservative in his guess.

suppose that Kucinich gets into office and attempts to undo everything this adm has done. What changes would he have to make in order to stop the Pentagon and the military/industrial complex?

Will the Pentagon easily give up its power? Do we actually have control over it now? when have we ever been able to make cuts at the Pentagon? Remember the windfall we were supposed to get from the ending of the cold war? what happened to it?

Cheney is still on Haliburton's payroll. Is that constitutional? Bush wore a flightsuit and swept from a militry plane onto a navy vessel like a general in some third world dictatorship.

Eisenhower who was a WW2 hero and Commander of Allied forces refused to wear any military clothing because our military is supposed to be led by a civilian. That doesn't bother Bush and the American people don't seem to be concerned either.

Anyone who has dared to speak out against our policies has been branded unpatriotic and silenced and threatened. The Dixie Chicks and many others have been villified and their families threatened.

sounds like the loss of the republic and the control by tyrants and the military to me.

we are bankrupted and powerless. Our government has a debt that will crush us while private business takes all of our money. What will we fight back with?

The Pentagon is using paid mercenaries more and more. Does anyone know what percentage is being used in Iraq? If this continues, and the Bush adm wants to privatize everything, then what loyality will the army have? They won't be loyal to our govenment. They will be loyal to whoever pays them. The US gov is broke. we are broke.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/17/2003

The subject says it pretty well: it's not a term I'm familiar with. "tom_paine" seems to be using it in opposition to Stephen Thomas' "Stalinist" invocations, but aside from meaning "people like Stephen Thomas and NYGuy" I don't know how else it should (or should not) be used.

I'm not big on using labels, particularly ones which are clearly intended to be derogatory, but I'd at least like to know what we're talking about.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/17/2003

Mr. Mann,

No, I don't agree that blatant ignorance should bar one from joining the conversation. Asking questions, or saying things and having them corrected, are basic to education. The only truly stupid question, my father used to say, is the one you fail to ask. Pigheaded unwillingness to engage with issues or facts after they are presented, now, could be a different story.

Don Williams - 9/17/2003

and he's doing it by stealing $trillions from our Trust Funds for Social Security and Medicare.

The military may well mount a coup when they discover how Bush has looted the military retirement fund. (PS As the departed Lawrence Lindsey noted, the Bush IOUs are "not real assets".)

Plus, of course, Bush provoked the Sept 11 attack, then lied about it and had Condi Rice strongarm the TV networks into censoring Bin Ladin in order to hide the truth from the US voters.

I admit that Bush looks neat in a military uniform -- which he has always been careful to wear solely within the continental US , with the exception of that brave foray to the Navy ship located about 20 miles off the coast of San Diego.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003

Very nicely said, Don, but I suspect that it will fall on deaf ears.

It's something like what I would have said during the Days of the Old Republic.

But I am beyond that now. You pass a certain historical point, where the trends become obvious, painted in neon almost, and moderate, civilized debate goes out the window.

Imperial Amerika (or the dying embers of the Old American Republic, if you like) has passed such a point, IMHO

Further, the staggering success of unopposed bullying, misrepresentation of facts and outright lying by the Busheviks over the ast two, perhaps three decades, shows that there comes a point where force must be met by force (rhetorically speaking)
You think there has been any fundamental in the leadership of the Totalitarian (once called "Republican") Party?

Karl Rove started out as a Nixon Dirty Trickster. You think he's counseling his Brownshirts to avoid that type of activity or escalate it (I know the Brooks Brother Brownshirt bought-and-paid-for-by-the-Busheviks suggests the answer)?

Nixon stated on tape that George HW Bush "would do anything for the cause." Exactly what "cause" do you think e was talking about?

You might ask who was at fault...the Nazis and their barbarism or the Jews who fought them after realizing what the Nazis were?

Not that the usheviks are Nazis. Their ideology is not race based (other than loosely) and they are not (yet) as violent. But they share so many other characteristics, from hatred of liberals to propaganda strategies).

Don Williams - 9/17/2003

1) NYGuy's schooling was evidently very limited. Let's show some compassion and see if we can clean him up for polite company. To do this, let's talk in short sentences so he can understand. 2) What Mr Chalmers was referring to is the fact that our Founders--especially Madison and Jefferson -- consulted history when constructing the Constitution,in the hope of avoiding the mistakes that had destroyed other nations. 3) What they hoped to construct was a republic in which all men were entitled to vote and to participate in politics. Few Republics or Democracies had existed since the fall of ancient Rome circa 450 AD. The 1340 years subsequent to Rome's fall in the West had consisted of monarchies -- whose lessons were of little value to the men constructing America. 4) Hence, Madison --the primary creator of the Constitution-- and Jefferson consulted the Roman and Greek classics --a staple of 18th century education. The leading British proponents of republicanism -- people like Harrington and Algernon Sidney --had similarly been influenced by the classics. 5) If one reads Polybius (circa 120BC) for example, the rationale behind the design of America's Constitution becomes much clearer. Polybius's analysis of Rome's "mixed government" -- of the strength of a government containing a mixture of rule by the one, the few, and the many -- with the three components checking and balancing one another and with each contributing it's unique virtue -- was well known to Jefferson and Madison. Earlier, Polybius's analysis had been plagerized almost word for word by Machiavelli in his "Discourses". Polybius's analysis was, in turn, an elaboration on ideas discussed by Aristotle. 6) If NYGuy wishes to do some remedial reading, I would suggest Carl Richard's "The Founders and the Classics"-- as well as the classics themselves. The idea is not that history repeats itself -- it is that human behavior in the aggregate follows similar patterns and that by comparing the present with the past, we can spot dangers/developments that are not apparent to the ignorant. 7) Madison and Jefferson were not limp-wristed fairies --they were revolutionaries and practical men. Madison studied the failure of the ancient Greek confederacies in order to show that the nation would not survive under the Articles of Confederation. 8) There were greedy, short-sighted , deceitful Founders of course --most notably Alexander Hamilton and his Federalists. These corrupt men recognized no rule other than their own personal gain -- their vision was very limited because they always had their nose buried in some rich man's butt. Today's Republican Congress is their heir. 9) Fortunately for the sake of the nation, Jefferson and Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party (later shortened to Democratic Party) and destroyed the Federalists circa 1800. The Democrats ruled for the next 60 years, until the rise of the Republican Party around 1850.

Barbara Cornett - 9/17/2003


Barbara Cornett - 9/17/2003

What comical silliness. The socialists are coming the socialists are coming and they are liberal elite college professors!

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The gays are going to take over the world!

My god! Queers are even trying to get into our military! Oh my! We'll never secure an empire that way!

Down with Marxist academy!

The only people who are to be trusted are the ones who have the guts to seek empire!

I hate to break this to you but not only are you putting Jonathan into some mythical catagory of liberal socialist elites but you are putting yourself into a catagory of dumb muck rightwing bs. get a grip.

I'd hate to think that I was so cocksure of anything as you seem to be regarding your own opinions. If I were in your shoes I would be begging somebody, perhaps a college liberal elite for instance to give me a little balance in my thinking. Best wishes.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003

Of course not.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003

Ah yes, how typical. A screeching attacking Bushevik reduced to abject victimhood when someone giuves you the same back.

Thanks, NYGuy. You confirm the gutlessness of the Busheviks. You confirm it very well.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003


tom_paine - 9/17/2003

You make me laugh, Freeper.

You mean doers like the way the Emperor went AWOL when called upon to finish his national guard tour?


This site is run by veterans like myself. By the by NY, where and when did YOU serve.

(no it wouldn't surprise me that you're a gutless chickenhawk)

Oh, oh, I know, maybe it's the way Bush said Saddam had WMDs 45 minutes from landing in the Empire, and how they found every last thing that the Busheviks said we would.

Oh, oh, I know, it's the way the Bush Imperial Appointistration LIED to the brave men and women who did the rescue work at Ground Zero

But of course, the Busheviks aren't Americans, not in the Old School sense of the world and not given the number of times they Benedict Arnold-ed our Nations.

1968 (when the Busheviks were Nixonviks) Saabotgaing the Paris Peace Talks
1972-3 Watergate (hey, maybe THAT's where that gutless turd who occupies the Imperial Amerikan Throne was during those years. Breaking the law in some ways other than shoving an eight-ball of Mexican coke up his nose)
1980 The October Surprise (I kno I know, it was a small price to pay, betraying the nation, negotiating with our greatest enemies of that time, Iran, and arranging for thsoe poor hostages to stay imprisoned for an extra 3 moths--so that Reagan could be President!)
1985 Iran-Contra Whups! Guess the Busheviks got pretty comfortable selling arms to Iranian Terrorists. Lotta under-the-table cash to pay for more Watergates, eh? They actually got caught, but turned it into a test case for Empire (the Imeprial Family is immune from the Rule of Law if you've noticed) and the feldgling Party-Loyal Right-Wing Sub-Media that now is so exaggerated in it's ludicrousness that it resembles nothing so much as Soviet TV with more flashy graphics and subtle "marketing")

1992-98 A RICO-violating conspiracy to take down Clinton. To create a "perjury trap. manipulation of the corrupted Federalist Society (a Free-Market Stalinist Front Group beholden to no law but loyalty to the Imperial Family) Judiciary. Ted Olson (who later lied to Congress about his activitites, luckily as a Bushevik he is immune to the Rule of Law) and the Arkansas Project. The $200,000,000 under-the-table "donations from Richard Mellon-Scaife, the Coors Family, and the rest of Amerikan Totalitarianisms "Fritz Thyssens"

2000 The Bloodless Coup of 2000 and the End of the Old American Republic (thouh it will still be many years and after the Bushevik Dynasty is removed from power--hey maybe we'll get a Vespasian to replace George P. Caligula, who has already won the 2028 "election")

between 8,000-50,000 African Americans wrongly disenfranchised by DBT/Choicepoint, a Bushevik company (oh they knew what to do allright)

15,000 Republican absentee ballot "fixed" and refed through scanning machines

And of course the bought and paid for with Bushevik money Brooks Brothers Mob, who assaulted a Democratic vote counter and halted the Miami-Dade recount in a way that Grandpa Prescott Bush's business partners, Hitler and the Nazis, would have been proud of.

Oh my yes, the Busheviks are not Americans, they are Global Aristocrats and they owe no allegiance to Amerika except as a huge reservoir for their fraud and theft.

You make now go back to your Imperial bootlicking.

NYGuy - 9/17/2003

My god,

Are you back again.

Now you know why I don't print my real name.

NYGuy - 9/17/2003

NYGuy reponse to Hector,

Fair enough and I appreciate the clarification. I must admit that my focus was on the Roman age and I overlooked the comments of Hamilton, Adams and others so I misunderstood what you were getting at.

NYGuy respone to Tom;

I admitted my misunderstanding to Hector. Now I am trying to understand where you are coming from. I was never a good analyst, but I do get the impression from your erudition and big words, (most of which I do not understand) that you do not like me. My god, I never heard that before, my family will be crushed when they get the news.

You say, however, I cannot argue with you. I agree. Bye, Bye.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003

Still harping on the Marxist Straw Man?

Of course you are. I would wager that Marxists make up the same percentage of the population as Aryan Nations members or the KKK, who inhabit your side of the political spectrum.

(oh I forgot the Nazis and the KKK are leftists right there by Al Sharpton's side -- LOL)

Marxism is rejected by the vast majority of the population, although as I understand you Freeps, anyone who believes in the 1st, 4th or 8th Amendments and regulation/policing of the "Free" Markets (which of course look like an Argentinian Crony Capitalist Sewer under Bushevik Rule--collusional no-bid contracts handed out on the eve of war? Corruption and backpadding pure and simple.

Capitalism is not the problem. The moral bankruptcy of the Imperial Family as well as Busheviks like yourself is the problem. No system can survive if the people submit to propaganda, a Party Sub-Media, and Orwellian lies. No system can survive once one-side decides to posess power regardless of what they have to do to get it. But if you've noticed, in spite of your multi-billion dollar financial advantage and a Party Sub-Media infratructure (oh for an evil Leftist Billionaire like your Master and "Fritz Thyssen" Richard Mellon-Scaife), people are starting to notice the mounting lies, even through the greatest propaganda machine in human history that makes Goebbels and Molotov look positively ham-fisted and dopey.

As for Nazism, of course it is rejected. And that is why your Bushevik Masters are approaching it from a new angle. A nonracial, kinder, gentler angle, but still based on Straussian principles that "the only relevant moral obligation is the stronger over the weaker". One that someone like you can accept, spoon-fed by your Party-Loyal Sub-Media, and swallowed without question.

Funny that Staruss hated the Nazis only slightly more than the liberal democracy that he believed spawned it. Ironic, too.

So, take your Marxist straw man, which you use like a German in 1933 would use the term "Liberal Jew" or perhaps even the selfsame word "Marxist Swine"!

And when your Bushevik masters tell you it's time to go Night-Riding with the Nationalized Neighborhood Watch, make sure you stop by. I have a surprise for your Bushevik ass.

NYGuy - 9/17/2003

S. R.

You are quite right, Americans are doers not braggarts so in our silent way we have enriched the world. I bet you are a prime beneficiary, particularly if you are emailing us from the U. S., but if not you are still a beneficiary, even if you do not understand how.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003

"Marxist Brainwashing"?!?

Typical Freeper bullshit. You people make me laugh when you aren't making me sick?

I'm a USAF veteran and no Marxist.

You people wield the Marxist bludgeon to stifle debate in EXACTLY the same rhetorical fashion as the Nazis. Although you are, for the moment, less violent. Perhaps you know what Free Americans would do to you if you tried.

Yes, yes, I know...Hitler was a leftist. Try going to your local Aryan Nations meet-up and say that. They'd beat your ass worse than I would if you came to my house late at night with yoru Freep friends.

Go ahead, try calling some real-live Nazis leftists.

Although I know you don't have the guts.

tom_paine - 9/17/2003


S. R. Kasim - 9/17/2003

How stupid of the world not to have noticed that it is being "saved" by non-nation-builder and treaty-scrapper Dubya. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton really have fooled the global masses, haven't they ?

Horace Mann - 9/17/2003

Your moderation and charity are commendable, Jonathan Dresner, but I do insist that American graduates from high school (and by extension, graduates of any higher education beyond that) ought to be familiar, for example, with the most rudimentary aspects of how laws and procedures are made by the U.S. federal government under the U.S. Constitution. Boring, shallow, and unhistorical comments are endemic here, but surely we can draw a line against, as a slightly hypothetical example, those who could not tell the difference between the Bill of Rights and the Communist Manifesto.

NYGuy - 9/17/2003


But isnt Marxism a philosophy with an end objective? And I don't think it has been successfully accepted by the world.

I don't disagree with using good ideas for the benefit all, and it is a worthy undertaking.

But, there are more good ideas in capitalism which has improved the standard of living for most people in the world. Actually the benefits of capitalism is favorably effecting just about every country in the world today even if they are not producers. For example the U. S. is now lossing about 1.0 million jobs a year due to outsourcing to other countries. Not only does this spread the ideas of democracy which benefit all people, but it also encourages people to speak english since many of the workers are required to handle calls from the U. S.

While learning English is not the issue, the interaction between the U. S. and countries that we had little contact with before on a worker level, such as India, Pakistan, Korea, Japan, etc. is an important result that will lead to a more peaceful world.

It thus appears to me that capitalism is a more potent force in the world today and should be a major positive subject in any history couse. Of course it is interesting to talk about the Roman Empire, or the European bloodbaths, but, the current trend in capitalism will have a more important impact on the students and their lives and they should be able to understand these trends, which is part of a good eduction.

Mars - 9/17/2003

This essay is a trite polemic that ignors historical accuracy and the truth whenever same contradicts the ideological conclusions (not premises, conclusions) that he starts from . A waste of bandwidth.

Oscar Chamberlain - 9/17/2003

Quite true. The distribution of resources is quite different between the two systems, as are many other things.

But some Marxist ideas still have influence, particularly those used to analyze the rise of industrial capitalism, because they are used today by a wide range of people, many of whom are definitely not Marxist.

NYGuy - 9/17/2003


I am not an expert on Marx, but doesn't the distribution of the benefits of production to the worker differ from that under a capitilistic system?

NYGuy - 9/17/2003


To prevent a coup in the U. S., he and the democrats prefer to give our allegiance to a mindless, spineless paper tiger organization, which never wants to get its hands dirty, and would not provide a threat of a coup. Actually, it can’t stand bloodshed and therefore for the sake of humanity and the world, does not get involved and try to stop the unjustified killings in the world.

That is why GW poses such a threat. In the new world order he is providing the leadership that can eventually help suffering peoples around the world, but threatens the life style that many have become accustomed to in NYC.

If this transfer of power were to occure, he and the democrats may sleep easier at night, but not many Americans would.

Oscar Chamberlain - 9/17/2003

Marxism continues to have relevance, because aspects of its analysis of society have been widely accepted.

The best example I can think of is the contention that the means of production shapes the governmental and social structures. When some Americans argue that establishing private property and capitalism in a nation will bring democraacy in time, they are using precisely that argument. I wonder if they know.

Where Marxism goes wrong is in what I call the jump from Marxist analysis to Marxist prophecy. Revolutionary Marxists who seized power and tried to speed up the "inevitable" path to socialism all too often drove their nations into the worst sort of dictatorship: the kind that does not simply oppress the individual but ruthlessly hopes to "transform" him.

Stephen Thomas - 9/17/2003

The topics raised on this site almost always miss the major point that historians should be discussing: Why is a criminal ideology, Marxism, still tolerated in polite discussion? That Marxism is a criminal ideology can no longer be debated. The millions of bodies, the economic destruction, the destruction of tradition, religion and culture… the indictment is endless.

I’m not suggesting censorship. No sane person presents Nazi ideology in any public arena because there is a public consensus that Nazism is a criminal and shameful ideology. Practice proved that. Practice has also proven that Marxism is a criminal ideology. The awareness of this has been blocked out by the inane "good intentions" argument. It’s time to put that to rest as well.

Marxism is not based on good intentions. The liberal arts need to re-examine its most basic principle – that Utopian idealism emanates from the best intentions of humans. The 20th century proved that that is nonsense. Utopian idealism emanates from the most bestial human motives. The desire to make this world perfect emanates from a desire to dominate, enslave and murder. There is no longer any doubt that this is true. It is self-evident.

Fyodor Dostoevsky presented the basic question brilliantly 150 years ago: If God does not exist, why not murder your neighbor and steal his goods? The Russian revolution and the Soviet State is the answer.

Those who embrace Marxist ideology are not idealists bent on saving the world. They are ruthless fanatics, willing to lie, steal, murder and destroy in order to enforce their vision of Utopia.

This board could easily cease discussing all other issues in order to confront head-on the moral dilemma that the collapse of the Marxist world has created. Over a decade after the revelations of the reality of what Marxism does, our academy is stuffed with morons who subscribe to this criminal ideology. Amazingly, these morons are driving decent people out of the academy. (Well, this may not be amazing. Who wants to be in the company of people who subscribe to a criminal ideology?)

They question is: Why are such people tolerated in polite society? We do not tolerate Nazis. Why do we tolerate Marxists?

Stephen Thomas - 9/17/2003

The rudeness of which you speak is real, but hardly avoidable in light of an academy dominated by Marxist satraps like Mr. Dresner.

Reading the comments of Mr. Dresner, it's easy to see why the practice of political vetting seems non-existent to him and his ilk. He's in favor of it. He's endured the brainwashing from the Marxist feminists and gay activists as a sort of hazing that is the price of admission to his profession. And now... people are suggesting that independent thought (perhaps his own instead of those force fed by indoctrination) ought to be allowed.

This is akin to trade union gangsterism. Having played the role of complete conformist in order to go along and get along, Mr. Dresner is of the opinion that all intelligent people should do the same. He did. Therefore, the definition of intelligence becomes whether one will jump through the hoops on command.

You will, Mr. Dresner. You did. Now, you don't need to argue with me any more. I know that you did what you were told to do, you endured your hazing, and you think that I should also. What else is there to say? You are a very good little boy.

Stephen Thomas - 9/17/2003

Yes, I was wondering whether Mr. Dresner had a limit on his ignorance. Are you suggesting that you do.

You seem quite incapable of independent thought. You parrot the party line to perfection. Do you have any thoughts that are your own, instead of those driven into you by obedience to the party line?

I can tell you what you will write before you write it.

Stephen Thomas - 9/17/2003


mark safranski - 9/17/2003

Dr. Dresner asks if imperialism is a good thing - I'd have to say relative to what ?

French imperialism in Indochina was terribly brutal and devastated the fairly prosperous and literate Vietnamese society. Belgian imperialism in the Congo was even harsher but the indigenous Congolese practices of cannibalism and slave-raiding were, morally speaking, about as low as human society can go short of genocide. The British stamped out egregious examples of barbarism like the suttee and the slave trade, which from the perspective of Indian widows and chattel slaves was a marked improvement.

Imperialism was not an altruistic endeavor and it brought many evils in it's wake but that does not mean that, counterintuitively, the indigenous people so exploited did not at times end up better off than under native despotisms.


Jonathan Dresner - 9/16/2003

Mr. Mann,

Well, according to Mr. Thomas's other posts, he is a Ph.D. in some field of the Humanities, who abandoned academia in fear and loathing back in the early 1970s. So if you are trying to stifle Mr. Thomas, you will need some other rubric.

While I agree that his fixation on "Stalinism" (by which he appears to mean all liberals who think they have a right to promote change) is ahistorical and unhelpful, there is no reason why a discussion of history and current affairs needs to be limited or labeled by educational level.

While I have vigorously argued that good education in general and historical training in particular is useful in these discussions, I also firmly believe that these discussions are of much less use if they are limited in ideological or professional scope.

That said, I think Dr. Stephen Thomas's posts so far are mostly boring, shallow and bubbling with long-suppressed righteous rage. I'd like to see our discussions get beyond the labeling stage and address real issues and real history. But unless he becomes abusive or personally offensive (and he's come close, but that's just my opinion), he's entitled and welcome to participate in these discussions.

James Thornton - 9/16/2003

Mr. Johnson's assertation that the troops are ripe for a general to lead them into a coup is so fantastical that I almost burst out laughing. I suppose I should be offended, but all I can do is shake my head and chuckle. He did point out the advantages of military service over the insecurities of civilian life. The members of the armed services take their oath of allegience to the Constitution and to obey the orders of the President; not the flag, and not the generals (or admirals). For a coup to work in the United States you would need a sitting President who could convince a large majority of the military leadership that the existence of the nation is threatened and that he is the country's salvation. I suppose FDR came close. Sleep well tonight, because there will be no tanks sitting on the corner in Hometown, USA anytime soon.

Horace Mann - 9/16/2003

If commenters were perhaps to disclose their educational backgrounds (e.g. for this thread, whether high school courses in civics and American History had ever been completed), the level of dialogue on this website might be less rudimentary and less rude. Democracy, as Churchill observed, is less bad than even worse alternatives, but it need not extend to politically-correct over tolerance of the lazy and the ignorant when it comes to public discourse.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/16/2003

Mr. Thomas,

As has been pointed out on this site before, we do not live in a direct democracy, but a republic. Only in rare situations are citizens allowed to vote directly on issues: we select representatives to vote, and we then try to influence their votes with discourse, donations and future elections.

I've read a great deal of Chalmers Johnson over the years. He certainly is leftist, and a critic of US policy particularly foreign policy. But his argument here, and elsewhere, is that the citizens of the US would be better served by more, not less, democratic decision-making and by a perspective that viewed the world more as a partner than as a competitor or subordinate.

So, is imperialism a good thing, like patriarchy?

NYGuy - 9/16/2003

From Yahoo:

Tue Sep 16, 9:40 AM ET
By MARK FRITZ, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - Iran's legislature mulls a plan

The United States and its bare-knuckled diplomacy may have alienated old allies and inspired armies of vengeful extremists, but the last superpower's might and money — along with its military conquests in Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) — has commanded some measure of respect among enemies who wouldn't mind being showered with cash instead of cluster bombs.

Call it a case of Iraq-a-phobia, an affliction that analysts say will prove fleeting if Washington — or Americans in general — grow weary of U.S. troops dying while serving on missions that become lengthier and more lethal than expected.

"There's little doubt that the U.S. pre-emption policy has, for example, made perennial state sponsors of terrorism less inclined to act provocatively," said Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow for counter-terrorism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.


A list of other achievement are listed on the following web site:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&e=17&u=/ap/20030916/ap_on_re_mi_ea/the_iraq_effect_3her achievement are on the website:

NYGuy - 9/16/2003


Fair enough and I appreciate the clarification. I must admit that my focus was on the Roman age and I overlooked the comments of Hamilton, Adams and others so I misunderstood what you were getting at.

As you may know there is a format for many articles on this board in which they begin with a reasonable historical perspective and then are used to express the authors political propaganda.

Chalmers says:

“History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless. Roman history suggests that the short, happy life of the American republic is in serious trouble -- and that conversion to a military empire is, to say the least, not the best answer.”


Chalmers simplicity and his selective unproven facts leads him to arrogance and his assertions are merely wild speculations. The world is indeed changing and there is no comparison between ancient societies and the current world situation. With the growth of telecommunications the world is smaller and the world population is larger and more aware of the problems we face. The globalization of business has moved us toward world governing organizations such as the U. N, and we see that they fail to live up to Chalmers standards and do not compare favorably with America’s current form of government.

Actually the UN does not compare favorably to governing principles Chalmers champions: elected officials, separation of powers, checks and balances, in toleration of slavery, fixed terms in office, all these ideas were influenced by Roman precedents. And while the UN officials live a life of luxury and splendor in New York City, their children do not join the Army but go schools such as Andover, Yale, Harvard Business School, etc., they do little more than down and have big debates, not unlike the privileged politicians of Rome. .

Chlamers article, however, does give insight into the current state of the Democratic Party who want the “UN in and the US out.” It is indeed a step toward crowning another Caesar.

Stephen Thomas - 9/16/2003

Anything emerging from the Stalinist Nation should be viewed with great suspicion.

American democracy is in trouble, but not for the reasons Mr. Johnson enumerates. He's just pining for the return of the great Soviet. What else do they do at the Nation?

Here are a number of issues that will not appear on your ballot next election: (1) racial and sexual quotas, (2) abortion, (3) homosexual marriage, (4) wide open immigration, etc. Americans avoid voting like the plague with good reason. Our betters have decided that we can't be trusted to make the right decision.

The real problem is a society controlled by arrogant managers who know better than we do. The reason you won't see any of the above issues on the ballot is because the left has decreed that any issue catalogued under their heading of "human rights" is outside the purview of the electorate, which is deemed to be composed of bigots.

In short, Mr. Johnson is another of those fools who pretends to be speaking in the name of "the people" when in fact he is a Stalinist who wants to rule by executive and administrative fiat.

And he calls Mr. Bush an imperialist. Certainly takes one to know one, doesn't it?

Hector Rasmussen - 9/16/2003

I cannot begin to untangle the web of your misunderstandings, NY Immigrant Guy, but I will try to make three things clear:

First, I have nothing against immigrants, immigration or languages other than English. Never had, and never said any such thing.

Second, if you reread (or read) Johnson's article you will see that he refers crucially to Hamilton, Madison, and the other founding fathers in his first paragraph.

Third, here is part of what George Washington said in his famous (well, famous to historians) farewell address:

"...avoid the necessity of those overgrown military
establishments which, under any form of government, are
inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as
particularly hostile to republican liberty."

NYGuy - 9/15/2003


I am tired of bigots like you. We have affirmative action and students who graduate from college without knowing English, nor how to read, write or spell. We have english not even being taught in school, etc. Such comments as yours merely reflect a narrow minded person who is bigoted against immigrants and does not understand the New America. Do you think that those in California who apply for drivers licences have to read, write or spell in English. Of course not. If there is a problem the taxpayer will pay for an interpreter. Bigots like you are no longer tolerated.

If my history does not fail me, I believe Madison and Hamilton were not alive during the Roman period which is the topic of this site.

I support your opinions so don't get me wrong. It helps us to understand the ideas of those in our society who are out of the main stream, even if they are intolerant.

Hector Rasmussen - 9/15/2003

James Madison and Alexander Hamilton did not have high-speed internet connections or Fox TV but they did know how to spell, and how to set up checks and balances against ignorance and despotism.

NYGuy - 9/15/2003

Thank you Chalmers. While I did not think it possible, you have skillfully shown that there is no difference between the time when pigeions were used to communicate and the current globalization of electronics and telecommunicaitons. What an intellellectual achievement.

I know we have heard from those who told us of their parents being disallusioned with this country, those who tell us of the lessons of World War I and now we have your brillant essay. No wonder parents are willing to spend $20,000 - 30,000 per year to have their children exposed to such intellectual brillance.

I can't wait until the article on how the paintings of the cave men warned us against empire building.

What an exciting profession history is.