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How did children ever manage before ‘alchohol educators’?

Someone called Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times has written about the use of alcohol in the latest Harry Potter film and I must say I find her article deeply… something…disturbing? No, not quite right… alien… yes that is it. It is deeply alien.

As Harry Potter fans crowd movie theaters to catch the latest installment in the blockbuster series, parents may be surprised by the starring role given to alcohol. In scene after scene, the young wizards and their adult professors are seen sipping, gulping and pouring various forms of alcohol to calm their nerves, fortify their courage or comfort their sorrows.
As the mother of a 10-year-old Harry Potter fan, I was taken aback by the reaction of the young people in the theater. They snickered at Hermione’s goofy grin and, later, guffawed when an inebriated Hagrid passed out. While I don’t think my daughter fully understood what was going on, I wondered how other parents, educators and addiction experts would react.

If she found funny drunk people funny, it sounds to me like her daughter understood just fine.

Liz Perle, a mother of two teenage boys and the editor in chief of Common Sense Media, which reviews books, movies and Web content aimed at children, said she was bothered by so many scenes showing alcohol as a coping mechanism.

“Hermione is such a tightly wound young lady, but she’s liberated by some butterbeer,” she said. “The message is that it gives you liquid courage to put your arms around the guy you really like but are afraid to.”
Alcohol educators say that they don’t want to ruin the fun, but that parents should be aware of alcohol’s role in the Harry Potter series, the books as well as the movies. Several studies suggest that movies influence teenagers’ behavior when it comes to drinking, drugs and tobacco.

So why is this alien? Partially because booze really is a quite effective ‘coping aid’ that people have used since time immemorial to pluck up their courage to put their arms around the object of their affections for the first time. Why? Because at the risk of stating the obvious, it bleedin’ works. Is this really shocking or alarming to “parents, educators and addiction experts”?

I rather doubt my folks would have found a drunk giant and some pie-eyed teenagers in a film all too perplexing. But then they were hardly puritans and came from a more robust generation who felt there was value in a child occasionally colliding with life’s sharp protruding edges. Nor did they get the vapours from the sight of their little treasure’s bumps and bruises or feel any need to call in ‘experts’ when I intermittently got rat-faced drunk.

And what exactly is an ‘alcohol educator’? Pointing out that drinking can make you drunk and being drunk can make you walk into lamp posts or crash cars requires a specialist ‘alcohol educator’? How did anyone reach adulthood before such people existed I wonder?

Well I learned that drinking has its downside too, not from an ‘alcohol educator’ but from puking my guts up rather too often. I recall a teacher seeing me once heaving miserably after a school event and did he send me to an ‘alcohol commissar educator’? No, he left and returned a while later to present me with a bucket and mop and rather unsympathetically said “clean up before you leave”. Quite right too. He also never mentioned it again, because what could he possibly tell me about the downside of drinking too much that I had not just taught myself?

Teachers and parents teach children many things. And many of those things are true, half true or pure unadulterated lies. And most children know when what they are taught is hogwash. As a consequence, they learn the importance of critical judgement in ways that were not really intended by the person doing the ‘teaching’.

So when we hear this…

“I hope parents can talk to their kids and tell them even though Harry Potter made that seem fun, that it isn’t O.K.,” said Dr. Welsh, the author of a 2007 article about alcohol use in the Harry Potter series, published in The Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.

…any 100+ IQ child who has had a few beers learns something valuable: his parents, and Dr. Welsh writing in The Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, are full of it, because for most people it really is okay and their own experiences confirm that. They sank a few brewskis, had a giggle and maybe made an ass of themselves, and 99.9% of the time, no one died, got pregnant or lost an eye.

And this is an important lesson we all learn when growing up: some of what we are taught makes sense and quite a lot of it is complete and utter tosh, and just because your parents tell you something, ain’t necessarily so. And when an ‘alcohol educator’ is trotted out to tell you something, it is because he is being paid to tell you that, and often there is quite a bit more to it than he is letting on.

There is only one kind of professional ‘alcohol educator’ worth listening to, and they are called sommeliers.

30 comments to How did children ever manage before ‘alchohol educators’?

  • Temperance is back, the Temperance Movement are back. Commonsense doesn’t enter into it. This is the moral hegemony in full cry. Etc etc.

    Anglostatism is fundamentally moral (i.e. “puritanical”) in nature. This is what distinguishes it from marxist-socialism, which is primarily an economic belief system.

  • Brad

    Hey, self medicating when you’ve got Voldemort on your tail isn’t a crime.

    It’s the most realistic aspect of the movie……..

  • That would be ‘educator’ in the sense of ‘indoctrinator’.

  • Tomas

    Sommeliers, yes! 🙂

    Tell you what, though: what if Harry P. wasn’t just drinking but also *smoking*? That would certainly bring the volume of complaints to a whole new level!

  • tdh

    Nonetheless there is physical damage, especially to developing brains, at least for young (chronic?) binge drinkers. I did most of mine among peers who had far too many brain cells to spare, so I don’t recall (although my recall of that time is pretty good) any long-term effects other than those consequent to diversion from study.

    There has been a demagogic drumbeat in the Boston area regarding drug use among firefighters. Historically, drugs, especially alcohol, were used in armies to fortify them against fear, pain, and weather. Unless there were a significant depth of thought required of a firefighter — and perhaps in certain circumstances there is — it would be better for me, as someone potentially to be saved by a firefighter, for them to be less cautious in putting their lives at risk for me. But PC religion in the Boston area puts sobriety above all else, and condemns a pair of firefighters, and the union defending their freedom, not for having put someone else’s life at risk, but merely their own; IMHO this is an obscenity.

    I recall a Latin epigram from (Marcus Tullius) Cicero. Google yields this apparently-correct quote: “Siccus, sobrius est Aper. Quid ad me? Servum sic ego laudo, non amicum.” This translates fairly easily, to something like: “Aper’s a sober non-drinker. What’s that to me? I praise a slave thus, not a friend.” I’d never thought of the PCness-as-enslavement angle when reading this before. FWIW, of the many parallels between that time of decline from republic to empire and ours, I don’t recall any special political correctness, except in the form of campaign finance laws, so it is extremely improbable for this angle to have been intended by Cicero himself. But there does seem to be a deep connection; when your life is not your own, there are disincentives to enjoy it even when doing so is possible.

  • FWIW, of the many parallels between that time of decline from republic to empire and ours, I don’t recall any special political correctness,

    Switch from pagan relative pluralism to state christianity? Suppression of the bacchanalia?

    “Political correctness” needs to be seen for what it is, which is a state imposed moral code. We’ve been in an overtly moralitarian society since Victorian times- we just happened to have a slight remission from it in the 20th century. But that’s all political correctness is- dogmatic moralitarianism.

    Also not really relevant, but one of my favourite tidbits from the Byzantine era was the former actress/sex worker, the empress Theodora, who decided to save her former colleagues from their immoral life by rounding them up and banging them up in a nunnery. The result was many of them were so miserable they flung themselves from the windows to be dashed on the rocks below.

  • “Political correctness” needs to be seen for what it is, which is a state imposed moral code.

    I put that badly. It’s a hegemonic moral code. Sharia is islamic political correctness. “Victorian values” were the previous form of western political correctness. And so on. A political correctness may or may not be actually supported by law; but as it intensifies it generally will be as laws are formed within the hegemonic moral system.

    For instance, the introduction of the buggery law by Henry VIII was a “politically correct” law of the time (in practical terms it was introduced because the English law was taking over the ecclesiastical law due to his merging of the English state and new English church).

  • As a former drinker who hangs out with a lot of former drinkers (wink wink), I can tell you that those who can’t handle alcohol and have learned that did so through experience. They – well, we – had to suffer the consequences of our actions. Life is the only “alcohol educator” one needs.

    BTW, those rooms where I hang out are full of people who all have tales of people who tried to “educate” them about the harm of alcohol and drugs. We all just laugh knowingly every time it’s mentioned. To quote Kanye West: “Homey, this shit is basic.” But trust the nanny brigade not to get it. I wouldn’t let them watch my kids for all the sake in Tokyo

  • Laird

    A very cogent observation, Ian B; I hadn’t thought of PC in quite those terms before. Thank you.

  • ducan

    Being from Boston I am familiar with what you say, about the fire fighters, and am largely sympathetic. However I’d point out that soilders at war =/= fire fighters. Soilders, historically speaking didn’t drive large, speeding vehicles though urban areas, (ok well not in the same context anyway) and then negotiate in and out of a burning bulding.

    I for one would rather not have the person coming to save me on cocaine and/or drunk. Now, I beleive in this case the cocaine user only tested positive for the drug and wasn’t necessarily high on the job. This I don’t care about. But really? Being drunk on the job as a fire fighter is poor and worthy of condemnation.

  • Dale Amon

    What is unfortunate is many of those self-same people grew up challenging the stodginess of their elders… and now they are worse, far worse than their parents.

    As to Harry, what else is a potion but a magical drug? I knew a few of them in *my* hippy musician youth as well…

  • Jacob

    “and just because your parents tell you something, ain’t necessarily so.”

    What I tell my children is “necessarily so”, at least – to the best of my knowledge. Same goes for what my father told me. That isn’t always the case, but I believe that parents are generally sincere with their children, and though they may be mistaken, most of the parents “do their best”.

    It wouldn’t hurt any children to be told what you learned from your own experience, about excessive drinking, as related in the post. Whether to believe you or learn it the hard way, is their choice, but the duty of a parent is to tell.

  • Lowkey

    But we aren’t talking about parental advice. No-one is suggesting that a parent shouldn’t try to advise their children. Well apart from the state that is, who are precisely suggesting that you aren’t well equipped enough to do so and instead need an “alcohol educator” to properly inform children on how to approach and view alcohol. You have exactly hit the nail on the head, Jacob, you absolutely should talk to your children about alcohol, what it is and what it does, how and when is up to you. It is absolutely none of the states business and certainly not the states job to take that pleasure and responsibility from you, which is precisely what is happening here.

    Yet another piece of evidence that the government believes that 1. You are too stupid to educate your children yourself, and 2. That if they don’t tell you how to act you will have no idea how to act responsibly about everyday things. While I don’t have the academic head to properly express how I feel about this, the continued direction of this country into some sort of law backed puritanical sect of Protestant flagellating soulless freaks disgusts me.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    How did anyone reach adulthood before such people existed I wonder?

    Isn’t it obvious? Only now is true adulthood possible, through the gracious intervention of our certificated betters.

  • tdh

    The time of transition from republic to empire in Rome antedated Christianity and long antedated it as a state religion. There was non-criminal behavior that was not tolerated, but there was nothing parallel to PCness.

    The problems that in reality arose with fire trucks recently in Boston were due to poorly-maintained equipment, not to poorly-maintained drivers.

    Navigating mazes is an extremely ancient feat of the mammalian brain; it does not require a great degree of higher intelligence.

    Soldiers in ancient times were at far greater risk than they are today, in general; the weapons were designed primarily to kill rather than to disable, and safety was secondary. Fire, too, was a weapon. If anything, the demands on ancient soldiers were greater than those on modern firefighters.

    The modern world is not very different from that which preceded it, in most respects. People should stop pretending that they know better than their forefathers, if they have failed to learn the same lessons, and especially if they are pushing pandemic pablum.

    On another note, the junk food that I saw being passed out to students as if it were in any way healthful or a substitute for a proper breakfast was probably far more dangerous to their health or mental acuity, on average, than alcohol ever will be.

    Also, I heard that Obama’s beer-bumble at the White House got moved from a playground area, since it would be sending the wrong message. Isn’t behaving superficially in order to avoid sending the wrong message sending the wrong message?

  • The time of transition from republic to empire in Rome antedated Christianity and long antedated it as a state religion.

    Well, is it so useful trying to map different places and times onto one another? Rome was never a democracy as we recognise it. The slide into empire was a power struggle for control of a vibrant, dominant power, whereas we are in a post-imperial period. The rise of our powerful centralised state may be a closer match to Diocletian’s centralising policies as he attempted to pull the collapsing empire together. And so on. There isn’t likely to be much of a correspondence between two such different societies as Rome and us.

    There was non-criminal behavior that was not tolerated, but there was nothing parallel to PCness.

    PC is just a new moral code (derived from older moral codes). Really we can only discuss the severity of moral imposition and compliance. Antecedents for the severe “PC” code are obvious in our own society- christianity is riven with it, because it’s a severely moral religion, being descended from the severely moral Judaism.

    But the Romans surely had a societal moral code. Were there specified approved roles and manners of acting for different classes? How a man and a woman may interact, how a master and slave may interact? How one addresses other people and what it is polite to say and do at dinner? What is sexually approved and what is perverse? Every society has such a moral code. All we can really discuss is how strongly imposed it is, which tends to wax and wane at different points in history.

    What is special about “PC” in that regard? I don’t see anything particular. A new moral code will always seem strange to people who remember the old one. Some native islander two centuries ago who suddenly finds a missionary telling him he can’t live the way he used to, he must pointlessly cover his body, must go to a building and sing songs about how sinful he is, cannot bury his dead as his forefathers did, and so on, was suffering the imposition of a political correctness. It’s qualitatively the same experience. We are being civilised by our betters.

  • Lowkey

    “we are being civilised by our betters”

    Doesn’t that just make you want to run to the hills with a blade wheeled chariot? It’s what it makes me want to do. While I understand this might not be civilised, that word means whatever the powerful want it too, so I don’t feel so bad ignoring it.

  • I noticed all the drinking in the Harry Potter film. I thought, “I’m surprised they can get away with it in this day and age, but I’m glad they did.”

    Partially because booze really is a quite effective ‘coping aid’ that people have used since time immemorial to pluck up their courage to put their arms around the object of their affections for the first time.

    I can safely say I wouldn’t be happily married now if it wasn’t for a pint or two of beer.

  • And I also thought, “isn’t it nice to see teenagers drinking in a film and it not end in some kind of moral lesson.”

  • virgil xenophon

    I’ve always admired PersonFromPorlock’s take on life–wish he would comment more here as well as elsewhere–but he probably has a real job unlike retired me who has way too much time on his hands to complain about the shape of the societal hand-basket we are all riding in and it’seeming ultimate destination.

    But he (along with Ian B.) is right about our neo-prohibitionist betters who attempt to extend their hegemonic PC moral totalitarian political coda on us all wherever we may be. Thomas Sowell has devoted an entire book to this subject in his work: “The Vision of the Anointed” in which he outlines all the ways these people and their dysfunctional views distort society with their perverted priorities. And of course, the really horrible part is that, like all zealots and true ideologues since time immemorial, they work at it ceaselessly 24/7/365.

  • Laura

    When I was in high school (circa 1975) there was a required assembly at which some ex-druggie told the sad tale of his descent from middle-class wholesomeness to heroin addict, and his subsequent painful return to sobriety and middle-class respectability (“most of the people I used heroin with are now dead, disabled, or in prison”.) I thought at the time that his speech was NOT something I would want my future children to hear, as his speech could be interpreted as saying that lucky people can have a lost decade of irresponsibility and debauchery, and then end up with a beautiful wife and kids plus a four-bedroom brick house in the suburbs, while unlucky people will end up dead or in prison. Since teenagers are notorious for thinking that life’s tragedies are only going to happen to other people, there was an obvious problem with the ex-druggie’s message that even a 17-year-old could spot.

    When my own kids were in elementary school, they were taught by the anti-drug educators that all tobacco and alcohol, as well as all prescription and all illegal drugs were “bad” and should be avoided at all costs. A full-color poster was given out to all children to illustrate these points. When I protested that the poster made no distinction between the legal and the illegal, or between prescription drugs and self medicating, or between drunkenness and taking communion at church, the principal of the school starting yapping about how there was no intention to violate anyone’s religious beliefs, etc. But the full color poster spoke for itself. A lot of thought and expense had gone into producing it, and it would not have been produced if they had not thought that they could get away with. And they DO get away with it. They kept the program going EVEN after studies showed that it did not have any effect on later drug use.

  • tdh

    Rome had a clearly recognizable — and it is laughable to claim otherwise — republican form of democracy. Among the more prominent issues near its end were the enfranchisement of a large number of new voters in Cisalpine Gaul; term limits; bribery (campaign contributions?); and campaign advertising limits (# clients in retinue).

    There’s little point in addressing parallels to our time here. They were numerous and important.

    There were more, but these went largely unenforced in the law. IIRC the prohibition of pants (a historical relic; Gauls wore pants) was still in force. But the idea of forcing people to live so as to comport with somebody else’s idea as to what was good for them was alien, and there was a far greater tolerance of ideas in the marketplace. (I’m thinking of the racist dimwit about to lose his job as a Boston cop merely for having employed a broadly-offensive insult against a certain notorious piece of trash.) Educated Romans surely knew of Aristotle’s observation that a free man lives for his own sake; this is something with which PCers clearly do not agree.

    It’s been a while since I’ve thought of living for, um, sake.

  • The republic certainly had a form of democracy. It was rather dissimilar to ours though.

    But as I said, it’s questionable trying to map different places and times onto one another. The Roman Republic was expanding through conquest- it was a republican empire before being an empire with an emperor kind of thing (what do you call a republican empire anyway?)

    As I said, there are other parallels to be drawn between our time and the late empire- increasing bureaucracy, centralisation and taxes as the empire stumbled and dwindled. For instance one obvious example is Diocletian’s attempts at price fixing, and creating the hereditary trade/guild system.

    Britain was an expanding semi-democracy one and a half centuries ago, that controlled a quarter of the globe. Now it’s a rump of that descending into centralised bureaucratic confiscatory tyranny. As such, you can argue that we compare better to late Rome than Rome at its height. If you want to call “us” the western world instead, that would mean an “empire” centred on the USA. Again, this empire seems more to be in its down phase; financially unstable, unable to control its borders, unable to win small wars against tribal societies, with other superpowers arising (e.g. China, India). That still maps better onto the late Roman Empire than the vigorous Republic.

    So one way of looking at it is that Rome reconstituted itself as an Empire with a permanent dictatorship (Emperor) in order to become a stable superpower. We are already past that stage, which you could compare in America’s case to the inauguration of a strongly centralised presidency with arbitrary coercive governmental powers and huge standing armies- which happened a century ago, particularly with the Wilson presidency. Likewise the british government expanded and centralised enormously at the same time, even though we as a nation were on the downswing from our own Empire. Everything in the modern world happens faster than in the ancient, including political evolution.

  • tdh

    Yeah, the late Roman empire has parallels to offer, too, including the debasement of its currency. But the context for my reference to the end of the republic was Cicero’s frame of mind in discussing sobriety, in effect a caution against imputing modern sensibilities to him. (Must’ve been Hayek who addressed this error of imputation; if he named it I don’t recall what.)

    Recently there was a coach fired (suspended?) not for serving alcohol to minors, nor even for having minors consume alcohol in his home, but merely for having parents of his players bring alcohol to his home for their personal use in an end-of-season team celebration. There was some tortured illogic having to do with first asserting that the event was official, therefore that the coach’s home was, for purposes of that event, school property, and, of course, there was a zero-tolerance policy for the use of alcohol on school property. Political correctness has run so far amok that it has become a mockery of itself, and nowhere is this more visible than in its commingling with the extremely evil and thoroughly moronic prohibition of drugs.

    There’s a restaurant-theater (chunkys.com) in NH that serves a root-beer float with a name something like Butter Beer Float. Something tells me that the Potter influence would so outweigh any PC complaints that the name would stick. And I get the impression that leftists got somewhat co-opted by the Potter series, further weakening the totalitarian cause.

  • Paul Marks

    It is often forgotten that the American left had Puritan roots.

    That may sound odd to those who associate the American left with drugs and random hetro and homosexual activity – but even this decadence has always been oddly joyless.

    As P.J. O’R said about radical activity in the 1960’s – “we were very serious about our mockery and comic stunts – and even while we forced out laughter our eyes never smiled”.

    The dropping out stuff was a duty you see.

    It goes back to change (in the North not the South) among Protestants – many of then (especially in the Yankee Northeast) lost faith in traditional Christianity. Not so much the ordinary worshippers (these continued to be much the same) – but the intellectual leadership (this was not true for Churches based in the South and West – although why this was so I do not know).

    However, they maintained a need for a faith (“something beyond ourselves”) so people like H. Mann started to worship “humanity”, and by the time of the Bellamy Brothers (we are still in the 19th century with dear Francis and Edward and their “National Socialism”) this had developed into a full “Social Gospel” of worshipping the collective (with the intellectuals as a sort of anti Catholic, that much of the old puritan idea was kept, priesthood).

    So a puritan New York Times leftist – no this does not shock me at all. It may be “alien”, but it is also quite normal and exactly what would I expect.

    Remember this is the tradition of the “social hygiene” movement – where for the good of the collective it was held that “defectives” (mental, physical or moral) should be sterilized and other such.

    Virtually the only forces in America to stand against “mercy killing” and so on were “Bible thumping” Protestants (i.e. Protestant Churches based in the South and West) and Roman Catholics.

    The Progressive “Social Gospel” people (who controlled, and control, so many institutions in American society – including the “mainline” churches with their ever shrinking congregations) were all for such things – indeed they were the people who thought of them.

    Children who drink – clearly “defectives” cut off their….. and cut off their parents…… as well. Then they will have no more children who will have to forceably abort (for the good of society of course).

    No doubt such defectives (such asocial individualists) do not buy their food at “Whole Foods”and are most likely fat.

    In case anyone thinks the above is too pro Catholic – the Vatican Two movement tried to copy everything that the (atheist) Social Gospel people had done with the “mainline” Protestant Churches.

    And the Vatican Two movement has far from died out in the Roman Catholic Church – as the recent visit of Comrade Barack to a “leading Catholic university” in the United States shows. The head of this “Catholic” University basically bowed down and worshipped Obama – in a way he would never consider worshipping God.

  • Paul Marks

    In case people hold that my last comment was bigoted against athiests:

    It was not intended as such. I hold that there is a vast difference between someone who sadly (or nonsadly) concludes that there is no God and that this life is all we have – and someone who loses faith in God and individual survival of death, but still grasps for something to worship.

    Totalitarianism (whether American Progressivism, National Socialism, Marxism or whatever) is NOT an inevitable consequence of the loss of traditional religious faith – it is the loss of traditional religious faith plus the overwhelming need to carry on worshipping something.

  • Alisa

    Paul, that was truly enlightening – thank you.

  • Paul Marks

    Ian B. raised the matter of the Roman Republic – and this matter deserves attention.

    It is true that the both the city mob (via their dole of food and other stuff) and the government contractors (private individuals – rather than corporations) benefitted from the expansion of Empire.

    People who understood this and also wished to preserve the Republic (and understood that the endless expansion of Empire was putting the Republic under pressure) tried to act.

    Sulla hit the “Kights” (the wealthy class whose wealth mainly came from government contracts and from the tribute and taxes paid in the provinces and protectorates) by boosting the power of the Senate (mainly made up of people from people who wealth came from farming – although anyone who had been elected to a senior exective branch position in the Republic and had served his full term was a Senator, so it was not quite the “House of Lords” that popular history books claim it to be) and by actually abolishing the dole to the Roman city mob – thus removing their interest in gaining overseas tribute.

    However, Sulla did not tackle the problem that slave labour put the great estates in a position to make many family farms uneconomic – and thus led to ex farmers comming to Rome to swell the mob.

    This has been overstressed as most Roman citizens remained farmers and small townsmen not dole dependent city mob – but the Roman voting system made the mob very important.

    In theory Romans voted by “tribe” and their were more “rural” tribes than “urban” ones – thus (in theory) meaning that the rural people could always outvote the city mob.

    This has been denounced by sources going from serious history works to role playing games – as a way by which the rich landowners corruptly held power.

    All these sources get things backwards.

    Most Roman citizens lived outside Rome than in it – so it was hardly “corrupt” to try and ensure that they outvoted the city people.

    The real problem was that some of the “rural tribes” people had come to live in Rome (due to the undermining of some family farms – and due to long military service, years of it in the Punic wars, meaning that even farms that were in no way undermined by slave using estates were undermined by the “man of the house” simply not being there to work the farm).

    You see ROMANS HAD TO VOTE IN PERSON (not quite true legally – but proxy voting was difficult), there was no “vote in the nearest town and send the votes to Rome” – one had to be IN ROME (the city of Rome)

    So the bigger Rome got the more difficult it became for most citizens to vote at all – and so the city mob became more powerful.

    The corruption was in people paying the mob for its votes (whether mob people were part of urban tribes or “rural” tribes) – either by direct bribes (actually less harmful) or by promising them stuff – benefits to be financed by Imperial expansion (or by “soaking the rich” as in Ancient Athens).

    This the arch “Populari” Julius Caesar exploited to destroy the Republic. Julius was virtually the only male relative of Marius (the Populari leader) that Sulla had not killed – had Sulla killed him (back in his youth, before he had built up fame, wealth, and supporters), the Republic would have lived on (at least for awhile). “It is wrong to kill for political reasons” – Marius had done that before Sulla did (Sulla was just better at it).

  • Paul Marks

    The sincerity of Sulla is proved by his giving up power and retiring (really retiring) to private life. Something that neither Julius or Octavian (“Augustus”) would never do. Sulla also tried to prevent the further expansion of the Empire (in spite of being a noted soldier who had crushed revolts, and invasions, in Greece and Asia Minor) – but there we go.

    Blood soaked Republican Sulla was – but he was a Republican, and they were not (although Octavian was careful to present himself as one – in his way of speaking and even in how he dressed).

    Differences between the modern world and the Roman Republic.

    Slavery is the big difference – most rich people in Rome owned slaves (some did not – but they were considered freaks). And rich people in Britain and America do not own slaves – “wage slavery is still slavery” (balls), “corporate imunities and inheriting land from the Norman conquest are much the same as slavery” (more balls).

    Other differences.

    No need to vote just in the capital – modern technology means that people can vote whereever they live (although military votes often go missing in American elections).

    On the other hand welfare is not restricted to the capital and a few other cities (as it was in the Roman case – even under the Empire).

    Even the most demented Emperor would never even have considered a plan to give every citizen in the Empire an old age pension, or to educate all (or almost all) children in state schools, or to give every one (even in the most remote village) health care.

    The modern world makes Caligula and Nero look sane.

    There is also another vital difference.

    Empire gave Rome money – it was the source of the dole for the Roman mob.

    It just is not true that there is an “American Empire” in this sense – in fact American overseas committments all COST money, and always have.

    Nor are United States forces overseas to “spread American power” or anything like that. They are sent overseas to combat real threats.

    Whatever the Rothbardians like to pretend, both National Socialist Germany and Imperial Japan were a threat to the WORLD (of which the United States is part) and the idea that America should somehow have waited for them to come knocking on the door of the continental United States is absurd.

    International Communism was another clear and present danger. American forces were not sent to Korea (or Vietnam or elsewhere) in order to gain money for Americans, or as part of “American Imperalism”, they were sent to fight one of the most evil movement the world has ever seen.

    As for the present Islamic (or “Islamist”) threat – my thoughts on that are complex (too much for a comment). But I will make one observation.

    Contrary to the propaganda the United States was never up against “nationalism” in places like Korea or Vietnam it was up against Communism – and the Communists were a MINORITY of the population of these places (although they got vast support from the Soviet Union, China and so on).

    However, in places like Afghanistan Muslims are the vast majority of the population – not a minority. “But Paul there are different sorts of Muslim and ……”

    No doubt that is correct – but it is all rather confused, it is not a clear cut case as the struggle against Marxism was.

    By the way I know “was” is the wrong tense – the struggle against Marxism can hardly be over when there is a Marxist sitting in the big chair in the Whitehouse.

    Of course the “war on terror” may have (directly and indirectly) so undermined support for Republicans (via such things as very few W.M.Ds. being found in Iraq, and by the thousands of American deaths) that it helped put Barack Obama in the Whitehouse.

    Even the economic collapse was partly (only partly) brought on by Alan Greenspan’s reaction to the burden of war spending – Greenspan taking it as yet another excuse to expand the money supply (the boom of the boom-bust).

  • Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward From 2000 to 1887 is available online at Wikisource. It was highly influential in the emergence of modern utopianism.

    I like Chapter 11’s concept of socialized music “broadcasting.” (Actually the medium is telephone lines.) I doubt that Andrew Ian Dodge’s garage band got any air time 🙂