Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Ides of March

The word "ides" might have a sinister connotation, but it didn't until 44 BC, that March day Brutus and a band of high up conspirators assassinated Emperor Julius Caesar. Ides simply means the middle of the month - every month has an ides, not just March. But it was on the "ides of March" that Caesar was killed, and thereafter, the Ides of March has taken on a vague sense of foreboding, sort of like Friday the 13ths but with a bit grander historical sweep.

Successive emperors of Rome and latter day leaders as well have taken the Ides of March to be a check on - a warning against - the greed of tyrannical power. Caesar had overstepped his bounds, in ego and audacity, and it was on that day some of his closest "allies" cashed in - to save the republic from incessant war and tyranny.

Centuries later, Rome crumbled to dust and scattered stones, and then over a millennium later, Rome got its modern day Caesar, in the form of Benito Mussolini.

Mussolini certainly was the Caesar gone wild of early 20th Century Italy, a cross between Teddy Roosevelt and Adolph Hitler. (Right or wrong, charisma sure counts for a lot, doesn't it?)

Some of the things Mussolini said ring relevant to some of this nation's and the world's woes today.

Mussolini said: "Inactivity is death," and, "It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while others write history. It matters little who wins. To make a people great it is necessary to send them to battle even if you have to kick them in the pants. That is what I shall do." (And you're not the last, Il Duce!)

He said: "War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and imposes the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to make it." (None of this wussie State Department stuff... where's Condi?)

He said: "Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace." (Nothing like cashing in on a long, drawn out war... can anybody say Halliburton? Sure you can.)

Mussolini said: "Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy." (Yes, those accurate vote counts sure are inconvenient, aren't they?)

He said: "There is a violence that liberates and a violence that enslaves; there is a violence that is moral and a violence that is immoral." (Hmmm, sort of like, "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists.")

Mussolini said: "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." (Yikes, folks, sounds awfully much like something the current Capitol Hill gang would NOT like to hear.)

Now of course, Mr. Bush seems merely cocky while our modern Caesar sounded downright cocksure - no beating around the bush for Mr. Mussolini.

But it gets creepier. Mussolini said, “If you give me the power to nominate, you can vote for whomever you please.”

Sounds like a joke Mr. Bush might make safely ensconced amongst his base - and a snarling aside a certain Mr. Cheney probably lets out about once a week.

If Mr. Bush were as blatantly audacious as his Italian role models, he might be speaking truth to his power. But instead, we marvel at his flaccid fallacies and twitchy torment - a dumb and dimmer tyrant-wannabe, even at the supposed height of his powers, washed up, adrift and shifty-eyed amidst the more cunning machinations of his power-grabbing mercenaries.

All of this especially apropos, it seems, on this day of ages-old dread for politicians who, without good hindsight or enough foresight, may have overstepped their bounds.

We citizens and fellow countrymen would be wise to "beware" indeed.


At 3/16/2005 4:45 AM, Anonymous RQ said...

Good research! Glad you found your voice.


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