Updated: Nov 2, 2020
A Conversation between John Batchelor and Michael Vlahos
JB: The election this week will not settle anything. This dispute will continue. We sometimes fancied it as Red or Blue, Urban and Rural, Nationalist or Globalist, but another way of understanding this is revealing in recent reporting by both the New York Times and National Review. Quite to the surprise of everyone, and given that the Republicans are being represented by a billionaire who has a great many friends in Manhattan, the Wall Street donors to the two campaigns outnumber Trump’s donors for Biden by 5-to-1.
Why, do you ask, would Wall Street invest in a man who speaks in what you would have to say is continuing progressivism? Because they perceive the infrastructure spending, the stimulus spending, will more than offset the tax hikes that will be passed by Biden, but this is not sure. Also, a divided congress is very good for Wall Street. These are cynical men, but this is their responsibility. They have an investor class that wants to know what will happen.
Biden represents them: The Optimates. He is pure senatorial class. Now that we see the recent upset about his family. He is not only pure senatorial class, he is pure Roman family disorder class: I mean, the divorces, the sneaking behind the staircases, it is clear The Bidens are not homespun, living in Wilmington.
MV: That brings to mind the first warning signs that the Roman Republic was in trouble after the First Macedonian War [214-205 BCE]. The Senate had to pass sumptuary laws, which taxed the booty and the loot which they brought back from the riches of the East.
That was a dominant trope in Roman life during the civil war period, culminating of course in Cleopatra and that liaison, which was all about money. And so you have an unraveling in the US today that has amazing resonances to Rome.
The fact of the matter is that the Optimates who are predominantly Blue, with the riches of the American elite, can stay in power forever, as long as they adopt a path that creates a large enough group of dependent Populares, that Blue can essentially wire future American elections.
This makes the same good sense that it did to Roman Optimates, which is to say that what the Senatorial class did in the revolutions under Caesar and then Augustus, was to institute the very social welfare measures for which the Populares had so long been clamoring. Hence the triumphant Roman 0.1% essentially coopted and bought off the People, and put them in a place of dependency and political passivity — and this worked for the next 500 years.
This elite strategy has its powerful mirror — its unmistakeable resonance today — in the fat package of social welfare promises made by Blue. It is their trademark, and for good reason: It is the essential coalition required to keep the top 3 or 4% of America in power [and the uber 0.1% ruling above them], and in gravy.
Of course the terrible inequality of wealth in the US today was also mirrored in Rome during that last century. In the earlier Roman republic [5th through 3rd centuries BCE] there was not the same inequality between Patricians and Plebs, and this was also true of America right after World War II, when we had one of the lowest indices of inequality in our history — and it was true too after the American Revolution.
But today American inequality is as great as the period right before the French Revolution, and mirrored in what was happening to Rome in that long century of transformation. The problem we have right now, and that is going to make this revolution more intense, is that it is I think the cynical conclusion and agenda of Blue to just leave behind the Americans they do not need, which is to say all of Red America, and to put them into a situation of hardship and marginalization where they cannot coalesce and form a rival — as it were — Popular Front.
This is a path, which I would expect in the wake of a Biden victory, that would potentially push Red in a way that was only, barely, teased out with the Tea Party, and it will push Red into very active rebellion.