I’m reading a book about Rome (Life in Ancient Rome by Don Nardo) and have come across a number of interesting pieces of information, one of which is that during the Roman Republic, which began around 500 BC, they had a Senate comprised exculsively of men belonging to the Roman aristocracy. These men, who held their positions for life, controlled the finances, foreign policy and dictated how the provinces would be run. Here’s the part that struck me:
The traditional power of the oligarchic Senate was what kept Rome from evolving into a true democracy. This is not surprising, considering that the senators were part of the ancient and venerable patrician elite. They doubted the intelligence, abilities and moral capacity of the common people, whom they often referred to as “the mob.”
On this subject he quotes Cicero, who held that while a little democracy might be good, “too much was dangerous.” Cicero believed that it would be unfair to grant authority to both society’s highest and lowest members because “the highest were by nature superior…and therefore deserved to rule, while the lowest would be incapable of ruling well even if given the chance.”
And it just reminded me of the political ruling class in this country. The idea that governing has allegedly become so complex and sophisticated that only a small minority has the intellect and capability of figuring it all out. If you haven’t gone to Harvard or Yale you are clearly hopeless. (Unless you have, but you are a Republican with the last name of Bush…)
In any case, I can see why they think that with some of their strange ideas about the economy — for example, going into more debt is a great way of getting rid of one’s debts. That is definitely a complex and sophisticated idea — so much so that to me, a common person, without an ivy league education, it makes no sense whatsoever.
Just like inflicting increasing gun control laws on our law-abiding citizenry, while freely allowing some 2000 guns to “fall into” the hands of Mexican criminals. I’m afraid I am too stupid to figure out how that was a good idea, either.
Nor how we can have “affordable” healthcare for all without it costing any of us any more in taxes. And why are we lectured on the need for all of us sharing the sacrifice when our leader and his wife can’t even share the same plane?
But then, I’m not a member of the ruling class intelligensia, so that must be why. It’s all just over my head.