Yes why not? If Caesar was alive today he would easily have got himself elected to what is still the most powerful position in the world. Life today is actually very much like during the Roman Empire. Crassus personifies big business and banks and Cicero, Julius Caesar and Catilina today’s politicians. And as far as dictators go, Sulla did what that category are doing today already 2,000 years ago.
The headline “Financial reform compromise rebuffed in Senate” could easily be applied to the Roman Empire. Not least since that’s where the original Senate was located. The difference is that today you read news in the media and in those days Roman citizens talked about news on the Forum.
Roman elections, taxation & justice
Just as in some countries today the elite ruled at the expense of the common man.The main tools for power were already then elections, taxation and courts of law. Making profit was crucial to Roman businessmen. Crassus almost had hundreds of slaves executed just to serve his business interests. He had houses burnt down to buy them for nothing to increase his wealth.
Oportunisism still works
Power corrupts and Cicero, just like any opportunistic politician throughout time, completely changed his policies to get elected (does it sound familiar?). And no doubt a fabulous orator like him would also have been able to convince any electorate today to vote for him.
Envy and opinion can alter history
Shakespeare’s play has wrongly made many people believe Caesar was a tyrant, which is far from the truth. He usually refrained from executing his enemies which was his downfall. Would history have looked different if he hadn’t spared Brutus’ life? And the irony is that Brutus may very well have been his illegitimate son. Can’t help thinking of some royal families where assasination today still seems to be the way to the throne. The Julian dynasty emperors after Caesar however became increasingly more tyrannical, which is not unusual in similar families today.
Human nature doesn’t change
So haven’t we learned from what went wrong with the Roman Empire? Why doesn’t humanity evolve, learn from history and move on? Because it is not big business, the banks or politicians that are at fault. It is human nature. Once a generation has learnt from its mistakes another generation takes over that have yet to learn.
Human nature doesn’t change. Many people, even though they would rather die than admit it, would do anything for money, power and glory. Not to mention fame and just simply feeling important.
Vested interests rule the world
Many of us would like to see a fair world. But the world has never been fair and it’s unlikely that it ever will be. About 15 years ago I told a friend of mine who used to be minister of foreign affairs in Mexico that I would like to see all people in the world eat three meals a day and have basic schooling. He told me, “Catarina, it will never happen because vested interests will not allow it”. In other words powerful countries and people will look after its own interests.
But since empires come and go who does what to whom evens out throughout history. In the future the Chinese and Indians will do to the West what the West has been doing to them.
Makes you wonder what makes today different from the past, doesn’t it? Why should people who genuinely want to make a difference succeed today where caring people in the past failed? Will the fact that the whole world is so interconnected make a difference?
Maybe the most important lesson from history is survival? Marcus Mummius, a Roman army commander, put it very well over two thousand years ago: “ When you are hurt (in battle) the worst you can do is stop fighting. If you do the pain takes over and you are finished. I have seen many soldiers die of wounds that shouldn’t have been fatal just because they stopped fighting and gave in to the pain. No you just scream and throw yourself right back into the fight. That way you will neither feel the pain nor bleed to death since the blood will rush to your brain and the arm that holds your sword to enable you to succeed”.
(photo: genjo m Flickr)