September 26, 2012
There was an old Greek legend that Periander, the tyrant of Corinth, once visited the very successful tyrant of Miletus, named Thrasybulos, to find out what was the secret to his success and long reign. As the two men walked through a grain field, Thrasybulos said not a word in response to Periander’s question.
Instead, as they went, he would break off the strongest and fullest heads of wheat, crush them, and cast them aside. By the end of the walk, Periander realized that Thrasybulos had been answering his question all along. The key to maintaining power when you were not its legitimate holder was to eliminate all the competition; to destroy those who, through their own abilities, intellect or drive, would be able to challenge you; to stamp down the best among the people so that they would not prove troublesome later on.
The institution of tyranny in pre-Classical Greece is, in many ways, reflected in Obama’s administration today, among the changes which he is making to our nation.
Ancient Greek tyranny was always viewed by Greek thinkers as an aberration, even when many of the common people abided, or even sought, for tyrants to take power in their poleis, their city-states. The tyrant was abhorred not so much because he was cruel (in fact, many weren’t), but because he was illegitimate. Instead of ruling by right of the settled (though unwritten) constitutions of the cities, the tyrants were often men who had risen to power by making promises to the people that he would overthrow the old order, that he would “stick it to the rich,” as we might say today, using the mass of the people to give him the legitimacy that he could not otherwise have. And indeed, these tyrants would often exile the wealthy landowners, and would expropriate property, or would cancel debts owed by the poor, and would otherwise secure his power base by using the siren song of class warfare and envy against the wealthy and successful.
At the same time, tyrants would often seek to solidify their power by appealing to the rising commercial powers of the day, subverting them into his service so that their continued wealth and commerce depended upon his good graces and patronage. Essentially, tyrants would try to take “business” (as we would term it today) and subvert it to his own ends. The tyrant would encourage the rise of a wealthy commercial class reliant upon himself, while driving out the old landowning elements whose wealth derived from their property and their investments.
So we see with Obama and his gang of cronies in our own age. Mitt Romney was entirely correct when he alluded to the efforts by Obama and the Democrats to create a faction of people dependent upon the government, and therefore upon themselves, who therefore would form a reliable voting bloc. Indeed, this has been the Left’s modus operandi since FDR’s time – lure Americans into the addiction of government handouts, continually make the income tax code more and more “progressive” so that greater and greater numbers of us in effect do not pay any income taxes while shifting the burden more and more to the capital-providing, jobs-producing rich. By draining and driving out these victims of redistribution, the government then generates more “need” for hand-outs and assistance as jobs disappear and the economy systematically slows down. Obama has been working for the last four years to accelerate these trends because he is making a concerted effort to grasp total power.
This 47% who can be counted on as a reliable voting coalition want Obama because they want the wealth redistribution, they want to take from the successful and give to themselves, they want a tyrant in office who will give them goodies, even if the established Constitution has to fall by the wayside in the process. Legitimate or not, Obama is their choice because he is their opportunity to “get back at,” to punish those who have been more successful in life under the sun. The same impulses that drove Corinthians to support Periander and his father Cypselos (who had founded the tyranny in that city) are those that drive many Americans today – the perverse desire to tear others down rather than working hard to build one’s self up.
Another similarity between these tyrants, ancient and modern, is their emphasis on maintaining the illusion of legitimacy by gaining support through works projects. Ancient tyrants were famous for building temples, amphitheaters, and aqueducts, as well as patronizing the arts. Modern tyrants do the same. Roosevelt did this to cover his illegitimate assaults on the Constitution. His programs did create many good and needful public works – including the TVA and Hoover Dam – but the ultimate purpose to these was not so much the enrichment of the nation, but to solidify dependence on government into the minds of many within his Democrat voting bloc, and notably these projects did nothing to actually end, or even ameliorate, the Great Depression.
Today, Obama promises “shovel ready” jobs on public works projects (which, however, have mostly ended up being completely non-existent, or else existing only to be shuffled around on paper using Enron-style accounting techniques). Obama tells us that government needs to nationalize industry to save it and to keep it providing jobs. Under Obama’s administration, the percentage of the American workforce employed by the government has reached a record level, while private employment continues to shrink because of his anti-small business, anti-capitalism. His policies drive out more and more private wealth, industry, and investment, so that the vacuum left provides the “need” that can be met by more government spending, nationalization, and involvement.
Yet, like the tyrants of old, Obama doesn’t hate all rich people. As in the ancient Greek cities, there are always some of the commercial rich who can be suborned and molded to the tyrant’s whims. Likewise, we have many in our financial industry who jump at Obama’s beck and call. Obama can count on the monetary support of his selected, preferred moneymen in Hollywood and on Wall Street. By “saving” General Motors, he has also shown the way to making it his own, personal creature.
Those in the new order who can be bent to the tyrants will be, those who can’t will be terminated or driven out. This is why, despite all of his class warfare and wealth redistribution rhetoric, Obama can still count on the support of the super rich in Hollywood, the media, among the mega-sized banks, and other elites. It’s not their wealth he’s talking about redistributing, so they know that they don’t have anything to worry about. The redistribution talk, the “making them pay their fair share” mantra, only applies to the productive well-to-do: the small business owners, the investors, the capitalists, the self-employed professionals, and others who won’t play along with Obama’s fascist-corporatist vision for America.
What we see going on around us – and which is why this election may well be our last chance to put the brakes to our decline – is the final push on the part of the Left to take full control over this country. Not by overtly revolutionary means, but by riding in on the votes of dupes who believe that harming others will help themselves. Obama and the rest of the Left are ramping up their class warfare efforts because this is their chance – we’re near the point where a critical mass of the people (that 47% everyone keeps talking about) are actively supportive of a leader who will promise them something for nothing. November 6, 2012 may seal our fate, whether we continue as a free people or as slaves to a socialist tyranny. Will we come out of the election a Periclean Athens, or a Periandrian Corinth?