Opinion | Morgan Liddick: US continues in war of the orders (column)
According to traditional accounts, in 287 BCE, the entire plebeian population of Rome left the city for the nearby Janiculum hill. It was the final act in the 250-year-long “War of the Orders,” and it ended with the acceptance of the plebeians as full legal equals of their heretofore “betters,” the patricians. Thus concluded the long political and social process that made Rome a great step forward in Western Civilization; one that would put its indelible stamp on millenia to follow.
The conclusion of Rome’s social war created cooperation among its citizens that allowed it to withstand Hannibal, conquer most of the known world and create a peace and prosperity unlike any the world had yet experienced. It made possible the rise to power of unique individuals from non-patrician families — the so-called ignobiles — men like Gaius Marius and Julius Caesar. It brewed a culture some of which we enjoy today. So great was its impact on politics, on justice, culture and the arts that, in significant respects, we are all Romans still.
Our republic has now arrived at the 190th year of our own war of the orders — one that began with the rejection of the Eastern aristocracy that had controlled the presidency and government since the Revolution, and the election of plainspoken frontier populist Andrew Jackson.
Jackson’s election was greeted with horror and apprehension by most of the political class, especially those of Virginia and Massachusetts — the two states that formerly had a duopolistic hold on the presidency. Jackson, it was argued, would embroil the nation in immediate war. Would destroy the economy. Would threaten the independence of the states, imprison his rivals, bring unlettered and uncouth companions into the government. He was a drunkard, a boor, a frontier hick, a racist, a bigamist and a stone cold killer. He simply couldn’t be tolerated. Sound familiar?
He served two terms and left the nation stronger, if not more unified, than when he found it. He is still regarded as one of the founders of the Democratic party.
Since Jackson’s day, the nation has continually widened access to the ballot box, but true power resides not only in voting. As with Rome’s plebeian class, use of the forms of power while still being regarded as a “basket of irredeemables” by those who continue to propose and dispose behind a curtain, does absolutely nothing for the average American citizen. As with those long-ago plebes, aristocratic resistance to their efforts to obtain power and recognition is constant and often violent. Back then, an aristo mob killed the Gracchi brothers; today one might ask Representative Duncan Hunter or General Flynn what happens to someone who gets too uppity about challenging the patrician order. Or maybe we should just pay attention to the disturbing events unfolding before our eyes.
On one hand, those who now hold the levers of power — the bicoastal elites and the unelected high-level bureaucrats who do their bidding — use the organs of control to try to cement their rule over the nation and its people. They deploy federal law enforcement, the media and academia against their enemies, in coordination with private groups they have co-opted or who see interests in common with them, as against the American people. It is an all-out effort because their authority hangs in the balance. If they succeed, it will be an age before the citizenry will again attempt to throw off the jackboot in its face. If they fail, the average American will have taken a step toward regaining freedom — which has long been more theoretical than actual.
Consequently, expect more diversions, more flack, more distractions from the administrative class and its stooges. More meaningless indictments, more red-herring press coverage, more protests and public chaos, more accusations of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, crimes, incompetence, stupidity — you name it. Anything for a negative headline, a vicious comment, a misguided nod. Anything to distract the public’s attention from what the magician’s other hand is doing.
If the past is any guide, the deep-state patricians will continue to cling to power, and they have a decent chance of succeeding, aided by displeasure with the current president’s demeanor and language. America’s patrician class will exploit that displeasure, using it to force the current plebeian revolt back into the box of compelled obedience to the will of their betters. But victory is possible if the “deplorables” adopt the tactics of their plebeian ancestors and refuse to participate in the charade any longer.
Withdrawal of resources, of labor, of consent. Withdrawal to a modern Janiculum hill by all those irredeemable Americans who make things, grow stuff and move it around out here in flyover country.
As in 287 BC, it won’t take long for the patricians to crawl to the table.
Morgan Liddick writes a regular column for the Summit Daily News.
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