The mos maiorum, or “way of the old ones” were the traditional principles and practices of public life in ancient Rome. These customs included:
- Good faith
I won’t go through a history lesson, but Rome, which had no written constitution, began to degrade as the mos maioram, the ancient ways, were abandoned piece by piece. That’s what was involved in the breakdown of the republic, and it increased until the Western empire was a wreck.
I bring this up because what we’re seeing right now is a breakdown in the mos maioram of Western civilization, and certainly on the ruling level. This will have consequences.
I’m not saying those consequences will be terrible for you and me – I think it will be to the contrary – but to those who still believe in the system and its operators the consequences may be painful.
Politics And Barbarism
Politics is barbaric by nature; at the end of every political process stands a binary choice to either obey or be punished. And that punishment involves violence. Pick whatever law you like and consider what happens if you persistently disobey. At the end of the line stand men armed with clubs, chains and bullets.
Political barbarism, however, used to be cloaked in “statesmanship,” which was simply a version of mos maioram. American and English politicians, among others, were expected to dress well, speak well, and to behave with decorum. In my youth, people looked up to such men and respected them, even when they disagreed. My corner of the world featured Paul Simon and Adlai Stevenson on the left and Everett McKinley Dirksen on the right. Everyone disagreed with one or more of them, but they respected them all.
The last vestiges of that were washed away in 2016. They had been torn and tattered long before, of course, but there was some dignity remaining, at least in some quarters.
Since 2016, we’ve had Mr. Trump on the right, with his crude Twitter rants and schoolyard insults.
On the left, we’ve had a variety of astonishingly bizarre and deranged democrats.
On top of that, we’ve had intelligence agencies simply making things up to “get” the man they hated, along with the FBI trashing its reputation almost completely. People may fear them, but that’s not the same as respect.
Mos maioram, then, has departed, and I don’t see it coming back any time soon. The path to political victory has become “stirring up the base,” and that strategy, combined with social media, is on a direct path to Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate.
Plenty of the same has been going on in the UK, surrounding the Brexit drama. And likewise, British leaders of the past, who labored for dignity and reasonableness, would be horrified.
That said, I’ll stick with the American craziness for today. And today’s craziness is impeachment. But rather than punishing you with the details, I’ll simply refer those of you who are interested to Tom Luongo’s article on the subject and move on to the solution.
The New Opportunities
I’ve said this before, but I think spending time and effort on politics is almost a full waste. And if ever this statement was anything less than true, it is certainly true now: Politics is barbarism.
The system doesn’t deserve our sweat and strain.
I’d rather that we engage in building a better world. The model of the new era is decentralization, and just about everything new and uplifting either supports that model or thrives within it.
Decentralized education (aka, homeschooling and its variants) calls out for advocates and implementations. Decentralized science is a desperate need. Decentralized money is already present and is not only a screaming success but a major opportunity. And I could go on to decentralized communications, decentralized defense and more.
Mos maioram is dead and gone. Rather than pretending otherwise, we should build a better way.
If you want a deeper understanding of these issues, see: