The Mos Maioram And The Barbarians

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
  • Respectfulness
  • Self-discipline
  • Virtue
  • Dignity

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:

FMP issue #84

FMP issue #75

A Lodging of Wayfaring Men

Paul Rosenberg

It’s 460 AD in Rome: This Won’t Be Fixed

RomeAnother American election cycle is upon us, and large numbers of people are lining up to pour their time and money into the sewer of politics, to be lost forever.

This system will not be fixed. Period. This is Rome in 460 AD. The rulers, as in Rome, are liars, mad, or drunk (these days, drugged)… or all three.

The “fall of Rome” of course was far more complex than we learned in school, but through all the many years of its decline, Rome was full of well-meaning people trying to reform and save it. And by the way, among the people who tried the hardest to keep the Roman game going were the Goths. They tried hard to keep Rome operational… and they failed too.

Let me be clear on this: Once ruling hierarchies get beyond a certain point, they cannot be reformed. And I am sure that the modern West is beyond that point.

  • Do we really believe that central bankers will just lay down their monopolies?

  • Can we seriously expect a hundred trillion dollars of debt to be liquidated without any consequences?

  • Do we actually believe that politicians will walk away from their power and apologize for abusing us?

  • Do we really think that the corporations who own Congress will just give up the game that is enriching them?

  • Does anyone seriously believe that the NSA is going to say, “Gee, that Fourth Amendment really is kind of clear, and everything we do violates it… so, everyone here is fired and the last person out will please turn off the lights”?

  • And does anyone believe that the military-industrial complex will stop encouraging war, or that corporate media will stop worshiping the state, or that your local sheriff will apologize for training his cops to be vicious beasts?

  • Do we really believe that public school systems will ever stop lauding the state that pays all its bills?

I could go on, but I think my point is made: This system will never allow itself to be seriously reformed. Trying to fix this is like trying to revive a long-dead corpse.

The systems that rule the West will fail.

Whether the wider Western civilization fails is up to us: Do we have civilization inside of us? Or was it all just a pattern that we followed?

A Few Bits of Support

I think an honest look around is all we really need to assess this situation – and I’m really not trying to play the “doomer” here – but a few bits of support seem to be in order. So, I’ll start with a quote from a man named Salvian, who lived in the Roman Empire a bit before 460 AD:

Nobody thought of the state’s expenses, nobody thought of the state’s losses, because the cost was not felt. The state itself sought how it might squander what it was already scarcely able to acquire. The heaping up of wealth which had already exceeded its limit was overflowing even into trifling matters.

Does this sound vaguely familiar? Salvian continues:

But what can be said of the present-day situation? That old abundances have gone from us. The resources of former times have gone. We are already poverty-stricken, yet we do not cease to be spendthrift.

Here’s another from Salvian:

The state has fallen upon such evil days that a man cannot be safe unless he is wicked.

With this last passage in mind, please consider Jon Corzine, Lois Lerner, and Hillary Clinton.

Then think about Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning.

Who among these six told the truth? And who among them lied? Which have suffered for their actions? Which have not?

And what of the British elites who seem devoted to chasing underage girls? When do they go to jail?

Shall we really keep pretending that these systems have anything to do with righteousness? At some point, doesn’t that become embarrassing?

As I’ve written before, back in the 1960s I was surrounded by well-meaning people who tried very hard to reform the system and to make life better. And now, the very same problems they were devoted to solving are the problems de jour: war, poverty, welfare, racism, and police brutality – the very same list!

50 years of their efforts were fully wasted. Shall we really continue the waste? At some point, doesn’t patting ourselves on the back for accomplishing nothing become ridiculous?

Even If…

I think it’s very important to make this last point clearly:

Even if this system doesn’t crash for another century, everything done within it is a waste.

The decent people of Earth deserve better than this barbarity… much better.

Not long ago, with these ideas in mind, I wrote this to a friend:

It is fully corrupt, from top to bottom, and I don’t believe there are any “good guys” inside, waiting for “the right time.” It is OVER.

I withdraw. I forsake them. I refuse to waste my energy on their politics. Humanity deserves better and I aim to do my part in building it.

I will shed no tears when this system finally collapses – it will be a liberation.

From here on, I’ll build new things and will have nothing to do with the old.

My friend – a good man – agreed.

The good and productive people of this world deserve something better than the abusive dominators that seek to control their every move, and we are more than capable of building it. But we have to stop waiting for permission from the lords of the status quo – they will never give us permission to bypass their domination.

We have to make our own decisions and simply start building something better. We are able, and this system is unworthy of our efforts.

Now would be a very good time to start.

Paul Rosenberg