John Hopkins on Sat, 4 Feb 2017 21:14:47 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> will someone explain

On 03/Feb/17 20:47, Scot Mcphee wrote:

Tacitus seems to understand it pretty well:

*ita varios motus animorum non modo in urbe apud patres aut populum
aut urbanum militem, sed omnis legiones ducesque conciverat, evulgato
imperii arcano posse principem alibi quam Romae fieri. *(Tac. Hist.

Hi Scott -- I've invoked Tacitus' Annals on nettime a number of times going back twenty years. Highly recommended as a substitute for the NYTimes. There is much wisdom in his observations of and charting the shifting of central power structures within the wider Roman system -- the fraught transition from Republic to Imperium being the most notable.

Stressors on a (techno-social) system precipitate shifts in the power nexus' within that system. For example, the relationship between Nile River valley grain harvests and Roman stability -- that grain production was directly related to the extent of spring flooding Nile River. Climate had a direct effect on the balance of power in that grain was used as proxy pay to veterans of the Roman legions and to distribute to the civilian population as a way to quell dissent. (The very limited) arable land in the Italian peninsula was also distributed to veterans. Whenever that distribution process came under stress, it caused various shifts in the governing power structure. The hungry/angry man thing...

And to comment to David -- probably the first thing to remind you of is that the US is nothing more than another imperial nation-state / social structure, and said document is 'just another' human production in a long historical line of 'states', 'empires', and, ultimately, 'failed states'.

Invoking parts of the protocol discussion -- the 'balance' function of the US Constitution relies deeply on civil interactions -- when those civil communication protocols break down, there is a loss of interaction that is crucial to the 'balancing' act. You can't collectively govern if you can't have a civil discussion with 'the opposition'. Edicts (Executive Orders) are not conversations. Unfortunately Pres. Obama was forced to strengthen-through-use the EO process because of the lack of conversations with the Congressional branch. <<<Bannon>>> is taking full advantage of this legacy.

That said, the power, as any other 'shared' power is constantly shifting between the three branches of gov't (with the military mixed in there as a fourth power nexus -- see, for example, the do-not-cross-the-Rubicon "Posse Comitatus" Act). The wobble between the inscribed Constitutional power centers has been, so far, limited by the stability of the overall social structure. (That stability last tested significantly in the Civil War. And the reasons for that stability, well, perhaps a simple way to say it -- overall lack of want -- or abundance of resources.) But in the intervening times, there have always been tensions between those centers and other power centers (for example private sector, gov't-sanctioned resource-driven/supported oligarchs and such -- Eisenhower's recognition of the dangers of the rise of the MIC is related to this, for example).

As amply demonstrated today, a document will have little effect on shifts of power initiated by certain personalities. While obviously abstract social constructs do drive people to (senselessly) sacrifice their lives for 'a higher cause', social norms are malleable. <<<Bannon>>> and others understand the extent of malleability which allows a re-engineering of the social system.

As for the sheep-like following these despots have on a wider swath of the population: the example of the Sturmabteilung (SA, Brown Shirts) was Hitler's way of 'empowering' (for his own ends) the dispossessed unemployed of 20s & early 30s. He eventually turned his back on them (they had come to the end of their utility, except as minimally-trained cannon fodder for the WWII Wehrmacht). I wouldn't be surprised if some sort of selective quasi-military system pops up (one actually initiated/sanctioned by the Presidency). Strengthening the ICE and other non-Dept-of-Defense systems is one means for this.

Make Rome Great Again!


Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
hanging on to the Laramide Orogeny
twitter: @neoscenes

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