Wednesday, February 26, 2014


"You see, we live in a republic. That means that there are a great many people who have nothing and a handful who have a great deal. And those who have a great deal must be defended and protected by those who have nothing. Not only that, but those who have a great deal must guard their property, and therefore those who have nothing must be willing to die for the property of people like you and me and our good host Antonius. Also, people like ourselves have many slaves. These slaves do not like us. We should not fall for the illusion that slaves like their masters. They don't, and therefore the slaves will not protect us against the slaves. So the many, many people who have no slaves at all must be willing to die in order for us to have our slaves. Rome keeps a quarter of a million men under arms. These soldiers must be willing to go to foreign lands, to march their feet off, to live in filth and squalor, to wallow in blood - so that we may be safe and live in comfort and increase our personal fortunes. When these troops went to fight Spartacus, they had less to defend than the slaves. Yet they died by the thousands fighting the slaves. One could go further. The peasants who died fighting the slaves were in the army in the first place because they have been driven off their land by the latifundia. The slave plantation turns them into landless paupers; and then they die to keep the plantation intact. Whereupon one is tempted to say reductio ad absurdum. For consider, my dear Cicero, what does the brave Roman soldier stand to lose if the slaves conquer? Indeed, they would need him desperately, for there are not enough slaves to till the land properly. There would be land enough for all, and our legionary would have what he dreams of most, his plot of land and his little house. Yet he marches off to destroy his own dreams, so that sixteen slaves may carry a fat old hog like me in a padded litter." - A Roman politician (From "Spartacus" by Howard Fast)