Gibbon’s Caution

BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN

Edward Gibbon wrote in his Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire:

“[A] distinction of every kind soon became criminal. The possession of wealth stimulated the diligence of the informers; rigid virtue implied a tacit censure of the irregularities of Commodus; important services implied a dangerous superiority of merit; and the friendship of the father always insured the aversion of the son. Suspicion was equivalent to proof; trial to condemnation. The execution of a considerable senator was attended with the death of all who might lament or revenge his fate; and when Commodus had once tasted human blood, he became incapable of pity or remorse” (Book 1, Chapter 4).

As I sit here, with the high waves of the Atlantic crashing down before me, and the steam from my coffee cup visibly rising on this crisp, winter’s morning, I ponder these words of the eminent Gibbon and cannot help but feel somewhat concerned.

“[A] distinction of every kind soon became criminal.”

Signing up to any service these days, you are interrogated: “male”, “female” or “other”. In the past this was a simple task. You were either endowed with one or not endowed with one. Only a miniscule minority of the human populace – a few dozen at most – were endowed with two, without two, or one and else. Now, improper distinction has, in some neighbouring lands, become criminal, and the chorus for such distinction to become sacrosanct here is a vociferous one. The Progressives’ goal is a gender free world where there is no distinction between the sexes and any man can wake up as a woman, any woman wake up as a man. Global units of genderless entity in a dystopian existence where individuality is degraded and suppressed in the name of equality.

“The possession of wealth stimulated the diligence of the informers” 

Today, millionaires increasingly keep their wealth status to themselves, unless of course they have risen from the hood – such street heroes are immune, and they now seem able to garner huge followings in politics despite knowing less than a little of a little about government; incapable of distinguishing between Friedrich von or Salma. Make a few million by providing a valuable service or engaging in a commodities deal vital to your population eating and you are a selfish crapitalist, threatened with property forfeiture by the baying hordes of Trotskyite trolls with their new found electronic voices, most often emanating from behind concealed, anonymous (often multiple) monikers.

“Rigid virtue implied a tacit censure of the irregularities of Commodus; important services implied a dangerous superiority of merit; and the friendship of the father always insured the aversion of the son.”

Meanwhile, those of rigid virtue, even the saintly, have their knicker drawers emptied publicly for signs of weakness and – that coward’s scatter-gun – guilt by association. Even good men like Jacob Rees-Mogg get bashed by the measly trolls of Momentum for favour and nepotism – no mention ever of the innate justice of meritocracy. Brilliant eloquence and admirable loyalty are summarily dismissed by the hashtags of #JobsFortheBoys and #Toryscum

“Suspicion was equivalent to proof; trial to condemnation.”

How true these words are for the world today. The new sex abuse witch hunt of celebrities, while important in outing genuine abusers, is nothing more than a trial by the Twitter mob, some of whom want to see men ended as a species, many of whom have ulterior motives.

However, my concern is less for today, which is certainly a torrid era; on balance reduced in both values and standards by the opening of that Pandora’s Box of Social Media. My concern is more for tomorrow, and thereafter:

“The execution of a considerable senator was attended with the death of all who might lament or revenge his fate; and when Commodus had once tasted human blood, he became incapable of pity or remorse.”

It is these words from Gibbon that should haunt you most.

In the late fourth century the barbarian attacks on Rome partially stemmed from a mass migration caused by the Huns’ invasion of Europe. When these Eurasian warriors rampaged through northern Europe, they drove many Germanic tribes to the borders of the Roman Empire.

Today we chuckle at the barbarian hordes, and at those who share the failed politics of Comrade Lenin. Forget bashing at the gates, some are already among us – both Hard Leftists and theocratic loons. Many others are connected to us, and trying to influence us, by wire and satellite. Meanwhile all around us are the gullible, who liberally assert that we are all one magical world, and that we should all be friends.

I sigh. I see that now my coffee steams less.

One can only hope that tomorrow is less heated and that the West gets a grip. Tomorrow is not an era for hot-headedness or the politics of ideology. Tomorrow is a time for cool heads, for a perpetuated secularism and a time that may be a rebirth of greatness, if handled by those with a penchant for pragmatism and a desire to return to the cold common sense which built the West and, in its winning, exposed the inferior ways of corrupt ideologues and theocrats across the globe.

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