"Sed fortuna, quae plurimum potest cum in reliquis rebus tum praecipue in bello, parvis momentis magnas rerum commutationes efficit; ut tum accidit."

C. Iulius Caesar - Commentarii de Bello Civili Bk III.68

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Asinutaur Alliance - ass of Nova Roma

It has become apparent that this year in Nova Roma will be significantly different. In some of the previous years consuls and praetors just stumbled into one “crisis” after another. Sometimes they could have done nothing to avoid it, though it has to be said the number of these occasions were few and far between. Mostly they ended up in a bog of their own making due to a singular inability to plan and follow a strategy.

Knowing how many times the Constitution had proved to be the undoing of many a magistrate, it is still a source of amazement that a few of them still blundered wildly on, seemingly with not a care in the world in defiance of all warnings, only to appear utterly stupefied, aghast, hurt and offended when the deluge of criticism rained upon their heads. Such was the way of Nova Roman in the past, our very own mos maiorum of incompetence.

Now however we see something different, in the form of deliberate and ignorant abandonment of any pretense at acting in the interests of Nova Roma, which as a community necessarily encompasses those whose views magistrates are in conflict with.

Our senior magistrates have embarked on a course of legalized persecution and proscription that is rash, ill considered, unconstitutional, illegal, unnecessary, vindictive and partisan. It is also asinine.

This time they have actually planned the route they have taken. They cannot even claim to have wandered off the path into the deep dark forest of unconstitutionality. They mapped the route and set off, with all the arrogance of a Quinctilius Varus.

Knowing that the political trials of Lucius Equitius Cincinnatus Augur would be unpopular and disregarding the likely opposition as the irrelevant dying gasps of their old opponents, this gaggle of political geniuses pressed on. The “trials” resembled a farce, not much above the level of a Punch and Judy show.

The blatant bias and outrageous conduct of the Praetor, who deserves so little mention that I shall simply refer to him as Praetor Nemo, was unrestrained and unashamedly arrogant. Nemo though, much like his cinema namesake, is a little fish in a small tank. His relevance is transitory and this political non-entity whose only crowning glory was the secession of his own province right under his nose, will fade away to become probably Consul and Censor in due course, for every good dog that has performed well deserves a bone.

The level of judgment exercised in these series of shabby events is no greater than in the past. The difference lies in the level of arrogance, law breaking, political incompetence, and the mens rea of this latest political faction to break upon the Nova Roman stage of politics, the Asinutaur Alliance.

The Asinutaur has the temperament of a donkey and the frailness and arrogance of a human, and has survived only this long by wildly kicking its political hind legs out at any target. It doggedly has deliberately trotted along this path of political trials, trampling all before it. It may think it is a stallion, but it is seen for what it is. Doggedly stupid, mulish and short sighted to boot.

The Asinutaur cannot walk politically with a natural flowing motion. It lurches, gets its legs crossed, stumbles and falls. It is just a raddled pantomime donkey suit containing the same old collection of malcontents, failures and vindictive characters, with a few new recruits for company, who have been seduced to climb inside.

It was bad enough when Nova Roman magistrates did not think and blundered into the quicksand. It is far worse now when this latest gaggle does think, for they not only see the quicksand and know that it is quicksand, but they still forge on regardless. They seem gripped by some messianic conviction that they won’t be sucked in, no doubt because they intend to kick a number of people into the pit and step over their bodies to safety.

The Asinutaur Alliance may feel that it has achieved its objective, but the swathe of damage that it has caused in pursuit of vindictive revenge has not been lost on many who were no friend to Cincinnatus and that number is growing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nova Farm and the tale of three little pigs

The debacle of the trial of Lucius Equitius Cincinnatus Augur has ended. George Orwell could not have penned a more riveting example of despotic power wielded by small-minded creatures. Nova Roma appears to have bred quite a few of the overlords of Animal Farm, with our very own Napoleon, Squealer and Pinkeye.

Napoleon is well on his way to usurping full power in the barn. Oh how a few months can change one. Before his election Napoleon was preaching an era of prosperity and forward thinking. He seemed the very model of a pig for the people. The animals were all going to join hands and step forward into the sunlight, or so they were essentially told. This was to be a new age and the dawn of the rebirth of Nova Farm.

Very quickly though it became clear that the promised land wasn’t full of sunlight and blessed with an abundance of intellectual and moral riches. No instead it started to resemble a slagheap, and the dark clouds gathered. First went Snowball. For years his eventual assassins had shamelessly used him to their own ends. He was good enough at one point to be touted as the symbol of unity.

Then his own acolytes turned on him and initiated a plan to depose him and drive him from the gates of Nova Farm. As he departed Snowball burned down his own sty rather than allow its infestation by this sad little gang of ingrates.

Pinkeye had his own agenda and it quickly manifested itself as revenge. You see Pinkeye as a little pig had a huge inferiority complex and Benjamin the donkey had once kicked him out of his stable. Enraged at this insult to his massive ego, Pinkeye swore to have his revenge, and before long the hapless Benjamin was arraigned for trial.

Squealer was placed in charge of this legalized lynching. Benjamin ignored the summons and was convicted in his absence, in a clear breach of the Commandments. However Squealer managed to confuse the animals so much when justifying his actions, that most of them eventually just assumed that the Commandments actually did say what Squealer said. Few bothered to go out of the barn and read them.

Benjamin was ordered to hand over his stable and fined a large bag of carrots, for having the temerity to own private property. Not satisfied with this though Napoleon had filed his own charges against him. Napoleon and Pinkeye both coveted the stable and if they couldn’t have it they were going to make Benjamin hand over even more carrots.

Once again Napoleon's mouth piece Squealer trotted in. The piglets, most of whom were rumoured to be the children of Napoleon, were stacked into the jury benches. They sat obediently on the side lines, asking few questions. One at the start of the trial wasn’t even sure why he was there. Squealer decided to give the animals the appearance of a fair trial and even though Benjamin wasn’t there a second time, commenced what rapidly turned into a farce.

Squealer tried to be ominous and threatening, but actually only managed to portray himself as narrow minded and bigoted against Benjamin and any animal that spoke for him. He proceeded to suppress evidence, spoke for Napoleon, consistently rewrote the rules of the trial, twisted the Commandments, used the threat of the dogs to keep the animals in line and generally acted as a supreme example of unchecked power wielded by a very little and unimposing pig.

Napoleon spoke briefly, happy to leave it mostly to Squealer to speak for him. He sallied in and out of the barn, in an atmosphere of complacent self-adoration, now calling himself the Father of all Animals. The piglets eyeing their daddy were dazzled by his oratory. He had you see studied very long and hard how to say an awful lot that meant very little.

At one point Pinkeye had a momentary meltdown and fell into a raging snit, complaining he had been robbed of the chance to confront Benjamin with his heinous crimes. Few of the animals paid any attention as Pinkeye was one of those pigs who huffed and puffed a lot.

Squealer called for the verdict and led all the piglets into a private sty in the barn, so they could discuss the case and proceeded to stay there. Many of the animals wondered if this was to ensure that the piglets, who really had seemed very disinterested in the trial, remembered what was expected of them. Despite this two of the piglets never even bothered to vote. It was thus hardly surprising that all but one of them voted to condemn Benjamin.

This goes to prove that the Commandments simply didn’t matter to Napoleon and Squealer and that:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Once more into the breach.

After avoiding posting in 2007 as I was Accensus to the then Consul Tiberius Galerius Paulinus, I anticipated doing the same in 2008 since I had accepted the offer of Consul Titus Iulius Sabinus to serve as his Accensus. Upon reflection it had seemed better to maintain as much a degree of public neutrality as I could on issues while occupying this position.

Well, no more. On Saturday 23rd February I requested Sabinus relieve me of my position, in order that I could with all honour concentrate of opposing such policies as his consular colleague may put forth that strike at the heart of good order, law, equity and the Constitution of Nova Roma.

So once again the elephant of illegality clomps around Nova Roma, trampling all before it with sadly both Consuls, the Praetors and the Tribunes perched on top of it. Bringing up the rear is of course Maior, clutching at its tail. The long awaited purge has begun and we know of course that there are so many names on the blacklist it probably requires not a black book but a scroll to record them all.

More on this debacle later. For now it suffices to say that it is exceedingly refreshing to once again be offering a commentary and insight into the madcap world of Nova Roma. All is well in the republic for the Constitution is being broken, people are resigning or being exiled, laws are being ignored and a general tension pervades the air in the forum. Life as we know it continues unabated.