Gladiators versus philosophers

Gladiators, the successful ones who survived battle to the death after battle to the death, apparently became celebrity superstars in the Roman Colosseum. In an oligarchy with widespread slavery and poverty, the spectacle of superstar gladiators fighting to the death was the reality TV, the bread and circus, of its day. Passionate crowds were mesmerized and forgot their own troubles screaming at the carnage and voting for life or death at the end of the contest. The power of life or death!

There were also philosophers, scholars and historians in ancient Rome. There was little glory, or money, in any of that, so the intellectuals pursued what they did out of their own passion for knowledge. But they made the average hungry Roman feel stupid — who cares about what’s in a dumb book if you don’t know how to read? Bring on the mighty death defiers!

Which would you rather watch, a vicious battle to the death between heroic gladiators, with savage wild beasts on chains leaping at them to tear them apart, or some boring fuck droning on and on about stupid things you can’t even understand?

Capitalism remembers these important lessons from antiquity. They have been repeated in every epoch, are being repeated right now. It is rage. fear and passion — and courage in the face of death, and bold lies about courage in the face of death, if you lack that courage — that sway gigantic crowds of angry people with easily stirred eternal grievances.

People who think things through generally prefer peace to the hellscape of war. Even warmongers envision peace after the war is won. Eternal peace is every religious person’s vision of Heaven.

Men of action prefer action. Which is more exciting to see, a hard punch in the fucking face, or a thoughtful person thinking and speaking quietly?

Let us hope the iron law of capitalism has not made imbeciles of us all in a land where thoughtful people with the power to do so hesitate to punish open corruption and criminality that threatens everybody, seemingly cowed, while the fans of people powerful enough to remain always above the law arm themselves and prepare for mortal combat to decide what is justice.

I still think human decency and common sense wins, I think it wins tomorrow’s election too, but, if I’m wrong, I’ll see y’all in concentration camp.

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