A vistor seemed curious about that subject. Looting was pretty much the same for every army back then, in terms of what they valued though not how it was conducted.
I can’t remember exactly or not, but I seem to remember that Rome had a loot pool. Instead of soldiers going AWOL inside an enemy town, the Romans collected everything they acquired, which was more or less portable wealth such as gold, silver, gems, salt, etc., and paid everyone in the legion based upon the haul.
Some comments were also made on how the Senate was the motivation force behind Rome’s looting of foreign enemies and provinces.
If they didn’t have such a system, then any armed force would simply grab whatever was shiny when they came into the city. This included any barbarian invasions into Roman lands.
As an attempt to update my post here, there are some new things to be looked over.
The crucial difference between the Roman Republic and the Republic of the United States of America can be found in the difference between these two words: liberty and victory. Ordinary Americans are taught to revere liberty, which means the right to do as you please, provided that you do not initiate the use of force or fraud against another human being, and the responsibility to suffer as well as enjoy the consequences of your own actions, provided that no one else violates the natural rights of you. Ordinary Romans were taught to revere victory – Invictus! – instead.
This difference makes for a profoundly different kind of people. The peace activists which Americans either look up to or put up with were nowhere to be found in Rome; if one surfaced, he or she would most probably be killed or spat upon, if not drafted. There was no honor in being Alvin C. York, only shaming – if not death – in failing to be so, and a disciplinary slap if any conscientious objection was raised at all. The typical American would consider this kind of reverence to be war-crazed lunacy. The typical Roman father would consider it to be his duty to whip his son into shape for what was clearly his seed’s patriotic duty. The modern phrase “authoritarian personality,” one of common currency in modern English, would be untranslatable into classical Latin if what it connotes is included as well, except as part of a legionary’s joke.
I would agree mostly with the point made here. The author uses it to further flesh out another point he was describing.
This respect – one which a garrison state would scorn – provides an entry point for those who wish to adapt an old Roman technique of governance into an American political philosophy, one which Jerome Tuccille called “Ivy League Hegelianism,” whose chief exponent is the eminent William F. Buckley, Jr.:
The thing is, private property and military discipline/efficiency are connected one to one. If you lack one, you will lose out on the other. It is a 1 to 1 relationship, when one suffers, the other suffers as well. You have to ask yourself why the US needed a 2nd Ammendment after the First Ammendment. Wasn’t the 1st one enough? Isn’t it enough to simply ensure that government guarantees freedom of speech, and therefore allows people to speak their mind, as the author presented here values so much? No, it is not enough.
You need military force, whether that force comes from civilians or not. Military force meaning organized force, it means the same thing essentially. An organized civilian force can be just as military as the military, since force and violence does not change depending upon what club you are in. So the obvious and immediate question is, why does liberty and private property need force to maintain it?
Other than the answer, “it just does”, there are other explanations tied into human nature. Human nature requires discipline to produce useful things. Without discipline, without order, human nature is simply the behavior of killing, raping, and destroying.
So to get to the point, a “garrison state” such as Sparta has to value private property. Thus when the author says that a garrison state scorns the respect for private property, he is espousing the philosophy that military power is mutually exclusive with liberty. He believes, one way or another, that the more military power used, the less freedoms there are. In some respects, that is true, but not in the way he figured it.
Duty comes with responsibilities, thus you cannot have freedom without the duty to maintain freedom. Since duty constrains, yet is necessary for the existence of liberty, you have a sort of duality paradox. How can a people be both free and not free? The answer, of course, is present in the US all volunteer military. It can also be seen in the dichotomy between Athens and Sparta, as well as Spartans and Helots. A citizenry can be free if others forsake liberty to protect the freedom of others.
The reasons for such processes are simple. Without security, there is no liberty. Without the ability of the citizenry to protect themselves from unjust force, whether it comes from criminals, non-state actors, or the legitimate government, is the only true guarantee that liberty can be maintained for the citizenry. Liberty, after all, requires the blood of both tyrants and patriots to flourish. Liberty needs its opposite to truly thrive. This relates to a little something I wrote of before, concerning how a balanced set of powers deriving from both destruction and creation is far more powerful than a set of powers derived from only destruction or only creation.
If depredations were frequent and recurrent, then the slaves who wished to seek political freedom through wealth accumulation (another Romanism, which is not transferable to America) would have seen such a promise as a crock, and would have thus descended into lassitude, secret scofflawing, etc. The extent to which the enterprising slave, as well as the would-be parvenu, could achieve freedom or status through accumulation of wealth is the extent to which the Roman subject enjoyed limited government at home: unobtrusive government (except for pomp) domestically and aggressive government internationally.
Here the author speaks about the institution of slavery in the Roman Empire. It may not be translatable directly but the American Dream of economic wellness is very similar to Rome’s social mobility beliefs. After all, in the later days of the Western Roman Empire, a barbarian even became Emperor. Rome had an ability to provide social mobility and status to folks, thereby allowing Rome to benefit from the ambition of its citizens. However, Rome’s system was pretty slow and rather primitive. Mostly it created situations in which the Senate thought themselves the caretakers of the nation, leading them to assassinate Julius Caesar and precipitate not only a civil war but Augustus’ Emperorship, for life. Any chance at reforming the Roman Senate and making it more representative of the individual Roman citizenry, the non-aristocrats, was doomed by the Roman Senate’s greed and fear of losing their power and status.
Oppression takes many forms. It does not matter if it is economic oppression or political oppression because political oppression, meaning slavery, inevitably also creates economic oppression. The same for vice a versa. Many people escaped to the US because of political and economic oppression. The American Dream thus emulates and improves upon the Roman system. It is an improvement because Americans aren’t the ones conquering and enslaving people, then making a system to integrate the barbarians. America’s system is far more passive than that.
What held consul, general and even Emperor back?
The prestige of the Senate. As Peter Heather notes, the tie of privilege to rigorous education had a profound effect upon Rome, making it, even at the height of Empire, much easier to govern than an administrative bureaucracy ever could, through this system of social incentive:
Latin language and literature spread across the Roman world because people who had originally been conquered by Caesar’s legions came to buy into the Roman ethos and adopt it as their own. This was far more than learning a little Latin for pragmatic reasons, like selling the odd cow or pig to a conquering Roman soldier (though this certainly almost happened). Accepting the grammarian and the kind of education he offered meant accepting the whole value system which, as we have seen, reckoned that only this kind of education would create properly developed – and therefore superior – human beings.
It was that same process of buying into Roman values that created Roman towns and villas in those parts of the Empire where such phenomena had been completely unknown before the arrival of the legions…. [From The Fall Of The Roman Empire: A New History by Peter Heather (London: Macmillan, 2005), p. 107–8.]
Incentives where rewards are yanked away are easily seen through by the people whom they are dangled in front of. The only way in which a system such as Rome’s could work long-term is if the Roman government was chained – and, only by cultivating the kind of purity of character, exact knowledge of both Latin and the most important texts in it, and a true respect for perfection in epigonery, could the Senate hold up the standard from the top of the Roman social heap. This system of restraint was the prime political factor which kept the Roman government limited domestically, and would have been impossible had the Senate not been able to call off the dogs of militarism when the latter were tempted to prey upon Rome’s citizens or subjects. The need for pomp and circumstance actually restrained government officials and kept day-to-day governance largely at the local level.
Yes, this set-up does sound a lot like the vision of “Ivy League Hegelianism.” There being no comparable body in the United States to the Roman Senate, though, means that the domestic restraint upon a strong United States government vis-à-vis American citizens is missing. Thus, the empirical evidence that the U.S. government becomes increasingly unrestrained, domestically, as a result of war, as shown in Crisis and Leviathan by Robert Higgs (New York: Oxford University Press USA, 1987), does have a sound logical basis behind it – note that the link still holds up as of now. It’s a pity that the studious Ivy League Hegelian, sweating over his or her books while using the glory of Rome as a kind of psychological fuel to get through the laborious chore of learning the lessons, did not take the time to comb through the President’s Oath of Office and consider the implications of the clause “all enemies, foreign and domestic” customarily associated with it. And how this clause ties in with the prestigious doctrine of the “Living Constitution.”
This was primarily the conclusion of the author’s article.
Another term for government at the local level is pork. For US politicians, they gain prestige and honor by acquiring votes, and they acquire votes by making deals and doing favors. In Rome, they didn’t have a universal franchise, not even close, so what did their Senators do to gain prestige and honor? The answer can be found in the bolded piece where the author speaks about the Senate’s promotion of virtue. However, we must understand that politicians are virtuous only to the extent that it benefits them. Some people were different, yes, but those are the exceptions to the rule. The Grachii family wished for reforms to make the lives of the non-aristocrats and the people without high class Senator patronage, better and more represented. They were exterminated by the so called virtuous Roman Senate. There was actually a very positive post about Cornelia, the mother of the Grachii by Bookworm.
As I see it, the Roman Senators wished for esteem and political power, and they knew they could get it through victory through foreign wars or amassing great wealth. The author is right to a certain extent that the Roman Legions were necessary for the Romans being Roman, however he did not mention the simple fact that the Roman Legions also provided the security that free trade and economic prosperity needed to exist. After all, when there are pirates, robbers, and chaos, how much wealth can people really acquire and keep? Not much. Is it really a surprise that areas in which the American Navy patrols, pirates stay away from and thus international shipping is safer and more plentiful? It makes perfect logical sense. If you don’t need to pay for pirate protection and if you don’t need to worry about pirates, then you can ship more goods more efficiently. More goods shipped means more wealth created across the world.
Both the Roman Legions and the Senate/Emperor had to make choices about the destiny of Rome. Their choices inevitably led to the Praetorian Guard and to the complete enslavement of the Senate to the Emperor’s will. In effect Rome became the plaything of the Emperor, and the Empire suffered because by now the military had decided to play politics instead of ensuring the safety of Rome’s citizens. This actually started because the Emperor/Senate would not pay the salaries of the legionaires. Too much corruption and too much gold was being hoarded into individuals of the Senate or through the Emperor. The military decided that it was more profitable to be the ones in control of the Emperor. Belisarius is a good example of the Eastern Roman Empire, where Rome did not fall prey to the military problems of the Western Roman Empire. Belisarius himself was special, and should have been cultivated, but such was against the ego of Emperors. Virtue became decadence, because without military discipline, without foreign enemies to fight, and without internal domestic reforms, Rome had no where to go except down.
There being no comparable body in the United States to the Roman Senate, though, means that the domestic restraint upon a strong United States government vis-à-vis American citizens is missing.
What Rome had to do informally, the US did formally and from its very beginning. It is hard for foreigners to truly understand the US Constitution, since it is hard for Americans to understand it and they live under it. The United States is one of only a few nations that created a Senate, modeled after Rome since it wasn’t modeled after Athens’ Assembly or Britain’s Parliament. Just as American Senators such as Reid and Kennedy are interested only in power, ambition, and personal wealth, so was the same true for Rome’s Senate. It just so happens to be that American Senators derive power from providing pork to their lobbies while Roman Senators derived power from prestige and family connections. The differences are fewer than the similarities. Both benefited from enormous wealth. It is not really true that the US has no counter-part to the Roman Senate. It is also not true that there is no restraint upon the US government. This theme, that there is no domestic restraint upon the government, is absolutely wrong. I mean look at his logic. The reason why the Roman Senate differs from the American one is because America has a universal franchise and favors liberty over victory. Rome favored limited franchise, limited to aristocrats and the adopted heirs of aristocrats in the Senate, and they favored victory over liberty. So why does this then mean that Rome is able to restrain their government domestically in favor of its people while America cannot? It has to be because America values liberty. And there you have it. Liberty without military force and protection of one kind or another, creates oppression. Yet the author does not follow even his own logical premises to their end.
Since I believe the American military fullfills the part of foreign and domestic protection, America therefore has a balanced equation in which it is not missing the Spartans and centurions needed to safeguard peace, prosperity, and liberty.
The oath concerning foreign and domestic enemies is always an interesting one. Both the President and the US military swears an oath to protect the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. This would actually include terrorists as well as domestic terrorism as well as Reid and Kennedy. Any threat to the Constitution, meaning any threat to the liberties and force protection that Americans have been guaranteed, must be eliminated. The Constitution is indeed the glue that holds the US Republic together. Without it, you would need to rely upon an informal and tricky cultural solution such as what Rome sustained. In our day and age, progress is too fast for such things as “culture” to maintain stability. Culture couldn’t protect Europe once Europe had outlawed firearms, free speech, and cooperation, for example.
The statement that because there is no direct counterpart to the corrupt and feckless Roman Senate means that there is no restraint upon a powerful domestic US government is pretty ignorant talk. It essentially ignores the military component that stabilizes the liberty ensured by the US Constitution. It also ignores the balance of powers created through the triumverate system of 3 branches of government.
Thus, the empirical evidence that the U.S. government becomes increasingly unrestrained, domestically, as a result of war, as shown in Crisis and Leviathan by Robert Higgs (New York: Oxford University Press USA, 1987), does have a sound logical basis behind it – note that the link still holds up as of now.
Essentially this translates as American civil liberties are being eroded through fighting a foreign war because America is not the same as Rome. Yet, America is more similar to Rome than the author could ever imagine. Without the inclusion of Jacksonian America, and their belief in victory above all else, you ignore much of the components that make up America. America, like Rome, is manifold. There are many factions and many potential lines of destiny.
Without war, republics will fall simply because it will dissolve from the inside out. War is necessary for the health of any country desiring of liberty. Not all wars are necessary, but democracies and republics tend to acquire more than their fair share of such.
The internal corruption and lack of security brought on by a lack of foreign enemies is death to a democracy as well as a republic or empire. It destroys the trust of the citizenry in the nation and in the government. It is the people that matter, not the bureacrats or the politicians in the end. Politicians can only harness the will and desire of a people for a better life, they cannot stiffen spit though.
Not every nation can grow stronger through wars. Many nations go on the wrong wars. Many nations go into a war and then lose that war or just give up. Look at Germany and Russia and Vietnam as an example. America, however, has the best record of having wars and gaining strength through them. For almost every war that has occured in American history, civil liberties increased dramatically afterwards. The American Revolution defeated British quartering and increased economic liberty. The American Civil War dissolved the formal bonds of slavery, even though the informal bonds of slavery were kept maintained by the Democrats that were left in power when Lincoln was assassinated. WWII allowed whites and blacks to fight together, making the military the first institution in America to desegregate their forces. A decade ahead of the Civil Rights Act. While America burned from 60s and 70s riots and race wars, the US military had cemented bonds of trust through the furnace of war.
For people that think of foreign wars as they do in relation to America, they just simply do not understand that America is better than Rome. What Rome or Athens or Sparta could do, America can always do better. Thus when the author admitted that Rome had something America didn’t, it simply demonstrates the belief that America is not better than everything that came before. And that is something Jacksonians in America cannot agree with.