“nothing to stop them from overthrowing everything”

Have the two main political parties in America essentially agreed to a puppet show of sorts – in which there is disagreement in the eyes of the public but complete harmony behind the scenes as far as holding on to power? What becomes of a society once her opposing factions have decided that maintaining control supersedes all other concerns? 

James Farmer sporadically blogs about these issues as he goes through some of the great philosophical tracts of history and finds parallels to modern times. Below, his ruminations on how Plutarch discussed the end of the Roman Republic and the current state of collusion between the Dems and Republicans:

Enjoy! – Josh


Plutarch – Pompey, Lives.

“A city, like a ship, can gain stability from opposed forces which together prevent it rocking one way or the other; but now these forces were united into one and there was nothing to stop the movement of violent party interest from overthrowing everything.”


1. Plutarch, the last classical Greek historian, the first modern biographer, was born in Boeotia in AD 46. He left us many great works in two categories: Parallel Lives, as series of biography of Greek and Roman historical personages; Moralia, as a collection of essays addressing various subjects of importance.

2. In the middle of his biography on Pompey, Plutarch, surprised us with some very insightful views on the demise of Pompey, which was followed by the end of Roman Republic and the rise of Roman Empire. Plutarch says, according to Cato, the demise of Pompey was not caused by the quarrel and split between Pompey and Caesar, but the alliance and harmony which Caesar offered to Pompey who so willingly accepted. As a conciliatory gesture, to everyone’s surprise, Pompey even married Caesar’s daughter, Julia. Caesar was a master mind in deceiving his formidable foe into his own sword as he wished.

3. When a group of great men, for some reasons, left their previous city, took a risky sea voyage, landed on an unfounded land where they joined together, started cultivating the land to secure their sustenance, built fords and walls to defend their settlement. Then, a man of eminence, came along to become the first ruler, gave some basic good laws to the people, a city state was born.

4. Once men settled in a city state, they formed factions, began playing politics, factions turned into a few alliances which could not be amalgamated any further, these alliances became opposed forces. According to Plutarch, it is the co-existence and interplay of these opposed forces, which prevents the city from tilting to one extreme or another. When the city is stable, she prospers.

5. In modern time, men of opposition parties, go to the same schools to learn their sophistry, study the same extracted texts of social science, wear the same suits to meet the press, rise to power in government in the same scheme, conduct a debt driven economy based on the same philosophy, wage wars against other nations on the same pretext. Men of such similar nature will conspire to oppose each other only in their fervent speeches, but always collude in their principles to seek more power and wealth for themselves. As Plutarch predicts, one day, there will be nothing to stop them from overthrowing everything.


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