X Close

Why America is haunted by Ancient Rome Even as the Capitol was seized, historical parallels were being drawn

Thomas Cole (British, 1801-1848), The Course of Empire - Destruction, 1836, oil on canvas, 39.5 × 63.5 in, New York Historical Society, New York. (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Thomas Cole (British, 1801-1848), The Course of Empire - Destruction, 1836, oil on canvas, 39.5 × 63.5 in, New York Historical Society, New York. (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)


January 11, 2021   7 mins

Historic events invariably encourage people to look to history. Last week’s invasion of the Capitol by a marauding mob of Trump supporters was no exception. How was the shock of it properly to be calibrated, except against the scale provided by the traumas and calamities of the past? Unsurprisingly, then, even as rioters were busy roaming the halls of the Capitol, stealing lecterns and taking selfies, suggestions for historical parallels were already flooding in thick and fast.

It was the most serious riot since the time of the Vietnam War. It was the most shameful day in the history of the United States since the Civil War. It was the worst desecration of the great citadel of American democracy since the British had torched it in 1812. The stunned invocations of these episodes reflected the degree to which Americans, far from living solely in the present, as the stereotypes so often have it, are in truth profoundly conscious of the distinctive character of their past. For Trump is being judged — by both his supporters and his enemies — at the bar of how Americans, over the span of their country’s existence, have understood what it means to be the citizens of a free republic.

In the immediate aftermath of the storming of the Capitol, no one articulated this perspective more powerfully than the senior senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet. Only a few hours after he had been bundled to safety by anxious security agents, he returned to the Senate floor, and there, surrounded by the wreckage of the day’s attack, gave a speech in which he placed the scenes of chaos in the broadest possible context. “One of the things I was thinking about today,” he said, “is something I often think about when I’m on this floor, which is that the Founders of this country, the people that wrote our Constitution, actually knew our history better than we know our history.”

Specifically, Bennet went on to say, they had laboured to fashion a republic in full awareness of the fact that they were not the first to embark on such a project. The existence of a senate and a Capitol in Washington speaks as loudly today as it did back in 1800 of the particular model at the forefront of the Founding Fathers’ minds. The neo-classical splendour of the Capitol – columns, marble portrait busts and all – was consciously designed to evoke the example of ancient Rome.

The parallels, of course, are not entirely reassuring. If Rome has always provided the West with the supreme archetype of a great empire, then so also does it serve us as the exemplar of an empire that declined and fell. Photos of Trump’s goons carrying spears and sporting horns have had all the greater an impact for the gilded marble that provided them with their backdrop. It gave to the invasion of the Capitol a flavour of a sword-and-sandals epic. Selfie after selfie was touched by a hint of the menacing flavour that, from Hollywood to Las Vegas, has long been a feature of how Americans popularise ancient history. Here, it seemed, was a Visigoth climbing the pediment of a statue; there a Gaul slouching on the seat of a senator. To look at them was to imagine that the rioters had not merely invaded the Capitol, but – in the manner of authentic Vandals — put it to the sack.

Except, of course, that the rioters were themselves Americans. More than that — they were Americans who had invaded the Capitol in the conviction that, by interrupting the business of the Senate, by hunting down the enemies of the President, they would be helping to make America great again. It was this reflection, when Michael Bennet looked about him from the Senate floor, that turned his thoughts to Rome. It was not the fall of the Roman empire, dismembered by invaders, that perturbed him. The senator was looking back much further in time.

Originally, in its earliest days, Rome had been a monarchy; but then, freedom-loving, patriotic and resolute, the people had risen up and expelled their king. Liberty — the liberty of a people who had no master — had duly been consecrated as the birthright and measure of every Roman. The freedom of one was the freedom of all. Only by seeing himself reflected in the gaze of his fellows could a citizen truly know himself a man. Public business — res publica — came to define the kind of state that Rome had become. This, in the wake of the American Revolution, was the model of a republic most familiar to the classically educated men who drafted the Constitution.

Yet the history of the Roman Republic, even as it provided inspiration, also served as a warning. For many centuries, the great ideal of shared citizenship had encouraged the Romans to temper their competitive instincts for the common good. To place personal honour above the interests of the entire community was seen as the behaviour of a barbarian — or worse yet, a king. Gradually, however, over the course of the centuries, this taboo began to lose its hold. The more of a superpower the Roman Republic became, and the richer the potential pickings on offer to its most powerful men, so the more it began to totter under the weight of its own greatness. The bonds of shared citizenship stretched, then frayed, then snapped. Rome imploded into civil war. The venerable edifice of her republican system of government was reduced to rubble. And in its place an autocracy emerged: the rule of the Caesars. The lesson offered was a sombre one, and weighed heavily on the minds of the Founding Fathers. Last week, as he spoke to his shell-shocked fellow senators, and sought to rally them to a consciousness of their place in history, it weighed as well on the mind of Michael Bennet.

It was hardly surprising, in the wake of an armed attempt to frustrate the legal election of a President, that the senator should have focused on one particular dynamic in the troubled final decades of the Roman Republic: the readiness of rival factions to whip up mobs. This, it turned out, was a game that anyone could play. In 121 BC, the attempt by an elected official, Gaius Gracchus, to push for radical reforms in favour of the poor, and recalibrate the balance of power between the elites and the people, was met by conservatives with a murderous display of violence. Twelve years after an attempt by Gaius’ brother to push through similar reforms was foiled by his assassination, Gaius himself was clubbed to death with a stool-leg. His corpse was decapitated, and lead poured into his skull. In the wake of his murder three thousand of his followers were executed without trial.

It was to prove a fateful step. Conservatives were soon finding that they had won a pyrrhic victory. Since political divisions in Rome were a matter less of policy or ideology than of style, there were plenty of senators who preferred instead to address ‘deplorables’ over the heads of the traditional elite. These populares, as they were called, tended to be no less wealthy or aristocratic than their opponents; but they did, almost by definition, display a talent for speaking the language of the common man. This enabled them, in the wake of the murder of the Gracchi, to follow where conservatives had led.

It is no coincidence that Julius Caesar, the most successful of all the populares, also proved the most effective at intimidating rival senators. Mobs were employed to empty buckets of excrement over them; to howl them down whenever they tried to speak; to drive them into exile. The most charismatic of the mobsters employed by Caesar to serve his interests, an aristocrat-turned-plebeian named Clodius, blazed a particularly flamboyant trail. Shrugging aside accusations of incest, sacrilege and cross-dressing, he displayed an innovative talent for organising rioters into paramilitaries. His enemies were forced to do the same. Rome became the scene of endless street battles. Clodius’ murder in one of these clashes brought them to the very heart of the Republic. His followers, outraged by the fall of their hero, went on the rampage. They invaded the Senate House, plundered all its records, then set it on fire. The flames consumed not only the Senate House itself, but also Rome’s first permanent law court. The Capitol, seen in the light of such history, can be reckoned to have got off lightly.

Naturally, America is not Rome. The chasm of difference that separates the two republics is immense. Any parallels drawn between them are bound to be hazy at best, and at worst grotesque. The United States may boast senators, but it has none of the consuls or praetors mentioned by Michael Bennet in his speech. Was what he had to say on the floor of the Senate, then, merely tendentious? Not at all. This was because, eloquently and appropriately, it drew attention to the way in which, from the very beginnings of the American Republic, there has always been an element of role-playing about its politics.

None of the rioters who invaded the Capitol last week, not even the QAnon shaman in his buffalo horns, was more strikingly dressed than the sculpture of George Washington that back in 1832 was commissioned by Congress to mark the centennial of the first President’s birth. Horatio Greenough’s statue, now in the National Museum of American History, originally sat in the Rotunda of the Capitol, and portrayed Washington as the physical intersection point of twin republics: the American and the Roman. His wig is off-set by a toga; his raised right finger by the sword he holds in his left hand. It is comical, but also oddly moving.

To play at being a Roman was not, for the Founding Fathers, mere affectation. “Soon as this great work was done,” wrote Parson Weems, author of the first biography of Washington, “he took an affectionate leave of his gallant army and returned to cultivate his four acres.” Weems, when he wrote this, was not describing Washington but a Roman. Cincinnatus, a statesman summoned from his plough to save Rome, and who, after his duty done, laid done his office and returned to his fields, was a figure who served his countrymen as the very archetype of civic virtue. Gruelling and implacable though the contest to excel in Roman politics always was, there could be no place in it for ill-disciplined vainglory. The example of the past created a sense of responsibility that prevented a Roman’s sense of competition from degenerating into mere selfish ambition.

America’s Founding Fathers, looking to the nobility of this political tradition, did their best to transplant it to a continent undreamed of by the Romans. The desire to root it deeply so that it would not succumb to the blights of mob-rule and autocracy was indeed, as Senator Bennet said, what they “were thinking about when they wrote our Constitution”. Yet so accustomed are we to associate America with excess that it took the events at the Capitol to bring home to many of us that its political culture has, above all, always been marked by the acknowledgement and acceptance of limits. Those limits were what Trump, impatient with anything that frustrates his vanity, so heedlessly sought to trample down last week.

Fortunately, he is no Caesar, and the American republic is not the Roman. If anything, the attack on the Capitol, precisely because it was so shocking, has served Americans as a bracing reminder of just how fortunate they are to enjoy the political traditions that they do. The greatest punishment inflicted on Trump is likely to be, not a second impeachment, not prison, not even banishment from Twitter, but one far more enduring: to serve as an object of obloquy, and a standing lesson, in the annals of American history.


Tom Holland is a writer, popular historian and cricketer. He is not an actor. His most recent book is PAX

holland_tom

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

197 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

In nearly every article concerning events at the Capitol, the writer expresses shock and I cannot figure out what is so shocking. Have we not all watched people being killed in riots all across the US for nearly a year?

We have seen federal buildings attacked and burned, police attacked, public statues toppled, shops looted with people carrying out large screen TVs and designer handbags, people accosted in restaurants for refusing to raise their arm, people in cars surrounded and attacked, parts of cities taken hostage with the police thrown out and tribal “government” established, businesses and livelihoods destroyed, demands that people kneel in public, people marching through neighborhoods at night with bullhorns demanding that families wake up, political leaders homes defaced and graffitied.

All of the above was tolerated and indeed egged on by some of those in political leadership positions screeching the loudest today, while those whose lives were destroyed, well, too bad. But we are supposed to be shocked that someone sat in Nancy Pelosi’s chair and peed on the carpet in a few offices?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Exactly, and thank you for saying that. The journalists and commentators or utterly myopic and wickedly biased. It is their behaviour that is, to a great extent, prompting the reactions of the Trump supporters. Not a single writer has mentioned in the last few days that the Senate was stormed by protestors during the Kavanaugh hearings in 2018, for no good reason whatsoever. The entire journalist class is as deceitful as it is ignorant.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

How many people were waving guns during the Kavanaugh protests? Was anyone killed?You can whine all you want about double standards, but the simple fact of the matter is that you’ve lost any moral high ground you might have held. It was very helpful of Trump to sink to a new low like that, actually. After all that rioting, us liberals were in danger of looking like the bad guys, but he really did us a solid in proving once again that no matter how low we try to sink, we just can’t manage to be quite as bad as conservatives.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago

Yes agreed on Trump supporters losing the moral high ground here. This was an immensely stupid and reckless act.

But there is another important distinction to be made here. However wrongheaded and demented these protesters were – they aimed their ire directly at what was the source of what they thought the problem was. It made some sense.

This is in direct contrast to the majority of the unrest over the past 8 months across America where the principle victims of the rioting were ordinary people and their livelihoods

Doesn’t mean the Capitol rioters were right at all by any stretch of the imagination, but I think this point needs to be made, and where accusations of double standards hold a heck of a lot of water.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Exactly. I am all in favour of ire – and even violence – being aimed when it is justified and makes some sense. Examples include the ANC in South Africa and even Baader Meinhof to a considerable extent.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

One hopes that your ANC “necklaces” do not make an appearance again…

mark taha
mark taha
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Badger Meinhof? Communist-backed spoilt brat terrorists with a national guilt complex.

Harvey Johnson
Harvey Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

If you can’t see how the events at the Capitol were just as unacceptable and unjustified as the summer riots then I’m afraid, as Bret Weinstein said, you’re not really honestly taking part in this conversation. You’re just a partisan.

For what it’s worth, I roundly condemn both ‘mobs’ or ‘protests’ – don’t care which word you want to use. Mainly because I believe that violence of any form has absolutely zero place in 21st century politics. It can be understandable – sure – but it’s never justified and it never makes sense, mainly because it’s mutually destructive when politics is meant to be a constructive exercise.

Martin Ridley
Martin Ridley
3 years ago
Reply to  Harvey Johnson

I think you will find most commentators on here don’t like mobs.

Harvey Johnson
Harvey Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Ridley

I was using both terms as a shorthand for the general partisanship that’s broken out over these issues in terms of the linguistics. Hence the air quotes.

One person’s ‘mob’ is another’s ‘mostly peaceful protest’, and they are often deployed inconsistently for what are pretty similar events.

A ‘mob’ is never a good thing, so I think you’ll find that most commentators everywhere don’t like ‘mobs’. That’s why the word is used to discredit rather than flatter.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

One deliberately shot dead, three possible heart attacks, and one ’cause unknown’, that’s hardly the ‘Storming of the Bastille’ is it?

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago

It’s equally possible to be a liberal or conservative who rejects violent action, and especially protests-that-turn-into riots.

In a functioning democracy any protest that turns into a riot – i.e. where people take the law into their own hands – should be condemned by all of us. Even if the ostensible cause appears worthy.

And under any system a protest/riot that harms uninvolved people should be condemned.

In the current political climate it’s vitally important that we oppose violent and/or illegal action from our own sides of the political spectrum rather than pointing at what the other side is doing and using that to justify an attitude of “this is okay because the other lot are worse”.

That’s the main thrust of the article – the risk of a race to the bottom with increasing tolerance of political violence.

So lets stand together, liberals & conservatives, and accept the outcome of elections that have been verified as free-and-fair – despite the fact that no electoral system yields results that perfectly match the “will of the people”.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

Everything Trump has done is within ‘due legal process’. By his use of the law to overturn the election results, he has significantly strengthened election protocols and the rule of law. In the event he has committed any crime he will be prosecuted, strengthening democracy further.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Having sat through 4+ years of “due legal process” around Brexit, and observed my former president Jacob Zuma’s Stalingrad defence in the courts, I tend to think that
a) persisting with lawfare when one has clearly lost is pointless and just wastes everyone’s time and energy
b) when “due legal process” is accompanied by hyperbolistic propaganda and stoking of divisions, the protagonist loses moral authority

e.g. in a US context the Democrats’ handling of the Kavanaugh hearings falls exactly into that bucket.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

You can whine all you want about double standards, but the simple fact of the matter is that you’ve lost any moral high ground you might have held.

I’m not a Trump supporter, and you can call it whining if you want, but I will also say that very few people can claim any kind of moral high ground. You can’t occupy moral high ground if display hypocrisy and double standards, and those failings have been all too obvious among some in the media and among some politicians.

For all the pearl-clutching about “insurrection” by Trump’s lunatic extremist supporters, how many Democrats actually got exercised by the genuine non-democratic usurpation of power that was the CHAZ/CHOP? How many serious media outlets even raised an eyebrow that an entire urban neighbourhood had been seized by force and occupied for weeks on end? The incident was treated as some kind of quirky high jinks.

After all that rioting, us liberals were in danger of looking like the bad guys, but he really did us a solid in proving once again that no matter how low we try to sink, we just can’t manage to be quite as bad as conservatives.

Meaningless and, I’d say, dishonest generalisations and binary attitude. The person at the BLM protest who killed that ex-cop trying to defend his friend’s shop are the lowest of the low. The extremist who killed a policeman by bludgeoning him with a fire extinguisher is the lowest of the low. Neither is better than the other.

“Conservatives” covers a very broad range of people and opinions. As does “liberals”. Judging both categories by their most extreme, lunatic members is self-serving and dishonest.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

Kavanaugh protests? What you willfully skate around exposes your bias.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

How acceptable is a hypocrisy from most of the Occidental ruling caste and very much of the media – especially in the USA – which spends 50 months to date attempting to subvert the result of the 2016 presidential election by a series of lies and hoaxes (orchestrated between the Dem Party and the FBI: Russiagate, Ukrainegate &c) and then now screams that this breakaway demonstration from a group of Trump supporters was a terrible unprecedented attack on Democracy?

Likewise much of the ruling caste in THIS country attempted to reverse the verdict of our British referendum.

How are those full-time dishonesties and subversions not attacks on Democracy?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

They didn’t have guns, most of them had phones. An ITV reporter among them videoed the occupation. It seemed to be mainly jostling, shouting and some petty vandalism. The people who died were the protestors. It is astounding that the months-long occupation of Portland by far left radicals has passed almost without comment by the BBC and other mainstream media.

However, Trump can be condemned for inciting the invasion, and in any case as is usual with him he is so childish and narcissistic he doesn’t even see where his own longer term interests lie, or that of his his ’cause’ (if there is such a thing). But if we are to conspicuously condemn only one side in the ongoing US culture wars, then any hope of reconciliation will be lost. China must be – IS – laughing all the way to its eventual occupation of Taiwan.

Martin Ridley
Martin Ridley
3 years ago

No one is whining, what people object to is the double standards and the arogance of Liberals who think they hold the high ground, they don’t.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Absolutely right.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago

Public protests are allowed in a democracy, even though they inevitably include a certain amount of things getting out of hand. I mean, you could suspend the right of assembly if all you were worried about was no windows getting smashed, but yes, as a point of fact – the dangers of large angry crowds gathering is considered part of the price we pay for democracy.

On the other hand, and also funnily enough, storming a government building with guns to try to overturn an election is not allowed in a democracy. Do you understand why that is?

Reinmar Nachtigall
Reinmar Nachtigall
3 years ago

Are you seriously justifying BLM, Antifa riots? You know that at least 25 people died. With damages approx. $2 bill.
And you call that “things getting out of hand.”

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

Read his other post on the thread. His entire concern seems to be “Cool, at least we now don’t look as bad as them”.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

The only person who seems to have used a gun effectively is that panicky Policeman who shot and killed an unarmed white woman.

No doubt she will be instantly forgotten, unlike a certain black, habitual criminal, killed a few months ago in Minneapolis, who has become a national hero.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Ashli Babbitt-“say her name”.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Thank you. Any news on the malefactor who shot her and why?

s williams
s williams
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Policeman-suspended. Why I don’t know. The videos of her death provide zero information.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  s williams

Extraordinary, Ashli Babbitt, Veteran, White, shot in the the neck by panicky policemen, virtually no public comment.

George Floyd, habitual criminal, Black, possibly suffocated by incompetent policeman, global outrage, rioting and hysteria.

What is going on?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Most of the world would disagree with your characterisation of the two killings. Mountains of evidence and historical precedent would be denied by you anyway. Is it really any wonder at all?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

What are you talking about?
Have I got the facts wrong, or is my interpretation incorrect. If so, how so?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

A man, his voice whimpering, pleads with policemen to be escorted out of the building before they’re harmed by the mob. Police behind the barricade see this violent scene unfold and hear chants calling for the lynching of elected officials. Security behind the barricade now feel that their life and the lives of democratic elected representatives are seriously in danger, if the mob break through. A shot is fired in the chaos, a result of the dangerous mob making innocent people fear for their lives and whether they’ll see their families again. (There’s video footage of this moment)

Have I got the facts wrong or is my interpretation incorrect. If so, how so?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Thank you for the mimicry of your final paragraph.

Thanks also for that interesting précis of the video. The crucial words are “a shot is fired in the chaos”. Either that policeman had what we call over here (UK), a ‘negligent discharge’, or he panicked and fired without sufficient reason.

He is therefore unfit to handle firearms and should be disciplined accordingly.

Even in a ‘Wild West’, gun toting society such as yours, the highest standards of firearms control must apply, as I am sure you agree?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

People are people. When they are in fear of their life they make mistakes. Policemen are no different. No amount of training will stop people being scared of mobs that are screaming for a public lynching that may well include them.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

I’m sorry, but that is a nonsensical argument. If the other DC policeman present had surrendered to fear and panic there would have been a bloodbath of an epic scale.
Fortunately they were made of the ‘right stuff’.

The whole point of training, as you must be aware, is to control fear, not capitulate to it. Ask your Special Forces, Marine Corps and other Police Forces if you doubt this.

Incidentally had that policeman in Minneapolis surrendered to fear, he would not have knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck to restrain him, but would have shot him in the head, and by your logic, been totally exonerated.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

An violent insurrection to subvert democracy is not a typical event. It is understandable that individuals would act to protect their own safety. The policeman could have held his fire and survived but he didn’t know that at the time. He can hardly be regarded as negligent considering the situation he was in. That is, facing a mob prepared to use violence where he might have been killed for resisting. The security forces should use deadly force, if necessary, to prevent an armed insurrection to subvert democracy.

Arresting a man for using a fake dollar bill is not comparable to the violence faced by officers at Capitol Hill.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

“A violent insurrection to subvert democracy is not a typical event.” What an extraordinary, even hysterical overreaction.

Had it been so, the catalyst might well have been the moment that panic stricken policeman shot that unarmed woman. If ‘violent insurrection’ was sought why was there not an immediate outburst of retaliatory shooting from the agitated crowd of wannabe revolutionaries, as you would have it? Could it possibly be that very few indeed were even armed?

I would have thought that it was blindingly obvious that the unruly crowd was intent on a day of disorderly conduct, coupled with a little bit of petty larceny, and not Revolution.This was not the ‘Storming of the Winter Palace’ or the ‘Fall of Saigon’. It was a trivial domestic disturbance, that was sullied by the unnecessary death of that young woman.

Finally Mr Floyd was killed accidentally, whist at the very least the killing of Ms Babbitt was an act of manslaughter was it not?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

I am sorry but I don’t have the energy to refute what you say. I couldn’t disagree more and I think you should think of the lawmakers that did truly fear for their lives when characterising it as a ‘trivial domestic disturbance’. The attitude of many posters here in regards this event is soul destroying.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Thanks for the discussion.

I totally agree, we have diametrically opposed opinions on this issue, and it would pointless to continue. We have taxed the patience of UnHerd readers far enough.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Thank you. We kept it civil, which is something. Have a great day.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

You confuse riots with protest. They are not the same.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

A bit rich from someone who believes an offer to pay for bail is worse than armed insurrection and sedition.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

I would not bail out violent rioters.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I know but you do offer support to violent insurrectionists. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

If only you could prove that, eh?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

One only needs to read your comments that basically amount to ***cry*** the Democrats are worse, racial unrest was worse and $2 billion damage. As if screaming ‘what about this’ has ever been a valid argument. You’re infantile and dishonest. It was truly awful debating with you.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

It’s not that the BLM riots were worse, although from a loss of life and community and property destruction and job loss viewpoint, it would be tough to argue that they were not. But democrats, the media and others who pretended these were “peaceful protests” those who wondered why there were not more uprisings and said that there should be more people getting in the faces of others, they don’t have standing to complain today. OTOH, people who did condemn the takeover of parts of cities, the burning and looting, and suggested actions to stop it, including force, have some credibility. Were you in favor of the police and national guard (where the police and cities were unable to), stopping riots, burnings, looting, etc to protect lives and property?

Attempting to divert the conversation because you can’t justify your views and throwing personal insults is not debating.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I’ll ask you again, on what grounds do you dispute the data that showed most BLM protests were peaceful? Most doesn’t equal all. It seems you struggle with complex reality and deal only in black and white.

Toby Bray
Toby Bray
3 years ago

Yes, exactly. Completely ignoring months of destructive violence across America & the fact that the Democrats spent the last 4 years loudly proclaiming that Trump’s election was invalid.

Of course there’s a particular significance to the Capitol being invaded. But when it comes to ‘overthrowing democracy and law & order’, the precedents set by the Democrats and BLM are huge.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Bray

Estimates I’ve seen are that between 16 and 26 million people took part in BLM protests. 19 to 26 dead. A ‘few thousand’ involved in Capitol riot – 5 dead. That’s not equivalence.

The essence of the BLM riots/protests (whichever way you have it) was that US society (and specifically law and order) is institutionally racist.

The argument goes – if the society you live in doesn’t protect you from racism, and even more so if that society institutionally damages you with its racism, then that is not a democratic society deserving respect.

if you’re protesting/rioting about law and order (as the enforcement arm of the society you believe is racist) then your actions are bound to be threatening to law and order.

If you think Trump won the election the Capitol riot could be justified. If you think USA is institutionally racist the BLM riots could be justified.

I don’t think Trump won the election and I do believe USA is institutionally racist. Doesn’t mean I support rioting or the killing of anyone.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I am not in any way justifying your absurd rationale for BLM riots, but if you are going to include non-violent medical deaths in the the Capital total, we need to go back and re-do the stats on BLM, eh?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

25 people were killed directly in BLM riots. In just one city , Chicago, 25 additional people were murdered and 85 wounded within 24 hours of BLM actions. YOU are underestimting the carnage of BLM a nundred fold. The worst thing to happen in race relations since the KKK. https://chicago.suntimes.co

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Ah, a statistical argument! It rather ignores the fact it was the Trump supporters who died – which is perhaps their own fault – generally the gunning down of a US citizen by the police would be the cause of demands for justice etc. On the other other hand the BLM riots caused the burning down of shops and businesses, and a number of entirely innocent people were killed, including black people (not the right kind of black people obvs).

‘then that is not a democratic society deserving respect’ – that is a chilling justification for mob rule.

BLM is an extremist anti-Western movement, though of course many of its supporters are genuine. It hides behind issues of racial inequality to advance its extreme agenda, which is entirely outside the American mainstream. Who voted for them? Far, far more black people are killed by other black people than by white cops. Reform is one thing, but ‘Defund the police’? Can anyone think of a single policy more likely to lead to more black people being murdered in the inner city? Perhaps they would be just collateral damage in the necessary pre-revolutionary violence.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

No, even if you think the US is institutionally racist, that does not justify looting someone’s business, taking over parts of cities, dragging people out of cars and beating them. It just does not.

mark taha
mark taha
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I don’t think either. BLM a bunch of anti- white anti- American thugs fawned over by gutless white liberals.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Biden has never endorsed Antifa. Let alone proclaim his love for them while they attack federal officers in Portland. A key difference. The mass protest movements against racism have been some of the largest mass movements in world history. 10,000s of demonstrations over a series of months involving millions of people. The aim to address racism and police brutality. Both issues are real and affect the day-to-day life of millions of Americans. That aside, many of the policies propagated by the left were moronic and gave the impression that law enforcement should be disbanded. However, this is simply not comparable to a sitting president inspiring a crowd of extremists to storm government buildings to seize lawmakers and perhaps even kill them in order to subvert democracy. The crowd were screaming to hang Mike Pence and men in fatigues were seen to be carrying zip tie handcuffs. You’re dishonest if you are unable to call out the insurrection for what it was.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

His vice-president (soon to be president) offered bail for the Antifa/BLM rioters. Oh, and by the way-the “crowd” was encouraged-as all protest marchers are-to march to the Capital to voice their protests. A few hundred (if that many) bad actors do not justify you painting the entire, mostly peaceful crowd, with such a broad, negative brush.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Do you think offering to pay for bail for a rioter is the same as inciting extremists to harm or kill lawmakers in order to subvert the democratic will of the American people?

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Well it is sort of saying – come on out and have another go – isn’t it?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

It is legal to offer to pay somones bail. Armed insurrection not so much. Stop with the false equivalence and have a backbone. You would not say the same, if the sides were reversed.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

You are in a terrible position here and you should stop digging a bigger whole. You have zero credibility to complain about protest from anyone.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

It’s much worse. Paying for bail for people who burned buildings and looted businesses? What precisely did DJT say that you consider incitement to kill anyone?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

People that may have been involved in those activities. Many others may have just been beaten by riot police. What about the single mums on their bikes that had their heads split open by riot police or the journalists blinded by rubber bullets. Paying for bail is not the same as paying for a convicted criminal. Until someone is convicted in a court of law they are innocent or do you believe in a presumption of guilt? Inciting people to break the law, which they duly did is not equivalent to paying for bail. You are dishonest to make this false equivalence. One suspects if the shoe was on the other foot you would not say the same.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Paying for bail for rioters who destroyed people’s livelihoods? Or for those who took over parts of a city and refused to allow anyone in or out, even those who lived there? Nope, sorry that’s simply wrong. Don’t try to pretend that we didn’t all see this almost all year.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Until a court of law has convicted it’s probably best to reserve judgement on individual cases. The offer to pay was legal. You can disagree with it but it is not comparable to inciting armed insurrection leading to a policeman being killed.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Until a court of law has convicted, we don’t actually have anyone who incited armed insurrection, do we? And if it’s policemen being killed, antifa has it all over the Capitol protesters so you can’t win the argument there either. In fact, antifa’s death count is far, far higher.

Face it, you’re in a ditch you dug yourself.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Yes, we do and it’s the President of the United States. We can all see his incitement for what it is. Whether it’s criminal or not is by the by. The damage has been done. It’s odd that you think I am Antifa when I have repeatedly condemned them. I don’t and have not made excuses for violence in Portland. If it were Trump fanatics you surely would.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Where did I say you were antifa?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

You keep mentioning Antifa as if I don’t also condemn them. If I do then why raise them?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

But where did I say you were antifa? That was your claim.

Deirdre
Deirdre
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

But it is. By paying for bail you are condoning their actions and encouraging others to do the same. How is that not the same as Trump telling his supporters to make their voices heard? He didn’t tell them to storm the Capitol.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Deirdre

No as the police are not trusted to enforce the law fairly when it comes to black lives. This is the point. Large swathes of America do not trust the police and even fear them. There are ample examples of miscarriages of justice and police brutality. Paying for bail in this context should not be taken as an endorsement for violence and rioting. Even so leading Democrats do not support Antifa. Antifa do not carry Biden placards. The relationship is of a different scale.

I listened to a video last night of a Trump supporter loudly proclaiming to a fearful police officer that they were invited by President Trump to Capitol Hill. How much clearer do the MAGA fanatics need to be for you take their words seriously? Trump has deliberately added fuel to fire with his mixed messages and conspiracy theories. That’s me being generous to Trump. He watched on TV as his supporters died and said nothing of substance.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Not has he notably called them out…

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

What Biden said about Portland rioters:

“The deadly violence we saw overnight in Portland is unacceptable [“Š] as a country we must condemn the incitement of hate and resentment that led to this deadly clash. It is not a peaceful protest when you go out spoiling for a fight”

“There’s no place for violence, no place for looting or destroying property or burning churches or destroying businesses [“Š] we need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest and opportunistic violent destruction”

The message was not ambiguous. He didn’t say Antifa were great people nor patriots. He didn’t proclaim his love for them. He didn’t address Antifa before they marched and promise to walk hand in hand with them.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

He also didn’t suggest that anything should be done to stop them.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

You mean aside from stating plainly that violence was unacceptable and not endorsing Antifa in any way whatsoever. Antifa do not carry Biden placards. The insurrectionists carried Trump placards, confederate flags, guns, pipe bombs and hand cuffs.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Yes I mean he did not suggest anything that should be done to stop them. If you disagree, quote comments he made detailing what should be done to stop them.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

That’s your strawman. He condemned the violence and never endorsed the organisation. That is all we should expect. It’s up to law enforcement and those in power to detail what should be done.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Trump condemned the violence and did not endorse antifa either. The difference is that Biden did not suggest anything should be done to stop it. No way around that.

And no that is not all we should expect. We should expect people’s lives and businesses to be protected,

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

No, Trump reiterated unsubstantiated claims that the Democrats rigged the election. He said that those involved in violence were patriots and he loved them. His extremist base can read the subtext. They believe that he pays lip service to mainsteam media, while actually supporting them.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Quote him saying that anyone involved in violence is a patriot.

And that does not excuse Biden not suggesting ways to stop the violence against innocent people.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

His speech to the crowd that stormed Capitol Hill before the violence and afterwards referred to them as patriots. I listened to it as events were unfolding.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

I asked you to quote him. Specifically saying that anyone involved in violence is a patriot. That was after all your claim. Here is what you said…..

“He said that those involved in violence were patriots and he loved them.”

You are being asked for a quote from Trump that backs this up.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Go and watch the video! I watched him say that the protestors that stormed Capitol Hill were fine people but to go home. That they were patriots but to go home. That he loved them and that the election was stolen but don’t be violent. The mixed messaging was insane. As I said, you’d have to be ideologue not to admit that this was ambiguous at best and at worst a calculated attempt to condone the violent insurrection and incite further action.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Here’s what you said.

“He said that those involved in violence were patriots and he loved them.”

Back it up. Quote Trump saying this.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I paraphrased. That is the essence of what he said. I watched his address live on TV. I and millions of others know perfectly well what he meant. You seem very willing to distort his message that was at best ambiguous and at worst direct incitement. One wonders on what grounds you criticise the media for their own contortions.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

You don’t get to paraphrase. If you’re going to accuse someone of saying something they have to have actually said it or you’re not telling the truth. Which is the case here.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I am not obligated to quote verbatim from a speech I listened to in order to comment on Unherd. I am not writing an essay. At any rate, I have been honest and believe that I represented the spirit of what was said accurately. Others are free to watch the video for themselves and make up their own mind. You really have lost this one.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Well, if you want to make your case that someone said something, then yes, you are obligated to quote that person saying it. If you don’t care about making your case and just want to pretend someone said something, that’s quite different.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I paraphrased his comments accurately. You are being dishonest again.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

If I had asked you to paraphrase that would matter. I asked you for a quote. But you don’t have one, do you?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

No and that’s because I watched the speech live. I didn’t take notes. I am perfectly able to convey the content of a rambling 2-3 minute speech. At any rate, you are a liar so why would anyone trust what you say.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

If Trump had said what you claimed it would be playing on a continuous loop on CNN. But he didn’t and that’s why you can’t quote him.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Speech before:

“I’m honest. And I just, again, I want to thank you. It’s just a great honor to have this kind of crowd and to be before you and hundreds of thousands of American patriots who are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious republic.

“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats, which is what they’re doing. And stolen by the fake news media. That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up, we will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.

“For years, Democrats have gotten away with election fraud and weak Republicans. And that’s what they are. There’s so many weak Republicans. And we have great ones. Jim Jordan and some of these guys, they’re out there fighting. The House guys are fighting. But it’s, it’s incredible.

“Our media is not free, it’s not fair. It suppresses thought, it suppresses speech and it’s become the enemy of the people. It’s become the enemy of the people. It’s the biggest problem we have in this country.”

During the Capitol Hill Siege:

“I know your pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election stolen from us, we won in a landslide. Everyone knows it. Especially the other side. We have to peace, we have to respect our law enforcement.

“Go home, we love you, you’re very special.”

Search on YouTube: “We love you. You’re very special” Donald Trump.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Obviously you were not one of the many thousands of people terrorized by the antifa riots. Nor were you one of those whose business was destroyed with zero consequences for the destroyers. You confuse protest with rioting, looting, taking over cities, burning federal property, attacking police. They are not the same thing. And you can’t very well say that’s all okay and yet whine about protest at the Capitol. Screaming is not the same thing as burning buildings, beating people in the streets, stopping drivers and pulling them out of their cars.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

No, I do not. I even pointed out that many on the left called for moronic polices akin to disbanding the police. I also shared a source that had catalogued all protests and violent incidents. Statues being pulled down counted as violent and most protests were peaceful. This is a factual claim backed up by data. Armed insurrection to subvert democracy is in a different league.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Yes, you do indeed. You even call them protests when they were clearly not protests. No one gets a free TV in a protest. No one gets their livelihood destroyed simply for being in the wrong city. No one gets their car stopped with their 80 year old mother in it and gets terrorized. You have no credibility to complain about the Capitol events. None whatsoever. Screaming does not amount to what we have seen all year from the left.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Some of the protests became extremely violent. I am fine with calling out violent anarchists, leftists or anti-racists. Many of the crimes committed in the name of the cause were abhorrent. That doesn’t change the facts on the ground. Most protests were peaceful as the data from The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) demonstrates:

“While the US has long been home to a vibrant protest environment, demonstrations surged to new levels in 2020. Between 24 May and 22 August, ACLED records more than 10,600 demonstration events across the country. Over 10,100 of these ” or nearly 95% ” involve peaceful protesters. Fewer than 570 ” or approximately 5% ” involve demonstrators engaging in violence. Well over 80% of all demonstrations are connected to the Black Lives Matter movement or the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Sadly, we all saw it all year long. Who are people going to believe – you or their lying eyes. Thousands of innocent people had their lives and businesses destroyed. Many more lost jobs because someone’s business was destroyed. Whole cities were no go zones.

It was always a mistake for folks like you to pretend it was all okay while it was going on. You don’t get to say now, oh I was always against this. Now it has come back to bite you.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

On what basis do you dispute the catalogued data that I referenced? I’m sure many people did bare witness to violence and destruction. I am not denying that. I am merely pointing out that most protests were not violent. A claim backed by evidence.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

It’s way too late to remove the scenes we saw mostly in democratic states and cities across the country. It’s too late to void the death count, the financial devastation, the job and business loss. We can’t unburn the buildings and cars that were torched. The looters can’t un-loot.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

Regrettably this is true. This sad fact doesn’t alter my question to you. On what grounds do you deny the validity of the dataset that I shared with you?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

I’m not going to let you change the subject which is the violent riots we witnessed all summer long. It’s not happening. You don’t get to post data that’s not about the subject and demand anything.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

That’s unfair I just quoted from a report to you that had catalogued all protest movements over the summer that concluded 95% were peaceful. You still have not explained on what grounds you disagree with the findings.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

And if that’s what we were talking about it would have been relevant. I make no comments other than those on the subject – violent riots all across the country this year. The many killed, the billions lost.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

You are dishonest. You have refused to comment on evidence that I have shared with you. You are convinced that crimes committed during the summer riots and the subsequent contortions in the media somehow justify armed insurrection by a sitting president. A total false equivalence and clearly born of your own partisan thinking. It’s much easier to spout your nonsense in the circle jerk comment section of Unherd but do try to think critically.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

If you disagree that violent riots across the country killed dozens and cost billions, prove it. It’s you who is trying to draw equivalence, not me.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

No, I quoted from a dataset that clearly showed most protests in relation to BLM were peaceful. You underestimate the scale of the protest movement in relation to violent incidents that occurred. Violent incidents were deadly, severe and extremely costly. They were still a minority of protests. This claim is backed by evidence. I don’t deny £1 billion in insurance claims nor people that sadly lost their lives. It must be said that many of them were BLM protestors who were shot and killed.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Still trying to change the subject. Which is riots. And it isn’t going to work, that should be clear by now. Violent riots across the country killed dozens and cost billions. No way around that.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

At this point I have to ask, are you trolling me or are you unable to read?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Just keeping you honest. I know you do not want to discuss the riots. And you don’t have to, it would be very easy to find someone who wants to talk about whatever it is you want to talk about.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

You are dense and dishonest. At this point I’ll have to accept the fact that you wilfully twist and ignore my comments. A sincere and honest conversation with you is impossible. I hope the fog of war clears for you and you’re able to see sense.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Apparently a sincere and honest conversation about the year’s BLM riots is indeed beyond you. Fine by me, you cannot erase what happened.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

An absurd statement. There’s a string of my comments above condemning the riots and violence related to BLM protests. My only point was that most protests related to BLM were peaceful. A statement backed by evidence. At any rate, everyone can see the comment trail above and you for the liar that you are.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

You seem rattled.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

It’s exasperating dealing with dishonest people. By the same token, I am glad you revealed your true self.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I agree. I never stated otherwise. You’re being dishonest again. The scale of the protests over the summer was enormous. A minority of cities and areas experienced severe instances of deadly violence, looting and arson. This is supported by data that I have shared with you. Why are you unable to comprehend that most protests were peaceful and yet there was still deadly violence, theft and arson that was severe but this was a minority of cases.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Delighted that you agree that the rioting we have seen this year was unacceptable and devastating to so many lives and businesses.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago

I have condemned it in numerous comments throughout our conversation. Can you read? I don’t think I have debated a more dishonest person on social media.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

It’s you who has been dishonest trying to change the subject from the riots this summer.

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Biden at the debate said that “Antifa is an idea not an organization.” That is only true in the national sense. At the local level, in the Pacific Northwest, Antifa is very much organzied–Rose City Antifa, to give one example. Their political violence is very well-coordinated. They prefer to deny their own existence, and echoing those sentiments serves their agenda.

Neil John
Neil John
3 years ago
Reply to  M Spahn

“They prefer to deny their own existence” hence the attack on Powell’s Bookstore in an attempt to stop Andy Ngo’s book about them becoming publicly available.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Biden withheld $2 billion of US taxpayers money to Ukraine provided they sacked the prosecutor investigating his son. Every world leader has Biden pegged as a criminal with no morals, especially China and Iran. Good luck.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

Spot on! Hear! hear!

Danny K
Danny K
3 years ago

Well, two things can be bad at the same time. There is always a way to play the Whatabout game.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Danny K

Not once you’ve egged on and excused certain actions, there isn’t. In that case, you should probably be very quiet. But my point was that sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s chair is a far cry from burning someone’s business down.

Martin Ridley
Martin Ridley
3 years ago

well put

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

This writer strays into fiction right from the beginning: “worst riot since Vietnam War..”? Ever hear about Rodney King? Portland, Chicago, Seattle-even D.C. “Most shameful day? I would posit that Woodrow Wilson hosting the Klan perhaps was more shameful, as was his re-segregating the armed forces. I would even say that the Mao Christmas ornament of the Obama White House is a contender, not to mention the midnight Iran cash drop. Clinton and his cigar peccadillos surely is a low point. I am not really surprised at the immediate, delighted outpouring of outrage over this tawdry event, but please-you can do better than this.

David Parsons
David Parsons
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

If you had read the article more carefully, and not been in such a rush to criticise, you would have understood that it was not the writer of this article who ‘stray[ed] into fiction right from the beginning’ but rather than he was, in the passage you criticise, citing other commentators’ characterisation of the Capitol incident. (That he was doing so was clearly indicated by the links embedded in this passage and by the preceding introductory line: ‘even as rioters were busy roaming the halls of the Capitol … suggestions for historical parallels were already flooding in thick and fast’).

Careful reading aids comprehension and may also prevent one making a muppet of oneself.

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

Today, in the wake of the desecration of the Capitol, the first order of business of the majority Democrats is the impeachment of a leader who’s time expires in 9 days. The second order of business is to rout gender words from the Congress, those offensive characterizations like sister, brother, mother, etc, replacing them with sibling, parent, etc. In other words, the American political elite has not learned a damn thing from Rome’s fall.

s williams
s williams
3 years ago
Reply to  vince porter

Amen and awomen

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  s williams

You “couldn’t make it up”, as they say.
God bless America!

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
3 years ago

The problem is there’s no Octavian to put a better model in place, or even just a Felix Sulla to stabalize the one already there, even if at a high cost. Moderate Democrats like Tulsi Gabbard seem to be having increasing difficulty just staying in the party, let alone influencing it.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

Tulsi has given up and will not stand for Congress again. Check out her recent interview with Dave Rubin. It tells you all you need to know about the truly evil US political class that someone as decent and sensible as Tulsi was literally forced out, with the help of Big Tech.

baba ganouch
baba ganouch
3 years ago

“in the wake of an armed attempt to frustrate the legal election of a President”. Really? This was armed? With a comic horned helmet? Armed was what took place on the streets of every major city over the past 6 months. Bats, gas masks, armour, and guns. This was theater. If the author can’t tell the difference, then indeed, woe to the republic

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  baba ganouch

The author has no interest in telling the difference.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

It’s the authors avowed intent to make a mountain of a molehill; it’s what he’s paid to do.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
3 years ago

Remember kids, ignore all the other rioting and violence… cough… I mean “mostly peaceful protests you observed earlier this year. It is important to understand that this time it is “really” important for tech companies to remove calls to violence and “misinformation.” Note that any calls to violence that were allowed through earlier this year were just a “mistake” and multiple instances of misinformation that were allowed through after police shootings were just people “expressing themselves.” After all, it is not these companies’ jobs to show the results of police body cam footage.

Now you may be uncertain of this if you have had a friend or relative affected by or have seen uncut footage of horrible violence and destruction earlier this year. Just remember these were “isolated incidents” and they did not last long. Oh I forgot! Remember earlier this year when that manbaby Trump hid in a bunker and lied about it. That was hilarious! Anyway, where were we… Oh, I remember! Dressing up like a cosplayer to break things and hurt people is bad. Unless of course it is some KKK Nazi memorial. Then it’s awesome! Some people might complain but ignore them. One of them was upset and shouting, saying something about destroying a statue of an “Abolitionist,” I don’t know what that is, but it is probably just another name for “racist.”

We had to do something about those evil rednecks though. One time we showed up at a town and those hicks met us with guns. I wasn’t even able to get out my Molotov’s! So, we had to get our own guns. It turns out guns are awesome! I mean as long as it is the revolution that has them. It tuns out that they are great for intimidating drivers”Š cough”Š I mean fascists. Those rednecks are jerks though. They made fun of us for having sights on backwards and the couple dozen times we had accidents with them. They also said they could teach their children to avoid accidents with them, with just a few simple rules. I think they are lying!

What? No, I just told you violence did not happen to anyone who did not deserve it! Look at what these deplorables just did. They tried to form a coup! Those cosplayers almost managed to take over the country! They dressed up and committed pathetic acts of violence in a massive temper tantrum. I mean can you imagine what the reaction would have been if we tried that? Special forces dudes would have come out of nowhere and machine gunned us! Who knows what could have happened it those racist cops were not there? I guess they are useful for something!

On a serious note. These idiots should have the book thrown at them and face serious prison time. I am just livid that the ones who committed violence earlier this year are treated as heroes and most of them will never face serious consequences for the things they did.

Crow T. Robot
Crow T. Robot
3 years ago

“in the wake of an armed attempt to frustrate the legal election of a President”
An armed attempt? Really?
Facts say it is better described as an “unarmed attempt to protest uncertain election results”.
Please Unherd, more facts, less drama.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Crow T. Robot

I saw the pictures-every single person in the “crowd” had not one, but two arms.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

One thing I find interesting is that everything is defined as Trump’s fault. I accept he has had a large part to play in this but I keep thinking of something from sales training and management courses.

The first step in handling a complaint is to acknowledge that a complaint exists. I have no idea if the amount of electoral fraud that Trump swears exists actually did but from the distance of the UK it seems that in general the approach has been to say “there’s no problem” ie do not acknowledge the complaint.

OK the results may have been exactly the same, and the same actions have been taken, but wouldn’t it have been a good idea to at least investigate, properly, the complaint?

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

This is the point.- Not that we know absolutely, beyond cavil, that the election was stolen; only that it looks much like it on several grounds; and millions of Americans feel suffocated by a new politico-economic order which refuses to hear them.

That is the major attack on democracy, not a number of hotheads getting out of hand and occupying the Senate chamber in the Capitol &c.

They behaved badly. They were in the wrong there. But when you block conversation (Twitter, every other areopagus of public discourse), and you apparently invalidate the ballot box, what other means of remonstrance remains but Violence?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

At bottom the enemy to be defeated was/is not Trump, but, Populism/democracy. They cheated in ’16 & ’20 to defeat Bernie; and, ever since he was nominated they have carried on a fraudulent prosecution (“Russiagate”) to reverse Trump’s election victory, or, at least, neuter any populist (anti Mid East wars, anti neo-liberal trade pacts, dissolution of NATO, friendly relations with Russia, etc.) policy mooted during his campaign that his presidency might attempt.

They couldn’t demonstrate any more clearly their contempt for law and elections. Hence the presumption of guilt in this election is logically compelling.

neilandross
neilandross
3 years ago

“It was the most shameful day in the history of the United States since the Civil War” Sadly this type of hyperbole will only increase tensions. How events be written off so easily such as the atrocities committed in the Iraq and Vietnam Wars not forgetting the hundreds of thousands of civilians bombed and burned to death during the Second World War including the Atomic Bomb attacks. The attempted and successful overthrows of foreign governments such as Cuba, Chile, Grenada etc. The list goes on and on, but the writer thinks last weeks riots are the most shameful day when riots are such a common event all over the world – Really?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  neilandross

Apparently the US should not have fought WWII in your view. Well, you have lots of company, plenty of Americans thought it should not have as well.

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  neilandross

typical marxist BS; focusing on U.S. misdeeds without context and entirely ignoring what U.S. opponents get up to, which is always worse by several degrees of magnitude. WWII provides the clearest example; rambling on about civliian killings by the U.S. and studiously ignoring German and Japanese atrocities (and also atrocities committed by the Soviet Union before, during and after the war.. And then they wonder why most people don’t take them seriously.

Martin Ridley
Martin Ridley
3 years ago

A beautifully written piece of prose but I think you take the comparison too far. Why call the protestors a mob, insult them, if this had been BLM or XR doing a similar stunt against Trump they would have been heroes. The majority of these people have been on the receiving end of almost a 100% media storm of vitriol that has lasted 15 years and reached a crescendo in the last 5 years, no wonder they are angry and disillusioned. Instead of asking why are they angry how can we heal the rift in USA society the political leaders on the oddly named left attacked them with the usual ferocious pious anger of the Saint. The political elites in the USA are corrupt, bought by Corporations and now applaud Tech Giants who are deciding who gets censored up to and including the President of the United States. This is now not about Trump, he is gone, it is about the toxic nature of American politics and the inability of the Democrats to acknowledge that 70m people have a valid point of view. The Democrats because they major on identity not social class will go the way of Labour in the UK. America has had Nero, maybe it will get Constantine or Justinian if it is lucky, certainly Biden reminds me of the time Rome had a new Emperor every couple of years, Waiting in the wings is the brutal tyrannical China, that should be everyones focus.

Jonathan Barker
Jonathan Barker
3 years ago

T S Eliot described the then condition of Western culture in his 1922 poem The Waste Land.
Although the living conditions of hundreds of hundreds of millions of human beings has now improved enormously, the psychic Waste Land described by Eliot has gotten much much worse.

Indeed Western culture (such as it was) has been reduced to rubble. So too with human culture altogether, and the source of that world-wide cultural disintegration originates entirely in the West and it drive to obtain total power-and-control over everyone and everything. There are NO elements within mainstream Western culture including its now essentially obsolete or archaic religious traditions that can or will make any significant positive difference.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago

Riots must be condemned, but from a historical perspective, they are also part and parcel of democrat protest, and a very important one at that. A riot represents a failure of political process.

The political failure here was to ensure the absolute transparency of the elections. The mix of in-person and mail-in voting was always going to create huge swings during counting as Republicans voted in-person and Democrats voted by mail. The swings left the appearance of irregularities which absolutely had to scrutinised as much as it takes. The courts, however, walked away and no outside inspection of witness claims seems to have taken place. The media simple said ‘nothing to see here’ never even looking at what was claimed.

The impression of fraud was thus created among the losers and left undebunked by external inspection – and naturally the losing side demanded more checks, which also naturally led to protest – as it has in many other countries when voting rights seem compromised.

Yet bizarrely, despite knowing for 3 weeks of a mass rally to challenge the election process by Trump supporters, the Capitol was only very lightly policed on the day of the protest, despite the magnitude of the events happening inside. This strange unexplainable vulnerability allowed opportunistic protesters to take advantage.

However, although the protesters might have wrecked doors to force their way in and despite the claims of weapons and being armed, they respected the guide ropes and did little except up-end some filing cabinets and move some furniture (the police officer who died excepted – though we don’t know enough about this), gawping like tourists more than raging for regime change.

There was violence. Tear gas was used. A protester was shot and killed. But this wasn’t a vengeance seeking mob – those who went too far were frequently restrained by others. This was a protest seeking justice of election fairness as they saw it, believing the opposition cheated to steal power. They left a building largely unharmed except for the doors. There was no graffiti, no hurling of stones or missiles, no burning or arson, no beating to a pulp, no mindless destruction of statues and art. All in total contrast to the Antifa riots for Portland and Seattle and other US cities described by media and politicians as ‘peaceful’.

The media jumped at the chance to wrap the events in coulds and mights, and created projections of fearful defenders afraid for their lives – shades of Covington Kid shock-jock reporting – bigged up to a ‘coup’ or insurrection. But it wasn’t. This was a cartoon mob drawn from South Park or the Simpsons who won a political lottery and didn’t know what to do with it. All they wanted was a fair election process.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 years ago

Doesn’t make it any better but gloating from China and Russia requires omitting Tianmen Square and the 1993 shooting up of the Russian White House by tanks under Yeltsin.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

Any system of government works only if the people inside it are sufficiently virtuous.

With loss of virtue comes tyranny or disintegration – both of those miseries are forms of radical disorder.

Bishop Hensley Henson of Durham preached sermons in the 1930s in which he pointed out ‘We are living on our spiritual capital’. Never a truer word was ever spoken about the 20th-21st centuries.

People generally have turned their backs on godliness, now being hardly even nominal Christians. They no longer have the Ancient Roman virtues of Stoicism – the sheer character-starch and vigour and self-denial of the people in the earlier Roman republic. They are just carried along on a whitewater raft of appetite: greed for pleasure without regard to any prudence or longterm consequences, whether via sex, power, self-importance, celebrity, whatnot.

End of civilization.

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
3 years ago

Well, something greater…mmmhhh, great reset? Global governance? WHO, WEF etc.,, etc., Anyway, it will unfold without any of us having a f*ck to say about it and it will have f*ck all to do with democracy as we know it in the west.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 years ago

There’s nothing legal about the election of Biden. Don’t kid yourself, every world leader knows it and they’re waiting to pounce. The lunatics control the Senate and the house with the deciding vote with Kamala. And the only thing stopping the insanity is the criminal molester, doddery Joe Biden, don’t make me laugh. You’ll be begging for Trump to come back before long.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago

On reflection this was one of the most beautiful political coup de grace that I’ve ever seen. Obviously not by Trump, but by Democrats supported by collegiate Republicans. Trump supporters were coming to DC. The Capitol was obviously going to be a target. By ensuring the police coverage was light (as the ex-head of the Capitol of police has said was the decision of the Democrat and Republican security specialists) it created a perfect trap.

If Trump supporters simply stayed outside, nothing would be lost. But if, as is common in the heat of a crowd, they pushed against the police and found security wanting due to lack of numbers, then, as we have seen, Trump takes all the blame of the resultant chaos, stripping him of final legitimacy – and discussion of the vote disappeared in the noise to become a taboo subject.

By pressing home their advantage with impeachment and Big Tech censorship, I think Democrat could be accused of overreach, but Trump himself has been neutralised extremely successfully. If the Democrats step back a little – censure, rather than impeachment – which would carry almost unanimously, they might also mollify the middle right’s fears of a totalitarian left.

For Trump, he is clearly beaten, and could just turn away with his tail between his legs. His businesses will suffer. Brand damaged and tarnished. Humiliation on humiliation.

However, he still carries strong support among his base who still think the Democrats cheated. Faced with the loss of everything, he could end up making a last stand by turning on the GOP for failing to support him and do a Farage and create a new political party. He’s been there twice before – once as a backer of Jesse Jackson and his Reform party. The base would follow, fracturing the GOP which might initially make the Democrats stronger, but as UKIP showed, two right wing parties doesn’t necessarily guarantee a victory for the left.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago

What a hackneyed old trope, there is not, nor ever has been, any similarity between Ancient Rome and the US. It is utter conceit to even imagine such a concept.
Incidentally why did you not tell us why Gaius Gracchus’s skull was filled with lead, and what the consequences were? It’s the sort of thing to brighten up an otherwise gloomy January morning is it not?

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago

He doesn’t wear his learning lightly old Tom does he…I enjoyed his book Dominion but I often found myself wondering what the hell was his point. apart from a bit of showing off. I agree with previous comments. Wish they had not done it, glad they did not set fire to any buildings and went home promptly after humiliating themselves. Wish the same could be said for those who can be seen in photos from June 2020 setting the streets of the capital alight. Or pulling down statues of Abraham Lincoln? It is not as rare to outrage in the capital/inside The Capitol as you might think. Weather Underground set off a bomb in there in 1971.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

Aha, but you must admit, that as usual, the Brits got there first and did it best!

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

Enlighten me!?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

Wednesday, 24th August, 1814. Messrs Cockburn & Ross.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

That’s true. Apparently few remember the protests over Brett Kavanaugh with senators chased around the Capitol and accosted in elevators and cars. Banging on the doors, interrupting senate hearings.

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago

Yes, depressing how hard it is to get people to think out of their silos. I was much cheered by the rational, non-binary thinking in a recent episode of Triggernometry with evolutionary biologist Bret Weinstein “How do we Save America”. Lord knows if they can, but at least there are smart people out there who can see beyond the tribes (not a Trump lover) and say “I don’t care which side a politician is on as long as he is trying to the right thing for people and will collaborate” I recommend it!

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
3 years ago

We already seem to have the bread and circuses.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago

Looking forward to throwing Christians to the lions, presumably?

Richard Blaine
Richard Blaine
3 years ago

Stop the “Whataboutism”! ALL of the behavior over the past year, indeed, the behavior since the Great Society Days, days and results that clearly were neither, has led to this outcome. ALL the behavior by every faction, politician, activist and, yes, citizen, the latter by its indifference and ill education. We have become the agents of our own destruction as has every great power before us. In its most elemental interpretation Holland is speaking to human behavior and the jackals that would capitalize on it. It is incumbent upon us, all of us, to take a deep breathe, listen to and try to understand each other and fashion a best way forward. This is precisely what the Founders had in mind as the outcome of their labors. To do less is to accelerate the rot and decline that has taken hold and give our enemies, yes enemies, the Chinese Communist Party and Putin and his lickspittle oligarchs the last laugh. John Adams summed it up best when he said that the greatest threat to a republican form of government is an ill-educated people. Walt Kelly put it in a more contemporary sense when he declared through his most astute of characters, Pogo, “we have met the enemy and he is us”.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

This mind virus that both of our wings have caught has also spread to the rest of the West. And frankly we’ve all been incubating it for decades. If we go down we will not be the only one.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

It all feels like the factionalism of the bourbon court. While they think to represent all shades of political opinion, in fact they reflect an ever shrinking pool.

Do you remember the surprised look on Ceausescus face when the crowd started jeering him back in 1989? It’s a lesson for everyone who claims to speak for other people.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

I often compare Pelosi to Elana Ceaucescu. I saw a very good documentary about the fall of the Ceaucescs recently, comprised entirely of film taken at the time by various people.

Paul
Paul
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Indeed, she continued her incredulity even as the bullet took her last breath. Your Pelosi and Ceausescu comparison is spot on. I hope our US cousins may one day deliver the same fate. Pelosi, Waters, AOC, Omar and co deserve the same.

Malcolm Beaton
Malcolm Beaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Violence is a 2 way street
We have seen it constantly over the last few years -mostly from the left-Antifa and the burning of Portland
Studiously ignored by media and politicians
There will always be a reaction
Tom should be less partisan and reflect the whole picture
That’s what I expect from a historian of his calibre
Not much hope for us when a historian of his stature cannot see the two polarised sides of our western communities resulting in Trump/Obama-Brexit-SNP -all showing our equal left/right-conservative/liberal divides
Come on Tom -up your game for all our sakes!

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Women who dare to speak out deserve death. You reap what you sow, Paul.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

You, and everyone reading this know he was not singling her out because of her sex-it’s this type of disingenuous “rebuttal” from the unhinged left that becomes tiresome in these forums.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

You’re right. The fact they were women is incidental. Paul is vertiable paragon of virtue.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

Ad hominem. Go away. Then come back when you have an argument. Warning: you’ll have to think for a while for this to happen.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I don’t argue with incels demanding the death of female democratic representatives.

Blue Tev
Blue Tev
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

– deciding that a woman needs extra protection by dint of her gender: check
– Unfounded accusations of sexism, when the gender was clearly irrelevant: check
– being a sexist d**k and using sexist terms like Incel: check

And these are the kind of people who consider themselves more virtuous than the rest of us.

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Blue Tev

Do you realise that you’re defending a man that called for the death of other human beings because he disagrees with their politics?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

What splendid Christmas entertainment, the execution of the Ceaucescu’s on Christmas Day, 1989!

Better by far than the Queen’s Speech.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I don’t suppose the average American, or even those in high office, knows the first thing about Ancient Rome, or would have the intellect or historical knowledge to see any parallels or echoes. I know of some US visitors to the UK who were not even aware that the Romans had occupied Britain.

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

That’s in itself an echo – the empire surrounded by “barbarian lands”. As a South African visiting the US in 1990 – just after Mandela had been released from prison – I was astonished by how little people knew of SA.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark H

That’s exactly what visitors to Rome said about the Romans.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

..

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

A very entertaining prospect. Watch out Canada, Mexico, Greenland and Mars.

kinelll086
kinelll086
3 years ago

When the future historians look back at the downfall of the west and democracy trump will be one of the events that caused it. America is on the way out. BLM on one side the far right on the other side. i see dark times ahead. “The strange death of europe” needs updating

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  kinelll086

It’s hard to think of anything that will more completely fail to register on the chart of history than Trumps presidency.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

I think it will be the most consequential presidency since Reagan (collapse of the Soviet Union). It has radicalised huge parts of working-class America against the Washington system. Before 2016 election, it was clear that the election was Robin Hood versus the Sheriff of Nottingham with overfly America wanting a Rebel to battle cosy establishment Washington and West Coast elites.

Well, the Sheriff of Nottingham and the King John system has just taken back control and is trying to round up the outlaws. There is a totalitarian fervour to their actions – they, not Trump, acting as absolutists – censoring, cancelling, seeking arrests and prosecutions – like demanding a no-fly rule for Trump supporters.

Washington might have won this round, but it just makes the grievances of inequity of power, and lack of voice, worse. The political fallout will keep ringing for years.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago
Reply to  kinelll086

Why do you say Trump and his supporters are far right?
Did they ask for and impose genocide, secret police, concentration camps, forced re-education of the lefties, martial law?
Did Trump at any point disobey the Constitution of the US or its laws?
What his supporters were asking for was their jobs back; an end to extreme bullying via political correctness; and end to globalism and an end to mass immigration.
Why are those themes more less Fascist or Nazi?

kinelll086
kinelll086
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Put Trumps words and lies into the mouth of a democrat

Charles Brewer
Charles Brewer
3 years ago

Great piece, Tom.

The historical parallels are something which need to be mined more extensively.

Mobs have stormed overbearing and tyrannical seats of government throughout the ages, from Wat Tyler to Pride’s Purge and from the Bastille and Versailles to St Petersburg in 1917. Looked on from today, we consider that most of these uprisings were the result of the failure of governments to recognise the justifiable complaints and abuse of the mob.

Given the treatment of the presidency of Donald Trump by the American establishment (i.e. the media, Big Tech, the House of Representatives and many Republican members of the Senate), and by the chaotic, highly doubtful and frequently illegal nature of the election, it is unsurprising that some of Trump’s supporters – who genuinely felt represented by the man’s manifesto and actions – felt that they could and should confront those who they felt had colluded and conspired illegitimately against them.

Trump, probably more than any American president in history, represents a plebian aspect of American society, while the Democrats, “RINOs”, press, broadcast media, judiciary, and others have coalesced into a kind of patrician class. Indeed, the multigenerational and familial nature of many of the establishment leading figures (for example the Clinton, Bush, Biden families – the Kennedys appear to have degenerated into irrelevance) has consolidated greatly over recent years until we now see a US polity which has many important resemblances to Rome.

Curiously, the USA has gone about the process in reverse, for now we see the rise of a patrician class (defined as a relatively small group of families with the great majority of the wealth, and all of the legislative power, in the US example, Silicon Valley oligarchs also make up this class), and the creation of an excluded, despised, denigrated, exploited plebian class.

In Roman times, the Gracchi and, to some extent, Julius Caesar opposed the patricians, failing in the former case, but succeeding (through Octavian, not personally) in the second. The parallels between the patrician support of mobs for the murder of both Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus and the support for Antifa and BLM riots by the US patrician class are certainly to be regarded as interesting. Where Trump failed was in not ensuring that his own Gaius Marius-like reconstruction of the military and the US economy was not sufficient to ensure a successful election result.

Please consider writing more on these facinating parallels!

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago

Parson Weems’s ‘history’ of the founding is a children’s story. the reality is less edifying.
The ‘Patriots’ were a bunch of opportunists working the main chance, …and still are. The US Congress is a thoroughly corrupt institution; and though it well deserves sacking, what occurred last Wedns was only, but very powerfully, theatre.

Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
3 years ago

The argument could be made that the United States of America is already an empire. To use the Roman analogy, the American Republic ended in 1945 when the US became the global hegemon.

Martin Woodford
Martin Woodford
3 years ago

Hasn’t every western empire since Rome tried to emulate Rome? perhaps less so the British, but every empire had its eagles and grandiose buidlings complete with Greco-Roman columns (as do a great many pefectly inncocent public and private buildings). I’m not sure the Roman analogies really suit the circumstances. It is perhaps more an indication that a great many people in our democracies no longer trust the democratic process and when they lose, seek to blame the loss on cheating/conspiracy theories/Russian hackers/lies and electoral fraud etc etc. The parallels between extreme Trumpers and extreme Remainers in the UK are striking,

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

No, they are not.

In the case of the Remainers post 24 June 2016 they continued to have a large majority in both Houses of Parliament on their side – and fighting vigorously; much of the mainstream media, especially the broadcasters; rich people like Gina Miller willing to use the law to subvert the result of the Referendum; and a Supreme Court (and judiciary class majority) willing to rule anything out of order which moved things towards a genuine Brexit.

In the USA, what organs of publicity and what levers of power have the Trumpers had?

One president who was courageous but a silly man, unfocused and entering office without a plan for making his (very good) election-period policy positions actually enacted; one TV network out of several; no national newspaper of record on their side; and all members of the Establishment either shrilly crying for Mr Trump’s being unseated or working quietly behind the scenes to that effect.

The asymmetry of the power-balances between the Washington Swamp and the populists have been most marked.

Danny K
Danny K
3 years ago

The Cataline conspiracy seems the most on-point and underlined that the first, clownish assault on the republic makes for a good story, but it’s the following assaults by more competent leaders that are the real danger.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Danny K

What do you consider to be the first assault on the US republic? Last week perhaps?

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Danny K

‘Quo usque tandem abutere, Polosi, patientia nostra?’

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

The Founding Fathers: “Always a Senate, but never a Caesar.”

Trump: “Oh yeah? I’m pretty good at seizing”

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Except he isn’t.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

It was just a verbal pun! Not a very good one I admit. Wasn’t an endorsement of Trump’s lunacy. People becoming too trigger happy and losing their sense of humour, everyone needs to lighten up.