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Guest Post: The Wisdom of Thucydides

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by gojam of The Needle blog,

Thucydides was probably born about 460BC and was for a time a General on the side of democratic Athens against aristocratic Sparta in what is known as the Peloponnesian War in which most of Greece took a side. After being exiled he wrote his famous history. The passage that I’ve quoted in full below is, in my opinion, one of the finest passages of classical antiquity. I was somewhat surprised not to be able to find it elsewhere quoted online. It descibes the breakdown of civil society and in doing so it perfectly describes every civil war and revolution that has taken place in the almost two and half thousands years since it was written including the English Civil War, French Revolution, American Civil War, Russian Revolution, and Spanish Civil War. Human nature, it seems is immutable.

I bring it to attention in the vain hope that those who have blindly pursued the policies which have brought Greece to the brink and risks plunging the whole of Europe into the abyss, might consider more keenly the consequences of their actions and change course before it’s too late.

“So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where the revolutions occured late the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard-of atrocities in revenge. To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one might expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defence. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted and anyone who objected to them became suspect. To plot successfully was a sign intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching. If one attempted to provide against having to do either, one was disrupting the unity of the party and acting out of fear of the opposition. In short, it was equally praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong, and to denounce someone who had no intention of doing any wrong at all. Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever. These parties were not formed to enjoy the benefits of established laws, but to aquire power by overthrowing the existing regime; and the members of these parties felt confidence in each other not because of any fellowship in a religious communion, but because they were partners in crime. If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, so far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see that it had no practical effect.


Revenge was more important than self-preservation, And if pacts of mutual security were made, they were entered into by the two parties only in order to meet some temporary difficulty, and remained in force only so long as there was no other weapon available. When the chance came, the one who seized it boldly, catching the enemy off his guard, enjoyed a revenge that was all the sweeter from having taken, not openly, but because of a breach of faith. It was safer that way, it was considered, and at the same time a victory won by treachery gave one a title for superior intelligence. And indeed most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.


Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this must be added violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out. Leaders of parties in the cities had programmes which appeared admirable – on one side political equality for the masses, on the other the safe and sound government of the aristocracy – but in professing to serve the public interest they were seeking to win the prizes for themselves. In their struggle for ascendancy nothing was barred; terrible indeed were the actions to which they committed themselves, and in taking revenge they went farther still. Here they were deterred neither by claims of justice nor by the interests of the state; their one standard was the pleasure of their own party at that particular moment, and so, either by means of condemning their enemies on an illegal vote or by violently usurping power over them, they were always ready to satisfy the hatreds of the hour. Thus neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action. As for the citizens who held moderate views, they were destroyed by both extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.


As the result of these revolutions, there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist. Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion. As for ending this state off affairs, no guarentee could be given that would be trusted, no oath sworn that people would fear to break; everyone had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect a permanent settlement and so, instead of being able to feel confident in others, they devoted their energies to providing against being injured themselves. As a rule those who were the least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival. Such people recognised their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing that they might lose a debate or find themselves out-manoeuvred in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, overconfident in the belief that they would see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they could secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off guard.


Certainly it was in Corcyra that there occured the first examples of the breakdown of law and order. There was the revenge taken in their hour of triumph by those who had in the past been arrogantly oppressed instead of wisely governed; there were the wicked resolutions taken by those who, particularly under the pressure of misfortune, wished to escape from their usual poverty and coveted the property of their neighbours; there were the savage and pitiless actions into which men were carried not so much for the sake of gain as because they were swept away into internecine struggle by their ungovernable passions. Then, with the ordinary conventions of civilised life thrown into confusion, human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colours, as something incapable of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself; for, if it had not been for the pernicious powers of envy, men would not so have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice. Indeed, it is true that in these acts of revenge on others men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws in existence, remembering that there may be a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection.”



This. Is. TROIKA!!


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Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:36 | 2434054 rajat_bhatia
rajat_bhatia's picture

But you havent mentioned your own advice, or the steps the europeans should take to avoid going into the abyss, its easy to criticize a problem, rarther difficult to offer a practical solution. Please also specify a solution. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:09 | 2434103 candyman
candyman's picture

Great piece of antiquity! Where the fuck do you find these passages. geesh

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:14 | 2434116 Bunker Boy
Bunker Boy's picture

Getting away from this is why we're fucked now, douche bag. You must be enlightened. I'm sure they have a place for you in the Federal Reserve, the State Department, White House or California.  You'll fit right in.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:25 | 2434134 fnord88
fnord88's picture

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:33 | 2434282 Western
Western's picture

1) Top 2 comments....... lol


2) Considering this piece is 2.5k years old, the writer was certainly an elevated dude. Hopefully there's enough elevated souls this time around, globally, going forward these next few years.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 03:20 | 2434317 anonnn
anonnn's picture

A most workable viewpoint to keep in mind ...

Unfairness creates chaos.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 03:54 | 2434340 i-dog
i-dog's picture

Unless enough of those affected by the breakdown of the current system (say, just 2-3% of those with influence in their local communities) take positive steps to bring back local control over their lives, the muthaz that created the current mess will simply impose a new system of centralised control that keeps them in power and riches.

Most/all of the past revolutions -- eg. China, Russia, France, England -- simply replaced the central control of a king with the central control of a politburo ... so nothing really changed!!

Only the American Revolution of 1776 attempted to change from a central committee to a system of local government, and even that was subverted right from the start by agents of the European monarchs, papists and money-changers.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:02 | 2434437 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

No shit. And this 2-3% you refer to are going to change that are they?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:48 | 2434473 Thomas
Thomas's picture

Bhatia deserved some scorn--he is not describing solutions because he is describing solutionless outcomes--but Candyman's comment was flattering and got jumped with a bunch of negative checks.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 07:33 | 2434556 ED
ED's picture

I think they are counting on what is written above occuring. And I think they believe their technology will shield them from the effects of it. Instead of asking you to participate in solutions to the challenges we face today, you will be dispensed with, any survivors, controlled. The economy has been designed to facilitate this. All of this because you are human, ie, you cannot be trusted to do the right thing (see above). This is just my gut-feel. Tell me Im wrong.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 07:38 | 2434560 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

I think you need to think some mildly happier thoughts.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:51 | 2434756 FEDbuster
FEDbuster's picture
“The first American patriot that shoots down one of these drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero.”  Judge Andrew Napolitano

Skynet, the new Utah NSA spying center, the NDAA, etc...., the DC sheepherders are preparing to keep a closer eye on the flock.

Orwell's "1984" was just a little early.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:54 | 2435071 Think for yourself
Think for yourself's picture

1984 was also quite simplistic, technologically speaking, less encompassing and less ruthless that what they have in store for us.

It's not only endoctrination, society and big brother that constitutes the oppression, but everything from the poisoning our complete environment in and around us (vaccines, sick-care "medecine", air, water, food, electromagnetic spectrum) to the control of the whole planet's genome combined with terminator seeds. Drones are just the cherry on top.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:29 | 2434682 goldfish1
goldfish1's picture

unheard-of atrocities in revenge

There was a story Polak told about his grandmother being killed by the nazis because she hid someone. The villagers went to the snitch's house and burned it down with the entire family inside. Stopped the snitching.

My father always told me "Desperate people do desperate things." Don't forget it.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 07:23 | 2434526 Confused
Confused's picture

One name for you:



You are saying it isn't possible?


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 07:26 | 2434538 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

Gandhi was lucky he didn't end up wearing a British Army Landrover.

Had they simply run over him and apologised profusely they would have gotten away with it, no sweat.

and anyway, Gandhi's clearly dead now, so no it's not possible...

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 11:03 | 2435546 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

'They may torture my body, break my bones..."

He got that one right. A Landrover would certainly do that.

Let me guess, they'd like the British to leave but they'd be grateful if they'd leave their investment behind, for free, thanks... so that they can pick up all the industry and carry on with all the trade. Just ask Mugabe.

and then they wonder why the British were pissed off. Typical fucking socialist. Better off dead...

Thanks for the link though...

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 15:09 | 2436743 tenpanhandle
tenpanhandle's picture

Righto old chap.  Nothing worse than uppity slaves.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 19:49 | 2437863 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 12:41 | 2436002 Confused
Confused's picture

Gandhi's clearly dead now, so no it's not possible....

And those who fought to free the colonies from British rule? There will ALWAYS be someone to fight. To suggest there will not be, begs the question:

Why do we all frequent this site? And why would the Tylers even bother? What good would anyones research be if there would never be someone to use it?

Mildly happier thoughts. Please.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 20:08 | 2437892 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

'those who fought to free the colonies from British rule?' - were smugglers and slavers dude.

Forget the idea of them being freedom fighters.

So you didn't want to pay taxes to the British hunh, for providing all that investment, infrastructure and not to mention a rather large fleet of warships to protect American traders whilst they made money selling and transporting goods to the rest of the world? You wanted to pay those taxes to yourself at whatever rates set by yourself without ever paying back those nasty investors (banks) that had made it all possible in the first place because that was freedom. So why shouldn't California now tell you all to sod off with your Federal debt now and go it alone trading through the West Coast ports? It's entitled to isn't it, or is 'tyrrany' only applicable when there is a body of water between the workers and the authorities? 

But yes, 'There will ALWAYS be someone to fight.' that's why the British Empire had soldiers charged with protecting British interests around the globe, one of which was its investment in America.


Mon, 05/21/2012 - 21:18 | 2449409 akak
akak's picture

You are as disgusting and vile an apologist for statism as I have ever read.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:07 | 2434441 buckethead
buckethead's picture

Googled it. Yeats.




I stole it.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 10:06 | 2435144 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.


Thomas Jefferson.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 20:09 | 2437897 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

and why was a slaver talking about any 'tree of liberty'?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:31 | 2434281 swamp
swamp's picture

You'd fit right in too, with your profane misogynist language.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 10:26 | 2434174 LouisDega
LouisDega's picture

Im not sure. It looks like lyrics from the King Crimson album, Court of the Crimson king

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:41 | 2434381 Dugald
Dugald's picture

Put away your Comic books,

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:43 | 2434726 LeonardoFibonacci
LeonardoFibonacci's picture

This is ....Spartaaaa, then i kick you in the face and you fall into a deep deep hole of DEBT!!!!!

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:06 | 2434107 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

pretty much the same as the run up to the French Revolution eh, the have nots demanding everything from the have's, and destroying what remains of any local economy to get it.

Not too distant than the world voting far left in response to a crisis, just like Greece. This is just the start. Since when did socialism ever solve anything?

These are very dangerous times for us all now...

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:19 | 2434122 fnord88
fnord88's picture

This is fascism dickhead. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:41 | 2434170 dasein211
dasein211's picture

We'll never solve the problem as long as dumb fucks can't tell the difference between fascism and socialism. It's like a goddamned retarded virus stopping all intellectual thought. Fuck.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:57 | 2434198 fnord88
fnord88's picture

Are the rich getting richer or are the poor getting richer? Is money getting transferred from Wall St to Main St, or visa versa? Fascism calling itself socialism is still fascism.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:55 | 2434397 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

rich deny getting richer.

poor thinks they got richer.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:53 | 2434432 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

Look dick head, the govt transfers my money to those that don't work through taxes. Since when is that fascism?

That's called socialism, Tosser.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:07 | 2434440 fnord88
fnord88's picture

Taxation, any taxation, equal socialism does it?. HAHAHA. I see. Your an ideologue. An extremist. You love anarchy so much, fuck off somewhere where there are no taxes, laws or governments. I hear somalia is nice. Only you won't. Cause your a fucking pussy, who is too much of a coward to put his money where his mouth is. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:14 | 2434446 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

Coherently please, if you're capable.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:20 | 2434451 fnord88
fnord88's picture

The Federal Reserve is socialist? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAA The bankers are socialist? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. They set up Fractional Currency to take from the rich and give to the poor? HAHAHAHAHAH

Your poor deluded fool.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:31 | 2434460 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

You referring to me or someone else?

Not sure I ever said that, ever, anywhere.

Like I said, you need to stop making this shit up if you want to start looking like something other than a total fucking arsewipe. 


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:57 | 2434775 prole
prole's picture

fnord comes across as particularly distasteful. The Somalia crack and the insults remind me of the rabid anti-Libertarian trolls who crop up and fade away. He used the "go to Somalia" defense of Socialism like a mantra. It must be the statists religion, to hate those who propose any kind of freedom from despotic government

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:34 | 2434945 Bolweevil
Bolweevil's picture

Interesting. You guys going at each other fit the premise of the article perfectly.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 10:54 | 2435494 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

Fight Club...

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 10:54 | 2435488 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

He is a troll. He has nothing to say so he makes it up and then responds abusively to try and make some kind of point. Real straw man stuff.

The man's a prick.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 07:26 | 2434537 Confused
Confused's picture

It would appear to be both, however, it would also seem those at the top do far more damage to us all. And then blame those at the bottom.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 17:50 | 2437523 Sean7k
Sean7k's picture

Fascism includes the growth of corporations protected by government police power, a miliatry industrial complex that plays at colonialism (having the US do this for Britain does not relieve Britain of this responsibility, although your antagonist probably is talking about America) and social/government spending via debt. 

By this definition, all of europe and the us can be judged as fascists.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:38 | 2434467 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

dasein - This guy has no clue...

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:22 | 2434662 ATM
ATM's picture

Fascism or Socialism??


The labels Fascism and Socialism are just marketing. The end goal is simply Authoritarianism wrappend in the cloudy veil by the marketers of death.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:35 | 2434702 goldfish1
goldfish1's picture

Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority as well as the administration of said authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and libertarianism. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political authority is concentrated in a small group of politicians.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 15:07 | 2436734 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Broadly, socialism is a category, divided into two subcategories: statist and non-statist. Statist is further divided into two categories: national and international. It is problematic, as many schools of socialist thought employ the Marxist gimmick of promising no state at some point in the indefinite future, after the worker's utopia has been established blah blah blah.

Obvious examples: Hitlerism = national socialism, Leninism = international socialism (fairly closely aligned with classical Marxism), Stalinism = socialism in one country (major departure from classical Marxism), Italian fascism = national socialism with syndicalism

etc. etc. etc.

Two notable examples of anarchist socialists are Noam Chomsky (left libertarianism) and Mikhail Bakunin (collectivist anarchism)

It goes without saying that 99.9% percent of all people could not possibly care any less about such distinctions or what they mean.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 03:57 | 2434346 Colonial Intent
Colonial Intent's picture

You should know mr "88"

Have you been let out special for take a nazi to work day?


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:04 | 2434355 fnord88
fnord88's picture

You've lost me

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:06 | 2434358 fnord88
fnord88's picture

no shit, i just googled 88. I had no idea. oops. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:54 | 2434394 Colonial Intent
Colonial Intent's picture



Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:53 | 2434393 Colonial Intent
Colonial Intent's picture

88 = HH, for a lot of us europeans it denotes the phrase Heil Hitler and is used by neo nazi groups to show their sympathies.

Apologies if its not what you intended but thats what the "88" code is used for in european forum usernames.



Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:25 | 2434414 fnord88
fnord88's picture

thanks for the heads up man, i had no idea. Fuck all statists, of all persuasions. Anybody know if Libertarians or anarcho capitalists have a number? 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:56 | 2434434 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

You got that one right, no fucking idea.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:14 | 2434447 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

and maybe the family brain cell...

but not on Thursdays.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:53 | 2434430 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

No it isn't.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:17 | 2434448 fnord88
fnord88's picture

right, it's socialism. All the fault of Obama right? He's a socialist, but Romney is a capitalist who will save us all? THis has nothing to do with the banking system, the federal reserve or fractional currency? Or are the bankers all socialists as well? Fucking morons like you are why there is no hope. You use words, but have no fucking idea what they mean. The money that is given to people that dont work is essentially protection money, given to them by your banking bosses to keep them in power instead of hanging from a fucking tree like they should be. Socialism is just a word ignorant morons like you use, fed to you by your overlords to keep themselves at the trough stealing the middle classes money. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:28 | 2434456 Harlequin001
Harlequin001's picture

Did you make this all up on your own, or is someone helping you?

Let me know when you want to get back to reality, you have assumed rather a lot here which has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. In fact, all of it.

I'm sure you get off well inventing this shit like you know what it means and then responding to it all in your own little way. Most intelligent people would at least try and ascertain some fact or facts before gobbing off like this, but I can see it makes you feel intelligent, even though it shows to the rest of us that you have no fucking idea what you're talking about.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 07:09 | 2434504 Lednbrass
Lednbrass's picture

Wow, you really showed that strawman you constructed didnt you?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:44 | 2434385 Dugald
Dugald's picture

Leading to the old saw...The more things change the more they stay the same....!

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:32 | 2434693 goldfish1
goldfish1's picture

the have nots demanding everything from the have's

Fixed for you:

those who have been oppressed reclaiming their rights from the oppressors

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:35 | 2434700 Sean7k
Sean7k's picture

Like many, you misunderstand the operation of revolution and the means by which it is attained. 

It is the manipulators of the have-nots, those that have been excluded from the most powerful positions, yet are willing to destroy community in order to seize power. They can even be behind the scenes powerbrokers that have decided to dispense with the facade of government and institute their own brand of fascism (think bankers).

These times will be much more "unfortunate" than dangerous. The potential for the loss of civilization as it could be is almost assured. The development of a democratic slavery based on the exchange of fabricated desires for real liberty and property will be the mainstay for the people. 

The greatest genocide in history awaits people from the food and medical eugenics being practiced today. The deaths will appear to be and recorded by a perplexed and impotent medical community as beyond their capabilities to treat. Never willing to inform or educate about the dangers of processed foods, powerful drugs or human induced pandemics.

The ones intelligent enough  to see the problems are the exact ones the Elites wish to save. A superior trained slave force, capable of meeting their needs and wants without being large enough to threaten their position. 


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:36 | 2434705 goldfish1
goldfish1's picture

"The development of a democratic slavery based on the exchange of fabricated desires for real liberty and property will be the mainstay for the people."

Mission accomplished.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:47 | 2434740 MaxPower
MaxPower's picture

Nice summation, Sean.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:10 | 2434110 Irene
Irene's picture

Most Europeans are more than familiar with Pericles Funeral Oration, from Book 2 of Thucydides History.  It reads in part:

But what was the road by which we reached our position, what the form of government under which our greatness grew, what the national habits out of which it sprang; these are questions which I may try to solve before I proceed to my panegyric upon these men; since I think this to be a subject upon which on the present occasion a speaker may properly dwell, and to which the whole assemblage, whether citizens or foreigners, may listen with advantage...

If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbour for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive penalty. But all this ease in our private relations does not make us lawless as citizens...

We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters; for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and, instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all.

There's plenty of specifics there. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 03:39 | 2434321 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

indeed, some of these "specifics" are of note,

We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy

the OP highlights what happens when civil-isations fall apart, the brutish behaviours become elevated, violence sought and celebrated, the culture of "warrior" hyper-masculine archetypes en-forced. . .

I can see the parallels creeping in from the edges of society, pushing towards the centers.  it won't be pretty, never is.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:20 | 2434412 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

when people resort to violence is it the system that pisses on them and doesn't listen to them that is wrong or the revolutionaries?

there is a natural progression in human negotiations (same as nature) from discussion to raised voices and posturing and then to anger shown verbally and finally physically if matters are not settled civilly

the Revolutions that have occured are for a reason, the violence very nasty during some, but that's because there was no other means of settling the dispute (ie. the establishment were deaf, dumb and staggeringly arrogant)

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:19 | 2434450 buckethead
buckethead's picture

You sound fairly thoughtful so far as revolutionaries go. According to the text we just read, it's the thoughtful who are dismembered.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:27 | 2434678 ATM
ATM's picture

Is it perhaprs that the thoughtful are also the most moral?

Morality doesn't win the fight but I just hope that morality wins out in the end.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:24 | 2434871 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

because soft tones and understanding dialog are what's needed to solve the worlds problems?

I disagree.   Effiminacy is what has led us to this pit, and will cast us over.

I'm no mysoginist, as many brainwashed effete sweater vest wearers will soon infer, but I stand by the fact that when you give the controls to women (or women emulating males) things get fucked up.  They are not wired to put aside petty, personal grieveances and form coalition to effect solution.  Courage and resilience to unfounded criticism are not considered virtues in their existence.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 15:05 | 2436724 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

oh please,

I stand by the fact that when you give the controls to women (or women emulating males) things get fucked up.  They are not wired to put aside petty, personal grieveances and form coalition to effect solution.  Courage and resilience to unfounded criticism are not considered virtues in their existence.

history is filled with men in these roles, it's only recently that women have begun to enter the positions of relative power over - are you going to argue that everything was running smoothly, all "petty, personal grievances" between men were resolved with "courage and resilience" and heroic manly jawing at the round table UNTIL the 60's /70's when middle class women thought they might like to not be chattel, and work to support themselves (working class women always worked, note the label)?

here's a clue:  the role defines the participants - if women are learning to adapt to the roles of corporate or government jobs, then they must first emulate what has gone by, in order to "fit in" - it's only over time that the roles themselves actually get changed, as people gain more leverage and the herd mentality comes to understand a new role model.

of course, now we'll get the massive tantrum of war, the ultimate manly archetype yet again, warriors rapin' and pillagin' the peoples. . .

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 17:28 | 2437422 Doubleguns
Doubleguns's picture

Uh, Where do we sign up for the raping and pillagin thingy.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 20:31 | 2437953 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

ask your friends and neighbours, one of 'em is bound to have a list ongoing.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:10 | 2434114 Bunker Boy
Bunker Boy's picture

There is no solution, fuck-nose. The noose is around the neck, hands tied behind the back and the horse is being slapped with a lariat. Most people on this forum represent the 1% that actually know what the hell is going on and we bullshit with one another as we prepare and watch what we love go down the drain.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:46 | 2434240 WonderDawg
WonderDawg's picture

I thought I'd heard all the "fuck" derivatives, but fuck-nose is a new one for me. Props to you, sir. Fuck-nose, indeed.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:24 | 2434242 RECISION
RECISION's picture

And sometimes you need a - reset - event.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:29 | 2434685 ATM
ATM's picture

Bunker I just hope you are willing to be as heartless, cunning and as amoral as you will need to survive.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:41 | 2434723 goldfish1
goldfish1's picture

No need to be amoral or heartless. Non resistance is the answer. The power lies not in forcing solutions but of not feeding the beast. Our collective power can effect instantaneous change and not a finger needs to be raised in aggression.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:18 | 2434120 CPL
CPL's picture

The solution is written in history as well.


Lots of people die until one group seizes power.  In the Greek's case, the Roman's bribed and bought their way in most places and always put boots on the ground while doing it.  When Rome collapsed savages from Europe burned down libraries, sacked towns...this went on for 600 years, we have kings pop up feudalism and conquest is refined, carry on further first man on the field with an understanding of Artillery wins.  Napoleon sacks most of Europe, some minor country is having a revolution which serves France well because she's the biggest arms dealer on the planet then.  Tactical fuckups happen, Waterloo happens. 

England prevails, acts like a general prick to anyone, takes over India by divided and conquer and bribes...rinse and repeat in China.  White people fight over the same land they've been fucking, bleeding and dying on for 4000 years because of Royalty being blown up and a bigoted short prick with good design sense.  Oddly from the same people who's ancestors burned down the great library and lost four thousand years of technology.

Come today when there are silos full of the great human reset button, but more than likely the great the end of life since as a spieces we are so amazingly dumb to mistake an author drawing on a quote as a solution instead of what it is.  A historical reference.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:25 | 2434136 CPL
CPL's picture

Oh yeah in the middle of the second paragraph the Khans from Mongolia sack the shit out of everything to europe and africa.  Breaks the backs of most armies.  Only reason none of you speak fulent Mongolia is all troops were recalled to view the body and China was under a single rule with most of Asia.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:36 | 2434162 PersonalRespons...
PersonalResponsibility's picture

The body?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:56 | 2434245 JoeSexPack
JoeSexPack's picture


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:14 | 2434271 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Gengis Khan died before he could finish the job.  He would have had the entire Eurasian land mass from the Atlantic to the Pacific and then looked around for something else to dine on. One in 10 Mongolian men are descendents in the direct male line.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:45 | 2434387 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

From National Geographic:

"An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today." 


Rape and pillage, indeed.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 18:46 | 2437699 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Princes of the blood every one.  The direct line threw up another one like him a few generations later in Timur the lame.  

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:33 | 2434153 redpill
redpill's picture


Small minded people think that because we have bigger guns and better tech that somehow these things are different.  Wake up call kids, every single fucking thing you think is new political development has happened many times over hundreds if not thousands of years ago.  Doomed to repeat it, period.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:38 | 2434163 PersonalRespons...
PersonalResponsibility's picture

"Doomed to repeat it, period."

So sad.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:25 | 2434133 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Don't be obtuse. If you've paid any attention to this site, the solutions have been presented over and over again:

1) abolish central banks
2) return to some form of hard-money standard
3) return to using Real Bills a la Antal Fekete
4) outlaw public servants from being hired by any organizations they were responsible for regulating
5) outlaw income taxes and property taxes as they are utterly inconsistent with a free society
6) either return to the Constitution as written, or probably better yet, return to the Articles of Confederation, as the Constitution has proven empirically to be an abysmal failure
7) strictly curtail corporate charters to a specific purpose, and to a limited term of say 10 years. Force all other business arrangements to be general partnerships, limited partnerships, or sole proprietorships.

That's not a complete list but it's an excellent start.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:26 | 2434137 CPL
CPL's picture

Yeah I got that from the passage as well.  lolwut?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:30 | 2434144 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

It wasn't in the passage. It didn't have to be, if you've been coming to this site for any length of time.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:44 | 2434238 slewie the pi-rat
slewie the pi-rat's picture


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:02 | 2434253 Tao 4 the Show
Tao 4 the Show's picture

Good list, Banzai. I will go another step and mention that your whole list is just common sense. Many of us have been yelling these things for decades. And the historical quotes generally are from people who also had common sense and advocated honesty.

Much as today's "modernism" likes to deny it, humans have both a higher and a lower nature, and collectively oscillate between the two poles. Individually, some maintain the sane (higher) perspective while the majority sinks. These individuals watch in horror and disbelief that the masses can not see what is obvious.

So the quote above is precisely on the mark and made by a contemporary of ours - contemporary, that is if you recognize cyclical human time rather than only the dry, linear type that is so popular now.

Look at the map. You are here: X. In the early days of a mass hysteria wave. Not the first, and we hope not the last.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:34 | 2434159 redpill
redpill's picture

Or at the very least listen to the 12 year old Canadian girl

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:54 | 2434304 critical tinkerer
critical tinkerer's picture

Who do you recomend to do that, what power will do it? Government?, next power in line are corporations, maybe they will do your proposals? Oh, i know, organized people can do this. DO the government job for them, but does't this organized bunch becomes government then? Aren't you just a biggest utopian of them all.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:48 | 2434424 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

Buckaroo -  some sound principles/Rules there, who could argue with that?

BTW do you know of a similar monopoly rule-based system like yours that works?

How many "if he does his job honestly" and "if he isn't lazy or corrupted" and "if the voters vote the right way" propositions do you need to work perfectly so your wonderous system does not break down into the usual rot of Govt everywhere?

Let me give you an idea of a system that works brilliantly, not perfectly, but gets the job done day in, day out, for Centuries and indeed Millions of years. It's called Freedom

if you want to see how society/freedom works without any monopoly centralised authority, without any paid cabal of lazy slackers thinking they're King for the Day, which distributes power to individuals rather than greedily hoards it to a central authority then just takey lookey outside your window: it's called nature

Nature works on billions of individuals making daily their individual choices. And boy does it work well wouldn't you agree? Better than shoving a monopoly on society called Govt and the pretence that bankers puppets represent you or your interests which is a tragedy waiting, no designed, to happen

So rather than you trying to get all your policies passed, which you haven't a snowball in hells chance, let me give you another far faster and easier policy solution you can inact: Stop Paying Your Taxes

When you stop feeding the institution of corruption, Govt, freedom naturally springs forth and enriches a free (from Govt oppression) society with free (from Govt) markets and get this, you can persue your policies freely rather than the joke lottery of voting that as plain as day fact represents nobody but the latest group of frauds wanting to live off everyones backs

Take the easy option, because your system will fail miserably as Govt and every rule-based system always does.... cut the suckers off and get on with your life

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:54 | 2435085 explodinghead
explodinghead's picture

Sorry I will admit I am too much of a coward to be sent away for tax evasion leaving my 2 year old to fend for herself.   And all those W2 people have no damn choice either.      I agree with your anology of nature but unless a large percentage of the population refused to pay taxes at the same time I am sure they would gladly make an example of me.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:31 | 2434150 PersonalRespons...
PersonalResponsibility's picture


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:54 | 2434184 edotabin
edotabin's picture

I would return to the Drachma but immediately revamp the judicial system. It isn't the Drachma that prevented companies from investing in Greece, it is the judicial system which is even more fucked up than the rest of the absolute shit they called a working system. Actually it is the core of the problems they are facing. I was recently told about a case that had not been adjudicated since 1982. Count the years. I am sure Afghanistan has a better judicial system.



1. Revamp entire legal system today (not tomorrow)

2. Computerize everything immediately

3. Return to Drachma

4. Offer training to workers

5. Simultaneously solicit investment abroad.

6. Do whatever is possible to correct and advance existing industries (tourism, fruits, olives etc.) Offer free Ouzo to tourists :-)

7. US bases return and military expenditures drop

8. Take whatever deal they can get with the oil and natural gas that is within Greece's borders/jurisdiction

9. Begin technology parks and provide excellent environment for R&D

10. Send any and all illegal aliens home today.


Anyway....something along those lines.  Even that may be too little, too late but its better than what they are doing now.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:40 | 2434231 Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

The problem is not that the matter has not been adjudicated since 1982. The real problem is that it NEVER WILL BE adjudicated.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:14 | 2434629 krispkritter
krispkritter's picture

Eh, can we do that here first?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:06 | 2434204 resurger
resurger's picture

"you have a Solution, then you are part of the problem" -GC

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:27 | 2434217 Dr Benway
Dr Benway's picture

Such fucking bullshit. Many times the way to stop the ponzi have been mentioned here.




If enough people joined me in those easy steps, which only entail NOT doing something, the ponzis would immediately stop.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:01 | 2434352 Unique Snowflake
Unique Snowflake's picture

“If you wish to alter or annihilate a pyramid of numbers in a serial relation, you alter or remove the bottom number. If we wish to annihilate the junk pyramid, we must start with the bottom of the pyramid: the Addict in the Street, and stop tilting quixotically for the "higher ups" so called, all of whom are immediately replaceable. The addict in the street who must have junk to live is the one irreplaceable factor in the junk equation. When there are no more addicts to buy junk there will be no junk traffic. As long as junk need exists, someone will service it.”  William S Burroughs

But this simply wont happen. The average Joe sixpack who doesn't even realise he's paying much more for his sixpack, but for smaller bottles(cos there's still six so everythings cool, right) let alone understand the monetary system, will never willingly give up the free money. Humans really would rather rub some cream into the bandaid over that infected wound, even though it doesn't seem to do anything(but Dr. Bankanke said it would) rather than rip off the bandaid and face the pain of reality. It's going to take amputation to fix this... although I wouldn't be surprised if some people would still complain.

I agree in principle, but... You can't change it. Resistance is useless. The empire has control of everything. Just look after yourself any way you can. Fuck the rest of them. They were warned.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:42 | 2434469 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Pyramids collapse from the bottom.

But on the global scale, US citizen pyramidal schemes arent sexy if you look at the bottom. Vertigo. End of illusion.

Better to look at the upper side, which happens to be composed of US citizens, and claim the collapse will come from there.

Much sexier.

Mon, 05/21/2012 - 21:31 | 2449442 akak
akak's picture

Chinese citizenism citizens spread their roadside feces from their bottoms.

But on a global scale, Chinese citizenism citizens aren't sexy if you look at their dirty bottoms.  Alfred Hitchcock movie.  End of illusion of Chinese citizenism hygiene.

Better to look at their upper side, which happens to be composed of blobbing-up Chinese citizenism citizens, and acknowledge the collapse will come from there.

Much sexier.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 11:49 | 2435795 darteaus
darteaus's picture

"Have no debt" = own no currency.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:39 | 2434226 Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

Before advice must come reflection and enlightenment. We do very little of this in this society which is jammed with nothing but hollow calories and entertainment. This is why people like Ron Paul are wasted on the masses because people just don't get it. And if they don't get it, they also can't give it.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 06:33 | 2434462 Boeing Boy
Boeing Boy's picture

Presumably ZH advice is to short euro?

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:37 | 2434056 XRAYD
XRAYD's picture

And then, Baltimore, Newark, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit, Miami, Los Angeles ..... 

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:38 | 2434059 zorba THE GREEK
zorba THE GREEK's picture

There is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:38 | 2434060 New Survivalist
New Survivalist's picture

Sensationalism at its best, Tyler, and I'm buying.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:42 | 2434068 Poofter Priest
Poofter Priest's picture



One thing would not be to wait until someone else provides a solution.

This is a common mistake and what allows the aforementioned to turn into facism.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:42 | 2434070 msjimmied
msjimmied's picture

Sounds like the republican worldview to me.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:20 | 2434213 sitenine
sitenine's picture

Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion.

+1 for inadvertently proving the point of the post

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:23 | 2434215 Bunker Boy
Bunker Boy's picture

If it is, its been around a hell of a lot longer than the American Republican Party. Must have a bit of traction. But alas, even the American Republicans abandoned this position over the last 30 years. If you care to join they won't have a clue as to why. If they are confused, speak Obamanics.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:45 | 2434072 FranSix
FranSix's picture

Scan the streets for hecatombs of twelve year old girls.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:44 | 2434074 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

"Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion."

As Tyler would say..  Presented without comment.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:45 | 2434075 the 300000000th...
the 300000000th percent's picture

History repeats itself


Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:46 | 2434077 kumquatsunite
kumquatsunite's picture

Brilliant. Sums up purdy dang completely exactly where we are eh? When I was growing up there were only a few things people really cared about: that their word mean something; that they be self-supporting and not take from the government; that their children were polite.

Now we are served up a sluice of filth on tv each evening as "entertainment" and told we should cede our children to pot to become a generation of pot heads. Never before have the elders failed to protect the young.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:18 | 2434119 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

you started off well, i wanted to green arrow you, but then you went off on some random anti-pot tangent that has nothing to do with anything.

no one is telling you to cede your children to pot. every parent is responsible for their children. it is not the government's role to enforce some bizarre belief that pot is immoral, nor to look after your children for you - the government is not a day care center nor should it be.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:05 | 2434614 Lednbrass
Lednbrass's picture

Yep, it was a great start and then a quick detour out to left field with the reefer madness.

It reduced the whole post to "Take care of yoruselves, but please Big Daddy Gubmint- save us from da Debbils Weed"!

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:55 | 2434248 WonderDawg
WonderDawg's picture

I, and pretty much everyone I grew up with, drank alcohol before we ever smoked weed. So, are we also told we should cede our children to booze? Moreso than weed, I would say, being that it's legal and all. I'd much rather my kid smoke weed than drink himself into a stupor.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 05:38 | 2434423 Ronaldo
Ronaldo's picture

No, let's keep the price for booze low!

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:18 | 2434366 Bohm Squad
Bohm Squad's picture

Has anyone seen my anxiety medication?  I'm an old man and afraid I've misplaced it.  Oh dear...I hope the cat hasn't run off with it again.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:47 | 2434080 prains
prains's picture

good movie, not so good analogy

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:47 | 2434083 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

This sounds like my department...I am in the academy.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 01:14 | 2434211 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Let's hope the nomadic tribes from Canada don't come down and burn your libraries!

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:04 | 2434258 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

As if anybody would notice.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:41 | 2434720 ATM
ATM's picture

Those tribes won't be coming from Canada but from the South......

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:27 | 2434900 LFMayor
LFMayor's picture

any culture that stops whatever their fucking doing at 13:00 to take a nap will never dominate. 

Work ethic, bitches.   And San Jacinto, too.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:51 | 2435066 Ace Ventura
Ace Ventura's picture

OK now that's funny right there.....I dont care who ya are.  :)

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:08 | 2434267 RECISION
RECISION's picture

Long time no see.

Good to have you back

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:52 | 2434090 Bunker Boy
Bunker Boy's picture

Sounds like Obama, and Bush, and Clinton, and Bush. Why do I feel dizzy? Democracy is suited for  only a virtous people. America: RIP.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:55 | 2434092 Convolved Man
Convolved Man's picture

... And once we settle up, I walk away forever.

So I'll just wait... all back-of-the-bus for now.


Riddick, The Chronicles of Riddick

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:09 | 2434112 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

You keep what you kill.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:59 | 2434098 Terrorist
Terrorist's picture

And what happens when such uncivil warfare reaches one of the balancing poles of mutually assured destruction?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:07 | 2434266 RECISION
RECISION's picture

A brave new world...

For a few.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:59 | 2434099 Cplus
Cplus's picture

By the way, Thucydides owned a gold mine on his family's estates in the north of Greece; the income from this business paid for his research and writing of the histories after the assembly of Athens exiled him. He had served as a general in the war without military success.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:05 | 2434262 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

He was probably better at analyzing the situation than killing anything that moves.


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 04:26 | 2434371 chistletoe
chistletoe's picture

It has always come to pass that the greatest thinkers have owned many slaves and lived in a society where that was considered normal.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:43 | 2434729 ATM
ATM's picture

So the smartest people seem to become the most succesful.

Wed, 05/16/2012 - 23:59 | 2434100 Cabreado
Cabreado's picture

The world is being given a preview, as if it needed one, again, one more time, of when narcissistic forces finally tip the cart over.

It is indeed different this time -- there is communication -- a sharing of sentiment,

that sentiment is of the overwhelming majority who increasingly see the fallout of Voicelessness,

the great antithesis of the Narcissist force that can not, and will not, prevail.

Grab on to your humility, though, as the rough ride is still ahead.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 00:53 | 2434183 dolly madison
dolly madison's picture

Yes, I do think it is different this time because we do have communication this time.  We shall see what comes of it.

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:30 | 2434687 Clowns on Acid
Clowns on Acid's picture

Dolly - you mean while "they" allow internet usage?

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 08:46 | 2434739 ATM
ATM's picture

The conditions do not change because of communication, only the speed changes. 

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 02:04 | 2434261 lewy14
lewy14's picture

Ubiquitous global communication could hasten the great cascade. Or prevent it - creating a series of small fizzles instead of a big bang. Dunno offhand.

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