Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Notes on Byzantium vs. America

Spandrell reviews a book in at least two parts.

Emphasis mine:
"Byzantium died from suicide, not murder. Infighting between the army and the bureaucracy in Constantinople ended with the victory of the capital and the hollowing out of the Anatolian army, leaving the territory undefended."
Sounds familiar. America? This is your future. In this case, I suspect it will be a suicide cascade. An attempt to bandage one self-inflicted mortal wound will spark the final conflict between State and Pentagon, between Brahmin and Amerikaner, and the Brahmins will win a Pyrrhic victory. If you're lucky, the Pentagon will surrender without shooting too many people first. I suggest having an alternative already lined up. During a crisis, the peasants get open minded.

"Byzantium might have been an autocracy, but there were no clear rules of succession and court intrigue was a staple: [...] because in principle the Roman Emperor was selected by common acclamation of the Senate, the People and the Army."
Good to know America's studied its history. It would sad if I wasn't able to predict how it will fall. Thanks, Americans!

The rest of Candide's quote is facepalm inducing too.

"It was a constant struggle between the Constantinople-based bureaucratic noble families who actually ran the country, and the army leaders from the provinces who ensured there was a country to run."
Surely, America didn't copy all of Byzantium? I'm sure there's a difference somewhere.
"The army tended to win, which means there was a sort of tradition of ambitious generals revolting and seizing the throne for themselves."
Ah, I feel much better. Nowadays it is considered gauche to seize rule by force, so the bureaucracy wins instead.

I wonder how much effect the mass media has? Would the army have stormed Washington already if it wouldn't have been instantly reported to everyone? In Byzantium, lacking telegrams, by the time most the empire learned there had been a coup, the thing would already have been done and over with, all organized resistance wiped out. Or would the modern units simply refuse the command, by common agreement of its illegitimacy?
"They were cowardly and unwarlike and appeared to be unserviceable for anything brave."
Perhaps modern bureaucrats are waiting for the un-braving of the armies to finish before they make any overt moves.

Oh hey, new possible reason for the middle eastern wars. Peacetime training is bad. Without action, your army's skills will atrophy. With bureaucrats incessantly threatening their power base, generals can't afford a badly trained army.

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