Times of Ruffians

We are facing broadly-based attacks by the latest ruffians, supported by their Republican and media co-conspirators.  This has repeatedly happened before.  What can we learn from these incursions of barbarians?  Masses of uneducated, illiterate ruffians overwhelmed everyday citizens.  Social consciousness and civic pride meant absolutely nothing.  It was survival of the fittest. 

The Visigoths were an early Germanic people that emerged from earlier Gothic groups who had moved into the Roman Empire and played a major role in defeating the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378.  They were soon followed by the Vandals, another Germanic people who established Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the 5th century.

The Sack of Rome in 410 AD was undertaken by the Visigoths led by their king, Alaric. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital but retained a paramount position as “the eternal city” and a spiritual center of the Empire. This was the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to a foreign enemy, and the sack was a major shock to contemporaries, friends and foes of the Empire alike.

Attila, frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, Ostrogoths, Alans and Bulgars, among others, in Central and Eastern Europe.  Quite some time later, Genghis Khan (1158-1227) was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia.

The sack of Constantinople occurred in 1204 and marked the culmination of the Fourth Crusade. Crusader armies captured, looted, and destroyed parts of Constantinople, then the capital of the Byzantine Empire.  A bit later, Ivan IV Vasilyevich commonly known in English as Ivan the Terrible was the grand prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547 and the first tsar of all Russia from 1547 to 1584.

So, the uneducated and impoverished, economically challenged, and prone to violence segments of our population can sometimes prevail.  However, they eventually overreach, ruthlessly plundering and severely punishing people, who eventually rebel.  A new order is established and ruffians are suppressed.  The new order may also be authoritarian, but liberal democracy may persevere and prosper.  This could take years, decades, or longer.

It does not seem reasonable to wait and hope.  Some combination of carrots and sticks seem warranted.  Carrots could include opportunities, for example training, to join the new economy discussed in my last post.  Sticks could include denial of benefits such as access to air travel or public transit, or perhaps pricing of benefits, e.g., higher health insurance premiums for those not vaccinated.  We can curb extreme ruffian behaviors.  Carrots will attract them to socially beneficial behaviors.  Sticks will make it very inconvenient to continue ruffian behaviors.

But, do we have the collective will to do this?  In contemporary society, ruffians are also voters.  Politicians, whose overarching objective is to get re-elected and retain power, covet these votes.  Thus, they proclaim the ruffians to be patriots.  They offer the ruffians nothing but affirmation, but that is apparently enough.  Ruffians are not looking for policies, programs, or problem solutions.  They want to be recognized as rough, tough, and self-sufficient patriots.  If we think otherwise, we are at risk.

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