The Greeks & Us

I’m back! I was never really gone, but the podcast took a week off over the holidays, so the podcast is back. It’s good to take a break from something like this on occasion, just to recharge the batteries. This thing takes about six hours a week, spread over the week, so there is more work to it than the blog. The part that takes the most time is gathering ideas and assembling notes. The recording is only about two hours. Still, it’s not a full time job, but it takes time, so a little bit of a break from time to time is a good idea.

One of my more popular podcasts was the one I did on the Romans. Everyone on the Right, even the sissy-Right, likes to talk about Rome. There’s something satisfying to the comparisons between America and Rome. That’s probably because the Romans had a lot of interesting characters. The Romans were also around a long time, so it feels like their history is the set of all possible outcomes for a people. With a little historical license, you can find an example from their history to meet just about every need.

The Greeks are a bit different. I think it is because the West has so much more respect for the Greeks than the Romans. Maybe it is the fact the Greeks never conquered the world, like the Romans. Alexander certainly did, but his empire did not outlive him and the people involved were not so dramatic. That said, there are a lot of interesting lessons to be drawn from the history of ancient Greece. That’s the theme for the show this week. It will be a sampling of ancient Greek history and the relevance to our own age.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show


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51 thoughts on “The Greeks & Us

  1. ZMan,this was a podcast deserving special praise. It was thought provoking and enlightening. I aIways believed I was pretty good as far as classical studies go, but a learned more than a few things listening to it with my evening cigar. Thanks.

  2. Im personally meanderingly interested in the classical age so this was an interesting show. One thing about America as an empire, there are two different enterpretations, that America is a ‘domestic’ empire, DC lording it over the United States. And that the US is a ‘global empire’ w bases and vassels all over the place. I think it should be clarified if one is talking about the domestic or the global empire.

    • One of the problems we run into with the patriotards is that they can’t accept we are a global empire, but if we are, we’re still somehow a representative republic at home. As the lolbergs used to point out, you can’t have a limited Constitutional government at home and a gigantic bloated government meddling around the world without it blowing back on you.

      Eventually the gubmint treats its citizens with the same contempt it does its foreign subjects. Then the foreign subjects start pouring in because what’s the difference? America lords it over Guatemala, so what’s it matter where the Guatemalans are living? Everyone is a just a plebe in the system. Nebraskan or Somalian. Your vote won’t change anything anyway. All the AOC’s in the world could be elected to Cohngress, but they won’t be able to dismantle the permanent government in the CIA, FBI, etc.

      • The weird thing about the global empire bit is that the US does it, well, incompetently. The two closest comparisons to the US global empire are perhaps the Athenian (although I know next to nothing about it; the Syracuse then-war on terror now comparison was intersting but a different issue) and of course the British empire.

        The thing about the British empire is though, the British made money off of it for most of the time. They used it as an exclusive trading zone, naked merchantilism. Then, after WWI, or maybe also before, they got all these primarily muslim inhabited deserts in the ME, taken over from the Ottomans. They were not good for agriculture, they didnt have anything of value (oil wasnt discovered then). This was a bad move for the Brits, they went from being busines imperialists to, well, mindless landgrabbers. But the point is, before then, empire was a terrific deal for the British, less so for Indians.

        Today, the US is running trade deficits w everyone, from vassals like Germany and Japan to rivals like China. If you run it as a net expense, an empire is doomed. I think this is roughly also how Trump thinks. He s broadly sympathetic to the cultural cohesion crowd. But first of all he thinks like a business man. And the US is policing like an imperial power but trading like a colony.

        • The American Empire protects global finance and Israel. It seems foolish that if we were going to invade and destroy Iraq, we’d not at least get the oil (Blood for oil, my foot), but it’s more about protecting the globalist elites than benefiting America. Right now this is their base. When America is sucked dry and useless to them, we’ll get dumped like the UK. Trump, at least rhetorically, threatens their scam by pointing out we get nothing for playing GloboCop.

    • I got through the first, but got side tracked, so I’ll be listening to it here soon. I like his podcast for cycling.

  3. If you haven’t follow thezman’s link to theTman’s 15 minute editorial you should do so.

    An excellent framing for a political campaign . The FTN nguys see him as the next logical leader after Trump leaves the stage.

    • Carlson’s essay is a landmark and a bridge builder as one wag put it. The guy risked a lot saying what he did on TV like that. He made enemies with it.

      BTW go on youtube and you can find him giving talks to various groups and he really gets it. He is quite worried if the elites keep up what they are doing it will lead to civil war. And he really rips into the elites, he hates them for what they have done to the country.

      What makes Carlson’s views so interesting.He is part of the elite, he lives with them and works with them, his next door neighbor is Susan Rice for example and he belongs to the same clubs they do. He has a window into their world that our side doesn’t have.

      • I know quite a few of the trust funder class…north and south. And they are equally clueless. And spineless.

    • So were ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia/Persia. The Egyptians were building great pyramids and gigantic public works in 2,500 B.C.E. (5,500 years ago) that can still be seen today. The Chinese had nothing like that until the legendary tomb of first emperor, Qin Shi, circa 220 B.C.E. The Sumerians developed a cuneiform writing system in the 31st century B.C.E. (i.e. 5,000 years ago) and that system of writing was used for 3,000 years. The earliest Chinese writing on oracle bones only date back to about 1,200 B.C.E. And as someone who speaks fluent Chinese, has studied Chinese history for over 30 years and lived and worked in China, I know the “five thousands years of civilization” theme of Chinese history is both historically inaccurate and a comforting lie the Chinese tell themselves to claim “greatness” despite their obvious inability to compete with the West during the last 300 years, up to and including today.

      • So you will have an answer to this: would you characterize Chinese civilization as more, or less, continuous, compared to the older ones?

        Say as compared to the genetic and cultural taxonomies of the Egyptians and Persians?

        I am thinking about Islam and the Islamic conquests.

        Anything comparable in China? Maybe the Mongols? Buddhism? Red Guards? Urbanization?

        Or has China remained China? Which is the meme, if you’ve just read about it in English for twenty years.

    • The Chinese could not rise above the resevoir they first built, just filling it again after each collapse. The Greeks left something entirely different. They were radically unlike all their neighbors.

  4. In listening to your discussion of democracy’s expansionism, it reminded me of Goetz Aly’s book “Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War and the Nazi Welfare State”. Aly explains that the way that Hitler kept the support of the German people during WWII despite the bombing was that he made sure that there was a steady flow of plunder from the conquered countries (including the German Jews) back home to his citizens.

    This obviously doesn’t match up well to the American democratic empire, but if you work for a defense contractor in the LA Basin, it might feel a little like that. I worked for a defense subcontractor during the first Gulf War and there was a grotesque pleasure to think our revenue would be positively influenced.

  5. Another great talk, Z. Thanks.

    In preparation for the coming Dark Ages, have you thought about publishing your essays and podcasts in hardcopy form. You know, so when I’m a monk copying the important literature from the 21st century, I can have a copy of your stuff too, to copy.

    • Well, you can’t go the Greek Section because it doesn’t exist. However, outside of Astoria in Queens, you can try The Greek Tribeca on Greenwich st. in NYC. It has mixed reviews and I’ve never been there because I don’t care for Greek food.

  6. Efcharisto! As I listened to your words, I pictured Obama as a faggy Persian tyrant. Filth. If the allegorical Persians of today (not Iran) represent our true enemies; then, bathed in the glories of Western Civilization, I am moved to borrow from one of my favorite Romans: Persia delenda est!

  7. Thanks for the book rec. a friend of mine actually studied under Kagan at Yale and had a high opinion of him.

    Re human sacrifice: it does not necessarily have to be something dear to you, it can be someone you don’t like. For example, the Vikings would hang captives as sacrifices to Odin. The one time the romans practiced human sacrifice was in a time of crisis, I think when Hannibal invaded, they killed a prisoner of war and a Greek slave. What defines it as sacrifice? Not sure, I suppose the ritualistic, spiritual character.

  8. Alcibiades is a funny story on democracy gone wrong. He talked a majority of Athens into supporting the Syracuse expedition, then he and all his buddies got on the ships and sailed away.

    As soon as the fleet sailed, Alcibiades’ enemies became the majority in the city. They trumped up some charges on him fast, convicted him in absentia, and sent a ship to bring him home for execution. Of course Alcibiades took off running while the expedition continued without their leader – and eventually lost disastrously after a series of blunders.

    • Agreed. I think the Sicilian debacle is one of the great stories of history. So many great lessons that no one seems to heed.

      I also like that Alcibiades was accused to snapping the wangs off of the statues. That’s one of those things that humanizes the age. It’s easy to imagine drunken college boys doing such a thing.

      • I never got a feel for the legitimacy of those charges. If that is something he and his pals actually did while drunk, somebody else did it as a prank, or it was a frame-job on him by his enemies. More entertaining I guess than charges of Russian (or Spartan) collusion.

        • Like the story of the Great Khan falling off his horse and saving Europe from the Mongols, the truth of the story is unimportant. Even if the charge was false, it’s relatable and makes all involved accessible.

          • The herms that were vandalized were considered sacred. It was the equivalent of spraying graffiti on the front of a church today. Which is why I think his opponents did it. They knew this would excite the common citizens with fear and anger. Greeks in that era were extremely superstitious. The ruling classes knew how to manipulate these kinds of people. Alcibiades knew this, as well, and it seems uncharacteristic of him to have done something like this on the very eve of his expedition. The event probably disturbed his own troops. By the way, he deserted to Sparta as a result of his removal from command and prosecution.

      • The alcibiades anecdote you told reminded me of a trip to the national museum in Naples Italy where, in addition to the farnese Hercules there is a collection of snapped off statue wieners. They’re basically in a big pile in one of the rooms.

        • Probably the result of vandalism by Christian zealots or Muslim raiders. It was quite common in the 5th through 8th centuries A.D.

          • The Christian morons also defaced Roman Statues by hammering off the noses. Cute. That makes them the same as any other mindless dickweed in history.

  9. Have you done much reading on the Venetian Republic? Another great example of democracy and empire. The bankers that decided to sack Constantinople are the spiritual ancestors of Wall St…

  10. Speaking of the Greeks… a “what-if?” question that might be fun for say a speculative alt-historical novel…

    What if Alexander the Great had sent his conquering armies west instead of east? Rome and Carthage were not yet at full strength, and everybody else was a pushover for Alexander. He could have ignored Persia and India, taken Egypt, the Levant and western Anatolia to secure his eastern flank, then just steamrolled through the entire west, virtually unopposed.

    Imagine if North Africa, Hispania, Gallia, Illyria and Pannonia had been Hellenized rather than Romanized, and the Roman influence had been clipped before it ever got rolling. Hellenization east of Syria was always a marginal thing because the Eastern cultures were far too old, too distant and too developed for it to stick. But Hellenizing the Gauls? You might have had belle-époque Paris in 150 BC, for feck’s sake.

    • What was there in the west to sack and conquer? Tribal communities with little wealth. The Phoenicians in Carthage also were a sea power that matched the Greeks (read about the Sicilian Wars). The wealth of the middle east calls to conquerors… I mean Antony went to Egypt, not Gaul, to escape from Augustus.

    • The Pyrenees and the Alps would have been a problem. That and I don’t know how well a Phalanx would work in a forest. The bang for the buck wouldn’t have been that great either. You just conquered Gaul! Congratulations, what did you win?

    • What would have happened? I’ll tell you. The same thing that happened in the Greek speaking world between the death of Alexander and the end of the 3rd century B.C.: it would have rotted from within. And when the Romans conquered Greece in the 2nd century B.C., they imported a corrupt culture that eventually destroyed them. By the time of Julius Caesar, Greece had culturally conquered Rome…and the Republic was destroyed by it.

  11. Before I listen, my favorite joke. The Greeks invented love, the Romans introduced it to women.

  12. This posting will be a hard act to follow going forward. A great start to the new year. What can we do? What can be done? Proper knowledge helps us. Everything the same under the sun.

  13. Democracy can work okay in a town, anything bigger and it fails pretty quickly. The bigger the state and the more “democratic” the government, the faster it fails.

    The Romans knew it, the American Founders knew it. It took the destruction of or education system to make people forget it.

    • The facade of democracy is relatively unimportant. As Z mentioned this week, a blue water economy is vastly more predictive of imperial behavior. As usual, I agree with Z for the most part and yet puzzle over his lingering use of reactionary “democracy,” red herrings. Solon was not meant to reform the democratic system, he was meant to tame the oligarchy. The actual political system that exists under all other nominal ones.

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