Some Greek

One of the fun parts of studying the ancient world, even for an amateur, is that you see that the problems of the human condition are immutable. The issues we face today have new characteristics, but they are not new to man. The Ancients had the same sorts of problems because they had the same sorts of people. Then as now, there were people who lived to create trouble. There have always been people nibbling at the support cables of society, hoping for disaster.

Of course, the Ancients could not afford to indulge their fantasies about themselves or the world, so their solutions were to the point. An office holder who betrayed his duty to the office was forced to commit suicide. People who committed crimes, even small crimes, faced rough judgment. Much of what ails the modern age is the unwillingness to deal with the problems of society. As a result, they have metastasized to the point where they seem intractable.

Even so, it is settling to read about how the Ancients worked through the problems of society as it is a reminder that this is a constant. It is also comforting to see that even the most brilliant people of the age got things wrong. Just as troublemakers and subversives are a fixture of human society, wrongness is a universal constant, even among the most brilliant of the age. It is a good reminder that appeals to authority are often an excuse for not questioning authority.

For the show this week I plucked out a handful of not so famous Greek thinkers and did a short segment on who they were and what we can learn from them. As I said in the opening, the show is a bit of self-indulgence on my part. I like reading about this period in Western history, so I like talking about it too. I usually like to keep the show somewhat related to the issues of the day, but every once in a while, it is good to do one for the sole purpose of making the host happy.

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This Week’s Show


  • 00:00: Opening
  • 03:00: Lycurgus
  • 13:00: Solon
  • 23:00: Draco
  • 33:00: Zaleucus
  • 43:00: Parmenides
  • 53:00: Democritus

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115 thoughts on “Some Greek

  1. Thank you for this dialogue.

    I have been starting to read a three volume set of books under the general title of Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, written by a German classisist, Werner Jaeger, originally published in 1939, with a revision in 1945. Very solid, deeply-read and digested source and secondary material resulted in a truly scholarly work with great resonance with the discussion ongoing here. The general topical coverage volume by volume:

    I. Archaic Greece, The Mind of Athens (Lots to learn here; the epics, the various great political and exhortatory poetry and its role in Paideia, Spartan culture, the influence of aristocratic ideals, Solon the Lawgiver, Cosmographic philosophy, a long section on early Athenean Paideia.)

    II. In Search of the Divine Center (Functionally a study of Socrates and Plato)

    III. The Conflict of Cultural Ideals in the Age of Plato (A broadranging inquiry into various currents in Paideia)

    Translated by Gilbert Highet, published by by Oxford University Press. Originally likely only in hardback, the printing I have is in paperback. Extensive endnotes, worthy no doubt, but this work is tough sledding but full of cultural insights. Highly recommended if you are into this sort of deep cultural knowledge.

    Fun aside; I came into this through my wife, a librarian at an Ivy League law school, when the office of a retiring professor was being cleaned out. Apparently never read, make of that what you will.

  2. Excellent show; more like this, please.

    If anyone would like to get out of their own head for a bit, might I recommend the finest writer of the 20th century: Gene Wolfe’s duo,

    Soldier of the Mist
    Soldier of Arete

    A soldier, in Phillip of Macedon’s time, awakens each morn unable to remember even his own name. Daily, he rediscovers a diary scroll he keeps to remind him of who he is and of the day before. He desires only one thing: to go home, if he can but find it.

    Strange and wondrous, this unforgettable tale of Greece is a perfect rejoinder to today’s post.

  3. The big difference between today’s world and the Ancient Greek world is size and technology. They operated in a tiny strip of land bounded by the mountains. We have globalization at hand. And secondly, we have gobs and gobs of technology — electric-powered factories shooting out reams of everything from Marlboro smokes to cans of Campbell’s Chicken a la King (my favorite). As a result, a collapse is a lot less likely, from Sea Peoples or any other random source. Even a collapse that took out part of the world landscape would likely leave big swiths of the world untouched.

    • The topic of collapse is obviously hitting a nerve for some here in the DR, so perhaps some clarity is in order.

      First, the likely collapse scenario is not nuclear winter following a mega war with Russia or even an asteroid strike that kills off most land-based mammals on the planet. It’s most likely manifestation is economic (runaway inflation, high unemployment, oppressive authoritarian government, and loss of personal freedoms). Think life in Soviet Russia on steroids.

      Second, fear of collapse is largely a psychological malady that afflicts those who are ill-suited to survive an interregnum of extreme hardship. If you have an extremely fat ass and your only skill set is apparatchik in a bureaucracy, nature did not intend for you to survive this gauntlet. And that is a curative feedback mechanism that will allow the rest of us to rebound more efficiently.

      Third, the moral of this story is . . . don’t be a useless fat-ass apparatchik. You can do better than that, and you should do so.

    • Catxman, the problem is the interconnectivity and therefore the complexity of the system you describe. All these myriad factories you speak of depend on other aspects of the economy to function. A cigarette manufacturer is out of business if the tobacco crop is unplanted, or fails to thrive due to lack of fertilizer. or can not be harvested due to lack of fuel or repair parts for equipment.

      Yes, some industries are more important than others, but it doesn’t take many failures to bring the whole system to a standstill.

  4. Great podcast. My knowledge of Greek history likely increased 10 fold.

    Among men of intelligence with a reasonable grasp of reality and ethics, these arguments are certainly persuasive. But how many US voters (both alive and dead) are actually persuadable? IOW, can we really make a difference by enlarging & honing a database of facts and ancient wisdom in service to the goal of get to 50+1%? Are the sane in the majority or minority?

    Or put another way, if you’re standing on a railroad track staring down an oncoming freight locomotive, is yelling “STOP” with conviction and erudition likely to save the day?

    No, we’re not quite at that stage yet, but methinks a Plan B ought to be rolling around in your head somewhere. For every hour spent cogitating on high-minded philosophy, I would suggest equal time at the gym and range may be in order.

  5. I might have heard of the first guy, not even sure but I don’t know a single one of the rest lol I know very, very little about Ancient Greece. I know the whole Bronze Age world collapsed because of ‘the Sea People’ and I always wondered if those were the Greeks or someone else?? And I read that Pythagoras, the triangle guy, thought that numbers were gods or something like that and I thought like ‘wow wow wow there brainiac, trigonometry is great. But are you sure you’re not reading a little too much into this’

    But this is interesting and I think it’s really useful to look at history. Our gadgets are different and especially communication (and surveillance methods btw, just to mention them). But our problems are others have faced before us. Anyways, have a great weekend host and fellow commentators. And, we’re gonna F-ing win!!

    • Latest “guessing” is that the Sea Peoples came originally from Sardinia. But no one really knows. Various accounts mostly from Egyptians at the time suggest they were a massive but not highly organized rabble. There was no great conqueror leading them and wanting classical conquest: Ghenghis Khan, Caesar, Tamerlane, Napoleon, etc. Those conquerors find some cities quite useful as wealth generators, the Sea Peoples seemed only to destroy cities not conquer or rebuild or found new ones as is the usual pattern.

      Very unusual in human history.

    • The Bronze age collapse came from the eruption of Santorini.
      This created massive migration of a large number of peoples including the Sea People as a large amount of land vanished into the ocean.

      It wrecked even the Assyrian empire and very nearly overran Egypt. All the surrounding cultures in the Levant/Greece/Turkey were radically altered by large scale population movement.

      Europe in modern times has done this to themselves without any such cause and he effect will be worse as at least the original migrations were genetically related.

  6. O/T

    Following on from yesterday and some earlier comments on Canada.

    Looks like Ottawa police have started the harassment process:

    “Ottawa Police Chief says they’re targeting the convoy and supporters for prosecution.
    Collecting registration numbers, phone records and checking financial services of truckers and anyone donating to their go fund me.”

    Not just the truckers, but also “”supporters”.

    • This was bound to happen. Maybe we should do like the Jews and have an organization that registers assaults, persecutions and threats against white people. And call it something generic or neutral like the ADL. There’s nothing specific about anti-Semitism in their name but everyone knows what kind of defamation they’re concerned with. If we had an ‘Anti-Hate Group’ or something, everytime there was a white killed or singled out, like these truckers, ‘oh, there’s the lawyer from the Anti-Hate on the phone.’ Or ‘Anti-Hate finds Senator Cortez very weak on anti-hate positions’ and everyone would understand what that meant. We need to organize or we’re going to be cut down like straws.

      • “We need to organize or we’re going to be cut down like straws.”

        The lawless bureaucrats will land a few blows, of course, but they will find that they have punched de Tar Baby.

        We have turned a corner.

        • We may have but we should not celebrate too soon. Long struggles are won with superior logistics and cohesion. That means organizing in some form or other.

        • Agreed. To my shame, I had not watched live feeds of the protest until today. The Canadian truckers and their supporters are inspirational, and it was quite moving to watch. To borrow from Orwell, the hope is in the ‘proles.

          I had feared this might turn into Tiananmen II, and it could still, but that would ignite an even larger revolt and it would spread throughout the West. Thank you all.

      • Good luck with that. The nose has money and media, the never ending fuckin holohoax….so gooberment drones jump and shimmey to kiss ass. We got Us, that’s it. All hail Truckghanistan.

      • It’s probably too late to organize in that fashion, as the first iteration of Parler found out when Amazon pulled their servers. The enemy controls nearly 99% of everything; they control the high ground, so they can “deplatform” (i.e. ban) any of your efforts and jail/dox/ruin your supporters.

        Organizing like this would be like rushing a fortified position with bayonets screaming Banzai — brave but ultimately pointless. I would argue the most sensible position now would be to regroup to a more defensible position which we can defend. This means local and state efforts building up to an independence movement. We need separate countries. That’s the only way this will ever realistically end. I for one am sick of these leftists, and I look forward to the day when they are completely “deplatformed” from everything affecting my life.

        Imagine a country where the democrat party has been banned, where leftists have been purged from everything. No social media for them, no media jobs. No BLM. No ADL. They’ve been stripped of voting rights and deported. Peace and quiet, intellectual discourse restored. No racism against our people. All the fighting you’ve seen, all the “deplatforming” you’ve witnessed over the last 10 years is no more. And no more foreign wars. You now live in a country where 90% of people look like you, act like you; they celebrate the same national heroes and holidays; no multiculturalism; no CRT, etc …

        Doesn’t that sound like paradise? Doesn’t that sound a lot better than merely having our own ADL while our people are forced to live in a nightmare world of oppression? Didn’t the Jews create Israel for exactly that reason — to get a homeland of their own instead of living with us and by our rules and within our culture? They were in a worse position than we are now; they emigrated en masse and took their new land but somehow we can’t do the same? Why aren’t we working towards that instead of enduring this hell?

    • They need to rapidly figure out and implement some kind of communal support system.

      At least GoFundMe is reportedly refunding donations and the truckers have moved to GiveSendGo.

      • GoFundMe is garbage. They take their marching orders from globohomo; left Rittenhouse out to dry when he needed it. Not so for BLM, Antifa, ongoing “CHAZ” riots and civil disorder.

        Still, there’s a better than even chance that any donations to an alternate platform (GiveSendGo) may well put you on a Canadian or international “donates to terrorists” list.

        The juice is not worth the squeeze; every fight is not your fight. Give anonymously if you must; probably better to be mindful of future endeavors in your own backyard.

    • Joe Normie still believes that Jackboots cannot happen here in the Good Ol’ US of A because if he allowed himself to believe that, he might actually have to get his ass up off the couch. So one silverlining of having the Jackboots reveal themselves is that it enables redpilling at hyperspeed. Effective law enforcement requires having the support of the community. Persecuting protesting truckers en masse is not good public relations, and those chickens will eventually come home to roost.

      • It sounds like they’ll need to import more third world truckers. A bunch of jabbed up brown drivers ought to make for interesting travel experiences.

        • It takes extraordinary skill and experience to drive a semi in Canada because of adverse weather in winter (black ice) and dodging the occasional moose or bear in the middle of the road in summer. A driver trainee from the tropics is likely to jackknife on half his runs, and that is no trivial accident to clean up after. Stupid is as stupid does, and only a government bureaucrat who has never worked a day in his life would suggest that as a remedy.

        • We’ve done that here in the USA They end up pretty much like American truckers with a modest contempt for the law.

          Problem for the PTB’s is that they run this place like a 3rd world country and that the foreigners are used to this stuff and know all the ways around it.

          Americans who have never admitted how corrupt this nation is are always perpetually surprised and lost . The rest of the world is “Eh, just like home only with a slightly better standard of living”

          It also has the effect of driving a lot of then home or elsewhere as soon as they have a pile of cash. I’ve seen a fair few people just pack up and leave. Not enough by far but its still an option especially as nicer areas of the less developed world are still very cheap.

  7. Democritus. Everything is composed of atoms. Is reality analog or discrete? A year, a month, week, day, hour, minute, second. A moment? How many nanoseconds in a moment? Can we have half a moment? What if that moment passes while traveling near the speed of light?

    Matter. Table. Carbon. Molecule. Atom. Electron. What is an electron made of? How many “atoms” make up an electron?

    Was Democritus right? Is Reality infinitely discrete or smoothly continuous? That note, middle C, sounds smooth and continuous, doesn’t it? How many moments in the one minute waltz?

    • When Mr. Prepper is not preparing for the collapse, he is contemplating ontology. Civilization may survive after all.

      • Indeed. Ontology is important. That is why I find myself a bit disappointed with Zman’s take today. I guess it’s an instance of waking from Gell-Mann amnesia. To glibly asset that there was nothing in Western philosophy on ontology between the 1st and 14th centuries is a pure category error. Perhaps the apex of philosophical metaphysics, which is the study of ontology, was contained within the works of the 13th century Dominican Thomas Aquinas. The mere fact that he was also a scholastic theologian in no way detracts from his commentary on and deepening of Aristotelian metaphysics. So, without denying the general observation that human problems are universal in time and space, I had to take things with a grain of salt today.

        • To glibly asset that there was nothing in Western philosophy on ontology between the 1st and 14th centuries is a pure category error.

          When did I say that?

          • @45:40-57 in discussion of Parmenides as first ontologist: “break from end of the Roman Empire to the 14th/15th century…”

  8. “The Ancients had the same sorts of problems because they had the same sorts of people. Then as now, there were people who lived to create trouble. There have always been people nibbling at the support cables of society, hoping for disaster.”

    This describes our “current year” political activists that were created by our social sciences academic class.

    Aristophanes also mocked the intellectuals of his time. Reading an intro to his plays the academic writing it lamented that Aristophanes included Socrates among the sophists that were a danger to his society. On a second look, Aristophanes knew exactly what he was talking about and knew even the “good” intellectuals tend to create trouble where new “solutions” are not needed for imaginary “problems”, like inequality.

    We really need to defund academia and the centralized school system, it is creating a lot of the people gnawing at the cables of a structure they cannot understand (e.g. AOC, Omar, etc).

    Christianity did a lot to civilize European culture and enlightenment creators do not know the size of the Pandora’s box they opened. Pre and post Christian though is not kind to others, like the woke/BLM/CRT people demonstrate. And when kindness to other humans is lost the end is a struggle between groups for real political power. I like some commentator named Devon Stack that said that the white man is the goofy low status guy in Office Space that ends up setting the office on fire after being humiliated and expelled from the company.

    There is a good argument for the separation between peoples that do not share a similar worldview. The libs really mock this idea because they think they will come on top (like CA and NYC in the past being the best America had), but separated from us they’ll become all like SF, but without Tech to subsidize the decline, a lot of tech people are agnostic ideologically so we’ll end up with the most competent, because we’ll reward competent people and they would put them in chains for “equity”. You could say CA and NYC were built by conservatives.

    • Mr. Monkey, I sympathize with your “We really need to defund academia and the centralized school system, it is creating a lot of the people gnawing at the cables of a structure they cannot understand.”

      But let’s dream a little bit.

      Wouldn’t it be great to have a public school system were we didn’t have to fear for the subersion of our children?

      • “Wouldn’t it be great to have a public school system were we didn’t have to fear for the subersion of our children?”

        The correct answer is not only NO but HELL NO!

        The cure for cancers is not more cancer.

        What gives you the notion that people should hand their children over to the State to train their minds?

        • Mr. Darcy, we’ve hit the “leave me alone” libertarianism versus “give me a real community” collectivism divide.

          I respectfully wave to you from the other side. I have many feelings similar to yours but you’re going to have a difficult time goin’ it alone. Groups win.

          • @ Line in the Sand:

            Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

            There’s a post down below somewhere about the availability of a solid classical education available online. It cites this website:


            I’ve just sent the link to my daughter for my grandchildren, so here it is for you, too.

            And GOOD LUCK!

      • It would be better if children had parents who had something worth teaching. If your children’s lives would be made better by having someone other than you shape their minds, then you ought to change how you live.

        • @ Drew:

          And the nascent revival of the old apprenticeship framework (Mike Rowe is leading in this revival) would do a WORLD of good. Not everybody is suited to a “liberal education.” In fact, I suspect that the majority are not. Those kids and adults ought not to be mercilessly pounded as square pegs into round holes to live up to some idiotic liberal notion of the “right” to a college “education” blah blah blah something something blah.

  9. “The Ancients had the same sorts of problems because they had the same sorts of people.”

    That is also called genetics, by the way.

    “People who committed crimes, even small crimes, faced rough judgment. Much of what ails the modern age is the unwillingness to deal with the problems of society. As a result, they have metastasized to the point where they seem intractable.”

    It is always instructional to listen to apologists condemn the death penalty, when they find it acceptable to abort “clumps of cells”, or put apostates in concentration camps. The logic seems to be that once you have lived to adulthood you cannot be executed, regardless of how many people you have murdered (executed). You must be supported in a penal setting at the taxpayers’ expense because you just made a “mistake” that anyone could make, like murdering someone. When you realize that the entire function of government is to continue to borrow money into existence, you begin to see why liberal “solutions” cost so much. From a politician’s perspective, better to keep the debt treadmill going than for them to be hung from a lamppost. Sure have been a large number of representatives not running for re-election. I wonder if they suspect it is time to leave the country to a place that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with us.

    • I am sure one could make a compelling argument that the removal of the death penalty has led to society being overwhelmed by the offspring of those who would have been removed from the gene pool in even quite recent times.

    • These anti-death penalty people, along with the criminal justice so-called reformers have never spent a day around a criminal. They just cannot accept some people are just EVIL.

      They really do believe criminals just need a hug or needed more hugs as children or to have attended “better” schools etc. Or they believe the bullshit about “non-violent” drug offenders choking up the prison system.

      A big part of our problem is the denial of evil and the failure to name it.

      • My brother sent me a video of the families of the notorious Green River killer (Seattle area in the 80s and 90s) forgiving him for killing their loved ones. The killer broke down in tears at the compassion these people showed to him.

        I lit up with rage. This is one of the pathologies of white people. I have no solution except for the creation of an ethnostate. These pacifists forgivers would fight against the ethnostate. Problem solved?

        It is rare that you can reason a pacifist or a universalist out of their beliefs. My guess is that much of our moral feelings is instinctual.

        I don’t want to live in a country with them.

        • “The killer broke down in tears at the compassion these people showed to him.”

          Okay, let’s get something straight: Serial killers do *not* break down into tears without an *entirely* selfish and manipulative reason because they are *evil* not “sick.”

          Sick people should be treated and may even be pitied in some cases, but the Green River killers is/was *evil.*

          If he put on a show for the cameras, what of it? He laughed at the fools and their *fake* “compassion” when he was off camera. So that’s the first thing.

          The second–and more important–thing is that these “victim” nincompoops were not showing “compassion” at all; they were merely striking a pose–and a ridiculous one at that–for the cameras. This WAS on camera, right? That alone ought to tell you something.

          I call what those self-centered, attention-seeking fools like those dimwits do on such nauseating occasions “all this trendy caring” or “all this trendy forgiving.”

          And that is ALL it is. A ridiculous, self-serving pose.

          As a matter of Christian teaching AND ordinary common sense, forgiveness is not–and cannot be–unilateral. Real forgiveness can follow only this order and no other: (1) true repentance by the evildoer; (2) confession by the evildoer of his wrongdoing/sin; (3) a petition by the evil doer for forgiveness at the hands of those against whom he has offended (God being the foremost).

          Absent ALL three steps **in that order** and NO other, there can be no forgiveness.

          Period. This is not debatable.

          What you witnessed was cringe-inducing poseurs with juvenile minds and emotions jockeying for attention and sympathy from the sort of people who watch TV. That is ALL.

          You were quite RIGHT to be incensed. The nincompoops performing for the cameras should have been drowned at birth like unwanted cats on a farm. That the creatures who spawned them failed to do so constitutes an object lesson in the immutability of heredity.

        • I’m sorry but anyone willing to just forgive and forget the murderer of their loved ones is deeply mentally defective.

          • “I’m sorry but anyone willing to just forgive and forget the murderer of their loved ones is deeply mentally defective.”

            You are absolutely right.

            And there’s no need to be sorry. (Or even to say you is if you ain’t. F*ck ’em. Ya know?)

          • That’s where the Jewish tradition has it over the Christian tradition. The only unforgivable crime *is* murder—because only the actual victim can forgive, not the living, no matter how close the relationship is to the victim. In a somewhat similar, but opposite effect , Islam allows the victim’s family to play a role in deciding the fate of a killer. “Forgiveness” in this case deciding upon execution or lengthy jail stentence.

        • Gerrard Butler played an anti-hero in the movie “Law Abiding Citizen” . It is a strange world when movies are made when you’re rooting for the villain.

          “The Punisher” is in the same vein.

          Ultimately, it’s a regression to tribal justice and Middle East style “honor codes”. This is a TERRIBLE thing (Example: the entire fudded up Middle East) leading to centuries old feuds and never ending blood letting. But if the modern state continues to break down, it’s inevitable.

          • The concept of the “anti-hero” is a long developing one in our movie industry. No better example than one brought up a week ago, “Dexter”. I expect such to finally play out when there is *no* decernable difference between the villain and the hero detectable in a movie—except that the winner of the conflict is declared the hero by default.

            Welcome to 15th century “trial by combat”.

    • It’s darkly ironic that the freakonomics (((professor))) argued that abortion was beneficial because it reduced the crime rate. Apparently, killing convicted criminals would have no effect on crime, but killing infants en masse would.

      • Genetic manipulation by culling the gene pool is not without merit and support and is an old idea prior to Freakonomics. See Steven Pinker’s, “The Better Angels of our Nature” for example.

  10. One great tradition the Greeks had for failed generals was to exile them.

    Our failed generals head to Raytheon/Boeing/Lockheed/General dynamics and make millions.

    I like the old ways.

    • When no one was punished for Afghanistan, it showed the empire lost its mechanism to ensure competence. When no one was punished for droning an innocent family on exit, that was just the cherry on top.

      Modern people may look at all the Greek use of strangulation and other methods as barbaric, and huff about dignity of life as to why the death penalty is never acceptable, but ask yourself how much better life would be if a Raytheon exec came to congress with a noose on his neck when advocating war,

      • What really cracks me up is the number of losing US generals writing “How I am a great leader, and so can you!” books.

        Ghostwritten payouts, without a trace of irony or accountability.

        • The book should be called “How I made $20 million losing a war and you can to”

          Also read my follow up:
          “How to milk your taxpayer for long term contract payoffs”

    • At a minimum, when speaking with a normie or CivNat about our military embarrassments, use our old friend Lincoln to hopefully further open their eyes.

      Ask them, how many generals did Lincoln fire to win the Civil War? What generals have been fired over all the US military failures since WWII?

      In a just world, Westmoreland, Milley, Franks, Powell, McKenzie, and a litany of others would be exiled, if not executed.

      • My suspicion is that there is a dearth of high level firings, because there is a lack of authority that these generals have wrt command and control of the war effort. Politics seems to play a deciding role in most conflicts since the Vietnam era. LBJ used to brag that the army “could not bomb an outhouse” without his approval. To screw up the war effort via political considerations, and then scapegoat the top generals might prove counterproductive. Best to get some toady in there who keeps his mount shut and obeys the commander-in-chief—quietly—while he expends American lives for political gain.

        • You are probably right. But the point is to cause normie or CivNat to question why nobody gets fired for such embarrassments.

          Trying to pull them away from their instinctive US military worship.

          • “But the point is to cause normie or CivNat to question … .”

            Good luck wid dat.

    • Exiling them is a bad idea, IMHO. Why chance their coming back? Why chance them getting together with foreigners and leading an army back to us?

      Rope is cheap.

      • These clowns cannot win wars against goat fuckers with $700B annual budgets at their disposal. I don’t fear them actually playing Napoleon out of exile.

        • But look at the situation with Russia. The parasitic red diaper babies of those who fled when the Soviet Union fell are now here in the USA trying to stir up war against their former hosts.

          These people, they’re good at stirring up trouble wherever they go.

      • Matters of rope vs exile are the prerogative of victors. First we must become victors and guard against letting the first small signs of changing fortunes in our favor, go to our heads. History is full of men who made victory more elusive by assuming it prematurely.

      • “Exiling them is a bad idea, IMHO. Why chance their coming back?”

        Bingo. Bonaparte springs to mind.

  11. The laws were often harsh, but also completely baffling in their enforcement. In the book “The Final Pagan Generation”, the author states how the emperor made harsh laws against religious customs, going so far as to ban sacrifices, punishable by death. Oftentimes, the priests and priestesses just shrugged and continued on publicly, even though technically they could be executed.

    It wasn’t bravery or zeal either. It was more along the lines of “yeah, the emperor sometimes decrees crazy stuff, it’s all good.”, and from the looks of it, it was never really enforced until Christianity completely wiped out the old religious culture.

    • There is a certain amount in Roman writings about the lengths they went to in order to stamp out human sacrifice in the pre-christian times.

      The gallic/british druids and phonecians come to mind and they put effort into destroying these things.

      Some parts were probably political rhetoric, however they seemed to have had a visceral martial reaction to this practice.

  12. I’m not much on reading ancient Greek philosophy, aside from the superficial reading of Plato that you run across in political literature.

    I’m more deeply fascinated with Greek mythology and the human characteristics that the ancients projected onto their Gods. Jealousy, spite, lust, greed, vengeance, etc. It was all there in their mythology, to remind them of their own humanity. The Greeks were not ideologues the way modern progressives are. They didn’t envision a utopian egalitarian society, they simply wanted to create order out of the chaos that their humanity inevitably caused. And that really sums up what western civilization is all about. Order out of chaos. Modern progressives are about dismantling order and creating chaos. Honk honk.

      • Honk Honk has been around a little longer.

        Think of an upside down world that is being run by a group of midget clowns driving around in a Volkswagon beetle. That sums up progressivism and Brandon too.

  13. Instructive to note that none of the lawgivers claimed divine sanction to promulgate the laws of their polis. Very unlike the Abrahamic traditions, where law is literally handed down by God.

  14. Well that was a great little show Z. Seems to me the tall foreheads are more happy to compare and contrast the current age to that of Rome rather than Greece. I wonder why that is?

    You have a great weekend too! 😊👍

  15. Theseus’s Ship seems to be the philosophical problem most relevant to the demographic age. In brief, let’s say I have a wooden ship made of one-hundred planks. Let’s say one plank a month rots and needs to be replaced. After one-hundred months, the ship is made of one-hundred new pieces of wood. Now, is the ship the same ship as before? None of the original wood remains, yet all of the planks conform to the design initially intended by the original shipbuilder.

    Those who support (or ignore) demographic displacement are betting that this new ship is the same as the old ship. The rest of us find it galling to see Ilhan Omar in her headscarf giving a speech in a neoclassical rotunda, or to see a commercial for Disneyland in which only nonwhites are seen celebrating with their children in a recreation of a very European fairytale world. They believe that by inheriting (or just taking) what others made, that they have the capacity not only to run such things, but to continue inventing such things.

    The analogy of course breaks down when you test the ship to see if she’s still seaworthy. The diversity currently kicking the remnants of the old white guard out of their ranks is going to try to take her for a sail, and is going to discover (if I may paraphrase Obama), “You didn’t build that.”

    • The important question is whether you’re replacing the boards with a board of the same species. Pine will not perform the same as oak, and ipe is definitely not going to be the same as, say, balsa or redwood. As long as the board is replaced by an identically cut board of the same species, the boat will remain functionally the same. So I guess the metaphor doesn’t break down after all.

    • That’s what the USS Constitution is, rebuilt many times. If one where to keep rebuilding a ship as it decayed one one use the same kind of timber the designers used and it would remain the same, but if one starts substituting ash here, cottonwood there or OSB instead of the white oak that was called for because it’s cheaper or easier the ship will look nearly the same, but will it weather the storm?

    • I love this thought experiment. I would add one angle to this: at what point is it no longer the same ship? I think this highlights the issue that it is impossible to name a single event (plank) as the moment the country transformed – it is simply gradual, ersatz replacement.

      • The ship is always the same ship—if the parts are the same. A single part, once replaced assumes the original essence of the ship and therefore is one with it. If the ship is totally destroyed, then attempted to be rebuilt “from scratch”, then the ship is a replica—not the same ship as previously lost. But part replacement over time does not change the ship’s essence.

        At last, that’s how I attempt to answer this old philosophical question.

        • “But part replacement over time does not change the ship’s essence.”

          Right. Like our bodies. We don’t have the same skin with which we were born, but we have the same skin with which we were born. And hair. And so on.

          • Well, to clarify, there is another caveat to this experiment that is important to recognize. The idea is that the ship was the famed Theseus’, and it is being preserved in honor of the deceased hero (such as in a museum). The replacement of planks occurs to preserve for posterity. Thus, by the time every plank has been replaced, not one had been used by Theseus. Thus, is it still his ship?

  16. I miss these podcasts where Z gives 5- or 10-minute hits on things. That is my preferred Power Hour.

    • The short segments are good for stripping away the extra stuff we all tend to so when speaking. The down side is you cannot get too deep into anything due to the time limit. The funny thing is when I do short segments, I have to have an outline, while for longer segments I rarely us an outline.

    • Marco I’ll take the contrary position. I appreciate the Z Man podcasts where he surveys the history of mankind and makes some astute observations.

      Happy to agree to disagree on this point. Respect to our gifted host.

  17. When I saw that today was on “lesser known Greeks” and then you opened with Lycurgus, I’m pretty sure it moved a little in my pants.

    I could write ad nauseam giving writing more about Lycurgus and the Spartans. Overall, you did great really hitting on the big points relevant to today. I’d add two addendums:

    1. Sparta was a diarchy, meaning consisting of two kings. If both kings wanted to go to war, then Sparta went to war. However, one king could also send Sparta to war. If one king wished for war, and the other didn’t, he could send the army to war over the other’s objection. This came with the stipulation that the king would be first on the battle field and last to leave. Essentially, he must be willing to die for the cause. Despite their reputation, Spartans were weary of campaigns far from home. There’s a lesson here that elites should have real skin in the game to prevent superfluous war mongering.

    2. On the land reform: Lycurgus’ even distribution of land and marriage reforms were brilliant in perpetuating society. I’ve debated this point on here before because it’s relevant today. The issue was that future generations didn’t continue redistributing lands. Why is this a problem? As you mentioned, Lycurgus banned precious metals, so wealth was largely determined by the amount of land a family had. Thus, families were incentivized to have fewer children so the land wouldn’t get divided as much. Spartan civilization ran out of gas largely because they simply ran out of fighting men and a severe demographic problem, sound familiar? If future generations kept redistributing land, there would have been incentive to have as many kids as possible. People on here may scream of this being “communism,” but it’s not. Although the land was equal in size, Spartans that were better at managing the property could produce more on their land and be better off, have a nicer house, etc.

    • On the last point, America’s fertility rate peaked at the same time inequality was at its lowest.

      • Ben Franklin wrote about a fertility. He understood that abundant land and free labor was the key.

        His Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries is spot on. The guy was amazing.

      • “But overall, this all seems to confirm the main claim of Scheidel’s The Great Leveler, that inequality mainly falls in bad times and rises in good times. You don’t want inequality to fall, as that mostly likely indicates bad times that you don’t want.”

        I note that just based on a quick look at the world, not in depth research, that fertility seems inversely correlated with prosperity.

        Starving Ethiopians breed like they’re on a missions. Comfortable Icelandics can’t be bothered.

    • Around here, if you arrived early enough, you could purchase a 300-500 acre land grant from William Penn. A lot of families did, had a bunch of kids, divided the land between them. Eventually the properties got small enough that kids had to move away for land, not that that was a bad thing.

      The difficulty is that, here in America, people keep arriving, so instead of population and real estate prices stabilizing, it becomes a game of pioneers and rich men, and of course you eventually run out of real estate to pioneer on. Families can’t afford to acquire family lands from each other without adopting an extremely austere and disciplined lifestyle, so absent aggressive zoning and preservation efforts, the rich men end up acquiring the lands as an investment.

      It’s the same old debt trap, gussied up as Progress! and market economics ‘redistributing’ land, for what it’s worth.

      • It really is a shame that western states weren’t allowed to develop like the eastern states did.

        Pioneers moved out there expecting to eventually get land like in the east; turns out the newly strengthened federal government post Civil War and conservationists like T.R. either federalized most of it with no intention of ever privatizing it (still goes on today) or the states themselves hoarding it.

        (Alaska: 95.% federal/state land, by far the worst in this regard, but the trend leans east=more private/west=more “public”. Notable exceptions for North/South Dakota)

        Too bad. It was a fantastic safety valve for the cranks who just wanted to head out and be left alone.

        • I’ll grant they got carried away out west. Otoh I’m grateful for the state forests, state game lands, state parks, farmland preservation, etc., we have in PA.

          To my mind it’s a strictly demographic problem. When the frontier closed, that should’ve been the end of mass immigration. Let the thing find its equilibrium. Of course, that would’ve been un-American (unprofitable)!

          • I like your solution better. Putting into practice the old “for our progeny and people” sentiment.

            Also has something to do with the fundamentalstupidity of chattel slavery. Denial of reasonable wages for white people of little wealth in favor of “cheap (and controllable due to captivity) labor”. [Boy, that has a familiar ring…] All those “Bible-believing” rich who somehow completely overlooked what Jesus said about the workman being worth his hire, in favor of gratification of their own insatiable greed. Guess they didn’t feel any kinship with poorer whites when greed entered the picture.

  18. You might like “The Nomos of the Earth” by Carl Schmitt. There’s a very good English translation. The book’s crux—its argument against legal positivism and in favor of natural law—centers around the idea that the Greek concept of “Nomos” (Law, Custom) is where German gets its verb “nehmen.” “Nehmen” means “to take” or “to extract,” so if Schmitt’s etymological argument is true (and a lot of scholars and linguists think it is), that means that the law is something that exists prior to its formulation. You can get it from God (or gods) or nature, but you can’t get it from man. It’s like oil in the ground.

    Positivism says that if we always cut out people’s hearts to make the sun happy, we should continue to do that, because it’s what the law says. Of course, American legal theory/Critical Legal Theory and lawfare are even worse than positivism. They say we need to cut out white people’s hearts in order to make the ghosts of the long-dead, formerly oppressed happy. The Aztec priests were a little bit more sophisticated and less savage than our leading legal scholars.

    • Before the 20th Century this was not an unusual position.

      Hayek in his Constitution of Liberty has this as his entire thesis that laws for a given people and its traditions are discovered through trial and error using legal cases, rather than legislative decrees which are political edicts to shape reality and not law in any sense.

      He has a strong case that general laws must produce inequality due to human difference and this is how society works. Any attempt to change this must produce unequal laws.

      He leans heavily on jurists from the victorian age many of whom had this view and contrasts the continental and English Law traditions quite well.

      the examination of the inescapable rise of a police state in a positive law mentality as in Prussia in the late 1800s is very apposite to now.

      Well worth a read.

    • “You can get it (law) from God (or gods) or nature, but you can’t get it from man. It’s like oil in the ground.”

      That’s feudalism, not Schmitt. Law was something to be “discovered” through daily life as it was lived in accordance with custom and tradition, not something to be “legislated” by “officials” after due consultations with “experts.”

  19. Aaannnd

    I have never heard of any of the fellows in the playlist. So much for higher education.

    I look forward to listening in the truck as I go about my day, and learning something interesting and new.

    I truly enjoy Friday mornings and look forward to listening while I work.

    Have a good weekend Z.

    • Not surprising you never heard of folks in today’s playlist. About the time I hit higher Ed, the discussion was about removal of the Western Canon and a general distain for a Liberal Arts curriculum. Yeah, there were no “grievance studies” departments yet, but there was a push for less mandated non-major courses—that usually meant intro history, humanities, psychology, language, philosophy courses, etc.

      When I entered, I was required to take all of those and test out in two foreign languages to graduate. I was able to use the new, formal discipline, “Computer Science” as one of the required “languages”. I was one of those who did not particularly appreciate the humanities and liberal arts in general. Now I can’t imagine a “meaningful” education without such.

      What we now see—grievance studies majors excepted, they are in another category of awful—are often soulless “technicians”. We are taught how to be good cogs in a 20th century technological machine. But not what it means to be a human being in this society.

        • One can always pick and choose to prove such a point. The comparison is meaningless. Several of which you pose *were* taught in my History 1A course (Ancient Greece through Dark Ages). All of course based upon Western Civilization. In Humanities, we had a stack of books—2 dozen or so—Socrate’s “Crito”, Sir Gawain and The Green Night, etc.

          That this has now changed, I do not dispute—that was the entire point of my original comment. But I do dispute that it never was and dispute that such elimination is for the better.

          By the way, I did go to a State (public) university. To find a required curriculum such as was accepted when I started, you must search for one of the few remaining *true* Liberal Arts colleges like Hillsdale in Michigan.

          • This is an exam for people for high school age pupils entering college.

            The humanities required to answer these must have been taught in school. Now they are College level humanities.

          • In that Trumpton, you are entirely correct. I was thinking of digressing to HS curriculum, but hey this was supposed to be a brief commentary. Entire books are written on our decrepit secondary ed system.

            Let’s just say that a BS is now the equivalent of what used to be (pre-WWII) a HS degree. Let me also say that this is caused by changing demographics and an insane societal ideological belief in “equality” and education for all—beyond most folks’ genetic ability.

        • College in those days was meant for training a tiny number of elites not as a proxy for skills or IQ.

          About 2% of the population went to college in 1870. Given these were either well off/connected educated people or very smart folks, these questions would be well within capabilities.

          I’d argue actually aren’t crazy hard for a culture with much less information available. Many more people could answer those questions than would ever attend college.

          They still could today but we use our time for different things and between distraction and complexity and of course the school system itself we pass on that data.

    • Z Man really got a good education in history and has continued to learn throughout his life. As I grow older, I feel the deficiency in my knowledge of history.

      I briefly thought I would be an academic philosopher in my early 20s. I wish I could trade many of those hours puzzling over Kant and Hegel for reading history instead.

      Jared Taylor, who got his Yale degree in philosophy, has made similar comments.

      • I’ve heard more than a few people say this. Either they came to philosophy after mastering some other subjects or they came back to philosophy after starting there then going off to other subjects. In my case, I came to philosophy after having obsessed with both history and literature, as my humanities interest. I’m a math guy, so that changes things too.

        Until just now, it never occurred to me that it is probably better to come to philosophy last.

      • Kant and Hegel, properly known as “hobbies” or “Pokemon”.

        Really. Cliff Notes was invented for these useless nitwits and their barstool bloviation.

    • Fully accredited, diploma-granting primary and secondary school, offering the Classical Trivium to grades 1–6, and the Classical Quadrivium for grades 7–12.

      Completely online. Persons of any age may study any and all course offerings. *VERY* affordable.

      Greek. Latin. German. Natural Science (biology). Mathematics in space (geometry). Mathematics in time (music). Formal logic. Rhetoric (informal logic; aka “argumentation”) And so forth. Surf the site.

      There is now NO reason for *anybody* to turn their children over to have their minds trained by evil people who hate them and us and want them and us dead. Anybody who can afford to have children can afford this classical education.

      Religious instruction mandatory for those who intend to take a diploma, but not for those who don’t. The instruction is solid and sound. No “social gospel” or other such BS.

      • Yes, but we’re lazy shits by and large. Easier to pay someone else to raise/educate your kids, and the cheapest way is “public education”. But more charitably, you are correct in your references—a good strong curriculum is at everyone’s fingertips via the Internet. You merely have to sit behind your child and make him/her do the lessons. Might do you some good as well.

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