Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We The People, pt. 4, 447 words

I know I'm not the only one who feels like those days are starting to come by. I know I'm not. Our world is descending into chaos and self-destruction. Now, I'm not a Luddite who wishes for some never-never-land golden age that didn't exist, back when people "knew their place," or whatever you would call it. I don't want to live under a king or caliph or tyrant. But I can look back and see when other societies slid into decadence, amorality, corruption so deep it couldn't be rooted out and have the society still live.

Rome was just such a case. A sort of pseudo-democracy with a senate and reverence for law and order, old wisdom and piety, the greatest empire in human history. But power consolidated, the senate voted in emperors instead of consuls, city life became the infamous "bread and circuses." They never even realized what they lost. And when Rome came down, it sparked not just a dark age, but the Dark Age, when the Western world slid deeper into ignorance, factionalization, and chaos than it had in centuries. Before Rome, even, was Athens, the model for Western democracy, and that took dominance in Greece and then was set upon by former allies, torn apart as it grew self-absorbed and self-aggrandizing.

Sound familiar?

I wonder if it's democracy that's the problem. Representation, appeal to the lowest common denominator. Give people a choice and they'll choose a tyrant, even one they distrust, so long as he keeps the food and entertainment coming. Authority is devalued, yet power still consolidates into the hands of a few. Chosen not by "divine right," which tends to instill a certain loyalty to the rules of the God that establishes the system; chosen not because they were trained for it and merit the position; but because they believe the "will of the people" is for them to model, enact, and satisfy the public's baser urges. Good and evil become lost when the questions are no longer "right" or "wrong," but "fun" or "not." And so, subsumed by our base desires, the time comes that we become as the Great Old Ones, free and wild and amoral, reveling in sound and fury, in death and destruction.

There's another figure, after all, who came to people as a man in black, bearing secret lore. A figure who came to Arkham himself, in the bad old days, and had been abroad in New England before the American Revolution as well, teaching the ways of darkness, power, and the Great Old Ones to the witch cults that thrived in both the 17th Century and the early 1900s.

I'm sure you know his name.

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