The worse things get in American society, the more frequently you hear comparisons with ancient Rome. Evidently unaware that (assuming you accept the traditional date for the founding of the city) “Rome” lasted from 753 BC to AD 1918, albeit much transformed (still a pretty good record), people today — as they have for thousands of years — claim that these are the worst times that the world has ever experienced, and there is absolutely no hope of recovery. The world is doomed.
As a case in point, some people draw a comparison between today’s legalization of abortion virtually worldwide, and the fact that infanticide wasn’t uncommon in Rome. Unwanted children were typically tossed down the Cloaca Maxima, the Great Sewer. This is evidence that we are just as bad (if not worse) than the ancient Romans.
We disagree. Rome practiced infanticide because of indifference and laziness. They tossed people aside because they didn’t want them. They saw nothing wrong in it. At least there are people in the world who still think that there is something fundamentally wrong with abortion.
Like we’re not indifferent and lazy as a society, but that’s not the point. Let’s take a look not at Rome, but at Carthage.
Carthage practiced human sacrifice, tossing their children into the furnace to gain economic advantage and worldly advancement as a usual thing; archeologists have found entire cemeteries filled with children sacrificed to Moloch. The epitaphs make it clear that the parents “loved” their children . . . but they loved more what they thought their sacrifice would get them.
Even the Romans, whose notions of the value of human life were a little, uh, iffy, thought this was an abomination. True, the Romans discarded unwanted children, practiced voluntary human sacrifice on occasion (for the good of the Res Publica, of course), and had gladiatorial combats in the Circus, but that was not (in Roman eyes) quite the same thing. That is why Cato the Elder ended every speech with “Carthago delenda est!” (“Carthage must be destroyed!”), whether or not it had anything to do with the topic under discussion.
Given that many of the arguments in favor of abortion are, at the heart, economic in nature (the talk about “right to choose” is rarely heard when coming down to the nitty gritty of persuading specific people to kill their children; that’s for political campaigns), we are closer as a society to Carthage than to Rome.
Ironically, the discarded children in Rome sometimes still had a chance. The slaves delegated to toss them away down the Cloaca Maxima (the Dominus, of course, wouldn’t soil his hands), would often lay them by the side of the sewer instead. People who needed a new slave or two, and didn’t mind taking care of them until they could be useful, could go shopping and pick them up for free.
Further, if such a slave could prove that he or she had been acquired in this way (or other illegal manner), they could get an “advocate for liberty.” This was a free man who would take the case and sue for the slave’s freedom. A slave, of course, had no rights, and could not sue on his or her own behalf. It wasn’t unusual for a slave to (re)gain his or her liberty by this means.
Slavery has that one advantage over abortion: you can free a slave. You can’t bring a child back to life.
Now, even though it looks as if Obamacare is here to stay, nothing in this world is so unstable and tenuous as a government program — if 1) it is unpopular, and 2) a better alternative is presented. Even better, if it can be shown that the people who are benefitting from the current, unjust system will benefit even more under the new, just system, success is assured.
The fact that it took America’s bloodiest war to end chattel slavery in the United States is the result of slave owners being absolutely convinced that their economic survival (even that of the entire United States and the British Empire) depended completely on slavery. This was the very persuasive point that David Christy made in Cotton is King (1855).
Slavery was as entrenched then as Keynesian economics is now. We do not, however, need another civil war to shift away from a bad system that supports the growth of State power and provides the foundation for the Culture of Death.
As explained in Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda, the passage of a Capital Homestead Act along the lines detailed in Capital Homesteading for Every Citizen would, in all likelihood (judging from the speed with which the U.S. geared up for World War II) result in a complete economic turn-around in 18 to 24 months.
By implementing essential changes in our monetary and fiscal institutions (how money is created and how the government taxes and spends), the entire system can be restructured along more rational lines. By putting the immense power of the financial system behind an aggressive program of expanded capital ownership, the national debt that now seems impossibly huge (except to those deluded by Keynesian fantasies) could be reduced to zero in a generation — and, no, you don’t need government debt to back the money supply as Keynes insisted; paying down the national debt does not mean that money will disappear.
The current situation is only the beginning of the end if we want it to be.