Gaius Julius Trump
Many of you wished me dead. Many of you perhaps still do. But I hold no grudges and seek no revenge. I demand only this: that you join with me in building a new Rome, a Rome that offers justice, peace, and land to all its citizens, not just the privileged few. Support me in this task, and old divisions will be forgotten. Oppose me, and Rome will not forgive you a second time. —Julius Caesar
In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are. —Julius Caesar
As the saying goes, history repeats itself—more or less—or if it doesn’t actually repeat, at least it rhymes. Themes are repeated. This is mainly because human nature has remained fundamentally the same for thousands of years, and so we have the same human strengths and weaknesses, and make the same kinds of human mistakes, as our ancestors. Just the past few years should provide sufficient evidence to anyone that although our knowledge and technology have advanced prodigiously since ancient times, general wisdom has not, and in some ways has even retrogressed. Hence the mass hysteria in America, and the anti-rational feelings-driven “progressivism” that has become more or less pervasive throughout the west.
In addition to innate human nature remaining pretty much the same, resulting in the themes of unenlightened passions and mistakes conditioning political affairs, there is another consideration for those of you who are Buddhists, or just believe in life after life: Going with the Buddhist conception of rebirth (alias “reincarnation”), some modern cultures presumably would have people reborn into them from previous cultures resembling the current one, because the karma would be a better fit. But even if one rejects the rebirth factor, the fact remains that human history does tend to conform to certain themes and cyclical patterns, like the growth, strength, moral decadence, decline, and fall of civilizations.
One favorite example of mine is the numerous parallels between modern America and ancient Rome. Modern Europe, on the other hand, more closely resembles Classical Greece: it is less unified politically, serves as a source of culture for the more barbaric west (which the Romans/Americans stabilized and strengthened with a more republican form of government), and prides itself on its greater sophistication, looking down its nose at the Romans/Americans as crude and culturally backward barbarians, and incapable of composing real philosophy or literature, and who conquered the western world unworthily, through sheer luck. I’ve already written, and may write again someday, about the ancient Roman post-classical progressive movement, Christianity, being reincarnated, kind of, as postmodern “progressive” cultural Marxism: both in their militant forms have endorsed love, tolerance, and equality, though mainly for their own group; both have been rather hysterical and irrational much of the time; and both can be viewed as schismatic sects of Judaism…but I digress.
Anyway, because I am more or less familiar with western history, I consider the occasional public comparisons of Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler, or Benito Mussolini, let alone Charlie Manson, to be ignorant and foolish. It seems to me that there are closer analogues in the cycles of history to the phenomenon of Trumpism. Maybe we Americans should be looking to our past life as Rome for early incarnations of the same sort of figure as Trump.
I submit that Donald John Trump—alias Drumpf, God Emperor, Cheeto Hitler, etc.—comes closer to Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) than to Hitler, Mussolini, or Manson. But before I go over the similarities I suppose I should mention a few obvious differences.
Caesar worked his way up through the military and political ranks in accordance with venerable Roman Republican tradition, so he had long experience in the political establishment, unlike Trump. Also he was a cultured elite of the old aristocracy, and had polished, urbane manners, also unlike Trump. Also, Trump hasn’t conquered Gaul, or any other foreign territory of which I am aware. And then of course the times in Caesar’s day were different, even if there were themes now being repeated.
Nevertheless there are also some fairly obvious similarities between the two men. Both began with modest wealth and worked their way up to becoming fabulously wealthy celebrity playboy types. Both, though rich, took the side of the common person, more or less, including veterans and newly acquired barbarian members of the Republic; in other words, they were “populists.” Caesar was a leader of the Populares, or populist faction of Rome, which up until recently would have been identified more with the Democratic Party of the USA; whereas his opposition were the Optimes, the conservative faction intent upon the Patrician senatorial class ruling the nation with minimal democratic feedback. (Nowadays this ancient Roman political struggle might come fairly close to the struggle between the common people of the west and the very wealthy, very powerful ultraliberal elite using a rabble of immigrants and the welfare class as political pawns.) Both men, Caesar and Trump, were larger than life characters with very strong personalities—and this immense vitality and nerve, along with a certain cleverness and intuitive knowledge of human nature, proved too much for his opponents. The two leaders had cojones of steel, along with insatiable ambition, satisfied with nothing less than the position of Number One (although admittedly Hitler also would qualify for that.)
The historian Will Durant, in his book Caesar and Christ, observed that Julius Caesar was the most enlightened ruler of ancient times, at least in the west, despite the rampant resentment and hatred directed towards him by the political establishment. An early forerunner of the Never Trumpers, Cato the Younger, committed suicide upon hearing that the anti-Caesarean forces had been defeated and slaughtered at the Battle of Thapsus. By “enlightened,” of course, Durant did not mean that Caesar had attained to transcendental gnosis or even necessarily to great wisdom, but rather to skillfulness at leading his nation through political chaos towards stability and prosperity, and to satisfying his subjects, including the non-Roman barbarian ones. He was much inclined to forgive his enemies and make friends of them, though that ultimately backfired in spectacular fashion. We will see how forgiving enemies fares with Trump, though he’s already been stabbed in the back by the swampy “resistance” several times.
The spirit moves me to digress at this point, by telling one of my favorite stories about Caesar. When he was a young man and a student of rhetoric, he was captured by Cilician pirates in the eastern Mediterranean and held for ransom. When the young Caesar was told that the pirates were asking twenty talents (approximately 600kg) of silver for him, he laughed and advised them that they could easily demand twice that much, so they upped the demand to fifty talents. While their hostage, Caesar continued to study and practice his rhetoric, using his captors as an audience, and even occasionally treating them as his subordinates, which the pirates found amusing. Caesar good-naturedly informed them that after he was free he would come back and have them all crucified, which they also found amusing. But he kept his word; and after being released upon his family’s payment of the ransom, he acquired a military force to capture the pirates, and he did indeed have them all crucified. They had been good sports, though, so he showed mercy by having their throats cut before they were nailed onto the crosses. Popular stories like this, and his high-profile adultery with Cleopatra (along with many other women), made Caesar a notorious cultural icon, almost a countercultural one, way back in the days before social media and reality television.
One major difference between the two men thus far is that, although Mr. Trump is continually accused of trying to overthrow the US Constitution and usher in some kind of fascist dictatorship, he appears to be a sincerely patriotic American, with the political and cultural left being the ones who resent and would like to abolish, or at least radically modify, the Constitution. It is the Democrats, not Trump, who dislike the first and second Amendments in the Bill of Rights, the electoral college, and of course due process of law for their enemies. But to be fair to the first Caesar, he did not start the Roman Empire and was not the first Emperor; that honor/dishonor goes to his nephew and adopted son Octavianus, alias Augustus.
I’m not saying that I would like President Trump to become Dictator for Life, with Don Jr. as his heir apparent, next in succession within the Trumpian Dynasty—with perhaps partisans of Barron, including maybe his mother, coordinating palace (White House) intrigues to overthrow Donald II. Even so, I can see well enough how many people in first-century BCE Italy considered a popular, famous, audacious, successful, unbuyably rich, and fairly patriotic guy like Caesar to be preferable to the interminable civil wars, riots, and political strife into which the late Republic had degenerated. He offered peace, stability, a certain degree of fairness for the common person, and an obviously competent and successful leader for their country. As for Trump, although as I say I don’t wish him to become the first American Dictator for Life, I do think he’d make a good one, probably. Besides, he’s much older than Caesar was, so he wouldn’t be Dictator for Life for very long. Hell, just about anything would be preferable to the castrated Brave New World envisioned by the new left.
Nowadays the American Democrats in particular are turning politics into a series of increasingly shameless Machiavellian maneuvers to gain and retain power, and to crush their opposition, with resultant increasingly Machiavellian countermoves from the right. In the late Roman Republic a major source of decline into anarchy was an ignorant un-Roman urban rabble voting for whomever offered the biggest bribes—bread, circuses, and handouts of money—resulting in civic chaos and riots in the streets. The case is becoming similar in postmodern America, as the globalists especially (Neocons as well as Democrats) have pushed for mass acceptance of foreign immigrants, including illegal ones, who don’t necessarily give half a damn for traditional American values of freedom, self-reliance, and the rights of the individual citizen. The situation in the USA, though, is not nearly as bad as it was in Rome during the time of Julius Caesar; Rome at that time had already undergone decades of bloody civil wars, with most of Caesar’s family being killed off during the conflicts between Caesar’s uncle Marius and Marius’s archenemy Sulla. (Caesar himself narrowly avoided being executed in a purge, being related to Marius, because he was just a teenage boy at the time, and had some aristocrats friendly to Sulla pleading on his behalf.) So maybe Trump comes closer to Marius in some ways, or even to one or both of the Gracchi, coming earlier in the whole mess, but most people nowadays have never heard of Marius or the Gracchi, so I let it slide.
Unfortunately for the Democrats in America, very unfortunately for them, they have nobody remotely resembling Pompeius Magnus, alias Pompey the Great, to oppose the American version of Caesar, nobody in the opposition (or anywhere else) with his stature, his sheer magnitude of personality. There’s not even a Brutus that I am aware of. The likes of Pelosi, Schiff, and Schumer can bang away at him hysterically and accomplish little or nothing to stop him. If Trump comes closer to a Marius type in some respects, still I see no Sulla among the Democrats. For that matter, there is hardly anyone of sufficient magnitude to form even a Triumvirate with him. Modern decadence and cultural emasculation has much reduced the number and quality of alpha sharks rising to the top, especially on the left, which has become deeply antimasculine. They don’t know how to deal with someone who actually likes to fight, and seemingly gets stronger the harder they try to destroy him.
Julius Caesar had his Rubicon, the crossing of which was his point of no return, the point at which he made it clear that he was really going for the top, and that his opponents had little choice but to try their damnedest to stop him. For Donald Trump I think his Rubicon consisted of his hostile takeover of the Republican Party in 2016, even before he became President. (It really was a hostile takeover too: Trump’s opponents who call him an insecure coward and so forth conveniently overlook the sheer audacity and shrewdness required to succeed at such a feat. This is why the ruling elite Neoconservatives of the GOP have been faced with a choice of converting to Trumpism, or else becoming marginalized Never Trumpers and fighting to avoid fading into political obscurity.) At any rate there can be little doubt that America has made a rapid and significant change in course, towards populism, nationalism, and, I hope, greater freedom and prosperity, though not necessarily towards an imperial military dictatorship.
So, in conclusion, I admit that there are some major differences between Caesar and Trump, though not so major as between Trump and Hitler, Mussolini, or Manson. The primary similarities of Julius and the Donald are that both were/are ruthless power sharks quite willing to fight and win, popular celebrities, and aristocratic sensualists, but nevertheless sincere patriots who love their respective countries and want them better, stronger, and more stable; both were/are unorthodox borderline strategic geniuses also, one more military and political, the other more along economic and business lines. And then there’s the Cult of Personality aspect, becoming the theme of a cultural movement (which applies not only to Caesar and Trump, but to Hitler and Mussolini as well, maybe even to Charlie Manson). So anyway, so long as he makes no efforts to overthrow the US Constitution, but rather defends it against creeping neo-Marxism, I say, Hail Trump Imperator, and may the gods continue to smile upon him.