Byzantium and modern politics

A post by Douglas Carswell raised the issue of parallels between modern politicians and Byzantine emperors.   In some ways, we have much to learn from the way in which the Eastern Roman empire changed and evolved down the centuries, from Arcadius to Constantine XIV. 

It became a cruel power – the practice of blinding possible rivals for the throne was introduced, and deprived society of rulers who might have been of great service.

It became ever more bureaucratic, and it became ever less free.  Ordinary people counted for little.  If we think of the internet, it was created by a million people doing whatever they felt best.  Imagine what an internet would be like, which only contained content approved by some civil servant, goldplating some intolerant law?

The empire became ever more intolerant of the expression of ‘incorrect’ thought.  Classifying people as vendors of ‘incorrect thought’ was the endemic vice of the empire.  This amounted to finding ways to exclude and demonise people over words; surely a vice of modern societies too, with their litany of newly invented ‘sins’ such as ‘islamophobia’. 

Of course there are other things we might learn.  In a previous post I discussed the career of the Patriarch Macedonius, and attempts by his political foes to level child-abuse charges against him; charges that he was uniquely qualified to rebut, as (it turned out) a eunuch. 

Perhaps we should consider whether castration of civil servants should be reintroduced?  Indeed might the same measure might usefully be applied to US Democrat Presidents?

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