Freedom or Servitude: Each Demands an Act of Treason

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"How can anyone, finding himself surrounded by a rising tide of evil, fail to do his utmost to fight against it?"

~ "On Resisting Evil" by Murray N. Rothbard

I suppose anyone who has exposed their thoughts, beliefs, knowledge or common sense, concerning the evils of the state, in the public arena, has been subjected to accusations of treason and heresy by more than a few in the readership. Given the present political and religious climate I am sure this is especially true of those who write for Lew Rockwell.com.

I don’t have to imagine what venomous email awaits Lew Rockwell, Karen Kwiatkowski, Butler Shaffer, Gray North, Laurence M. Vance or a host of others who dare to show that the state, with its declarations of inviolate legitimacy, is nothing more than a profane, temporal delusion foisted on a weak-minded and terrified general population.

What dismays me is how those who declare any resistance to the illegal, immoral acts of the state are so quickly labeled, "traitor", while the very act of supporting the state, either on religious or political grounds, is in itself a supremely decadent choice. Indeed, it is the most depraved, reprobate and vicious decision one can make against his neighbors and family.

We have a wonderful example of this dichotomy that comes to us from Roman history.

The year is 9 AD; Rome is firmly in the grip of Augustus Caesar and has been for almost 36 years. The Roman Empire is in full bloom but its wealth relies almost totally on the military and its campaigns against the "barbarians" on Rome’s frontiers.

With Augustus, the ancient Roman law of treason had been distorted from the tried and true idea of high crimes against the Roman public or as Tacitus says, "[when] the majesty of the Roman people was debased," to anything that threatened the emperor or which the emperor deemed on a whim to be a threat.

So complete was the bastardizing of the law of treason that Tacitus writes:

"In that sense of this law the Emperors were the criminals; they who had enslaved the Senate and people, usurped and destroyed the state. But they had got the power of interpreting laws, or of directing those who did, and consequently became the law-makers. As laws observed had defended liberty; laws wrested secured the usurpers. Hence the old law of treason was degraded and perverted to involve in its penalties the authors of Lampoons and Pasquinades… In truth, Augustus could have no other view in this, than the suppressing of that freedom of speech which was an effect of the freedom of the ancient government, and inconsistent with his usurpation."

If redefining the law of treason to include words had a chilling effect on a Roman’s right of self-expression, it was nothing compared to how the law was used next.

Tacitus again explains: "The deification of Augustus and his usurping even in his life-time the attributes and prerogatives of a deity, was another snare for power and crimes. Henceforth every offence offered to this new deity was high treason against the gods; for he was a god as well as the best of them, and indeed more to be dreaded than all of them. It became a high crime to swear falsely by his name, the same as if the name of Jupiter had been falsified; nay, to sell his Statue in the sale of a house or gardens; and the citizens of Cyzicus, notwithstanding their faithful adherence and strenuous services to the Romans in the Mithridatic War, were bereft of their freedom for neglecting the worship of the deified Augustus… Varilia, in the opinion of Tiberius, deserved to be condemned, if she had uttered aught irreligiously concerning the deified Augustus; for this was treason and blasphemy. Such was the awe and reverence paid to this fresh Deity; and such care had he taken to tie up the tongues of men from censuring him living or dead; he was instar omnium deorum, (the image and equal of every one of the gods); you might say what you would of other gods, but beware of injuring a deified Emperor. He had done more mischief, committed higher oppressions, spilt more human blood than all the men in the world, and was made a Deity!"

On the northern frontier an act of treason against Rome was playing out in a more direct and traditional manner.

Publius Quintilius Varus

The XVII, XVIII, and XIX Roman legions along with six cohorts and three squadrons of cavalry under the command of Publius Quintilius Varus were prepared to "keep the peace" among the Germanic tribes. However, more importantly, this Roman force was to see to it that those Germanic tribes East of the Rhine paid the taxes due Rome for Roman protection.

Varus had been governor of Syria and it is said that when he became Syria’s governor he was a pauper but by the time he became governor of Germania he was a very wealthy man.

Varus undoubtedly felt that what had worked in Syria would also work in Germania east of the Rhine. But first he had to drive these pesky German tribes into towns and villages where they could be more easily controlled but more importantly taxes could be almost effortlessly collected.

The results of this policy lead to the killing of Roman tax collectors by the Germanic tribesmen.

What Varus was up against were a people which had a long history of independence and they saw no reason to sacrifice their freedom or wealth on Rome’s altar.

More importantly the German Cherusci tribes which inhabited the northern Rhine valley along the plains and forests of northwestern Germany (between modern Osnabrück and Hanover) had a long history and well developed system of trade. There is even evidence that they had long traded with Rome.

Like so many of the ancient people of Europe we now know that the European people, which the Roman’s called barbarians, were not the backward, ignorant, dirty people that the Romans had presented them to be. Rather they were every bit as cultured, civilized and capable as the Romans and in some ways more so. They traded in metals, in particular, iron, gold and copper and many say that the iron work of the Europeans rivaled that of any culture and was superior to most.

It was not the desire to "civilize" the barbarian that brought Rome’s army to the homeland of neither the Germanic tribes, nor any other of the European peoples Rome had conquered. Rather, it was the wealth these people had accumulated through trade that Rome sought and needed to feed the beast of empire.

Thus, Publius Quintilius Varus was intent not to just feed the coffers of Rome but to also line his own pockets with a portion of all the riches which were just east of the Rhine River waiting to be taken. After all, no one could oppose the will of Rome and Varus represented Rome.

All that stood in Varus’ way was a 27 year old German whom the Romans had educated and named Arminius (a name that is commonly accepted to mean “hammer” in Latin).

Arminius’ early career was typical of those who had been sent to Rome to be "civilized." He had served in the Roman army from 1 to 6 AD; he had studied Roman military techniques, and for his loyalty to Rome had earned Roman citizenship.

However, on Arminius’ return to Germania, in 7 AD, he found his people oppressed, angry, and suffering under the inept governorship of Rome’s representative: Publius Quintilius Varus.

It must have been an anguishing time for Arminius. Here he was a new Roman citizen who had swore allegiance not only to Rome but also to Rome’s emperor; Augustus Caesar. Yet, here were his people suffering and about to be crushed under the weight of Rome’s military might.

He had to have known that any decision he made would be an act of treason; he knew Roman law. The question that Arminius must have grappled with was to whom would he be loyal and to whom would he be a traitor? On the one hand were his friends, family and heritage and on the other was the greatest power the world had, to that time, known.

We don’t know what occurred in Arminius’ life between 7 AD and 9 AD but one thing we do know is that by the late summer of 9 AD he made his decision and it was in favor of his family, friends, and heritage.

Thus, Arminius used his military knowledge, and leadership skills to gather a formable force to oppose the Romans.

His plan was simple. He reported to Varus that there were a number of uprisings by the Germanic tribes that needed Varus’ immediate attention before the insurrection spread. Arminius pledged his loyalty and that of his Cherusci allies to help Varus round up and put to the sword those barbarian trouble makers. Varus had no reason to doubt this Romanized Germanic prince and commander of an auxiliary cavalry unit.

However, Arminius claimed that he could not join Varus’ legions until they had enlisted the help of additional Cherusci warriors. This was the truth and exactly what Arminius did. For three days as the Roman legions marched deeper and deeper into enemy territory the Cherusci and their allies used classic guerrilla tactics making hit and run raids on the advancing Roman columns.

When the Romans finally arrived at what is known as the Teutoburger Wald they fell into Arminius’ ambush. Although Arminius and his troops were out numbered he had chosen his battlefield terrain well and this more than compensated for the superior numbers of the Roman legions.

It took three days of horrific fighting and when it was over almost 20,000 Roman troops lay rotting in the bogs and woods of Germany. The Roman dead of XVII, XVIII, and XIX Roman legions along with the six cohorts and three squadrons of cavalry represent 1/10th of Rome’s military foreign policy.

On the third day when Varus saw that defeat was certain and he took his own life. The victors cut off his head and sent it to Rome as a warning. Augustus had it buried in his family mausoleum.

So great was the Roman defeat that it shook the very pillars of Roman society. The Roman historian Suetonius in his classical work The Twelve Caesars reports that when Augustus heard the news he flew into a deep depression and beating his head against a wall wailed, “Quintili Vare, legiones redde!” (‘Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!’).

All should be aware that the U.S. Empire has implemented laws that could, and eventually will, be used against all those who are seen as unfaithful to the new agenda. The only question left to answer is: What degree of disloyalty will be tolerated?

Too often there are hidden meaning to words that are used by officials who fear that the consent of the population will not always be there to sustain them. It is already clear what the Federal government is planning for those who are not deemed sufficiently loyal to their criminal programs and the solution is very expensive.

Empire requires more and more revenue and like Rome it won’t be long before there is no appreciable difference between the military and the tax collector. All that is needed is an excuse which is germinated by the right "peace time crises."

What is not often seen is that behind the expansion of the state and the jubilant shouts of nationalism there is produced a fifth column of criminals. Rome said they controlled the world but they could not keep their own streets safe.

So it is with the U.S. Empire. As the state has grown in power the streets have become less and less safe. Ask yourself why it is that the terror that so many live with in our cities is never the focus of those who profess to be waging a war on terrorism.

I won’t presume to speak for others but if speaking out is to be labeled traitorous by the state then perhaps the title is a badge of honor. It is far preferable than to have to live with the shame of cowardliness resulting from silence, which is married to the knowledge of betrayal and destruction of all that is held dear.

Arminius, clearly understanding the dilemma in speaking out against Segestes, also a noble of the Germanic tribe of the Cherusci, who favored peace with, and the lordship of Rome, said in part: u201C…Other nations, unacquainted with the domination of Rome, had neither felt her punishments nor known her extortions…If they loved their country, their parents, their ancient ways, better than despots and new colonies, then let them follow Arminius to glory and freedom rather Segestes to shame and slavery!u201D

Tim Case [send him mail] is a 30-year student of the ancient histories who agrees with the first-century stoic Epictetus on this one point: u201COnly the educated are free.u201D

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