The Blues and the Greens

Email Print

Along similar lines as Dan McCarthy’s comment that “Whichever wins, the State gets aggrandized…”, I note Justin Raimondo’s pithy summary of the role of the two big parties in the U.S. in his column today: “The limitless capacity of both major parties to distract us from what’s really important may be their true and only function.”

It is all a bit reminiscent of the Blues and Greens in the late Roman Empire… Political factions that literally arose from contending groups of sports fans. Though in this case the sport was chariot racing. A history of that period describes that, “In a lot of ways, the Late Roman world was like our own, with an ever expanding government bureaucracy, high taxes, and a veritable sea of regulations covering every aspect of our lives.” But citizens had better things to do than resist the imperial state: “People would riot in the streets in favor of their team or against the rival one. These chariot racing teams or sports clubs also wielded great political power, especially if the team was the favorite of the current emperor. They also headed vast criminal organizations that extorted money from citizens and controlled them through intimidation. According to the Sixth Century A. D. Byzantine author Procopius, rooting for the wrong team could lose you your job, get you exiled to a desert province, or get your throat cut.” Those stupid Romans! You see, they were completely ignorant of the virtues of the liberal democracy that we now enjoy.

12:11 pm on February 13, 2004