The above three words were/are used to describe the situation that prevailed during the heydays of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was one of the most powerful and extensive political entity in days long past. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire is a well-documented subject; what has not been probably well publicized is its relevance to our era, particularly as it pertains to the reigning hegemon and it subservient, nations or otherwise! ‘Bread and Circus’ was the prominent mode of collectivizing operation employed by the power of the day to keep the ‘sheeple’ (human mass) in check, at least in the very core of empire. Obviously, the ‘bread’ component of the operation needs no explanation. A highly organized entertainment industry where music and various artistic expressions (visual plus movies, performing arts/dance, etc.) could be employed, both to entertain and indoctrinate, was unthinkable 2000 years ago. Without all sorts of electronic gizmos, or sports, professional or otherwise, to keep the sheeple continuously occupied was not an entirely easy proposition at the beginning of the first millennium!
The rulers of the old Roman Empire had to rely on circuses of various sorts, including brutal ones where gladiators (including slaves, criminals etc.) fought and killed each other to appease/amuse the sheeple as well as the psychopathic/decadent leaders of the day, to say nothing about the winners freeing themselves, while the losers were killed ungraciously! Don’t forget, these were times when heightened brutality was the order of the day, particularly when the Roman Empire was under pagan rule (27 BC—480 AD). Incidentally, three fourth of the Roman Empire’s reign (@480 AD to 1453 AD) was under Christianity, situated mostly in Byzantine Constantinople, current day Istanbul, after the defeat by the Ottoman Turks. What then is the relevance of the Roman Empire or more precisely, the relevance of the ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’ to the more intensely globalized world of today? The main import/relevance, as far as we are concerned, is the ongoing/impending break down of market led/inspired organizing principles that pervade all realms of human existence (economic, social, religious, etc.) and the resultant intensification of the modern version of the old ‘bread and circus’ culture across the board. For instance, the relation between humans as well as humans and nature are now in the thickest of the struggle between the old (mercantilism and its offshoots) and the unknown new (?)! The outdated/archaic mode of existence is being seriously interrogated by enlightened humanity, despite the all powerful and totalizing narrative of empire and its brazen hegemon! Here is a glimpse of what is probably to come. Mr. Trump is the leading candidate of the Republican Party in the US. This on its own, says a whole lot about where things are heading in the prevailing modern world system!
To be sure and unlike those days of old, the large majority of the global sheeple is not all that ignorant about the ways the TPTB (the power that be) run things, thanks to modern informatics, social movements, non-state actors, etc. Even though the sheeple has literally no say or major input in policy formation/decision, the usual establishment rhetoric (about democratic governance) notwithstanding, it can potentially command a massive uprising based on collective consciousness! This is what makes the modern sheeple different from the sheeple of the Roman Empire! Take the case of modern day Greece, where people clearly voted ‘no’ to the Troika’s ‘austerity program.’ Nonetheless, their decision was steam rolled by the unelected Troika, in collaboration with the more powerful states of the system. As a reaction, the Greece populous is again gearing up to re-elect leaders that will reject the decisions imposed by the powerful outsiders, probably comprehensively and again by democratic means. This is what disturbs the global status quo! By the same token, decisions to wage war have been taken by the powerful against all existing international laws and the general sentiment of the ruled. In this regard and unfortunately, it was mostly the powerful war profiteers that have been prevailing, at least so! After all, it is these entities that have been running the show for quite a long while now. Remember the deep state; the military-intelligence-industrial-banking-media complex? This is where decisions are made, despite opposition/apathy, by the large majority of the global population! Welcome to ‘Bread & Circus Round II!
The Orwellian regime is now well established, particularly in the core countries of the system-empire. To be fair, the current definition of Empire includes the European Union and Japan, with the ruling hegemon sitting on top of this dangerously wobbling edifice! There are surprising facts to indicate how disconnected the ruling entity has become from the world of the sheeple. About half of the American population now thinks the whole 9-11 affair was an inside job. Thanks to Snowden et al, we now know that almost all newspaper editorials in the western world are under the direct/indirect guidance/control of the intelligence agencies of empire. If truth be told, the mainstream media (MSM) broadcasts only what is pre-approved by the ‘Ministry of Truth’ of the deep state. The ongoing sad coverage of Ukraine, including the tragic case of the MD 17 that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, the aggression on Yemen by Saudi Arabia and allies that has become a non-news according to the MSM, the actual truth about the origin and operation of the ISIS, the desire to effect regime change in Syria, of course by force, etc. are all examples of news produced inside the respective Ministry of Truth(s) of empire. So much for the highly touted ‘freedom of speech’! Even scientific ‘discoveries’, nay observations (necessarily humanly biased) of the vast cosmos are being used to mesmerize the sheeple into blind submission. To this end, even the rare geniuses of our time are directly/indirectly goaded to advance the hidden agenda of the .01%! The whole message is simple; impart false confidence about the ruling elites’ capabilities, so that the sheeple will not question even the basics, like why we should suffer amidst plenty, why we should not stop destroying our planet, why we should continuously wage destructive and unnecessary wars, etc. etc? Humanity can hardly survive a sleight change in temperature on the blue planet, let alone wonder in space and bring all the goodies from yonder. But the status quo purposely and insidiously peddles such absurdities to advance its unsustainable ways!
We the wretched must refrain from playing the clowns in the circus. We must think beyond what the masters are teaching us. Paradoxically, the more diligent (narrowly) our students, the more ignoramus they become about our concrete reality. Many of our learned cretins only know how to parrot what they have learned; as these types are, at best, good learners and hardly good thinkers. In our modern world system, ‘not thinking outside of the box’ (=unthinking) pays handsomely, while its opposite is considered adversarial! We have always prided ourselves as being mere ph.ds (phony doctors) while generously acceding the myriad idiotic pronouncements to many of the real PhDs! Many a PhD in our country is not obsessed about deepening knowledge or widening with them, but rather about flaunting credentials (sometimes dubiously obtained) for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement! To us many of these clowns are only sheeply fodders to the ‘bread and circus’ game of the global status quo/entrenched interests.
‘Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.’ Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 1965. We close with a more positive note, solicited from the old and certainly better ones: “Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice”. John Adams, one of America’s founding fathers and the second president of the United States. Good Day!