Standing Up When It’s Too Late

This article is comparison between America and another great empire faced with rot in high office and a decline of state—Rome.  The writer, JR Nyquist, artfully points out it’s not the big events that sink an empire but many seemingly little ones.  You could call what is happening to the U.S. “death by a thousand cuts.”  Except in this story, people are not really aware how deep the cuts are and exactly who is doing the cutting.  I loved this piece, and I hope you do as well.  Greg Hunter   

 By JR Nyquist

Guest Writer for Greg Hunter’s 

There is a letter by Marcus Tullius Cicero, dated 18 December 50 B.C. This letter was written to his friend Atticus on the eve of the Roman Civil War. He wrote as follows: “The political situation alarms me deeply, and so far I have found scarcely anybody who is not for giving Caesar what he demands rather than fighting it out.” To explain the situation in brief, G. Julius Caesar had demanded the right to circumvent the Roman constitution, to break laws with impunity, to extend his command over a large army by using that army to threaten the Senate of Rome. “And why should we start standing up to him now?” asked Cicero. The next day he wrote to Atticus: “We should have stood up to him [Caesar] when he was weak, and that would have been easy. Now we have to deal with eleven legions….” Though he hated the idea of civil war, the only course, said Cicero, was to follow “the honest men or whoever may be called such, even if they plunge.”

And who were these “honest men”? “I don’t know of any,” wrote Cicero in the same letter. “There are honest individuals, but [there are no honest groups].” Then he asked rhetorically if the Senate was honest, or the tax farmers, or the capitalists. None were frightened of living under an autocracy, he lamented. The capitalists, especially, “never have objected to that, so long as they were left in peace.” But civil war occurred nonetheless, because people are not free to be dishonest forever. They must admit to certain responsibilities, and oppose the advance of evil. The previous inclination to look away, to do nothing, to shrug off responsibility, proves in the end to be no more than a delaying tactic. They attempted to put off calamity, Cicero suggested, and made it all the more calamitous. That is all.

Why did the Roman Senate suddenly stand up to Caesar? What triggered their resistance? As with all free people, they began with policies of procrastination and appeasement. They hoped that the problem (i.e., Caesar) would go away. In the end, however, they discovered their mistake. Everyone still hoped for peace, though none believed it was possible. Everyone wanted to avoid war, but nobody saw a way out. Pompey stood before the Senate and gave voice to what everyone thought. “If we give Caesar the consulship, it will mean the subversion of the constitution.” In other words, it would mean the end of Rome, the end of the republic, the destruction of their country.

In a fitting preface to John Dickinson’s Death of a Republic, George L. Haskins wrote, “that the history of Rome is … the history of the world, that, as all roads lead to Rome, so all history ends or begins with Rome.” Why do free people fall into complacency? Why are threats ignored until the eleventh hour?

“Surely,” wrote Cicero at the end of Caesar’s dictatorship, “our present sufferings are all too well deserved. For had we not allowed outrages to go unpunished on all sides, it would never have been possible for a single individual to seize tyrannical power.” Caesar’s cause was not right, but evil, Cicero explained. “Mere confiscations of the property of individual citizens were far from enough to satisfy him. Whole provinces and countries succumbed to his onslaught, in one comprehensive universal catastrophe…” As for the city of Rome, Cicero lamented, “nothing is left — only the lifeless walls of houses. And even they look afraid that some further terrifying attack may be imminent. The real Rome is gone forever.”

Republics are slow to defend themselves against enemies that advance, like Caesar, under camouflage. But make no mistake, republics always defend. Groups and categories of men may not be honest or brave, but when they are finally confronted with the truth — as individuals — they see no other course. They stand up and fight. We should not be surprised, therefore, that Caesar was struck down in the Senate and killed by thrusting daggers. 

“The Death of Julius Caesar,” by Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798

It is all too true, of course. “We should have stood up to him when he was weak,” Cicero lamented. The problem with republican government is its tardiness; or rather, tardiness in the face of danger. As Machiavelli wrote,

The institutions normally used by republics are slow in functioning. No assembly or magistrate can do everything alone. In many cases, they have to consult with one another, and to reconcile their diverse views takes time. Where there is a question of remedying a situation that will not brook delay, such a procedure is dangerous.

Machiavelli concluded, therefore, “that republics in imminent danger, having no recourse to dictatorship … will always be ruined when some grave misfortune befalls them.” This is the weakness of republican government. Here is the ground on which it dies. An obvious threat, like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor is not the greatest danger. It is the subtle, camouflaged threat, that creeps up from behind. It is this camouflage that gives reluctant men a way out. “We need not fight. We need not make a fuss. There is nothing to fear.”

When this is the prevailing view, people who understand a given threat may ask: “What is to be done?”

As long as we are isolated individuals, there is nothing to do. The individual may be honest with himself, but groups are not honest. What prevails overall is an optimistic dismissal. “The threat isn’t real.” This is how Hitler got so far. This is how Communism took over so many countries, and continues today under camouflage. There is nothing the individual can do that will sway the crowd. And as we are a republic, our political system operates according to the psychology of a crowd. The majority are caught up in the fads and media trends of the moment. Cynical and empty publicity characterizes much of our public discourse.

Are the Russians and Chinese arming themselves against us? Is Venezuela becoming a military bulwark for Communism in Latin America? Is Mexico being destabilized by the Russian mafia (via the Mexican mafia)? Has Canada been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence allied with Chinese organized crime? Are socialist revolutionaries inside the U.S. government subverting the nation’s nuclear deterrent, foreign policy, and border security?

The crowd says “no” because that is what they want to believe. But one day the country will awaken. Then, and only then, Americans will stop going along as if nothing serious hangs over them. Will it be too late? Perhaps it will be too late to save the republic. But it will not be too late to save the country.


J.R. Nyquist is a political analyst and columnist who has worked for Newsmax, Worldnetdaily, Sierra Times and currently writes a weekly column for Financial Sense Online.  Mr. Nyquist’s email is jrnyquist @ .  For a link to other articles he has penned (click here.)

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  1. Bill

    The author is not articulate in describing the threat. I hear a vague reference to Obama, or perhaps I am mistaken. Cesar was a great general, a great military man. He was also ruthless. Mr. Obama is not a strong president. I normally vote for Mr. Nader, but made the mistake of voting for Mr. Obama this time around – I guess I was tired of Mr. Bush. But it is a fallacy. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney represent the energy industry. Mr. Obama represents the financial sector. The people Mr. Obama chose for dealing with the economy are from the financial sector. The seeming decision to protect BP is most likely driven by financial concerns. We don’t live in a true democracy, nor is this in any traditional sense socialist (i.e. – Leninist, Marxist), nor is it totalitarian, as the Nazis and the Stalinists were (more or less classless societies). It seems to me we live in a society that is more or less corporatist, and we are ruled by the intent of monopoly capital (i.e. – an oligarchy). The American people, for the most part, sold their souls to the money man after WW2. It was a Faustian deal. Now the devil wants his due.

    • Greg

      Thank you Bill for your perspective on this post.

    • MarkM

      Hey Bill,

      Nice talking points. Where is your substance? Can you add citations to what you wrote?

      Please write about an economic system that is better than the free market? I don’t want a diatribe, describe with historical facts the society that has performed better than the free market?

      We, ordinary American citizens, live better than Kings and Queens did 70 years ago. I don’t think the free market is the end-all, it is highly flawed. Show me a better way that actually works!

      Also, which Ceasar are you referring?

      I enjoyed reading your post.


  2. John Bernard

    This is a very good article. I was expecting more of the same old lame societal breakdown comparisons. The last couple of paragraphs are the strongest and, to me, the answer to each question is yes. As for the internal subversion I think the first indication that such a thing is real was the Homeland Security report that included returning soldiers as potential terrorists. That statement was confusing to me at the time and for some time afterwards. Lately it has occurred to me that given our financial and political crisis such might indeed be the case; in a positive sense.

    Civil war again in the USA? Most will say impossible but I am not so sure. Violence is coming only its form and scope is unknown. It will likely be triggered by an economic crisis say hyperinflation. This will be followed by food riots etc and will degenerate into local struggles similar at first to gang wars. The general actions around the country will be guerrilla in nature as organizations will be infiltrated from the start. Here is where the returning veterans come in. Does anyone doubt that they have learned a thing or two from their enemies in the area of IE D’s?

    The federal government will become a complete dictatorship as Machiavelli predicted but one without resources for the long haul.
    The country will indeed be saved, the republic re founded but many years of misery and hardship will pass.

    This is a grim picture and most likely will happen but a lot of things have to go further wrong first. Such events will probably snowball to other societies that are currently under stress.

    • Greg

      John, This is a Grim but well written assessment of our future. Thank you.

      • MarkM

        Hey John Bernard,

        Great post. Your take on returning-soldiers being a threat to our gubmint is right-on.

        Many believe that our military will thwart any rebellion that the citizens (owners of the country and bureacrats) start. I don’t think so. I believe they will train and lead the patriots.

        Someday it will happen. I have faith in our citizens not becoming sheep who are ruled by bureaucratics. Hopefully, it will be many centuries from now. However, most republics only last a few hundred years. I think it was Sparta that went for 600 years.

        Time will tell.


  3. JJ

    Greg, Thanks for putting Mr Nyquist on. I’ll buy his book for my husband. There is an old saying to the effect that evil needs to prevail is for a few good men to ignore it

    • Greg

      Thanks JJ for the comment. Let me know how the book is.

  4. MarkM

    Hello Greg,

    Santiago said: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it (paraphrased).

    Nyquist wrote: “Perhaps it will be too late to save the republic. But it will not be too late to save the country.”

    Saving this country at the expense of the republic is no victory. The Constitution and individual civil liberties are the most important aspects of our Country’s success.

    We have our messiah Ceaser using extra Constitutional power to nationalize GM and Chrysler. He violated contract law to do it. Our messiah Ceaser extorted 20 billion from BP, did not deposit the money into the treasury for disposition by Congress; he then appointed a politician to dispense the 20B slush fund to his political friends. These two examples, are just a few of the extra-Constitutional actions taken by the MSM’s “chosen one”.

    Who was it that said: “We have given you a republic, if you can keep it.” (I think that was an accurate quotation). Was it Ben Franklin?

    No mattter what issues we struggle with, we can find historical references that give us a blueprint for how these issues will resolve themselves with the strategy that we are using.

    You are somewhat anti-war. The Islamo-fascist east has risen-up against the west many times before. The Crusades and many of the major battles between the east and west were a result of the east’s aggerssion toward the west. Why did Alexander go east at such a young age? Was it so that he would avoid defending the west when he was an old man? Why did Charles Martell form an army to attack Ramen’s (SIC) Muslim army in Poiters France? Ramen attacked Europe through Spain and was Marching north through France.

    Before Mohammed, there were the Darius’ and Arterxes’. They all waged losing wars against the west. And for one reason, they wanted the west’s stuff. Midevil Muslims can’t create what we make with our freee market system. They still want our stuff. It is really that simple. Why do people from CA (Central America) come north? They want our stuff.

    Culture matters. We are successful because of our culture. The east will never replicate our successful culture.

    Mexicans who illegally immigrate in droves to places like Selma California, and who bring their failed Mexican culture to Selma, will end up with the same failed lives and culture that they had left in Mexico. EBT cards and free medical care notwithstanding.

    We need to defend our culture with rough men who will visit violence upon those who wish to disturb us (thank you WC for inspirating that last statement).


    I stated that you are somewhat anti-war because you have written many times that Bush 43 used a credit card to fund two wars.

    Our gubmints first Constitutional duty is defense. The first moneys to enter the treasury are for defense, then the courts, and then the executive and congressional branches of gubmint. All other expenditures are strictly discressionary. (my opinion, not law)

    • Greg

      Thank you for your west coast perspective. It was very interesting and good info.

  5. BLT

    If we could just find the average person’s give a *%!* button we could bring stuff to their attention. But when these cats watch mtv all day and when they turn on c span all they see is a bunch of old crabby out of touch geriatrics who still think that marijuana can KILL you!! This while every one is a recovering alcoholic at some point in their lives. The way they have pulled the camouflage over it is simple, in that there is NO reason for the average joe to care!! The threat is not real if you cannot comprehend it and the avg american does not. They know it and we know it. Perfect example: How can a show like oprah be followed by a show like jerry springer 24/7 × 365? Yet not a single higher education channel is available even when I can watch every single touchdown ever scored? We get 40% of our paychecks taken every 40 hours and we don’t have a single physics channel or SPELLING channels or anything? It takes no effort (allthough it may seem otherwise) to remain dosile and stupid. Hannah Montana is way more interesting. So, imho, the media and corporate television conglomerates aka the gubmint (you know who you are) are just as guilty as anyone.

    • Greg

      I wish more people were like you. Thanks.

    • maria meadows

      Nice rant….Geraldo Celente says it only takes 20% of the population to create change. so all those people watching MTV could be the 80% we don’t need anyway. what I’d like to know is why there are no solutions being offered in major ways. Why no headlines about shutting down the Fed? We all know that this is an intentional coup…..are all the smart leaders and thinkers waiting until Oh-bumma shuts down the net, as he threatened?

      The Dems have lost me forever….

      • bob

        get a grip it don’t take 20% of the people, 4 big bankers can buy and sell and what is left is the change. the solution is get the h— out of the cities build up middle AMERICA by building strong little towns it’s called local control. The solution is you are on your own an better start build a strong little family unit. Help out the people you can but stop feeling sorry for people are groups of people who are waiting to be told what to do are how to do it. The most important part of the solution is to make yourself useful, a person who can do many things. The old people new how to repair a pair of shoes and wash there clothes by hand and fine food all in the same day.

        • George

          Great Idea and I agree but TV teaches our children that the big city and its vices and depravities are where they should be. Again we, the parents, are asleep at the switch.

  6. George

    Greg, Thanks for putting this guy on. I see similarities between now and the fall of Rome, the French Revolution AND the AMERICAN Revolution. Sucks, Greg, we rebelled against the King of England for LESS transgressions than are being committed by our own government.
    Quoting a comment in a previous article, “Revolution Calling”. Someone, the electorate needs to answer the call

    • Greg

      I thought this was pretty good too. I hope I can get him back again.

  7. GRWilliams

    Have to admire Michael Bloomberg for standing up for our freedoms recently. The 20 percent who say Obama is muslim didn’t get this from the mainstream media, but rather from extremist commentators, bloggers and other public figures whose agenda is to push divisive political, economic and cultural agendas. Ignorance, Fear and Misinformation is the No.1 enemy in our Country. I certainly don’t want these ignorant 20 percent to run this (still) Great Country. Our Founding Fathers must be turning in their graves.

  8. George

    Mr. Williams, The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
    So what if Obama is really a Muslim? It is not an issue unless you think he plans to destroy America and make it an Islamic nation instead of a free one. I believe in Freedom. And Only a fool would ignore the Islamic Moeslim agenda. I remember the Moeslim adults and children dancing in the streets of the Middle East after September 11 celebrating the deaths of Americans.

    Greg, you are a good man and you are doing something. You are a prophet crying from the roof tops [or WEB tops as it were] for us to prepare for the coming crisis. The rest of us need to do our part in Nov. and vote the bums out.
    I know people who would vote Democrat if Lucifer was the candidate and no stealth was involved. I am a registered Independent. I’ll be voting against the “DEMONcrats” at every opportunity this Nov. The Republicans are not blameless and they are certainly part of problem BUT they are CLEARLY LESS EVIL than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Where is the outrage for “We have to pass the bill to see what’s in it”? These “DUMBacrats” vote for and pass bills that they do not read. This is a crime against the American people. 2,000 plus page bills filled with nonsense. If they do not read it, how can they make an INTELLEGENT vote? If they don’t have time to read it, WHY WOULD they vote? For a member of Congress [Democrat or Republican] to vote on something they do not read and do not understand is malfeasance and in my opinion; a treasonous end run on American principles and the Constitution.
    We need a third party that will stop the Enron accounting, scrap the IRS, and stop the destruction of Constitution via an expansion of Federal government and judicial social justice. Until then, Let vote for the lesser of two evils and see if we can weed out the corruption.

  9. GRWilliams

    George, should be reminded that good men also don’t fearmonger and succor to ignorance and prejudice!

    Congress, is a revolving door of elected “bums” from one election to another and voting some of the out next time aren’t going to change the ingrained systemic causes of our malaise. We need structural change to our system including the Constitution. How about shortening the terms of all our elected officials and doing something real to the limit the influence of money and the special interests?. How much did McCain spent win the primary recently? Oh, and what about the U turn in his thinking? He is not the only Republican, Democrat or Independent who has done the same to further their personal ambitions and those special interests they represent. This is the system we have perpetuated from one election to the next.

    Greg, I like your stated mission to be independent and to dig deep into the parlous state of our country. But, your website is, fast becoming, a haven for paleoconservatism and related ideologies. Doesn’t make sense to say you are neither liberal nor conservative when most of the people on your site are pushing extreme right wing agendas. Conspiracy theorists, christian fundamentalists, immigration alarmists, doomsdayists, etc. don’t have a mortgage on the truth. Many of the ideas purveyed on these pages are very similar to the rabid views of Russ Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and George Noory, among others. Noory’s self professed fear of clowns and his kooky views on a range of topics, including humans were created by aliens and Doomesday 2012, are telling!

    Incidentally, what else do all these people have in common, apart from their views? They all make tons of money from running the playbook of ignorance and fear! Nothing wrong with making money, this is what media in all its manifestations does- from mainstream to niche on TV, radio and internet – right across the political, religious and cultural divide. One last thing, when did we last witness the rise of right wing extremism in the US and Europe and why?

    • Greg

      GR Williams,
      Sure, there are some conservative people on this site, and some folks such as yourself–all are welcome. I have to beg to differ with you on this site becoming “paleoconservatism.” What most people who read this site have in common is they are frustrated and down right scared about what is happening to the country. I predict things are going to get so bad the left-right discussion will be immaterial. THE COUNTRY IS FLAT BROKE and we are headed for a crash landing. Don’t take my word for this; a Boston University Professor says the U.S. is $202 trillion in the hole. WE WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PAY THIS IN REAL MONEY. See for yourself under “Hunter’s Top Stories” Things are changing and they will never be the same. Please forget the “left-right” argument NEITHER side can stop what is coming. This is not fear mongering!! It is math, and the math adds up to big trouble and big change. Your voice is welcomed and needed on this site. I always say “Good Men Can Disagree.” Thank you for your comment even though I disagree with some of it.

    • Greg

      By the way, You are right on the money about McCain and the rest of Congress. Thanks again for your comment.

  10. Jimbo

    Obama’s war(s)…No…it is not Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan…it is Yemen and Somalia!

    Sometime between early 2011 and early 2012, there is a new war front being scheduled in before the 2012 American elections. The early stages of “Battlefield Preparation” have been underway since 2006. Only a few items need to be worked out, one of which is propagandizing the American public for the war(s). That has already begun, with the corporate media beginning to slowly turn up the fire so as to let the frogs stay in the water and not jump out. Watch and listen very carefully when news reports involve Yemen or Somalia, they are already making the case for intervention (for Obama). these wars will be sold as “US National Security interests”, don’t you know! I guess they would have you believe that these poor Yemenis and Somalis are going to mass a standing army and invade the US mainland in an amphibious assault, or launch nukes on American cities. Maybe the will get you in your living room while watching reruns of Oprah!

    The Somali intervention will be staged from Kenya, Obama’s home country. The Luo Tribe of Kenya, Obama’s tribe, will be the main economic beneficiaries of the Pentagons “Graft” to the Kenyan government for its complicity.

    The Yemen intervention will be staged from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain with the main beneficiaries being the Saudis. The Saudis have been very worried that the growing numbers of radicalized Muslims, in Yemen, threatens to spill over the border into Saudi territory. Basically, the Saudis are hiring the United States military, AGAIN, to take care of their security problems that they cannot do because of “Political” concerns. After all, the rest of the Muslim world still views the Saudi regime as being “in bed with the western infidels”. This will not help that perception, which tells me, they are more worried about the oil money than what the Muslim world thinks.

    So the stage is being set for Americas next wars, currently scheduled for 2011. After all, it is smart political strategy to not change presidents in the middle of a war. Even GW Bush understood that, and it works!

    Invest now in “military industrial complex” companies and watch your investment profits rise…I already have.

    • Greg

      This seems perfectly plausible with oil rich Saudi Arabia bordering to the North of Yemen. How do you know this? Do you have military connections. Thanks for the comment no matter what.

  11. Wesley Mcgranor

    We paleoconservatives might of had the nineties if we could of gotten rid of the Republican party. Or turned the Republican party into what we were hoping to find in third parties. The 1990’s was an active time for us. All just to be forgotten? What happened? Now the ‘tea party’ comes along with a politically correct set of rules and Fox News and all of a sudden our points are being used…successfully…by neoconservatives?

    With the exception of Rand Paul of course.

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