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Sunday, August 7, 2011

A theory for why Rome fell?

In Cosmic Trigger 2, which I've just finished, Wilson once again explains the SNAFU principle, in an interview published in ROC magazine, which apparently was published in Cleveland, Ohio:

In the power game, the more successful you become, the more motive people have for lying to you. The lie to flatter you, to avoid contradicting your prejudices, to keep their jobs, to tell you what they want to hear, etc. Have you ever told the truth, the whole truth, to anybody from the government? It's the same in any authoritarian organization, be it an army, a corporation or a patriarchal family. People say what those in power above them want to hear. In the big power struggles, the most successful conspiracy of the decade becomes the stupidest conspiracy of the next decade, because it never hears what might offend its self-image. Communication is only possible between equals. The power game creates total communication jam and everybody near the top drifts slowly but inexorably into a kind of schizoid fantasy. Then they get replaced by younger, hungrier predators who are not successful enough yet to frighten everybody into lying to them, and hence have at least a partial knowledge of what the hell is really going on.

I've been reading books for years about the "fall" of the Western Roman Empire, conventionally pegged as finishing up in A.D. 476. Couldn't this function as yet another theory for what went wrong, with the absolutist Roman emperors not getting the feedback they needed? (Even as the western empire fell apart, coins were being made proclaiming the glory of "Unconquered Rome.")

Then again, elsewhere in the book, Wilson quotes Alan Watts as follows: "The greatest error of the historians is the idea that the Roman Empire 'fell.' It never fell. It still runs the Western World, through the Vatican and the Mafia."

Wilson remarks, "I didn't believe that when Alan said it; I thought it was one of jokes. Now, I wonder."

1 comment:

BrentQ said...

Phillip K. Dick writes about a similar concept in some of his novels such as Valis. He was fixated on the idea that Rome never did fall and we are still living under the tyranny, oppression and subliminal coercion of the roman legacy or "Black Iron Prison".