The Image of Liberty: What the Roman Empire Can Teach Us About American Politics | Public Discourse

In many respects, the powers and reach of our rulers are more formidable than in Roman times. Our police forces, our bureaucratic machinery, and our powers of surveillance vastly exceed anything the emperors could have imagined. As we contemplate the choice between regular or irregular efforts to uphold the historic constitution and acquiescence to the seemingly irresistible power of the administrative state and the imperial judiciary, we would be wise to keep that fact in mind.

The question, I suppose, is whether we will demand actual liberty—including the authority truly to govern ourselves—or whether we will be content with, as Gibbon put it, “the image of liberty.”

Steven Smith: The Image of Liberty: What the Roman Empire Can Teach Us About American Politics | Public Discourse

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s