Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Memento

It is said that a Roman dux was accompanied in his triumphal procession by a slave whose task was to remind him by a constant whispering in his ear that he was not a god but a man: hominem te memento, memento mori, hominem te memento, memento mori, and so on. The fantastical idea strikes me that our times could benefit from an office somewhat akin to that which is said to have accompanied the triumphator of the ancient world, but say, an office of the demagogue-whisperer, whose task would be to remind the popularly-elected governor of his true nature — oligarcham demagogicum te memento; non modo non est vox populi vox dei, sed etiam vox tua non est vox populi — lest out of egomania and veritable democratic piety there be concocted in the demagogue’s soul a volatile formula:
Vox populi vox dei est,
Vox mea vox populi est,
Ergo est vox mea vox dei.
Yet we live in enlightened times, or so I am told, and therefore something so strange as this office could not be taken seriously, not because it would stand against all the most sacred and cherished principles of these times; on the contrary, such an office might easily be instituted as a salaried one alongside that of every demagogic oligarch, each to be overseen by a committee of well-remunerated academicians, lawyers, bureaucrats, and popular journalists with felicitous connections that tend more towards the social than the neuronal. Rather it would discourage not just a condition for the existence of modern popular government, but also a condition for its growth. The extension of this power involves not just cynical manipulation and mendacity on the part of governors and other interested parties. Also greatly advantageous thereto is the genuine belief, or the delusive sop to conscience, on the part of governors and governed alike that this power is exercised and extended on behalf and for the good of all, such that any discouragement to this belief must be seen as a discouragement to progress.
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10 comments:

dearieme said...

I trust that you're looking forward to the fun as his worshippers realise that President-elect Tony Beige isn't a particularly straight sort of a guy.

Deogolwulf said...

It should be interesting.

James Higham said...

So if we can't be governed by the governors nor by the masses, who shall govern us, Deogolwulf?

Deogolwulf said...

I am a little confused as to what you mean, James. We can be, are, and always will be governed by governors.

Ben Wheat said...

Excellent article, I've actually argued (facetiously) for this post to be created in the US Congress in the course of an argument for the institution of term limits. Article appears here here at my blog.

James Higham said...

Let me rephrase the question - who should govern us? Should we be governed?

David Duff said...

My wife governs me.

Mr.Furious said...

Where is left to go if we don't truck with being governed?

black hole sunset over a diamond sky said...

Great post, excellent blog. I am in awe!

Please provide a translation where appropriate for those (like myself) who "admire without hope of imitation" =)

Deogolwulf said...

Thanks, Mr Diamond Sky.