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Horatius at the Bridge

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Published : March 12th, 2018
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Category : Editorials

In 6th century B.C. during the early years of Rome, wars for regional dominance prevailed constantly between the Roman troops and neighboring tribes such as the Etruscans. In 508 B.C., the Etruscan king, Lars Porsena, marched on the city of Rome in hubristic hopes of taking the city itself and becoming its ruler. Upon meeting Roman troops at the banks of the Tiber River, his superior forces proceeded to slaughter the weaker Roman army attempting to defend the city outside of its gates near the Pons Sublicius Bridge.

The proud Romans were devastated in face of the slaughter and began to scatter in retreat. But one noble young officer, Horatius, stood his ground and tried to rally his fellows to stand with him to defend the bridge so their fellow comrades could escape to within the walls of the city. Two other officers joined with him, and the trio held off the superior Etruscan army with unrivaled bravery that has been immortalized down through the ages as the quintessential act of valor in face of “overwhelming odds.”

The 19th century historian and poet, Thomas Babington Macaulay, is surely the most renowned of the scribes to record the fearless feats of Horatius in The Lays of Ancient Rome. Because of Horatius’ heroic stand with only two comrades against thousands of enemy troops, the narrow Pons Sublicius Bridge was held and then destroyed before Porsena’s troops could cross.

The tale of Horatius has been told by numerous historians and surely romanticized. Some accounts have him dying on the bridge. Some have him diving into the river and successfully escaping back to Rome where he was celebrated duly for his deeds. All reputable accounts depict him as living. But how the battle actually ended and what the fate of Horatius was is not the real significance. The importance of the legend is the incredible gallantry of Horatius as a shining light of example to humankind in the tribulations of their lives? Horatius is the epitome of intrepid citizenry defying insurmountable odds.

Collectivist Enemies at the Gate

In face of the relentless march of collectivism today upon the citadel of American freedom, we need to resurrect Horatius from the halls of irrelevance that he has been consigned to by modern nihilism and its ruling oligarchs.

Why this is so crucial is because American patriots today are destined to become a hated minority in a future country comprised of leftist malcontents if we fail to stop the mobocratic despotism developing in America today. We will be the scapegoat for the ineptitude of crybabies, wimps, socialists, sluggards, rock throwers, and protest harpies who resent the rigors of life in a nation based upon freedom, persuasion and merit (i.e., capitalism) where one’s status is earned by productivity, rather than confiscated by mobs of voters.

What is coming will be somewhat akin to the Luddite revolt against technology in early 19th century England, where the lower classes rampaged throughout England smashing all the machines of capitalism in the factories.

Today’s collectivists are hell-bent to smash the achievements of capitalist society because too many of them don’t excel within its requisites of creativity and entrepreneurship. They lack the skills to rise highly, and thus they fall prey to the Marxian myth that it is capitalism that is suppressing them, when ironically it is American capitalism that has allowed them to rise above the socio-economic levels of life in history’s primitive societies and tyrannies.

But goaded on by liberalism’s obsession with the rabid egalitarianism taught in the schools, today’s collectivists are bound and determined to bring about the reducing of all men and women to the lowest common denominator. Thus Venezuela is coming to America via liberalism.

A Miracle Needed

Can this be averted? I believe it can. Miracles happen constantly throughout human history because of spirited, courageous men and women. If President Trump can win a second term, he can appoint three more Supreme Court judges, which would stave off the collectivization of the country via the courts that has been taking place so insidiously for the past 80 years. The Democrat Party would then become the minority party, and if the rising Freedom Caucus could take over the House we would at least have a Congress that was favorable to ignoring the leftist drive to smash the achievements of capitalist society.

So as bleak as things appear to be today, I believe we have a chance to turn the country around – but only after it crashes in the coming Depression. It is then that the people will be susceptible to examining the flaws in liberal egalitarianism and collectivism. It is then that the people will entertain doubts as to the Marxist-Keynesian ideology they have given their lives to over the past 80 years. It is then that they can be turned back toward the Founding Fathers as we climb out of the crash. Until the crash comes, however, the people will continue to believe that the stat freaks and short-term mentalities of MSM are correct – i.e., the economy is sound, our mountainous debt is irrelevant, one must “buy the dips.” This mindset can only be changed in the throes of a horrendous convulsive crisis, which is precisely what is coming.

America’s fate will be determined by how courageous we are as we confront this looming debt-spawned disaster that will be far worse than that of 2008. We now have no choice but to fight vigorously for true freedom, to basically abandon conventional conceptions of the good life. After all what meaning can our lives have if we allow primitives and tyrants to win over the country by default? If we allow the greatest nation in the history of mankind to disappear because we prefer to cavort through a life of hedonism and indulgence?

Impossible Odds

So we must take up the fight against seemingly impossible odds like Rome’s Horatius at the Bridge in Lord Macaulay’s famous poem:

Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods…

“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul, with all the speed ye may!
I, with two more to help me, will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path, a thousand may well be stopped by three:
Now, who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?”

We must emulate Churchill who loved Macaulay’s poem, and ingrained it into his inspiring message to the British people in the coming war against Hitler in his overpowering speech to Parliament in June of 1940:

“We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Patriots in America today face the same “impossible odds” that the Brits faced from the swelling tides of Naziism that were taking over Europe in 1940. Yet all is not lost. As long as we have the right to speak and write, as long as we have the right to assemble, to galvanize, to form into partisan groups, then we have a chance to rally our fellow citizens to restore freedom and sanity.

While the hoi polloi do not grasp the nature of what is happening, all intelligent activists do. And history is determined by its intelligentsia, by its activists. They are the ones who, at least, subconsciously believe there are truths that we must abide by even though the statist schools have obliterated them from their curriculums. The activist intelligentsia is still out there in America. They can be roused to fight. We need only to reach them with sufficient inspiration as to the requisites of freedom and the evils of egalitarianism.

In other words, until we lose the right to speak, write and assemble, there is always a chance to turn things around. And if the rights of free speech and assembly should fall to the grim darkness of Orwellian tyranny, then we must go underground. Then we must go into the hills as Churchill urged.

The Titanic Fight

This is what has been decreed to our generation – the role of Horatius at the Bridge. We will be judged by how we wage this titanic fight confronting us as Western civilization’s 21st century on planet Earth begins.

Though great nations rise and fall down through the ages, the grandeur of TRUTH remains eternal even though we have deleted its rightful acknowledgment from our fashionable lexicons and lectures today. Men and their idiocies, their cruelties, their pomposities are the ephemerals of life. TRUTH is the exalted permanency. When we rediscover this perspective we, as a nation, will begin our trek toward possible salvation.

Horatius stands stalwart forever from out of our past. His kind can never evanesce. His ilk is what carved out of our primeval wanderings our rise from the cave, our adoption of law, our formation of justice. The great concepts that sustain existence for humankind come from the deep and dauntless drives of life’s heroic individuals. Horatius is not just a brave historical figure preserved by our scribes and scholars to illuminate the majesty of life; he is the sine qua non, the great mysterious substance of the Creator himself permeating earthly travails. Horatius beckons to us today. His lesson is desperately in need of rediscovery by the country that was forged on the lofty pillars of his persona.

 

 

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Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas and serves as the Director of Americans for a Free Republic, www.afr.org, an educational organization founded to promote sound money and fair taxation. Mr. Hultberg's articles have appeared in publications such as The Dallas Morning News, The American Conservative, The Freeman, Liberty, and on numerous Internet sites such as The Daily Bell, Financial Sense Online, and Safe Haven. He is the author of a soon to be released book, The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values.
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