The Victory of the Caesars


The future of the West is not a limitless tending upwards and onwards for all time towards our present ideals, but a single phenomenon of history, strictly limited and defined as to form and duration, which covers a few centuries and can be viewed and, in essentials, calculated from available precedents. With this enters the age of gigantic conflicts, in which we find ourselves today. It is the transition from Napoleonism to Caesarism, a general phase of evolution, which occupies at least two centuries and can be shown to exist in all Cultures. The Chinese call it Shan-Kwo, the “period of the Contending States.” In the Gracchan revolution, which was already [133 B.C.] heralded by a first Servile War, the younger Scipio was secretly murdered and C. Gracchus openly slain – the first who as Princeps and the first who as Tribune were political centers in themselves amidst a world become formless. When, in 104 B.C. the urban masses of Rome for the first time lawlessly and tumultuously invested a private person, Marius, with Imperium, the deeper importance of the drama then enacted is comparable with that of assumption of the mythic Emperor-title by the ruler of Ch’in in 288 B.C..

The place of the permanent armies as we know them will gradually be taken by professional forces of volunteer war-keen soldiers; and from millions we shall revert to hundreds of thousands. But ipso facto this second century will be one of actually Contending States. These armies are not substitutes for war – they are for war, and they want war. Within two generations it will be they whose will prevails over all the comfortables put together. In these wars of theirs for the heritage of the whole world, continents will be staked – India, China, South Africa, Russia, Islam called out, new technics and tactics played and counter-played… The last race to keep its form, the last living tradition, the last leaders who have both at their back, will pass through and onward, victors.

The idealist of the early democracy regarded popular education as enlightenment pure and simple – but it is precisely this that smooths the path for the coming Caesars of the world. The last century [the 19th] was the winter of the West, the victory of materialism and scepticism, of socialism, parliamentarianism, and money. But in this century blood and instinct will regain their rights against the power of money and intellect. The era of individualism, liberalism and democracy, of humanitarianism and freedom, is nearing its end. The masses will accept with resignation the victory of the Caesars, the strong men, and will obey them. Life will descend to a level of general uniformity, a new kind of primitivism, and the world will be better for it…

  • Oswald Spengler, 1922.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


    1. Spengler has a great deal of good one-liners in his works but there is a problem;
    2. All his elaborations on warfare were rendered pretty much useless 3 years after his death and it is really a travesty when men of talent and of perceived understanding of warfare drawn from the “history” try to project their “knowledge” onto the future. The best they usually can do are platitudes.
    3. Nation-states and mixed professional-mobilization armies remain principal players of geopolitics and of political discourse. Those who can relate the fate of notorious Russian doctrine monger Vitaly Shlykov with current realities will see where all this wisdom of the past lead–pretty much nowhere.
    4. Frankly, any references to Rome are becoming tiresome. Rome didn’t have Carthage with 1,500 deliverable high yield MIRVs pointed to it, to start with. That changes everything and analogies and parallels with ancient history become irrelevant.
    5. Liberal “democracy” is but a fig leaf, a meme, covering oligarchy. It always was just that. As per, literally, The Decline Of The West, one should look no further back in history than WW II. In this case, Christopher Caldwell, or Corelli Barnett, have way more of substance to say than Spengler.
    6. How Trump relates to Caesar and “strong man” beats me. If he ever gets elected, will see how will he deal with his first (and it is coming) serious international crisis–I suspect, not very well at all. Lastly, West’s “political elite” can not produce any Caesar anymore–doesn’t have ingredients for that. Demagogues? Yes, plenty.
  1. Immigrant from former USSR says

    Shame on me, never read Spengler:
    Читал охотно Апулея,
    (read: Landau and Lifshitz)
    А Цицерона не читал, …
    Столетье с лишним — не вчера,
    А сила прежняя в соблазне
    В надежде славы и добра
    Глядеть на вещи без боязни.
    1931, Boris Pasternak.
    Best to you, SmoothieX12.

  2. The effects of Roman citizenship policy and the barbarian migrations are very much worth studying

  3. It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Yogi Berra

  4. tbraton says

    Let’s see. We’ve been through the stage of comparing Trump to Hitler (which makes some sense considering Trump’s German roots) and comparing Trump to Stalin (probably attributable to Trump’s friendly approach to Putin). Now we have entered a third phase: comparing Trump to Caesar. Is that a promotion or demotion? The major problem I have with these various theories is reconciling the particular theory with the fact that Trump seems to have a wild sense of humor. Are there any instances in history of a “strongman leader” being known for his sense of humor? (Trump’s height would seem to rule out any comparisons to Napoleon, which might explain why we haven’t seen any such analogies–yet.)

    One major argument against the Caesar theory is the fact that Trump does not have a military background and does not lead a force of armed men, so comparisons to Marius and Ch’in don’t seem to make any sense.

  5. The effects of Roman citizenship policy and the barbarian migrations are very much worth studying

    There was no Islam in Roman times. Barbarians didn’t have a doctrine, other than to get to Roman comforts and wealth, Islam does have one. Drawing historical parallels is a very tricky business, lacking precision first and foremost.

  6. Well, not all immigrants are Muslims, but I think it’s a valid analogy: the barbarian invaders were economic migrants or refugees more than well-armed invading hordes (excluding the Huns in their heyday), and the Romans thought they could be made into good citizens and who would do the dirty work. The Roman civilian population was disarmed and feeble due to centuries of imperial rule and Christianity and lacked the willpower to assimilate the barbarians. Of course, most barbarians genuinely wanted to be Romans, see Theodoric’s famous quip, which is not generally true with modern invaders.

  7. Seen the light of Roland Barthes’s ideas

    In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.
    Others in the Republican field are concerned with the rules and constructing a strategy that, under those rules, will lead to the nomination. But Trump isn’t concerned with those things. Instead, Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.
    The key to generating passion, Barthes notes, is to position yourself to deliver justice against evil forces by whatever means necessary. “Wrestlers know very well how to play up to the capacity for indignation of the public by presenting the very limit of the concept of Justice,” Barthes writes.
    Trump knows how to define his opponent — China, “illegals,” hedge fund managers — and pledges to go after them with unbridled aggression. If, in making his case, he crosses over a line or two, all the better.

    The Donald would probably take this as a compliment but there’s no one better at Twitter than he is. The relationship between Trump and Twitter is the perfect marriage of man and medium: his terse insults are perfectly suited to the 140-character form and his controversy-a-day campaign feeds off of Twitter’s short attention span. […] For example, after saying that John McCain was “not a war hero” in mid-July—a gaffe that some thought might end his campaign—Trump took to Twitter, not to apologize, but to double down on his attack.

    ”’ Canadian intellectual Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) … the way that the content of any communication is largely shaped by the medium through which it is transmitted.
    […] As Neil Postman (1931-2003), a protégé of McLuhan and the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death put it… According to Postman, not all media are equal when it comes to discussing important matters like politics.“On television, discourse is conducted largely through visual imagery, which is to say that television gives us a conversation in images, not words,” hewrote. “The emergence of the image-manager in the political arena and the concomitant decline of the speech writer attest to the fact that television demands a different kind of content from other media. You cannot do political philosophy on television. Its form works against the content.”So, one might ask, what is TV good for? According to Postman, its purpose is not to inform, but to amuse. “The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter,” he wrote, “but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.”

    This conception of televised politics as entertainment was cogently explained by none other than Donald Trump. Explaining the way that his popularity on television is self-reinforcing, he commented:

    It`s a simple formula in entertainment and television. If you get good ratings…then you`ll be on all the time, even if you have nothing to say. If you come up with a cure for a major, major horrendous disease and if you don`t get ratings, they won`t bother even reporting it. It`s very simple business. Very simple.

    McLuhan departs from [other] media theory suggesting that a medium “overheats”, or reverses into an opposing form, when taken to its extreme.

    Interpreted with an eye to the theories ofGuy Debord

    Trump for President is the Greatest Spectacle on Earth—or at least on Fox News. Who else has shredded Roger Ailes on his own network? What other Republican has defended single-payer health care? Derided Citizens’ United? Inveighed against global trade pacts? Denounced the Iraq War as an act of unparalleled stupidity? Aggressively pushed a progressive taxation model? It’s as if Trump has stepped right off the pages of Ralph Nader’s Dickensian romp of a novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

    Debord said ‘a changeover is imminent and ineluctable … like lightning, which we know only when it strikes’.

  8. Ivan IV “The Terrible” and Stalin both had great senses of humor. Check out Ivan IV’s letters to Prince Kurbsky. Very Trump-like in style of humor, even if the context is very religious.

  9. tbraton says

    I know very little about Ivan IV, so I am going to have to take you at your word. I will admit to a little surprise that somebody with his reputation (not nicknamed “the Terrible” for nothing) would have a good sense of humor. I know a lot more about Stalin, and I am surprised at your characterization.

  10. tbraton says

    ” For example, after saying that John McCain was “not a war hero” in mid-July—a gaffe that some thought might end his campaign—Trump took to Twitter, not to apologize, but to double down on his attack.”

    Actually, it was Trump’s out-of-the-blue attack against McCain’s “hero status” that first caught my attention to Trump’s merits last summer, but I seem to recall that he ultimately dropped the matter and half-apologized for his attack, which disappointed me somewhat. Around the same time, I saw Pat Buchanan on “The McLaughlin Group” stating that he thought it was a good thing that Trump had dropped the attack on McCain since McCain’s “hero status” was considered sacrosanct in D.C. (I have long been thinking that Buchanan was an unpaid advisor to Trump since so many of Pat’s positions seemed to find their way into Trump’s “platform.”) That disappointed me even more since I assumed that Buchanan would be more familiar with the paper trail on McCain than Trump. Assuming that he didn’t want to drop the McCain matter because it wasn’t polling well, all Trump had to do was pull out the 1973 McCain interview with U.S. News in which he admitted that he asked the North Vietnamese to give him hospital care in exchange for military information and compare that admission to the Silver Star citation which gave a completely opposite account and referred to McCain being tortured during the time he was being treated in the hospital. Since I think that McCain (assuming he wins reelection) will be a major obstacle to President Trump’s immigration programs and foreign policy positions, that’s why I think it important that Trump neutralize McCain by making public the secret Pentagon records concerning his debriefing in 1973 following release by the NV.

  11. That’s a bit overstated; barbarians did want to fight for the Romans if they could, but it was always against other similar barbarians. Meanwhile, today’s invaders are not even any good at fighting.

  12. Hitler too, fair is fair.

  13. Have we done Trump to Narendra Modi yet?

  14. Yes, and they really liked the prestige of being Roman soldiers and officials (medieval ‘count’ and ‘duke’ derive from Roman titles), even if that didn’t mean much at the time.

  15. random observer says

    Well, the nature of a Caesar will fit the nature of his society. Remember that the leaders of Rome in those days, Caesar and his opponents alike, were essentially civilian politicians and propertied men who accumulated military experience and command as part of their normal rise in society, not professional soldiers belonging to a regular officer corps.

    They simply tacked on military success, or in some cases merely being present on campaign, to other elements that would appeal to the assemblies voting for the various offices, like money for bribes, rhetorical skills, success in the courts, or representing some interest group.

    In modern America, the leadership classes emerge through law, business, and money, not war. America’s shot at having an upper class that was required to demonstrate its talents through all of these areas, plus war, like the Romans did, passed probably by the turn of the 20th century. Earlier, had it not been for the civil war and the emergence of so many relatively young generals back into civilian life at the end.

  16. not nicknamed “the Terrible” for nothing

    “The Terrible” is a mistranslation. I’d translate Grozny as “the Fearsome”.

  17. Analogies involving Trump and earlier historical epochs have been overstated, and mostly overheated, in the past. If we really are slouching towards Caesarism, then it’s something that’s been happening for at least 30 years–and will continue whether Trump or Clinton occupy the White House.

    What is undeniable in Anatoly’s channeling of Spengler is the assertion that the “American Century” is merely a moment of history, with a beginning AND ending, which will eventually be placed on the shelf with the other epochs of history. That assertion has the character of a profound insight in today’s America, where I believe most people of all persuasions hold some kind of faith that their country is an exception to the patterns of prior history. I fear much madness will result when that faith proves to be mistaken.

    I greatly appreciate Anatoly’s efforts on this site. Thanks.

  18. I would up the ante–the Menacing;-) Indeed, “The Terrible” moniker has nothing to do with realities of Russian language.

  19. Mightypeon says

    Concerning Ivan Grozny, I am partial to “the severe”.

    In modern parlance, one can go with “Ivan who does not fuck around”.

    He was btw. quite big on libraries, and iirc had a thing for long distance dating queen Elizabeth of England.

  20. random observer says

    I’m not sure when the translation of grozny as “terrible” in English became common, but suspect the changes in the meaning of “terrible” in English over time are at fault, more than the translators of old.

    The archaic meanings of terrible can still be seen and heard, but are less common and have been replaced by terrible as just a synonym for “really bad”, with the further meaning of bad open to interpretation.

    Once upon a time, “terrible” would have meant “fearsome and awesome” where “horrible” meant “fearsome and disgusting”. Analysts of fiction or psychologists with a literary bent today sometimes still make distinctions like that.

    Hence the King James translation of that line from the Song of Solomon, in which the ardent poet describes his woman as …”terrible as an army with banners”. Neither his lady nor the metaphorical army in that passage are being criticized or found wanting.

    Given the King James translators were working in roughly the same age as stories of Ivan IV might still have been circulating among England’s Muscovy traders, it is noteworthy that this traditional meaning of “terrible” in English was then standard.

  21. I know no Russian, so I can’t add to the debate. But in English (at least American English) the notion that he is “Ivan the Terrible” is pretty fixed and immutable imo. Any movement to convert him to “Ivan the Fearsome” or “Ivan the Severe” or even “Ivan Who Does Not Fuck Around” is not likely to succeed. They will put him on the $20 bill first, and that is only likely to happen after the all-black cast of the musical based on his life turns out to be very popular on Broadway.

  22. Adding to your learned message, there is the first chorus of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” written in 1862:

    “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
    He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
    His truth is marching on.”

  23. Spurred on by your message, I decided to look up “terrible” in the dictionary. Here is how my American Heritage dictionary defines the word: “1. Causing terror or fear; dreadful. 2. Eliciting awe. 3. Extreme in extent or degree; severe; excessive: “the life for which he had paid so terrible a price” (Leslie Fiedler). 4. Unpleasant; disagreeable: a terrible time at the party.” Based on the “severe” in definition 3, it appears that SmoothieX12 and Mightypeon above are right. The winner seems to be “Ivan the Severe.” Personally, he will always be “Ivan the Terrible” to me. I’m a conservative; I don’t like to change. I’m sure Ivan the Terrible would not have put up with that nonsense about allowing transgenders to use the ladies’ room with little girls.

  24. Russians would never name missile cruiser Grozny. I know no navy in the world which would name any of its ships Terrible. Yet, Russian/Soviet Navy had several ships named Grozny, especially the latest of them, now decommissioned, Project 58 Missile Cruiser (RKR) Grozny. Semantics of Terrible was the last thing on the minds of people who have given the name to this ship and it WAS NOT named after the the city, but even if it was–it would change nothing in the word NOT meaning the Terrible.

  25. tbraton says

    SmoothieX12, as I noted earlier, I know no Russian and can only testify to what I learned in American schools, where Ivan IV was invariably referred to as “Ivan the Terrible.” But a gander at Wikipedia reveals this comment:
    The English word terrible is usually used to translate the Russian word grozny in Ivan’s nickname, but this is a somewhat archaic translation. The Russian word grozny reflects the older English usage of terrible as in “inspiring fear or terror; dangerous; powerful; formidable”. It does not convey the more modern connotations of English terrible, such as “defective” or “evil”. Vladimir Dal defines grozny specifically in archaic usage and as an epithet for tsars: “courageous, magnificent, magisterial and keeping enemies in fear, but people in obedience.”[6] Other translations were also suggested by modern scholars.[7][8][9]”

    Footnote 9, btw, refers to a 1979 book published by Oxford University which contains the following comment:
    “But Ivan IV, Ivan the Terrible, or as the Russian has it, Ivan groznyi, “Ivan the Magnificent” or “Ivan the Great” is precisely a man who has become a legend”

    So it is pretty obvious that the translation into English back in the 16th century was very far off the mark and left a long-lasting false impression. But, a century or two later, we come up with, in English, “Peter the Great.” Is the Russian honorific accompanying Peter’s name different or the same as Ivan’s?

  26. Is the Russian honorific accompanying Peter’s name different or the same as Ivan’s?

    Pyotr’s (Peter’s) honorific title Velikii indeed means Great. Here, the meaning is completely preserved. The same as in Ekaterina Velikaya (Cathrine The Great). It is poor Ivan Grozny who have gotten the raw deal;-)

  27. Pure curiosity: you like this Emperor Trump thing? I’m cool with cutting immigration and building a wall, not to mention an America-first policy. But I’ve always seen republicanism as a core American value. I’m not saying we should try to make other countries do it like a bunch of drunk neocons, but at least here, I don’t want a Caesar.

  28. Trump got it right at first blush. Though he had no choice in being captured, McCain seems to have thought being shot down meant he had done his bit. He was certainly no “Red” McDaniel, no hero.

  29. athEIst says

    Isn’t Grozny the capital of the chechen republic?

  30. tbraton says

    “Trump got it right at first blush. Though he had no choice in being captured, McCain seems to have thought being shot down meant he had done his bit. He was certainly no “Red” McDaniel, no hero.”

    By his own admission in that interview with U.S. News and World Report back in 1973, a few weeks after his release by the North Vietnamese, McCain admitted that he asked for medical care four days after his capture and offered in exchange to give the NV whatever military information they wanted, a clear violation of the military code. That story was volunteered by McCain to U.S. News, and the interview took place at roughly the same time he was debriefed by the Defense Department, so I am sure he was telling the same story to both interrogators. He later made it clear in his book “Faith of My Fathers,” which was published in 1999, that he was not tortured during his two months at the hospital being treated for his injuries (which was essentially the first two months of his captivity). Both accounts fly in the face of the Silver Star citation accompanying his medal, which claimed that he resisted torture during that period of time. Under military regulations, the award of a Silver Star requires at least “two witnesses.” By his own account, any torture administered to McCain happened at least a year after he was shot down, at a time he was supposedly, by his own account, living in solitary confinement, which he claims lasted for two years. Thus, the only “witnesses” to any torture administered to McCain were himself and his North Vietnamese torturers. The Silver Star requirement of needing two witnesses was obviously disregarded in McCain’s case. The whole thing, when examined in detail, simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and smells to high heaven.

    As I stated in a message last July 30, 2015:

    Another thought that suddenly occurred to me involved McCain’s admissions in U.S. News back in 1973, two months after being released as a POW, that he offered his captors military intelligence in order to get needed hospital care. (Something I might have done myself under the circumstances. I am not faulting McCain for his action, even though it was in violation of the military code at the time, but his elevation to “hero status” following his release.) Admissions against interest are presumed to be honest. I just found it odd that he would be so forthcoming in an interview in a publication with a fairly wide circulation. I don’t know why the light bulb didn’t go off sooner, but it suddenly occurred to me that the reason he could be so forthcoming with U.S. News is that his interview tracked with what he had already told the Navy in his debriefing. His story initially was the same both to the Navy and U.S. News. So someone must have made the subsequent decision to alter the story line and invent the torture for the first two months of his captivity to justify the Silver Star, which is contrary to his account in U.S. News that he was in the hospital at the time being treated for his injuries, without any mention of torture.

    Second, he states in his autobiography he WASN’T tortured during the period of time of the citation.
    Here is something I found and quoted in that message:

    In his autobiography McCain makes no claim to being tortured while in the hospital.

    The problem with this is that it was while he was in the hospital he gave detailed military information to Soviet agents.

    I have the Department of Defense transcript of this interview here: [I clicked on and got no response.]

    Therefore, since McCain self-reported his supposed resistance to giving military information while under torture to get his Silver Star, he told Navy brass two lies: 1. that he was tortured while in the hospital, and 2. he did not give up military information while being tortured.

    The fact that McCain may have been tortured at a later date is not relevant to the period covered in the Silver Star citation.

    Again, by his own admission (in his autobiography) he states he was not tortured during the period of captivity his Silver Star citation says he was.

    This contradiction is objective fact.

    This means his self-reporting of his suppose deeds of “extraordinary heroism” is fraudulent.

    This means he lied to get his Silver Star and now that the lie is laid bear, his Silver Star should be revoked. ricland”

    On July 23, 2015, I posted a lengthy message in response to a Unz Review reprint of a an article reporter Sydney Schanberg had written in TAC in May 2010 about American POWs left behind in Vietnam and McCain’s role in covering up that scandal: I have decided to repost that message, since it fully sets out the case against McCain’s phony status as a “war hero”:

    “tbraton says:

    July 23, 2015 at 9:58 am GMT • 1,900 Words
    About 7 years ago, when I first started looking closely into McCain’s story as he was a candidate for President of the U.S., I read the entire first person account of John McCain that I discovered in the 1973 edition of U.S. News & World Report that was reposted online on January 28, 2008. [I started posting on Yahoo Finance in early 2003 and posted regularly there through 2009. I first started posting on The American Conservative in early 2010 and reposted there some of the things I had previously posted on Yahoo Finance message boards.] Piqued by Ron Unz’s recent piece on McCain, I recently went back and reread the first few paragraphs to refresh my memory. I wish I had reread more, as I just did, for I would have rediscovered a lot more that my memory failed to retain over the years. Keep in mind that McCain was shot down on October 26, 1967, and, by his own admission in U.S. News, he brought up on his own just four days later (the end of October, 1967) his offer to provide military information to the North Vietnamese in exchange for medical care for his various injuries. That resulted in his being taken to a hospital where medical care of sorts was given to him. There is no mention in his account that he was tortured during the time he was in the hospital. He describes in detail the somewhat incompetent medical care he received, but his account states:

    “For the next three or four days [following his crash and rescue], I lapsed from conscious to unconsciousness. During this time, I was taken out to interrogation—which we called a “quiz”—several times. That’s when I was hit with all sorts of war-criminal charges. This started on the first day. I refused to give them anything except my name, rank, serial number and date of birth. They beat me around a little bit. I was in such bad shape that when they hit me it would knock me unconscious. They kept saying, “You will not receive any medical treatment until you talk.”

    “I didn’t believe this. I thought that if I just held out, that they’d take me to the hospital. I was fed small amounts of food by the guard and also allowed to drink some water. I was able to hold the water down, but I kept vomiting the food.

    “They wanted military rather than political information at this time. Every time they asked me something, I’d just give my name, rank and serial number and date of birth.

    “I think it was on the fourth day that two guards came in, instead of one. One of them pulled back the blanket to show the other guard my injury. I looked at my knee. It was about the size, shape and color of a football. I remembered that when I was a flying instructor a fellow had ejected from his plane and broken his thigh. He had gone into shock, the blood had pooled in his leg, and he died, which came as quite a surprise to us—a man dying of a broken leg. Then I realized that a very similar thing was happening to me.

    “When I saw it, I said to the guard, “O.K., get the officer.” An officer came in after a few minutes. It was the man that we came to know very well as “The Bug.” He was a psychotic torturer, one of the worst fiends that we had to deal with. I said, “O.K., I’ll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.” He left and came back with a doctor, a guy that we called “Zorba,” who was completely incompetent. He squatted down, took my pulse. He did not speak English, but shook his head and jabbered to “The Bug.” I asked, “Are you going to take me to the hospital?” “The Bug” replied, “It’s too late.” I said, “If you take me to the hospital, I’ll get well.”

    “I was in the hospital about six weeks, then was taken to a camp in Hanoi that we called “The Plantation.” This was in late December, 1967. I was put in a cell with two other men, George Day and Norris Overly, both Air Force majors. I was on a stretcher, my leg was stiff and I was still in a chest cast that I kept for about two months. I was down to about 100 pounds from my normal weight of 155.

    “I was told later on by Major Day that they didn’t expect me to live a week. I was unable to sit up. I was sleeping about 18 hours, 20 hours a day. They had to do everything for me. They were allowed to get a bucket of water and wash me off occasionally. They fed me and took fine care of me, and I recovered very rapidly.

    “We moved to another room just after Christmas. In early February, 1968, Overly was taken out of our room and released, along with David Matheny and John Black. They were the first three POW’s to be released by the North Vietnamese. I understand they had instructions, once home, to say nothing about treatment, so as not to jeopardize those of us still in captivity.

    “As soon as I was able to walk, which was in March of 1968, Day was moved out.

    “I remained in solitary confinement from that time on for more than two years. I was not allowed to see or talk to or communicate with any of my fellow prisoners.

    “From the time that Overly and Day left me—Overly left in February of 1968, Day left in March—my treatment was basically good. I would get caught communicating, talking to guys through the wall, tapping—that kind of stuff, and they’d just say, “Tsk, tsk; no, no.” Really, I thought things were not too bad.

    “Then, about June 15, 1968, I was taken up one night to the interrogation room. “The Cat” and another man that we called “The Rabbit” were there. “The Rabbit” spoke very good English.

    “I really didn’t know what to think, because I had been having these other interrogations in which I had refused to co-operate. It was not hard because they were not torturing me at this time. They just told me I’d never go home and I was going to be tried as a war criminal. That was their constant theme for many months.

    “On the morning of the Fourth of July, 1968, which happened to be the same day that my father took over as commander in chief of U. S. Forces in the Pacific, I was led into another quiz room.

    “But the primary thing I considered was that I had no right to go ahead of men like Alvarez, who had been there three years before I “got killed”—that’s what we say instead of “before I got shot down,” because in a way becoming a prisoner in North Vietnam was like being killed.

    “About a month and a half later, when the three men who were selected for release had reached America, I was set up for some very severe treatment which lasted for the next year and a half. [Note: a “month and a half” after July 4, 1968 would mean approximately August 20, 1968.]

    “To get back to the story: They took me out of my room to “Slopehead,” who said, “You have violated all the camp regulations. You’re a black criminal. You must confess your crimes.” I said that I wouldn’t do that, and he asked, “Why are you so disrespectful of guards?” I answered, “Because the guards treat me like an animal.”

    “When I said that, the guards, who were all in the room—about 10 of them—really laid into me. They bounced me from pillar to post, kicking and laughing and scratching. After a few hours of that, ropes were put on me and I sat that night bound with ropes. Then I was taken to a small room. For punishment they would almost always take you to another room where you didn’t have a mosquito net or a bed or any clothes. For the next four days, I was beaten every two to three hours by different guards. My left arm was broken again and my ribs were cracked.

    “So this was a period of repeated, severe treatment. It lasted until around October of ’69.

    “That was a long, difficult summer. Then suddenly, in October, 1969, there were drastic changes around the camp. The torture stopped. [Note: from August 20, 1968 noted above until October 1969 is a little more than one year.]

    “In 1969, after the three guys who were released went back to the U. S. and told about the brutality in the POW camps, President Nixon gave the green light to publicizing this fact. It brought a drastic change in our treatment. And I thank God for it, because if it hadn’t been for that a lot of us would never have returned. . . .”

    The personal account of John McCain in early 1973 in U.S. News totally contradicts the citation for the Silver Star he received as a result of being a POW in North Vietnam. The citation specifically cites the “torture” he was subjected to during his first month and a half in captivity, whereas his personal account mentions no torture during that period but rather the medical treatment he was given from the end of October 1967 until his release in late December 1967. By his own admission, he was placed in solitary confinement for two years from the time that the last of his first two roommates left in March 1968 and he concedes that his treatment was “pretty good.” During that two-year period of solitary confinement, he was “not allowed to see or talk to or communicate with any of my fellow prisoners.” So it appears that the only witness to the torture he claims he was subjected to beginning in the late summer of 1968 was John McCain himself. In essence, he was the source of two different accounts which are totally inconsistent with each other. Both accounts cannot be true. McCain was lying either to the readers of U.S. News (the first public account) or to the military men who prepared his Silver Star citation.

    BTW we know from the sad case of Pat Tillman that the military is not above fabricating citations for prestigious medals. That admirable patriot had forsaken a lucrative career in the NFL to enlist after 9/11, a decision which can be admired even if one questions the sense of it. He was killed as a result of “friendly fire” in Afghanistan, yet, he was, nevertheless, awarded a posthumous Silver Star for engaging with the enemy, an award that demeaned a very good man. The citation for his medal was pure fiction concocted by some bureaucrat in the military trying to garner some favorable publicity for our military.”

  31. Quebeker says

    Mr. Karlin,
    the picture featured in your post is adapted from the Warhammer 40k universe, the Emperor of Mankind leading his troops. The theme is ‘in the grim darkness of the future, there is only war’.

    Is this what you think awaits us ?

  32. You could argue that “Grozny” was named after the Chechen capital.

  33. Eustace Tilley (not) says

    Would you mind posting in English so that everyone can understand what you are trying to say?

    Posting in mostly (Russian?) makes commenting on this site a private conversation between you and SmoothieX12. It deprives us poor anglophones of your profound wisdom.

    I hope I am not branded a slavophobe “racist”. I respect the Russians, but I can’t read Russian.

  34. Immigrant from former USSR says

    Esteemed Schillet/Nietzsche:
    Firs of all, my sincere apologies.
    I wrote in the comment in question:

    Shame on me, I (I.f.f.U.) never read Spengler(which was cited by SmoothieX12):
    Читал охотно Апулея,
    А Цицерона не читал

    That is citation from the poem “Eugene Onegin”. Pushkin writes about himself:
    during his Lyceum education time,
    he had delight to read Apuleius (erotic content)
    but did not read Cicero.
    (actually, everybody was pretty sure that Pushkin read all the necessary Classics, Cicero including; it is just self-deprecating joke on Pushkin’s side.)
    Столетье с лишним — не вчера,
    А сила прежняя в соблазне
    В надежде славы и добра
    Глядеть на вещи без боязни.

    Pasternak in his short poem writes about his feelings during de-kulakization, 1931, and other repressions. Translated citation from that poem:

    More than one century went on
    (from czar Peter the Great’ reforms, which were accompanied by mutinies and cruel executions)
    But there still is great temptation,
    In expectation of glory and goodness
    To consider without fear the things around.

    Pasternak expressed poetically some hope that eventually life in Russia would become better ( in the closest 10 years it did not.)
    I, I.f.f.U., was trying to convey to SmoothieX12 (whom I do not know personally)
    that may be (just may be) some changes in my new home country, USA, will be for better.

    To say all those clumsy words in English is probably useless.
    My sincere apologies to anglophones.

  35. Immigrant from former USSR says

    Variation of
    We are doomed by John Derbyshire.

    Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
    As to behold desert a beggar born,
    And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
    And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
    And gilded honour shamefully misplaced,
    And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
    And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
    And strength by limping sway disabled
    And art made tongue-tied by authority,
    And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,
    And simple truth miscalled simplicity,
    And captive good attending captain ill:
    Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
    Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

    Зову я смерть. Мне видеть невтерпёж
    Достоинство, что просит подаянья,
    Над простотой глумящуюся ложь,
    Ничтожество в роскошном одеянье,

    И совершенству ложный приговор,
    И девственность, поруганную грубо,
    И неуместной почести позор,
    И мощь в плену у немощи беззубой,

    И прямоту, что глупостью слывет,
    И глупость в маске мудреца, пророка,
    И вдохновения зажатый рот,
    И праведность на службе у порока.

    Все мерзостно, что вижу я вокруг…
    Но как тебя покинуть, милый друг?!
    Перевод С. Маршака.

    Одесский вариант двух последних строк:
    Ах, до чего же всё кругом отвратно.
    Ах, мамочка, роди меня обраатно.

  36. Lyttenburgh says

    Russian Orthodox Church should canonize czar Ivan Vasilievich (fourth of this name) and make him a patron saint of trolling, baiting, troll-baiting and flamewars of the whole Internet.

    The man was smart, very literate, and absolutely terrifying. I.e. – a feudal monarch as he should be. He provided this line of reasoning that “Власть без грозы, что конь без узды”, i.e. “To rule without fear, is like riding a horse without bridle”.

    Grozny really, really liked to diss and bait his august counterparts in the letters. To the Swedish king Johan III, where he tells him that:
    – The Swede’s letter is full of dog’s bark.
    – Said Swede is an arrogant twit, who dares to write his name and titles before his, Czar and the Grand Prince of All Russia’s, name and titles. Ivan is “brother” (i.e. equal to) the Caesar of Rome (HRE emperor) and other “rulers of great realms”, who stand above some puny Sweden.
    – Your family, Johan, were commoners, and not royals.
    – And the final burn:

    And what you wrote to us is just dog’s and more barking you expect from us in our response to your letter…which is beneath us, the great prince; we wrote to you not dogs barking, but the truth, and sometimes because we wrote at length and that if its meaning won’t be explained to you, we won’t get a response from you. And if you, having a dog’s mouth, want to bark for fun – well, that’s your commoner custom: for you this is an honor, and to us, the great prince, even trying to communicate with you is dishonorable and all this barking you write – even worse, and barking together with you – the worst of all, and if you want exchanging barks, so you find yourself a serf like yourself, so with him and you can bark to and froth. From now on, no matter how much bark you will write to us, we won’t give you any response.”
    – 6 January 1573.

    In just one paragraph Ivan compared his “fellow monarch” both to a dog and to the lowliest of commoners, said that Johan III by his behavior falls to the level of the scum of the earth, and that even talking back to him and responding to his “comments” is below Ivan’s dignity. After which Grozny drops the mic.