Oh for Pete’s sake

Friday, November 27th, 2009 · 20 Comments »

In my working-session post on how we might develop a new political dynamic that would actually serve feminist and progressive interests (which are currently blocked by the two-party logjam), I whimsically referred to Diocletian. As emperor, Diocletian was able to institute sweeping changes to an outmoded system. Obviously, we can’t do that here (if we could, one of the first things I’d propose would be replacing our presidential system with a semi-parliamentary democracy). At any rate, it was a completely tongue-in-cheek reference, and, needless to say, had absolutely nothing to do with recreating Diocletian’s actual reforms.

Needless to say, that is, assuming you read the post in full. Which apparently Glenn Reynolds didn’t. He seems to have taken the title at face value:

HAVE THINGS GOTTEN SO BAD THAT WE’RE dreaming of Diocletian? I think he’s a poor model. He took power in a military coup, vastly enlarged the bureaucracy, and tried to solve inflation caused by lousy fiscal policy with price controls, a disastrous failure. He persecuted Christians, and though he purchased some temporary stability via authoritarianism, he didn’t address the core problems and left an empire that was, overall, weaker than before. It says bad things when core Democratic constituencies think that’s what we need now . . . . Hope and change, anyone?

Glenn’s link was picked up by assorted wingnuts and twits, who then went on to interpret my post as evidence of the left’s nefarious yearning to recreate Diocletian’s world — right down to the military dictatorship and Christian-eating lions. It’s incredible. I’m now being bombarded by idiots who want to lecture me on third century Roman politics. “Diocletian’s price controls were a disaster,” writes one earnest twit. “You really want to tie people to the land?” asks another. I’m surprised no one is commenting on the sandals and togas. Those crazy leftists! Wanting to dress up like Romans and have gladiatorial games and whatnot!

As John Stuart Mill said, “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”


UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has very nicely amended his post, clarifying for his readers that I wasn’t literally advocating for a Diocletian-style dictatorship or policies. As I’ve noted in the comment thread to this post, I think the real problems are coming from some extremely stupid nutballs who picked up Glenn’s link. Emphasis on “extremely,” “stupid,” and “nutballs.”

20 Responses to “Oh for Pete’s sake”

  1. lambert strether says:

    What was Glenn thinking? Since when are women a “core Democratic constituency”?

  2. Violet says:

    No clue. He must not have actually read the post. To read the post and think it means I’m advocating a Diocletian-style dictatorship, you would have to be both historically illiterate and extremely dumb.

  3. lambert strether says:

    …”You would have to be both historically illiterate and extremely dumb…”

    And your point would be? ;-)

  4. Aspen says:

    Something about that thread must have struck a nerve with some people.
    Well done.
    Sorry you have to put up with this, though.

  5. Violet says:

    I think the real problem isn’t Glenn’s original post so much as the freakazoids who picked it up. Some real nutballs. Major, major nutballs.

    On the other hand, it’s always useful to be reminded of how much people hate women.

  6. Unree says:

    Funny how no freakazoid tried to tell Glenn that the enemy of his enemy might be his ally.

  7. Violet says:

    I wrote to Glenn and he has amended his post, which I appreciate very much:

    “UPDATE: Dr. Violet Socks, who is a delightful person, says she didn’t mean to suggest any actual enthusiasm for Diocletian, or for Diocletian-like approaches, but merely the need for serious change within the Democratic Party. That makes sense to me, so please don’t beat her up with Roman-history cudgels…”

    God knows where he got that bit about my being a delightful person. And actually I think we need reform in several areas (anybody wanna talk about the Senate filibuster? how about campaign finance reform? the imperial presidency?). But I really appreciate the correction.

    If I had Diocletian-like powers, I could track for sure where the worst hate bombs are coming from. I’ve been linked from Instapundit several times, and Glenn’s readers have never assaulted me like this. As I said in @5, I’m thinking the bigger problem is the Industrial Strength Freak Balls who picked the story up from Glenn.

  8. TheOtherDelphyne says:

    “Emphasis on “extremely,” “stupid,” and “nutballs.”

    Yep. That is it exactly.

  9. Violet says:

    These comments (which I’m not going to publish) are amazing. The level of education is appalling, yet what’s even more appalling is that the people writing this nonsense seem to regard themselves as well-informed.

    You know what they think is the most important thing about Diocletian? Price controls. I’m serious. The Edict on Maximum Prices: that’s what they think is the big deal. The second thing they know about him is the Christian persecution. Not one of them even mentions the division of the empire, which by any measure was one of the most critical and formative moments in history (one we’re still living with). None of them mentions the Tetrarchy. None of them is aware of what I would have thought was basic knowledge: that Diocletian fundamentally restructured the Empire and reformulated its constitution. This is why they don’t understand the reference in my post. Diocletian is a byword for governmental reform, but they don’t know that. This is basic history, but they have no clue.

    And I think I know why. I got a brainwave and started Googling Diocletian. Here’s his entry in the Conservapedia, which is apparently a fake encyclopedia for people who worship Ronald Reagan and Jesus:


    Sure enough, there are the price controls and the persecution of Christians. The division of the empire and the tetrarchy are mentioned, but there is no context to explain the sheer impact of those reforms or their pivotal role in world history. There is, however, a dire mention of FDR.

    You know, there really are some parallels here between our world and Late Antiquity, but I think I’ll wait until the twits have left before I elaborate.

  10. Violet says:

    I’m getting a ton of referrals from Vox Day. Isn’t he the crypto white supremacist with a V shaved into his head who wants to repeal the 19th Amendment?

  11. Nessum says:

    God knows where he got that bit about my being a delightful person.

    From reading your posts and your comments? :)

  12. janicen says:

    If they’re swarming and all hitting the same talking points, you can bet they are getting their marching orders from one source. You really hit a nerve by daring to raise the specter of a third party.

  13. lambert strether says:

    You do know that in Conservapedia, “Vagina” redirects to “Human reproduction? Hilarity ensues….

  14. Branjor says:

    Crazy – “penis” also redirects to “human reproduction” and there is no entry for “clitoris”.

  15. Alison says:

    Oh, but you are a delightful person! You crack me up. I know as the blogster this must be frustrating but the internet is just so hilarious sometimes. It’s worse than being in high school.

  16. Nesti says:

    I’ll bet most of the really stupid ones are from Vox Day’s site. He likes to pick fights, declare himself the winner, then his mindless followers lap it up.

    Vox Day’s wife, Heather Mulheron Beale, (second wife, actually) is just as obnoxious and b#tchy as he is in the comments on his site.

  17. Violet says:

    Oh man, that Human Reproduction page (redirected from Vagina) is comedy gold. The “sperm cell hitting an egg cell” picture was kind of exciting, but the “artist’s conception of soul joining the fertilized egg at conception” was money.

  18. What would be the core issues for a women’s party? | Reclusive Leftist says:

    [...] to our original working session post on political strategy: Dreaming of Diocletian. (And no, twits, it’s not really about Diocletian. Have a sandwich, drink a glass of milk, do some fuckin’ [...]

  19. Swannie says:

    Ha … the conservapedia resembles what I would imagine the Roman Catholikipedia might be…

    OMG there really is one


    they dont have a Diocletian page yet …but they could always just copy paste …

    And please do not pummel me with Roman history cudgels either , but the BO administration does not have me dreaming of Diocletian; rather I am having nightmares of Caligula.

  20. LandOLincoln says:

    And Nero…