Are We Fiddling While Rome Burns?

It turns out Nero wasn’t fiddling as Rome burned–he was 60 km away at the time. Did Nero Really Fiddle While Rome Burned?

The story has become short-hand for making light of a catastrophe, either out of self-interest (one theory had Nero clearing a site he desired for a palace with the fire) or out of a mad detachment from reality.

Are we fiddling while Rome burns? I would say yes–because we’re not solving any of the structural problems that are dooming the status quo. Instead, we’re allowing a corrupt, corporate mainstream media to distract us with fake “Russians hacked our election” hysteria, false “cultural war” mania, and a laughably Orwellian frenzy over fake news which magically avoids mentioning the propaganda narratives pushed 24/7 by the mainstream media–narratives that are the acme of fake news.

The media is only half the problem, of course; the audience doesn’t want to hear about structural problems that can only be fixed by disrupting the status quo. If we don’t accept that the financial system we inhabit is imploding, maybe all the problems will go away.

The system is coughing up blood and we still want to believe it is “recovering” from a cold.

Here’s a short list of structural problems we should be tackling:

1. Soaring inequality and the institutionalization of economic privilege.Systemic economic privilege doesn’t exist in a vacuum–it’s enforced by a centralized hierarchy, a dynamic I describe in my book Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege. Systemic inequality doesn’t just undermine the economy–it also undermines the social and political orders.

2. The central state (government) has one default setting: endless expansion into every nook and cranny of daily life. There are no mechanisms for contraction and no institutional memory of government reducing its control of every aspect of life.

As I explain in my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change, this concentration of power attracts concentrations of wealth which then buy the machinery of governance: democracy is reduced to an auction that excludes the bottom 99.9%.

3. Finance has detached from the real-world economy, distorting every function via financialization, which concentrates income and wealth in the hands of the few. As I have often explained in the blog (and in my book Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform), if we don’t change the way we create and distribute credit-money, we change nothing.

4. Our educational system is obsolete but the the current system is incapable of transformation for structural reasons. These include high sunk costs, bureaucratic sclerosis, self-serving fiefdoms that fear disruption of their gravy trains, a lack of understanding of the emerging economy, a dysfunctional centralized hierarchy and the state-funded exploitive machinery of student-loan debt.

I explain all this and present a model that would cut costs by 90% in my book The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy.

5. The economy and thus our society (i.e. our mode of production) are changing beneath our feet in dramatic ways. Highly centralized hierarchies (government, corporations) are the wrong unit size and structure to manage this transformation to the benefit of all rather than to the benefit of the few.

I present a decentralized non-state, non-corporate, non-financialized model in my book A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology & Creating Jobs for All.

For individuals navigating these disruptive forces, I wrote an overview guide to the emerging economy, Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

Solutions abound, but they require the retirement of obsolete systems that defend entrenched interests and soul-crushing inequalities. The world is changing rapidly, and centralized systems that worked well in the past are failing because they are optimized for a world that no longer exists.

The status quo is coughing up blood, and the situation is dire. Denial won’t fix what’s broken, and neither will magical thinking (the economy is “recovering,” symbolic gestures and virtue-signaling will fix everything, etc.) Clinging to the absurd hope that the status quo just has a nagging cold will only increase the disorder when the system breaks down. 

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  • cstahnke

    Agree almost completely. Except I don’t see the system “coughing up blood.” Critics have been predicting for years that the whole thing will crash because we are overburdened with debt and so on. Paul Craig Roberts realized at some point last year that the system is far more robust than he thought. He realized, though he didn’t put it this way, that markets like the gold market have been rigged by the sum total of sovereign funds, big banks, and international organizations such that they cannot crash. I think the major restructuring that went on after the bandits raided a good section of the world-economy (and I know for a fact the crash was engineered or at least known about on the Street since 2006 at least) was to integrate and unite all markets under a virtual central control mechanism or to put it another way to strengthen networks already functioning into one big network that every major financial actor bought into. This network is structured as a neural net with emergent properties so that it now possesses a rudimentary intelligence thanks to the one thing most analysts tend to ignore–how AI actually functions and can grow.

    Roberts believes whatever system we have in place now can go on for some time. As long as the oligarchs can manage culture and populations there is no theoretical reason to believe the currnt power-structure is in danger. Today we have the power of technique and technology to create any world we want. We can have some version of UBI or retreat into cultural enclaves or live in a happy convivial and celebration-based society–but we have, increasingly, given our direction not to ourselves, not even to our oligarchs but to Systems that are rapidly integrating into The System. Yannis Varoufakis noted, during his negotiations with the EU and the banks that most of the actors kind of agreed with him yet they were powerless or felt powerless to do the right thing. Writings of various CEOs also indicate that they are swept up in The System within their own organization and feel relatively powerless to act other than at the margins. Look at the mainstre media that despite obvious evidence that their framework excludes most vital information, continue to play the same notes over and over again–not because reporters are retarded or ignorant but becuase that is what editors demand and they, in turn, face the same pressure because that’s that’s the way the system works and no one has the power to change that.

    One of the chief attributes of The System is that it can, in some areas, modify and “learn” by allowing greater flexibility in insignificant areas like gay marriage and other cultural issues while nailing down other areas of control. When I talk about the Deep State this is what I mean. It appears to be a centralized top-down structure but it is not–it is a network.

    • Jed Grover

      Sounds like “the system” has taken on a life of its own! Interesting, thoughtful post.


    The only reason the US government has not crashed is because the US governmnet rules the world. Who will wage war with it? Vassal States cannot downgrade their Masters. You will notice that what happened to Greece and Veneuzela can only happen to a Vassal. Simply, the US government will view any downgrade as a threat to its national security and attack the source. Who wants to be the Source? Nobody.

    Only, The American people can force a downgrade, by civil unrest, and that would be the only way to bring change. The Markets are run on printed/credited money and they will run until JESUS returns. All the Vassals buy US product and Treasuries at Gunpoint. Those of you who like to use Weimar, Germany Fail to remember that it was only the “Versailles treaty,” and subsequent ALLIED/BANKER ( downgrades) bullying, that caused that mess and it was all done to keep Germany Weak.

    US markets only Crash when Someone wants to LOOT.

    • Not just people in the US.

      All of us are effected since part of US foreign policy is dedicated to making the rest of the world one of her vassal states.

      People everywhere should band together and oppose the sickening madness that has taken over Washington — so yes that would include all Western vassal states.

      • ZARTAN

        I cannot get 50 people, much less a Million people, in NYC to fight for their own FREEDOM here in the US. The Rest of the World … Good Luck. The Only way to take it down is to take away its PROFIT. And, that can only be done on WALL STREET, by closing the NYSE, and Forcing Downgrades on the USG for Political Instibility and Capital Flight. Once the World sees DOW JONES lose half its value, in a WEEK, than they will get the point.

        • A new economic model is required, one that isn’t based on the pursuit of permanent economic growth which is impossible since that requires more and more sacrifices from the planet and our civil rights not to mention the harm done to the environment and the animal world.

          All those are issues that any true opposition could use to garner public support and challenge the existing status quo.

          One of the main problems for challenging the existing status quo is to hold politicians and anyone else that’s under oath accountable for war crimes, all of them have become exceptional.

          • ZARTAN

            Agree … Yes, I am very concerned for the environment and nature should not have to suffer for mankind`s greed. WE need a better solution for the garbage we Create, and the Oceans need to be Cleaned up! Farming and Commodities need to be managed for proper use and not waste! Profit is not the only Concern. People and Nature before Profit.

            The only hope I see is that “IF” enough people ( 1-million: there are over 6-million impoverished in NYC alone) would set seige to Wall Street “this would render police and military powerless,” then, and only when the Bankers Lose their Ill gotten Gain will they be willing to negotiate. A New Economy and Leadership is needed. An Economy that treats “ALL” equitably, and does not abuse Nature.

            When Wall Street is, Under the Authority of the PEOPLE, the WORLD Follows, and demands can be made to stop all Wars and Have the Criminals Arrested and Prosecuted. However, this requires the people being able to set up an Environment where “NOBODY can PROFIT” ( this is the ONLY Bloodless way) until Demands are met. This is the governments worst NIGHTMARE and the reason they sow discord to keep people divided. This would be real easy, if, only, people would cooperate.

          • ZARTAN

            Oh, and this PLAN totally overpowers the MIC because every MIC stock will be plunged, until they OBEY THE PEOPLE.

          • The more people become involved all the better.

            Just like the South African apartheid regime came to an end, Western exceptionalism must also be ended.

            This is a brilliant video posted in this article by Carl – 15-minute video: inspired citizen shows US war lies for Iraq I, Vietnam, Syria; solution of Truth + humanity siding with each other

            We are more far powerful than we know — And they fear the day when we discover it.


          • ZARTAN


    • Chris Legion

      The US government is only the masters forceful hand, US is the bully of the world their role is to rule militarily, as City of London rules economically and Vatican rules spiritually.

      Who Owns the administrative corporation of the city/state, the District of Columbia (an independent country foreign to America), called “The UNITED STATES”, or “The Government of the UNITED STATES”?

      The Dunn & Bradstreet Corp. owned website called manta dot com tells us that the ‘Government of UNITED STATES’ is owned by Archbishop Deric R. McLeod, of Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Michigan, and 4th NE Street, Washington,DC. And, since Roman Catholic Archbishops own nothing, but are only trustee holders for the Pontiff’s Holy Roman Empire, you can draw your own conclusions.

  • TimeToWakeUPAmerica

    Every civilization in history has eventually departed the stage, and given way to something new to take its place. The only problem is that, in the past, there was a much smaller human population on the Earth, and there was plenty of Earth to go around, to explore, and to plant a flag upon. That all came to an end in the 19th Century, after young American pioneers were told “Go West, young man!” Now, there is nowhere left to go. It’s this inevitable cycle of the rise and fall of civilizations that even America will never be able to escape. It’s JUST A MATTER OF TIME. And, it won’t happen necessarily all at once, but may happen over many generations ~ very gradually, until ~ America is a thing of the past. What kind of civilization will take it’s place? Well, it’s not looking too promising, if you consider the NWO/JWO (“New” or “Jew” World Order) agenda.

  • Shiggity

    Your #2 is misleading and dishonest.

    The US government is now a Corporation. Every branch of government is now fully captured, executive, legislative, and judicial.

    Corporatism = Fascism. They are interchangeable terms.

    You CANNOT say you hate Nazism and then say I love corporate America and Wall Street. They are both fascism. Nazism is just the more religious and violent version.

  • Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.

    – The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)

    • ZARTAN

      Yes, but ROME had its Military. Rome Bullied the World and Took what it Desired. They lasted 1,000 years, or so, by doing just that … RULING THE WORLD. All Subjects paid Tribute and did as Commanded by Rome.

      USA is the SAME, Today, Only they have Nuclear Weapons.

  • ICFubar

    Excellent post. One might remember that shortly after London burned and from the devastation a square was claimed for the ‘City of London’ to begin its conquest of the world. ‘Out of chaos, order.”

  • Gary Youree

    The lack of investment in US infrastructure, lack of universal health care, etc. may show a future agenda of the elites who control the chaos they create – while out of control of the coming chaos – which they seem to care nothing about.
    The species is in a real squeeze – unable to make the change from the instinctive survival of the fittest to full consciousness and working together as an honest whole for the distant future of the species. This necessary paradigm shift must be made of the continued inefficient technology being sold will continue to undermine our future, continue to stop the self correcting mechanism of our species to change the status quo, and end with the psychopathic elites preying on the domesticated remainder of humanity – with the help of the buffer what to be worshipers of the successful psychopaths selfishly living out their singular lives.
    It is a huge paradigm shift to move into full consciousness, making our own decisions for the future of our species as a whole. At the current rate on this path ends with one man standing. I doubt there are any empires in space.


    All of you DOOMERS are WRONG. I keep telling people, the US government is the WORLDS BULLY, and the WORLD DOES WHAT THE BULLY SAYS, OR ELSE? Who is going to challenge the BULLY? Nobody.

    Therefore, the US government can “print and credit money ( buying its own wares) to infinity. It should have already collapsed on debt and credit alone! Trillions to banker Welfare, Trillions to Illegal War! Preposterous! Anyone ( who is not blind) can see the STOCK MARKET is a WELFARE MARKET! The US government buys its own debt and plenty of stock too! Nobody questions Anything!

    So … The US government will not collapse by corruption; because nobody will do anything about it. Everyone OBEYS! They can print money UNTIL JESUS RETURNS. The bad part is that the people are too stupid to understand this reality and demand better! So … who is to blame, the Criminals, or the Idiots who employ them? I mean … You go without Healthcare, Education and other Benefits that would be CAKE for such a Super-Power! However, YOU, America, do not comprehend and because YOU do nothing to demand better, government will use that money to Exterminate the HUMAN RACE! 240-Illegal Wars in the past 75-years or so? Really? Where do you think this all eventually leads?

    Consequences will Come.
    Government has to be controled by the People.

  • Zartan

    If you love Corporate America and Wall Street, than You will be Ruled by them.