Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mission Statement / About the Name

The name of this blog, "The Optimates," traces its lineage to the later days of the Roman Republic. In the first century BC, there were two main factions on the Roman political scene: one being the so-called "Populares," or "People's Party," and the other being the so-called "Optimates," or "The Best Men." Although neither party was a party in the modern political sense, both did represent prevailing streams of thought. Now I happen to believe that traditions do exist for a reason and are undone at our peril. I also believe that our popular democracy (as currently practiced) is liable to the worst sort of demagoguery. If anything, this puts me in the same stream as the Optimates of old, whatever their flaws.

But a lot has changed in the last two thousand years, has it not? To what extent are ancient philosophical traditions applicable to our lives here and now? Well, that's precisely what I want to discuss here. As I said in the previous post, I'm dissatisfied with our current politics. I'm dissatisfied with it precisely because the range of opinions that is publically discussed is so narrow and self-selecting. I want this blog to be a space where that range can be broadened a little bit. To be sure, my own emphasis will be on analyzing the events of today through the prism of what has gone before, no new thing it itself; but even this is not so readily found in our public discussions. Not only that, I do think my perspective on events past, present (and future) is worth sharing.

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