It’s just so easy to accuse people of things these days. A former President of the American Republic is indicted on criminal charges in Georgia. This is a whole new ball game from the impeachment of former rulers like Nixon or Clinton, and Trump is not alone amongst the elite who have fallen victim to the raging ressentiment of our times.

Compare his fate to that of Hollywood tycoons like Harvey Weinstein, or Wall Street insiders like Jeffrey Epstein. Now, those guys deserved it, but I would not say the same of those on the left who have gotten caught in the cross-hairs. Heroes of the resistance like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden have been falsely accused of treason or sexual assault and continue to be subjected to interminable legal trials and tribulations.

I would hasten to point out that there are many on whom the spotlight has never fallen who are getting hit just as hard (probably harder). At least that is my experience, though I can only point to some cases from around Ontario, a provincial backwater of the American Empire. For example, the popular teacher and basketball coach falsely accused of peddling child pornography whose life was ruined though the charges were “stayed.”

It turns out he was a “beautiful mind,” suffering from “schizotypal” symptoms resulting from the prescription of Prednisone, a dangerous drug with a notorious history in Canada. According to a 2013 article in the Toronto Star entitled “Prednisone Connection in Russel Williams Crimes,” this drug may have been the unknown thing reported on the CBC that happened to Williams and “changed him,” but was never brought to trial

“This week, another source, who asked not to be identified, named prednisone. The informed source said Williams was placed on it around the time his string of fetish break-and-enters and thefts began.”

In a state of “involuntary intoxication” this teacher’s quest to expose sex crimes amongst the elite (an obsession according to him rooted in his own childhood trauma as a victim of sexual abuse) caught the attention of the authorities because he came across the Hunter Biden Laptop photographs before the issue was publicly known. Otherwise, the police eventually admitted, what he had done “did not breach the threshold of criminality.”[1]

There is also the case of the French Canadian tennis pro, a real Southern Ontario “crocodile Dundee,” who was out riding his bike in the middle of the night when he wandered into a break and enter investigation. He was falsely accused of the crime, shot in the neck and killed by the police because he resisted arrest. All he had in his back pack was a toothbrush.

This is an excerpt from the Special Investigations Unit report which concluded that there was no criminal wrong doing on the part of the police

“Even though, as it later turned out, the Complainant was not involved in the reported break and enter, those grounds arguably existed in connection with the Complainant as he generally fit the description of one of the parties seen fleeing from WO #2 and WO #3 (male, small build, in their 20s, wearing dark clothing), and was in the vicinity of the reported break and enter.

“What is less clear is whether the officers were entitled to search the Complainant. Any such search is generally to be limited to a protective pat-down. While it appears that the Complainant was compliant with the detention in its initial stages in the parking lot, it was the attempted handcuffing ahead of a search that seems to have set him off. He might well have had a point. As there was no affirmative indication of any weapons having been brought to bear by the suspects in the break and enter, the use of handcuffs might have been an overreach on the part of the officers.

“The uncontested evidence is that the Complainant had “Witness Official” (WO #1) in a chokehold, that WO #1 could not break free of the chokehold, and that the officer was unable to breathe and was beginning to lose consciousness when the “Subject Official” (SO) discharged his weapon. That was the account of WO #1. And there is no evidence that contradicts it. Though the SO did not come in for an interview …[2]”

Finally, there is the strange case of the gay High School Principal, Richard Bilkszto, who was accused of racism and committed suicide on July 13th 2023. He filed a lawsuit related to online anti-racism training sessions when he claims to have been implicitly referred to as a white supremacist by the trainer and berated in front of his colleagues for disagreeing that Canada was more racist than the United States. Bilkszto said based on his personal experience teaching in a predominantly Black high school in Buffalo, N.Y that he considered Canada a “far more just society.”

His suit alleged the Toronto District School Board failed to investigate his workplace harassment claim and then retaliated by disinviting him from a graduation program he helped create and revoking a temporary contract offer. He started a sick leave shortly after the training sessions and was diagnosed with anxiety secondary to a workplace event. The WSIB decision concluded Bilkszto was subject to workplace harassment and bullying.[3]


What is going on? Is this j’accuse tempest a sign of the imminent fall of the American Republic?  It has often been the case in history that when witch-hunts and conspiracy theories run amuck, the “Dreyfus Affair” being but one example, regime change is in the offing.

Perhaps the “Cataline Conspiracy,” amongst the more famous ancient examples of finger pointing, might shed some light on our current situation. The time frame from the beginning to the end of the Roman Republic, about 400 years, corresponds exactly to our chronological distance from the “shining city on a hill”  established at Plymouth Rock. Moreover, the sense of déjà vu when one visits Washington may not be unique to me. I know of no other capital that has so self-consciously stylized its constitutional and physical architecture on the model of ancient Rome.

Toward the end of the Roman Republic, the city was rife with “social war.” Rapid imperial expansion strained every aspect of the Roman system. The subsistence farmer, foundation of Roman military strength, was squeezed by the development of large estates, the influx of slave labor, and the importation of cheap grain from the newly acquired provinces. This led to a sharpening of the economic division separating the landed elite from the proletarii.

The loss of the small independent farmer led to a recruitment crisis that was solved through the “proletarianization of the army.” The landed soldier of the earlier Republic would serve no longer than was required to protect the city and his lands, the farming of which made him economically self-sufficient. This new professional army however, with no farms of their own to go back to, became dependent on populares like Sulla and Caesar, willing to lead armies against their own country. This was the case when Caesar said, “the die is cast” and crossed the Rubicon. Cataline was another who sought to overthrow the Republic, according to Cicero

“For what is there, O Catiline, that you can still expect, if night is not able to veil your nefarious meetings in darkness, and if private houses cannot conceal the voice of your conspiracy within their walls; — if everything is seen and displayed? … O ye immortal gods, where on earth are we? In what city are we living? What constitution is ours? There are here — here in our body – in this the most holy and dignified assembly of the whole world, men who meditate my death, and the death of all of us, and the destruction of this city, and of the whole world.”

Cicero asked that a Tumultus decree be passed by the Senate recognizing a state of emergency giving him as duly elected Consul the extraordinary powers needed to crush Cataline’s coup d’etat. Cataline’s armies were forced to give up their march on Rome and fled north where, in 62 BC, they were destroyed.

Cicero observed that a moral crisis came on top of this political turmoil. The most serious side-effect of the luxuria that accompanied Empire, Cicero said, was the growth of avaritia – the greed for money. This led to the loss of the stoic antiqua mores of the Roman Citizen. He pointed to increasing “litigiousness” as evidence of the corruption of Roman society.

“Abuses in provincial government brought the extortion court and the beginning of divisive trials and of controversy surrounding the criminal courts. Cicero viewed this as a source of serious and ongoing division and goes so far as to blame the outbreak of the social war on fears associated with criminal prosecutions and the workings of the system of criminal justice.”[4]

It is in the nature of history that no two periods are ever the same. However, we see in the various social sciences that patterns of behavior do emerge in similar circumstances, and this may be why they say “history repeats itself.” Indeed, the parallels between 1st century Rome and the American Republic today are striking. Contrary to what is suggested in the New York Times this week, however, they may not augur well for the fate of American democracy.[5]


At the economic level, the computer, AI and robotics play the role of the slave in Roman times displacing the small businessman and farmer, driving them into the arms of populist politicians. President Trump is just such a latter day populares who, like Sulla or Caesar, turned his “proud boys” against their own country in the “Capital Attack” on January 6th, 2021. This brings us to the courtroom drama’s already discussed, signs of a moral crisis besetting the American Republic, according to Cicero’s analysis. Will some new form of socialism play the role of Christianity in the early days of the transition from the American Republic to the Empire?


For, contrary to the “conventional wisdom,” from this historical perspective what we may be witnessing is not the end, but the beginning of the American Empire!

The emergence of dynastic politics in this late period of American democracy is right in front our noses – the Bush’s, Clinton’s, Trudeau’s et al. (even members of the Kennedy clan continue to run for President!) The Julio-Claudian emperors, we might remind ourselves, were careful to preserve the formal structures of democracy alongside the new rule of the Imperator.



[1] https://www.cp24.com/news/york-region-high-school-teacher-facing-child-porn-charges-1.5196201?cache=%3FclipId%3D89531

[2] https://siu.on.ca/en/directors_report_details.php?drid=1996

[3] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/lecce-tdsb-principal-death-staff-review-1.6917432

[4] Mitchell, T. N. “Cicero on the Moral Crisis of the Late Republic.” Hermathena, no. 136 (1984): 21–41. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23041986.

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/04/opinion/america-rome-empire.html

Paul Bentley holds an MSc. (Econ) in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and an Ed. D. in the History and Philosophy of Education from the University of Toronto. He has worked as a History Teacher and Head of Department in Ontario High Schools for over 25 years. He is the author of Strange Journey: John R. Friedeberg Seeley and the Quest for Mental Health — Academic Studies Press.