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I'm Spartacus, Are You?
By Ernest Stewart

"When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That's why he's not afraid of it." ~~~ Spartacus

It was just before my 12th birthday that I got hooked on political science. I had been heading that way since I was almost 6, when I turned on to Ancient Rome and Richard Burton in "The Robe." Even more fascinating than Richard was Jay Robinson as Caligula, a role he repeated in "Demetrius and the Gladiators" the following year. To a lesser extent was Peter Ustinov's portrayal of Nero in "Quo Vadis," a film I saw in the mid 50's as a rerun as it was originally released in 1951. By ten, I was reading college level poli-sci and history books. Still, at that time, I had been playing guitar for 5 years and looked for a life in a rock n' roll band, not as a poli-sci professor.

Then just before my 12th birthday, I watched "Spartacus" which had such an effect that I knew what I wanted to do with my life, i.e., study and someday teach history or political-science! For me, the final bit that drove it all home was towards the end of "Spartacus," when the revolting slaves had finally been defeated and captured and the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier), offered them their lives if they identified Spartacus, either the living man or his body. When Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) rose up to say he was Spartacus, Tony Curtis, who was chained to Kirk yelled, "I'm Spartacus" and then all of the others stood up and said that they were Spartacus, so Crassus had them all nailed to crosses all the way back to Rome along the Appian Way. The only glaring error of the film was that they weren't nailed up, but were tied to the crosses with hempen rope for two reasons. The reason was that 8,000 slaves were a nice chunk of change -- as was the cost of iron nails. Rome's treasury was reeling at the end of several costly wars; and hence, most of those crucified were taken down by their former masters and sent back to work. The current (1960) politics of the film came to me later. Kirk had purposely chosen banned Hollywood "witch hunt" authors Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the screenplay based on the self-published book by Howard Fast -- which Kirk had the cojones to announce to the world. One other interesting fact was that JFK crossed the picket lines to see the movie, which ended up ending not only the blacklist of the Hollywood Ten, but others, as well! Did I mention the film held the box office number one spot for ten years? Ergo, good politics make good profits!

The point of my title was remembering seeing it with the neighborhood boys when the slaves stood up and started saying "I'm Spartacus." I stood up and threw my fist in the air and yelled "I'm Spartacus;" and my buddies followed my lead by standing up and shouting it, too, causing the other 4,000 people (mostly other juvenile delinquents, as it was a matinee) in the theater to cheer our efforts on. Suddenly, a light turned on in my mind and Kubrick and Kirk put me onto that "road less traveled." It was at that moment that all I had read, heard, or absorbed from reading books and listening to my mentors, i.e., Tom Lehrer and Lenny Bruce, all came together; and I knew the real truth of the matter. Not the government propaganda fed to me in bites from TV, radio, newsprint, and my church. It was this knowledge that prepared me for the 1960's in more ways then one! Nor, do I imply, that it was an overnight thing; it took the full decade, and then some, to untangle myself from all the lies told to me.

So what does Spartacus have to do with the here and now -- some of you might ask? What parallels can one draw from the Rome of 73 BCE (when the slave revolt began) and America of 2014 CE? I'm having a deja vu; how about you? Just a couple of things are different -- minor ones really. First, Rome hadn't an emperor yet -- that would come in another 46 years in 27 BCE when Julie's adopted nephew Octavian (later called Augustus), conned the Senate into giving him the power, and became the first capo di tutti capi, or "boss of bosses" -- something we developed in 1776! Oh, and another thing is, the slaves haven't revolted here yet, but other than that!

Just one final difference: Rome didn't see their slave revolt coming; we saw ours coming decades ago; and have prepared for it. The Happy Camps are up and ready. The troops have been brainwashed into willingly arresting mom and dad and sis and brother without question. Thanks to Barry, they now have the power to make us disappear permanently! The only question remains is which government goon will throw the switch, pass the law that steals the rest of our few remaining rights, and starts, on purpose, the slave rebellion.

Finally, I'd like to remind our one percent puppet masters that when Rome fell, the city was sacked and all the one percenters were put to the sword and everything that was worth something was toted back to Barbaria. My guess is that it will hit the fan in early 2017. A lucky guess? Not so much a guess, as 54 years of research! Oh, and one question for you, when the time comes, will you rise up and declare, "I'm Spartacus!?"


04-07-1928 ~ 07-19-2014
Thanks for the film!

09-21-1961 ~ 07-21-2014
Thanks for the Magic Jack!

02-07-1923 ~ 07-23-2014
Thanks for the film!


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Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2014 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 13 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the blogs's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

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Issues & Alibis Vol 14 # 29 (c) 07/25/2014

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