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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

The Dream of Scipio

The Dream of Scipio
Iain Pears

The Dream of Scipio
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a former student of mine who grew up a missionary kid in New Guinea. It had always been good having him in the class — the course was an Ethics class, and we spent one week of the course talking about whether we have any moral obligation to the poor. Amidst all of the well-disciplined capitalist kiddies who were pretty convinced that they somehow deserved their Gucci bags and PlayStations, he was one of the only ones willing to entertain the crazy idea that driving the rest of the world into war and starvation so that I can wear Tommy Boy jeans maybe isn’t all its marketed to be. Anyway, while talking about first-world resource-burning, he compared the United States to Rome right before the collapse of the empire. “It’s all bread and circuses.”
The Vandals Sack Rome
Part of The Dream of Scipio takes place during the collapse of the Roman Empire at the hands of “barbarian” invaders. And part of the tale is that it’s no so clear who the real barbarians were. Sure, the hordes didn’t have much use for Roman art or philosophy. On the other hand, they weren’t chugging wine while watching lions devour their poor. I don’t know if the United States is currently on the road to barbarian invasion or not, but developments abroad certainly seem to suggest that all ain’t well in the Empire. Here’s hoping they at least don’t burn the libraries next time around…