26 June 2019, Wednesday, 9:53
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The Caligula Syndrome

DZMITRY RASTAYEU

The history lessons, that Belarusians might find timely.

Conspiracies, palace revolutions, military coups… The global history is rich with such plots. Power is a too tasty treat so that the man could resist the temptation. However, not all the conspiracies about which we know, were planned and implemented with the only goal to grab the power.

Yes, most of all were aimed at power for the sake of power. When for example, an over-ambitious son dethroned a father, who had been there for too long. Or when one famous dynasty wanted to move over another one, in the power business.

However, history knows conspiracies of some other nature: when the arbitrariness of a current ruler reached such level that it became dangerous not only for his closest circles, but for the entire country. In such cases, the coup plotters were concerned not about getting power, but about their lives, and the future of their country. The conspiracy of the Rome legionaries against Nero, the conspiracy of the Russian noble against Paul I, the conspiracy of the German generals against Hitler – we can set many examples here.

One of the most illustrative plots in this series – the conspiracy of senators and tribunes against the Roman Emperor Сaligula. On the peak of his freaky tyranny, this character declared himself a God and ordered everyone should worship him. He built a temple in his own honor, placed a golden statue of his beloved self there. Caligula could execute any person he disliked, no matter whether they committed any misdemeanor or not.

Having exhausted the treasury with his crazy whims, the emperor kept on forcing up old taxes and inventing new ones. The peak of his economic thought was the construction of the so-called “Passion Ship” - a whorehouse, where he forced the wives, daughters and sons of the senators to work “for the good of the empire”. “I am allowed to do anything with anyone”, Caligula claimed and proved this again and again.

The Roman elite praised the dictator, secretly hating him. This hatred exploded from time to time in the form of conspiracy attempts. For the four years of his rule, Kaligula uncovered five such attempts. However, we cannot rule out that some of them could be the fruit of his sick mind. The sixth conspiracy remained uncovered and became the last one for the deparved ruler.

Once, when Caligula was heading to the bath house from the theatre, several conspiracy plotters attacked him with knives, and stabbed him, shouting “Get what you deserve!” None of them wanted to take his place on the throne – they just found it unbearable to tolerate this beast over them any longer.

These days, the sharp word “conspiracy” was voiced with regard to Belarus. The detention of the Ex-Head of the Presidential Security Service, the Deputy State Secretary of the Security Council Andrei Utsiuryn became the cause.

In the relations with his subordinates – and he has the citizens of the whole country as his subordinates – the guarantor of our domestic stability has had the Caligula syndrome since long ago. “I can do anything to anyone”. He has not introduced a horse into the House of Representatives of the National Assembly yet, though, and hasn’t built any “Passion Ships” (well, the “parasitic” decrees can be compared with this), but he seems to find pleasure in rubbing the officials' noses in dirty cows, threatening to “handcuff” all of them, or “butcher” each and every one.

Sometimes the threats are put into practice. Meanwhile, the officials have wives and kids waiting for them at home – how do they find it, shivering at every such threat? What will they think of their husbands and dads after another such humiliation in public?

Officials are also humans, they have human dignity, although hidden deep inside. Although there are real dumboes among them, most of them are still modern, intelligent people who want to live a modern life, not shiver with fear in view of yet another scandal with handcuffs in the perspective.

Thus, the breeding grounds for conspiracies, most likely, have formed in the top echelons of the Belarusian power – it’s impossible to mock common sense for a quarter of a century without consequences.

Dzmitry Rastayeu, Solidarity