Saturday, March 29, 2008

Moyers on Race and Poverty - the Kerner Commission Report of 1968

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with former Senator Fred Harris (D-OK), one of the original members of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission.

Convened by President Lyndon Johnson in the wake of 1967’s riots among inner-city blacks in Detroit and dozens of other cities, the Kerner Commission sought to learn what had happened, why the riots had occurred, and what could be done to prevent similar events from happening again. The resulting (and immediately controversial) 1968 Kerner Report concluded that the riots emerged from severe poverty and limited opportunity in America’s urban ghettoes, for which the Report blamed institutional racism.

The report recommended a series of measures to try and change the situation, including using the government to create jobs, expanding affirmative action, and beefing up welfare and other social services. Regarding the Commission’s recommendations, Harris said:

“I think virtually everything [the Kerner Commission recommended] was right... one of the awfulest things that came out of the Reagan presidency and later was the feeling that government can’t do anything right and that everything it does is wrong. The truth is that virtually everything we tried worked. We just quit trying it. Or we didn’t try it hard enough. And that’s what we need to get back to.

We made progress on virtually every aspect of race and poverty for about a decade after the Kerner Commission report and then, particularly with the advent of the Reagan administration and so forth, that progress stopped. And we began to go backwards... When we cut out a lot of these social programs, or the money for them... [and] we don’t emphasize jobs and training and education and so forth as we had been doing, there are bad consequences from that... I think what you need to do is to help people up, give ‘em a hand up. And recognize the kind of terrible conditions that they’re grown up in.”

Moyers also interviewed Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who offered his own perspective:

"The knee jerk reaction [is] to spend more money. Well, you know what? I can show you places in the city of Newark where we're doing more with less simply because we have good people stepping forward and saying, "I'm not gonna tolerate this any more in my nation, in my community, on my block." They're doing mentoring programs. You have grassroots leaders... Because it's all about the spirit. It all comes down to a spiritual transformation... At some point in America, we're going to have to get beyond blame and start accepting responsibility."

Are the Kerner Commission’s findings relevant today? Why or why not?

My formative background has exposed me to the problems of elitism and economic inequality, in those very places that just before my birth had exploded in riot and assignation. I have seen both the positive and negative potential of America in the aftermath of Kerner Commission, and Fred Harris is right, we never finished the processes recommended by the 1967 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Thus, their findings are still relevant.

I do not believe that governments can solve racism, end elitism, or change human nature. Our greed and fear divide humanity in conflict, to unify the white and black community in the U.S. would require overcoming both human nature and the prejudice of past experience, and only death can eventually erase that memory. Individually we have the potential of reason, it may be possible to achieve change, to educate ourselves and gain enlightenment, to overcome our evolved tribal nature by rational self-interest, but such can not be forced upon us by government. Government can, at best, encourage and motivate such unity through legislation and economic policy, and inspire our potential by its own example.

Today, the problem has grown multi-fold, not only does a legacy of American slavery and segregation remain, but there is a new form of slavery evolving among the undocumented and disenfranchised, from both Latin America and the Pacific Rim. The people are trapped in a form of illegitimate limbo, unable to legally enter American society, and unwilling to return to the horrible conditions of their home country, conditions American policies create and perpetuate, they live as an invisible underclass here.

These new slaves compete with our poorest American Citizens, and this hinders America's social progress. The wealthy use this slave labor to secure their lifestyles, abusing these undocumented people, and reducing opportunities for social advancement and economic mobility among U.S. Citizens. This hinders the fair distribution of wealth, and pits the new slaves against the uneducated poor, as wages are under-cut and we compete for resources. Add this to the development of the prison-industry and the legal process of criminalizing the poor, and our government is again guilty of amplifying social injustice.

Are the Commission’s recommendations of more government-created jobs, expanded affirmative action, increased welfare, etc. a practical strategy for helping inner cities? Why or why not?

Some of the original Kerner Commission recommendations are now outdated, but all levels of government should be compelled to hire people who reflect the population they serve. If applications from any protected group or class of people seem to be lacking in either quality or quantity, the government should be compelled to take steps to correct that problem. Even if that means specifically financing education for those under-represented groups to prepare them for the government jobs of the future.

In a free society, one can not compel the private sector to hire those who they do not consider qualified, for whatever reason. Although, regulations can and do limit adverse discrimination. However I believe market forces and the genius of individual innovation will force the private sector to hire people based upon their abilities alone, regardless of social prejudices, or else face an inability to compete.

Governments can influence these Social Justice problems directly by eliminating their benefits to the wealthy. However, our current government is cleverly financed by the wealthy, through the campaign finance system, and the rotating door between government service and lobbyists, political consultants and government contractors. It would take revolutionary campaign finance reform and publicly-funded elections to re-balance the power between the rich and everyone else.

After the revolution, we can start by integrating and equalizing the public education system between rich and poor, actually try and finish following the Kerner Commission recommendations. Perhaps a contempoary NACCD Report should be done?

Which do you think is the more effective approach to tackling the problems of the inner city --- Fred Harris' top-down government strategy or Cory Booker's emphasis on individual and grassroots responsibility?

Cory Booker is wise beyond his years (I'm the same age), and he is right. Top down strategies can influence only policy, you can not force individuals to change, and the public is made of individuals.

This all really boils down to the definition of 'RESOURCES', some people think that directing public resources means spending public MONEY. What Mr. Booker is saying is that you can throw all the money at a problem till you run out of it, but it will not change anything unless good people spend their TIME doing what needs to be done.

Perhaps we should impose a SOCIAL JUSTICE Tax on all Americans, you can pay it with 10% of your MONEY, or 10% of your TIME. Get people to spend time in our public schools, to work with our prisoners, our homeless, our sick, our poor. Many wealthy sociopaths would rather pay the $10%, but the good people will give their time, and that attention will leverage their abilities to create the community we all deserve.

What do you think? (Please Comment)

Friday, March 28, 2008

All of Us or None - San Diego

I met an interesting dude last night at one of the San Diego County Community Coalition meetings:
Dennis Malone, a redeemed man ready for revolution.

Check out his site All of US or None - San Diego: Dennis Malone

What is your mission?
"Through uniting, mobilizing, and supporting prisoners, ex-offenders, and their allies, All of Us or None San Diego will ADVOCATE for fundamental changes within the criminal justice system, and EDUCATE our community about the abuses those involved with the justice system face. Additionally, we will ELIMINATE discrimination against former prisoners by transforming public perception and policy, and FACILITATE parolees' successful reintegration into society and reunification with their families."

"Neither mistakes nor convictions should ever define who we truly are; we are much greater. Our mistake today is allowing others to deny our higher definitions of self. We shall henceforth promote our victories and share boldly our successes." - Rev. Dennis Malone

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A message from Al Franken

"So, it's not enough that we take back the White House. It's not even enough that we take more seats in Congress. We have to take back this government. We have to tell the special interests that they're not so special anymore. We have to elect people who will stand up to the oil companies, stand up to the drug companies, stand up to the insurance industry, and stand up for the working families of this state."

"Last October, I went on a ten-college tour. Some of the kids I met with were 11 years old when this President took office. They don't remember that the federal government is supposed to work. They've seen Katrina. They've seen Iraq. And even sadder, they don't remember that we were once the most respected country on the face of the planet.

"After all, we are the country that sent a man to the moon, the country that mapped the human genome, the country that beat fascism and communism, the country that re-built Europe after World War II and still had enough juice left over to invent rock and roll and the Internet.

"And I believe we can restore that greatness."

"We have a lot of work to do together. But it starts by deciding that we are going to have a new direction in this country. We're going to have a government that truly belongs to us. We're going to have another chance in our lifetimes to restore America's greatness.

"I believe it more strongly every day. Paul Wellstone said, "The future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard." I am so passionate about what we can achieve together. Are you ready to work hard alongside me?"

Watch video from Al's speech

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Ideas of March

Hello, 315PM.

I have a blog called ("In the name of Liberty") in which I list the errors, crimes, and failures of the U.S. Government, of, for and by our people. It is a rant, a wine, a cry for help in the face of overwhelming problems. I keep it going to log the vast and various challenges that face us and inform the future that at least some of us realized what was happening. I use LIBERTAS to document and aggregate the consistent flow of grief, to someday hold the criminals accountable. After posting that blog for more than a year, I've come to the realization that the entire system may be irredeemable, at the very least it will take a revolution to recover the spirit of America.

Lately, I've been working with various progressive movements, meeting people who have similar concerns and ideals, who have spent lifetimes compassionately picking up the peaces [sic], protecting the weakest among us, and this has given me some hope. There are still people in the world with the memory of our Constitutional Values of Liberty, Secular Justice, Independence, Equality and Courage and the rational curiosity to question authority.

The problems I see with these diverse and fragmented forces seems to be many. Most of the older activists have spent too much of their life working within the very systems that I fear are irredeemable. They focus on sponging up the spilled milk, and ignore the fact that the cow is dead. Our capitalist system has been set up to reward those without compassion, to maximize short term profit, and thus those with good intentions and rational self-interest consistently struggle to find honest work just to support themselves. The struggles for social justice are fought by impoverished soldiers, who like Sisyphus fight an uphill battle. That lifelong investment motivates these peaceful activists to try and REFORM the system from within, through the traditional autocratic systems which have so seriously failed us of late.

While at the other end of the spectrum there is a growing number of disenfranchised, untested activists who are young and full of energy, but lack the institutional experience and wisdom of the historical struggles between those in power and and the rest. These passionate young people have the will and the time to bring change, to rescue America's drowning dreams, they lack only the tools and experience necessary to become successful. One solution could be to combine these groups, to link the young and the old, and given time, wisdom will pass down from one generation to the next. However, one thing I have learned is that these struggles never truly end, they take lifetimes, can turn idealism into cynicism and hope into despair.

I'm not sure how much time we have left. The mounting problems we face are building toward crisis. The wars we fight, the monstrous things we do without compassion to those we would label the "others", are only symptoms of a much deeper disease I call ELITISM. With the legal changes that have taken place over the last eight years, manipulations that have effectively canceled out the Bill of Rights and given the Executive branch of our government unlimited power without accountability, we are in grave danger. Events have been set in motion and there is now potential for a single nuclear "terrorist" attack to change the very nature of America, and enslave us all under a corporate-military dictatorship. This leaves me with a sense of dread deep in my gut.

The debacle of the U.S. budget, the coming economic depression, and the farce that we call the election system may all be too far gone to save. Add to this the potentially catastrophic environmental change that the world is about to endure, the lack of the food and energy, and the widening financial gap between the super-rich and their servants, and and you have created a recipe for chaos. The fact is that we are headed for a very dark time.

Which the powerful will use to divide us against one another.

There is the rub. The greater our fear, the easier it is to manipulate us. Survival instincts override rational and critical thinking and push us into unnecessary conflicts that erode our potential while strengthening our true opponent, ELITISM. Yet, so many compassionate people ground their moral actions in irrational faiths, and tie themselves to corrupt religious or social systems, even corporations, that are intrinsically part of the problem. Often their very livelihood depends upon the systems that enslave us. To break out of such group-think we need a paradigm shift in our understanding of the human condition. Together we must develop a philosophical revolution that transcends the dialectic conflicts of religion, race, sex, or tribal nationalism. We must conquer fear, transcend it, and become courage itself. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the acceptance, the choice to ignore the emotion to fight or flee, and walk into danger with full knowledge of the potential consequences.

Many philosophers have tried to inspire this kind of transformation, I could quote Marx, or Neitzsche, or Rorty, Socrates, Siddhārtha, or Lao Tzu, or a dozen others who have put forth parables and theories in every era and every discipline. Knowing these arguments enlightens me and makes me stronger, but their ideas can not be forced, the answers are out there you must collect them for yourselves. Which, brings me to the obvious, we are all individuals. 315pm must not be a traditional, hierarchal organization or group, there are no leaders here. Each of you is responsible for your own life, your own actions, and you choose your own path.

Distributed Leadership: one world of sovereign individuals is the key. If the ideas I spout don't make sense, question them. If you see a false statement expose it. Everyone, YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO. Your actions define your identity: think, speak, write, act. Every day you choose to learn, to create, to become, you are choosing who you are. You change the world each day, make it a positive change.

I will attempt to identify, clarify and document the problem areas and the solutions. I don't know exactly what is coming. There are too many variables. What I do know now is that we must try to become as independent as possible. Prepare yourself for a very hard time, and know that you have allies.

Some obvious problems:

Democracy: depends on the concept of equality, one-person-one-vote. Yet in this country our votes count differently, and are counted differently in each state. With the advent of the electronic voting machine, the potential for universal and untraceable voting fraud has been realized. The fact that every voting machine manufacturer is owned by Republican Evangelicals is worrisome. Add to that the institutional bribery we call campaign finance, and you may begin to see that reform is not an option, we need to re-write the constitution to create publicly funded elections, and replace the electoral college with a direct democracy and a multi party system. We should take steps to create a secure, open-source, universal voting machine, that prints dual receipts, and all elections should be monitored by third party outside organizations. We must call for a New Constitutional Convention to amend the constitution of the United States, and have it composed of 3000 randomly selected Americans, who are paid to write the Amendments using any intellectual resources they need, and then the new document should be ratified by direct democracy, and the process should be repeated every 20 years.

Education: The "digital divide" which in an age of information is the line between freedom and slavery. We Must take steps to protect access to information, to fund public libraries, and free universal internet access, to allow people the tools necessary to educate themselves. Our Public Airwaves, have been sold off to the highest bidders. We must take steps to retrieve and protect the mediums of communication.

Our food sources are at risk: Bees and Bats: The Die Off , and although it is unlikely that U.S. Citizens will starve, the quality of food will decrease, and the percentage of your income used for basic food needs will increase dramatically. But the real problem will appear in those places already struggling for survival, as we buy up and consume their nations natural resources, there will be mass starvation which will lead to civil-wars as people compete to survive. We should take steps to buy a farm land, and create permaculture projects that protect our food sources, and can supply others with the seeds and technology necessary to support themselves.

Energy Transformation: Like food, we have reached PEAK OIL, and the cost of energy from petrol will now increase geometrically. Ever higher energy costs will cause inflation in every other sector, that will grow out of control. One should take steps toward renewable energy independence now. Invest in renewable energy sources and learn how to supply yourself.

Financial Depression: the world is already in the beginning stages of an economic depression, the current administration is attempting to prop up the economy with stop-gap stimulation, but it will inevitably fail. The problem is that as the Federal Reserve and our Government prints money to pay for ever increasing deficits, due to war spending, and profiteering, they are devaluing the dollar. Many homeowners were happy with the apparent increase in their home values, they have failed to realize that the VALUE of their home has not changed, it is the DOLLAR that has decreased in value. Thus their income has become less in actual value, while their home equity had stayed relatively level. Many borrowed against their illusory home equity increase, and now find themselves unable to make payments on their debt, thus the 'sub-prime' crisis. The final solution to this problem requires a new form of economics: Each person must be able to 'print' their own money, and trade their own valuable time and attention independently of any centralized currency. I have taken steps to secure this eventuality, but this power-shift will create great growing pains, as those who currently hold the balance of currency must redistribute the resources. The con-game of compound interest is going to end, but the zero-sum assumptions of the past must also end. It is clear that no one is truly free unless they have their basic needs met, and that means they must have the resources to support themselves. Thus, no one should be able to OWN the means of survival. No one can own the air, the water, the light of the sun, nor the sea, nor the land upon which it shines. As long as one man owns another's home, there can be no equality, no justice, no peace.

If the above problems and potential solutions don't convince you that it is time to act ethically in your own rational self interest, I don't know what will. I do know that I can not solve these problems alone, and if we wait for some leader to take charge and give us direction it will be too late, or he could be assassinated by those who like the systems in place. Welcome, to the revolution.

Inspired by the Zeitgeist...

Zeitgeist, produced by Peter Joseph, was created as a nonprofit filmiac expression toinspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective and to understand that very often things are not what the population at large think they are. The information in Zeitgeist was established over a year long period of research and the current Source page on the site lists the basic sources used / referenced and the developing Interactive Transcript includes exact source references and further information

Religion, Race, Class, Patriotism and all other arrogant notions of dominance and separatism is the actual problem. We must understand as human beings that our religions, races, classes, nationalities, and even fear, greed and arrogance itself are learned associations. They are no more a part of you than the clothes you have on, and you are free to take them off at anytime and discover who and what you actually are.

It is my hope that people will not take what is said
in the film as the truth, but find out for themselves, for truth is not told, it is realized. - Peter Joseph,

Monday, March 24, 2008

A message from Charley Reese


Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49
years. He wrote this:

CHARLEY REESE: Politicians are the only people in
the world who create problems and then campaign
against them. Have you ever wondered why, if both
the Democrats and the Republicans are against
deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered
why, if all the politicians are against inflation
and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?
You and I don't propose a federal budget. The
president does. You and I don't have the
Constitutional authority to v ote on appropriations.
The House of Representatives does. You and I don't
write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don't
set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don't
control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one
president and nine Supreme Court justices - 545
human beings out of the 300 million - are directly,
legally, morally and individually responsible for
the domestic problems that plague this country. I
excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board
because that problem was created by the Congress. In
1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to
provide a sound currency to a federally chartered
but private central bank. I excluded all the special
interests and lobbyists for a sound reason, they
have no legal authority. They have no ability to
coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do
one cotton- picking thing. I don't care if they
offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The
pol itician has the power to accept or reject it. No
matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the
legislator's responsibility to determine how he

A CONFIDENCE CONSPIRACY Those 545 human beings
spend much of their energy convincing you that what
they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this
common con regardless of party. What separates a
politician from a normal human being is an excessive
amount of gall. No normal human being would have the
gall of a SPEAKER, who stood up and criticized G.W.
BUSH for creating deficits. The president can only
propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to
accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme
law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the
House of Representatives for originating and
approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the
speaker of the House? She is the leader of the
majority party. She and fellow Democrats, not the
president, can approve any budget they want. If the
president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto.

REPLACE THE SCOUNDRELS It seems inconceivable to
me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545
people who stand convicted -- by present facts - of
incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of
a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code
to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly
to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain
truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal
government, then it must follow that what exists is
what they want to exist. If the tax code is unfair,
it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is
in the red, it's because they want it in the red. If
the Marines are in IRAQ, it's because they want them
in IRAQ. There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to
bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can
abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they
can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the
power to regulate and from whom they can t ake this
power. Above all, do
not let them con you into the belief that there
exist disembodied mystical forces like 'the
economy,' 'inflation' or 'politics' that prevent
them from doing what they take an oath to do. Those
545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They,
and they alone, have the power. They, and they
alone, should be held accountable by the people who
are their bosses - provided the voters have the
gumption to manage their own employees. We should
vote all of them out of office and clean up their

- I must agree.

Dean Kamen's vapor compression distiller

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Progressive Coalition Blog

Please contribute to this blog:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gathering of the Tribes!

are we on ? how is the 12th ? is there anybody home ? the light is on !

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

'Nuff Said ...

America is not perfect, but it is perfectible." -Barack Obama
This may be where perfection begins.
Please comment...

The Next Film Screening

There are several documentaries out that could offer food for thought. Since ZEITGEIST was the catalyst for so many people on March 15th, and I had never heard of it before, I'm looking forward to seeing what the group chooses for the next screening. Please post a comment to this entry with your film suggestions.

Here are some of mine:
Persepolis - a new animated film about the 1979 Iranian Revolution, appropriate both historically and politically. More.

Operation Homecoming - Writing the Wartime Experience.

"Any country that sends only it's young to war, deserves to loose, both its young and the war." - SGGT Edward Parker Gyokeres

"I was walking through the Garden of Eden with an M-16, and I had to ask, what am I doing here?" - Conscientious Objector, Kevin Benderman

Watch Soldiers of Conscience.
Eight US Soldiers today face the most difficult decision of their lives: to kill or not to kill.
A film about ware, peace, and the transformative power of the human conscience.
Their country asked them to kill. Their hearts asked them to stop.
Four sincere war fighters and four sincere conscientious objectors (CO), all struggling over the question.
Made with the official permission from the U.S. Army, this film transcends the usual divisive rhetoric of politics and instead reveals a surprising shared truth. All our soldiers are "soldiers of conscience" torn between the demands of duty and the call of conscience.

And here is a new film being screened in Los Angeles.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Idus Martiae" is Latin for the Ides of March

On March 15, 2008, a group of young people met at CSUSM to screen the film Zeitgeist and the ensuing discussion, aroused a passion for self-education. Kerry Garloff came up with title: 315PM, which represents our inception date, the Ides of March. An appropiate name given Shakespear's Julius Ceaser, and the significance, I just hope we can avoid the fate of the tragic hero, Brutus.

The rebellion began at 315PM, beware Idus Martiae.


the term Ides of March (Latin Idus Martiae) is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated, in 44 BC, the story of which was famously retold in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. The term has come to be used as a metaphor for impending doom.

Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed written in 1599. It portrays the conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination and its aftermath. It is one of several Roman plays that he wrote, based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.

Although the title of the play is Julius Caesar, Caesar is not the central character in its action; he appears in only three scenes, and is killed at the beginning of the third act. The protagonist of the play is Marcus Brutus, and the central psychological drama is his struggle between the conflicting demands of honour, patriotism, and friendship.


Marcus Brutus is Caesar's close friend; his ancestors were famed for driving the tyrannical King Tarquin from Rome (described in Shakespeare's earlier The Rape of Lucrece). Brutus allows himself to be cajoled into joining a group of conspiring senators because of a growing suspicion—implanted by Caius Cassius—that Caesar intends to turn republican Rome into a monarchy under his own rule. Traditional readings of the play maintain that Cassius and the other conspirators are motivated largely by envy and ambition, whereas Brutus is motivated by the demands of honour and patriotism; other commentators, such as Isaac Asimov, suggest that the text shows Brutus is no less moved by envy and flattery.[7] One of the central strengths of the play is that it resists categorizing its characters as either simple heroes or villains. The early scenes deal mainly with Brutus' arguments with Cassius and his struggle with his own conscience. The growing tide of public support soon turns Brutus against Caesar (This public support was actually faked. Cassius wrote letters to Brutus in different handwritings over the next month in order to get Brutus to join the conspiracy). A soothsayer warns Caesar to "beware the Ides of March," which he ignores, culminating in his assassination at the Capitol by the conspirators that day.

Assassination of Julius Caesar

Caesar summoned the Senate to meet in the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March. A certain seer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the day of the month of March which the Romans call the Ides; and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: "The Ides of March has come," and the seer said to him softly: "Aye, Caesar, but not gone."[3]

As the Senate convened, Caesar was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of senators who called themselves the Liberatores ("Liberators"); they justified their action on the grounds that they committed tyrannicide and were preserving the Republic from Caesar's alleged monarchical ambitions.

The ghost of Caesar appears to warn Brutus of his fate. From a painting by Richard Westall. London, 1802.

Caesar's assassination is perhaps the most famous part of the play, about halfway through. After ignoring the soothsayer as well as his wife's own premonitions, Caesar comes to the Senate. The conspirators create a superficial motive for the assassination by means of a petition brought by Metellus Cimber, pleading on behalf of his banished brother. As Caesar, predictably, rejects the petition, Casca grazes Caesar in the back of his neck, and the others follow in stabbing him; Brutus is last. At this point, Caesar utters the famous line "Et tu, Brute?" ("And you, Brutus?", i.e. "You too, Brutus?"). Shakespeare has him add, "Then fall, Caesar," suggesting that Caesar did not want to survive such treachery. The conspirators make clear that they did this act for Rome, not for their own purposes and do not attempt to flee the scene but act victorious.

After Caesar's death, however, Mark Antony, with a subtle and eloquent speech over Caesar's corpse—the much-quoted "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears..."—deftly turns public opinion against the assassins by manipulating the emotions of the common people, in contrast to the rational tone of Brutus's speech. Antony rouses the mob to drive the conspirators from Rome. Amid the violence, the innocent poet, Cinna, is confused with the conspirator Cinna and is murdered by the mob.

The beginning of Act Four is marked by the quarrel scene, where Brutus attacks Cassius for soiling the noble act of regicide by accepting bribes ("Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake? / What villain touch'd his body, that did stab, / And not for justice?", IV.iii,19-21). The two are reconciled, but as they prepare for war with Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted son, Octavian (Shakespeare's spelling: Octavius), Caesar's ghost appears to Brutus with a warning of defeat ("thou shalt see me at Philippi", IV.iii,283). Events go badly for the conspirators during the battle; both Brutus and Cassius choose to commit suicide rather than to be captured. The play ends with a tribute to Brutus by Antony, who has remained "the noblest Roman of them all" (V.v,68) and hints at the friction between Mark Antony and Octavius which will characterise another of Shakespeare's Roman plays, Antony and Cleopatra.

Critics of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar differ greatly on their views of Caesar and Brutus. Many have debated whether Caesar or Brutus is the protagonist of the play. Intertwined in this debate is a smattering of philosophical and psychological ideologies on republicanism and monarchism. One author, Robert C. Reynolds, devotes attention to the names or epithets given to both Brutus and Caesar in his essay “Ironic Epithet in Julius Caesar”. This author points out that Casca praises Brutus at face value, but then inadvertently compares him to a disreputable joke of a man by calling him an alchemist, “Oh, he sits high in all the people’s hearts,/And that which would appear offense in us/ His countenance, like richest alchemy,/ Will change to virtue and to worthiness” (I.iii.158-60). Reynolds also talks about Caesar and his “Colossus” epithet, which he points out has its obvious connotations of power and manliness, but also lesser known connotations of an outward glorious front and inward chaos [8]. In that essay, the conclusion as to who is the hero or protagonist is ambiguous because of the conceit-like poetic quality of the epithets for Caesar and Brutus.

Myron Taylor, in his essay “Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the Irony of History”, compares the logic and philosophies of Caesar and Brutus. Caesar is deemed an intuitive philosopher who is always right when he goes with his gut, for instance when he says he fears Cassius as a threat to him before he is killed, his intuition is correct. Brutus is portrayed as a man similar to Caesar, but whose passions lead him to the wrong reasoning, which he realizes in the end when he says in V.v.50-51, “Caesar, now be still:/ I kill’d not thee with half so good a will”.

Joseph W. Houppert acknowledges that some critics have tried to cast Caesar as the protagonist, but that ultimately Brutus is the driving force in the play and is therefore the tragic hero. Brutus attempts to put the republic over his personal relationship with Caesar and kills him. Brutus makes the political mistakes that bring down the republic that his ancestors created. He acts on his passions, does not gather enough evidence to make reasonable decisions and is manipulated by Cassius and the other conspirators [10].

The general conclusion among critics is that Brutus is in fact the protagonist of the play Julius Caesar, although some have tried to prove otherwise.


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