Finest Philosophy on Excessive Laws

Kurt Vonnegut in “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater” (1965) accounts for conservative achievements in the degenerate society during the Golden Age of Rome:

That was the Rome that Caesar Augustus came home to, after defeating those two sex maniacs, Antony and Cleopatra, in the great sea battle of Actium. And I don’t think I have to re-create the things he thought when he surveyed the Rome he was said to rule. Let us take a moment of silence, and let each think what he will of the stews of today. There was a moment of silence, too, about thirty seconds that seemed to some like a thousand years.

And what methods did Caesar Augustus use to put this disorderly house in order? He did what we are so often told we must never, ever do, what we are told will never, ever work: he wrote morals into law, and he enforced those unenforceable laws with a police force that was cruel and unsmiling. He made it illegal for a Roman to behave like a pig. Do you hear me? It became illegal! And Romans caught acting like pigs were strung up by their thumbs, thrown down wells, fed to lions, and given other experiences that might impress them with the desirability of being more decent and reliable than they were. Did it work? You bet your boots it did! Pigs miraculously disappeared! And what do we call the period that followed this now unthinkable oppression? Nothing more nor less, friends and neighbors, than “The Golden Age of Rome.”