Bread and circuses

“Bread and circuses” or bread and games from Latin: panem et circenses is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, instead of gaining it through sound policy. The phrase is invoked not only to criticize politicians, but also to criticize their supporters for giving up their civic duty.In modern usage, the phrase has become an adjective to deride an infantalized populace so defined by entertainment, instant self gratification, and personal pleasures that they no longer value civic virtues and the public life not necessarily accomplished through deliberate pacification by politicians but through the popular culture itself. To many social conservatives, it connotes the wanton decadence and hedonism that defined Rome prior to its decline and that may similarly contribute to the decline of modern society.

via Bread and circuses – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.