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Actually, we’ve seen it all before

January 26, 2017   ·   0 Comments

On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris, France, stormed the Bastille fortress to capture gunpowder and arms which began, in truth, the French Revolution. Although this was, in part, based on their fear of a military coup, it was also the end of many centuries of suppression by royalty and the upper classes; the upheaval ended the autocratic rule of France.

Further into the chaos came the reign of terror which saw the beheading of King Louis XVI and nine months later, his queen, Marie Antoinette. Thereupon, no one was safe until the author of the terror, Robespierre himself, was executed.

The ruling of France passed from “committee to committee”, as it were, a time of new documents, disagreement, deep frustration. In the meantime, the army was used more and more to maintain order.

Tired of the infighting and incompetence, on November 9, 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte, a young general in the army, successfully staged a coup d’etat, naming himself First Consul and, in the long run, crowning himself Emperor in 1804, while leading France through a long history of conquests throughout Europe.

Again, in Russia, just a hundred years ago, in 1917, following an initial revolution, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, bringing the 300 year rule of the Romanovs to an end. He was later tried, found guilty of treason and executed as were all his family of wife and children.

The Bolsheviks under Lenin took control of the country, forming the Soviet Union and ridding the country of the trappings of capitalism…

Before all this, history is replete with the rising and falling of regimes; what is “old establishment” fails the people until they remember their power and take away their trust. None can stand in the way of the “people in the street” once they have been pushed too far.

(In England, so they joke, they will put up with anything except an attack on their beer.)

Nothing lasts, apparently, as corruption and self-satisfaction infiltrates what might have started with good intentions. The 20th and, so far, 21st  Centuries have been particularly restless as the whole of the Western/ Near Eastern world struggles with what it does and does not have. A whole dissatisfied with itself, shifting regimes, struggling with national identities and trying to rearrange society’s (natural?) order, with little success.

Yet and yet. Every change ever, just leads back to more of the same until that too is corrupted and eventually brings failure upon its own head when the people rise again. History shows Napoleon took the French revolution back to his being Emperor; the Russian revolution swopped Tsar for dictatorship (with elections); the so called “Arab Spring” led to horrific chaos: tyrannies replacing tyrannies; the Americans have traded “old regime” politicians promising to remember the needs of the common man for a bully promising the same thing but they are both cut from the same cloth: wealth and a sense of entitlement, coming from a background far removed from that common man.

Poor Americans have been truly duped. Now they have an exaggerated version of Rob Ford as President. Listening to his inaugural speech this week, listening to his admission of complete ignorance about America’s role in the world, which did not develop over night but grew over the past century, saying that he is going to dissolve that century of American history with the swipe of a pen and re-master how America does business and this is going to make his country great again, feeding this bilge to the equally uninformed citizens – those “badly educated” folk that he claims to love – foretells potential disaster; a man who has weathered three (at least?) bankruptcies is now going run the business of America.

Listening to him talk about “eradicating” the Islamist terrorists – is he talking about some sort of genocide?

Luckily for America, the President, in reality, has much less power than imagined, for the United States is not run by one man but by industry, the military and other heavy influences.

It is possible, maybe even likely, that when Donald Trump was saying that the election was rigged, he knew it to be true. It is possible that his win was not won well and truly. It would not be the first time a presidential election result was a little bent.

So, it seems, revolutions do not work. What is left then, that can over throw the corrupted to start afresh?

Possibly to acknowledge that lethargy, hiding under the guise of trust, is the breeding ground of corruption. Civil engagement will be essential; Mr. Trump needs constant reminders who actually holds the reins of the country in their hands: the American people.

This is not encouragement but a dire warning.

         

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