I am currently reading a book called:
Englanders and Huns – How Five Decades of Enmity Led to the First World War.
~ James Hawes
If you are one of those odd people who find reading History and academic analysis interesting, then you might enjoy this too.
However, for the sake of brevity, I will just pass along my edited highlights.
Which basically are that there is nothing new under the sun.
The exact same shit we are faced with now was happening 100, and 150 years ago.
(And one would have to assume 1000 years ago as well – humans haven’t changed)
The contemporary quotes from the newspapers of the time, would slot right into our current situation almost verbatim, and no one would know the difference. For instance:
The habitual timidity of the Germans makes them very much afraid of anything of which they are afraid at all. They live in an atmosphere of panic as to what the Court will do, as to when Prince Bismarck will retire from the scene, as to what the Pope will order, as to what France and Russia may be plotting. It is extraordinary how the slightest adverse rumour will flutter a people which ten years ago performed some of the greatest military feats recorded in history, which is armed to the teeth, and is supposed to be without a rival in the arts of war.
Change some of the names – and it could be said of the USA today. The failings and foibles of humanity are universal apparently.
But this example is the least of it. James goes on to quote article after article from the period which equally cover all our current problems and dilemmas. Political infighting and protectionism, crony capitalism, excessive debt, boom and bust economics, bubble valuations of assets, fraud and deceit…
And – the persistence of the aristocracy via one method or another to continue to be the ruling class, over the hoi-polloi / peasants / lumpen proletariat (in other words, the “Scum”, and don’t imagine for an instant that YOU aren’t thought of in exactly those terms by your overlords).
One class is concerned with putting bread on their table and peacefully getting on with their lives.
The other class is concerned with the assimilation and retention of power (and by extension Wealth), by any means possible.
But the sad fact is that the “any means possible”, have been exactly the same means (under different camouflage codes words) forever. And they still continue to produce the same result. The sheeple are still sheep, and the lords are still our masters. And I don’t mean that in some sort of metaphysical way either. Literally, the same surnames, family trees, Toff organisations, social structures, and attitudes keep popping up again and again and again.
Because they work – duh.
The persistence of many of these things is amazing really.
James’ book highlighted one thing I found fascinating. During the lead up to the first world war, there were two major currents of German politics. The “Vons” and the “non-Vons”. The Vons were the archetypal Junkers and Prussian militaristic aristocrat class, the non-Vons were more or less the new middle class or proletariat. Nominally this “new” class considered itself “Liberal”, but ‘Nationalists’ would probably be a better description. But labels are pretty meaningless. The reality was that there were common attitudes that ran through the whole of German society. It was just a question of who got to be the one on top in the bed.
In the first instance, led by Bismarck, the Vons ruled the roost and their world view led pretty inevitably to the first world war.
After that fiasco, the old aristocracy was forced out and the new boys moved in as top dogs, with their own agenda. Except that their agenda looked remarkable similar to the old one. And it was no great leap at all from ‘Nationalists’, to ‘National Socialists’ – that’s Nazi’s to those of you that don’t know. At which point they leapt with alacrity right into the same fiasco their predecessors did – and brought us World War Two. For pretty much exactly the same reasons.
Read James’ book for more insight into the continuity of social trends and attitudes through the various evolutions of the German polity – right up until today. One of which is the German obsession with titles. These days it is manifest, as often as not, with having a PhD. You are nothing without one apparently.
German obsession with order and efficiency are watchwords of course. That though is the tip of the iceberg. While some political forms died in the maelstrom of the killing-fields of two world wars (literally), there is much that didn’t, and persists to this day.
But the real take-home from this isn’t the foibles of the Germans – it is the foibles of us all. Every country and culture has it’s own version of these things. Read the book to get a good appreciation of just how profoundly universal this all is. Frankly, how depressingly universal it is…
Chauvinism and prejudice abound. As do arrogance, hypocrisy, fraud, wilful blindness, stupidity and avarice. I could go on and on with nouns and adjectives. I guess some things are never going to change.
On the other hand…
Kill enough of a certain class of people, and their culture can essentially die too.
The Prussian office class died on the battlefields of the Western front – their political and economic power died with them.
And the Nazi’s a generation later also died en-masse.
Germany is a very different place than it was one hundred years ago – even as it continues to be remarkably the same in many other ways.
Perhaps the Anglo-saxon world could do with a red-raw purging of our elites. Unfortunately “we” won, so that just entrenched them here.
Let the mongrel classes triumph for once, and wipe out some (most/all?) of their dynastic Overlords.
it would be a mighty reset and upheaval. Likely to plunge society into convulsions, and even torments, for a time.
It would survive.
But keep this in mind – the purpose of politics (and bureaucracies) as they exist at any point in time, is not to facilitate change, but to prevent it, and preserve the status quo. To keep the aristocracy in power.
Where-as, the tree of liberty needs from time to time to be watered with blood.
That’s not a cute aphorism – that’s the literal truth.
The only way to get “that” class of scum out of power, is to shoot them out.
What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure..
~ Thomas Jefferson.
I can think of several attitudes and classes I would be happy to see die.
Just as an observation – and something I have commented on previously:
During the French Revolution, the aristocracy were Guillotined in large numbers… except actually – the numbers were really not that large.
During and after the Paris Commune, the peasants/rabble/communists were executed – in huge numbers.
The aristocracy are certainly not shy of spilling the blood of the cattle class in volume. And are not the least shy about being vindictive about it either. “a moral code that glorifies it…”
To beat them would take more than wishful thinking. I have always had something of a fondness for Oliver Cromwell.