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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

OWS and the great historical analogy

While traversing through several right-wing anti-OWS sites, I found one consistent reference point: The Terror. For the teabaggers, Citizen Robespierre remains a topic of keen and current interest; he is, in a sense, still alive and still a threat. See, for example, here and here and here.

I do not admire him. The best one can say about Robespierre is that, although he may have meant well at first, he eventually went mad and thus had to be put down like a foamy-mouthed dog.

That said, I want to draw a comparison to another event in French history -- one which may also be relevant to our current debate over the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Eighty years after Robespierre's death, in 1871, General Mac-Mahon (who, appropos de rien, was related to Johnny Carson's sidekick), suppressed the Paris Commune. Mac-Mahon's soldiers went on a barbaric, wholly unnecessary orgy of vengeance and violence. They killed women, children and elderly. They killed those trying to surrender. They killed everyone lying in bed in the military hospitals. They killed any man or woman who was caught carrying a match, on the grounds that such a person might be an arsonist.

They killed patriots who had bravely continued the fight against the Prussians well after Mac-Mahon had (through his indecision and stupidity) lost the key battle of Sedan. In fact, Mac-Mahon joined forces with the hated German invaders to murder the communards.

Here's the key point I want you to take away from this short essay:

When all the bodies were counted, Mac-Mahon's victims came to a number four times larger than the number of those who died in the Terror. The reactionaries did their bloody work in just a few days. The Terror occurred over the course of nine months.

Yet the victims of Mac-Mahon's troops are largely forgotten.

You never read about them in school, and you've never seen a movie about them. They were poor. They are the invisibles of history.

The victims of the Terror were aristocrats -- and therefore, they will be remembered forever. Today's conservatives hail them as something akin to saints.

Why is our memory of history so selective?

And why do so many Americans think that class warfare goes in but one direction?
Comments:
A very well observed point.

Harry
 
How quickly we forget the Pinkertons, or the Black and Tans.
 
The Nazis killed all the intellectuals in Poland they could lay their hands on. You don't hear much about that. The idea of class warfare is a lot like the sword of Damocles: it cuts both ways. If you want a better idea of what class warfare can lead to why don't you bring up the Russian Revolution? Maybe point out what happened to the Czar's family, not to mention a whole laundry list of those Lenin, Trotsky, and their ilk didn't like. It was a bloodbath that allowed Joesph Stalin to murder millions, including the peasents, the military, politicians, film-makers, artists, and anyone who looked at him crooked. They were erased from history. And, Mao was another who had no qualms about mass murder. He even killed all the birds so the crops wouldn't be eaten by them, only to have insects appear. There is no way to balance the books when carnage results from class warfare. And, rest assured, those who have power are not above using violence to retain it. Just reflect on Tianimen Square, or Belfast, or Budapest under the communists, or Syria. Rhetoric is cheap in the art of propoganda. Just make sure your love of hyperbole does not outpace your wisdom. A lot of your judgements seem lopsided in favor of the kind of rashness prompted by agent provcoatuers. I often wonder how any one person who bemoans their finances can possess such a finely combed knowledge about the variety of subjects that are the meat and bones of your stew and still keep the home fires burning. Maybe there's something you're not telling us about the class you belong to, and a lot more.
 
Mongrel, you can take your paranoid accusations elsewhere; you are not welcome here any more. My commenting rules are few and clear; apparently, you can't read.

I print your comment only to point out that I have talked about Stalin before, pointing out that George W. Bush racked up a higher body count on a per-year basis:

http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2011/02/who-killed-more-stalin-or-dubya.html

The fact that we don't count Dubya as one of history's great mass murderers -- more terrible than Stalin -- proves the point in my current essay. Historical memory is selective.
 
Joseph, I wrote a long rebuttal to that guy but accidentally hit the wrong button. Suffice it to say that I think that first line was a not so veiled threat. You are obviously an intellectual, well read and well educated.

These guys all are so worried about the "red menace" of communism that they seem to forget about the economic conditions that brought about those revolutions in the 1st place. The same kind of conditions that the wealthy elite are actually cultivating right now.

Maybe, just maybe if they were actually interested in this country and the people of this country they would work with us to ferret out the money and the corruption that has infested and wrecked our political system.

Instead, they are cultivating the "kleptocracy" to meet their own agendas and their own pocket books at the expense of so many others. The truly sad part is that they use the "socialism" scare as cover for their madness while the harsh truth is that people in this nation die from a lack of medical care, people live on park benches and under bridges and so many people go hungry.

There is just no excuse for that and when things become overly desperate the conditions will be primed for some sort of revolution. Something that no sane or rational person wants. I think Mongrel needs to wake up and smell the coffee rather than distribute his paranoid diatribes. Now is the time to fix things. Now is the time to put our country on the right path and make this a great place to live for everyone. Not just the wealthy.
 
"The victims of the Terror were aristocrats -- and therefore, they will be remembered forever. Today's conservatives hail them as something akin to saints."

The poor and powerless don't write history books.
DM
 
What kind of 'non-lethal' weapons are being used, or may be used, against the occupations in London, New York, etc.?

Have a look at
this article, and in particular, the photo. There is a suggestion that microwave weapons have been put in place outside St Paul's cathedral in London, where occupiers moved after being prevented from getting too close to the Stock Exchange. Have a look at the photo.

(According to one guy, who claims he had familiarity with such weapons before giving a US warfare corporation the big "middle finger", the photo shows PA equipment, that's all. Just happens to be PA equipment used by the Police Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) Centre, that's all. Forgive me for remaining unconvinced).

Of course the first question is what is the device shown in the photo.

There's a broader question, which asks whether the use of EMF weapons (any wavelength) has ever been combined with the 'kettling' that has been such a frequently used police crowd-control tactic in Britain.
 
The most familiar movie that references the Commune is Babette's Feast

The title characters was a Communard and political refugee, forced to flee France after her husband and sons were killed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Commune
 
Just found out that ironically (or not) Oakland is home to a premiere provider of sitar wars crowd control weapons. The general strikers should be made aware:

Sierra Nevada Corporation
1956 Webster St # 300
Oakland, CA 94612-2939
(510) 446-8400
Subway: 19th St. Oakland BART
"July 18, 2008 As part of the U.S. Navy's investigation into futuristic nonlethal weaponry, the Sierra Nevada Corporation is building a microwave energy pulse gun that can produce a painful screaming sound inside a person's head from a long distance away. The inescapable sound, which is inaudible to untargeted bystanders, can be set to irritate, nauseate or even incapacitate people and animals that lie within range. Future applications may include crowd control, military use and even shopping mall security…"
http://www.gizmag.com/medusa-microwave-crowd-control-raygun/9605/
 
You reap what you sow...communists have murdered over 100 million in the last century...some payback is obviously your deserving comeuppance....
 
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