The legitimate kings were Henry V and Henry VI, kings of England and France, Paris and London. The contender a teenager was promoting was both illegitimate, and a public enemy. Such is the true history of Joan of Arc. Don’t expect one French out of a hundred to suspect it, six centuries later. Too happy, or so it seems, to have enjoyed another four centuries of war between Paris and London.
It is so easy to slip into propaganda, when brandishing history. Let me illustrate this further.
Century of Disaster Riddles, Lies, and Lives — from Fidel Castro and Muhammad Ali to Albert Einstein and Barbie By Eduardo Galeano
[The following passage is excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s history of humanity, Mirrors.] In an aphorism Galeano imbues some “walls” with malfeasance, while insinuating that the Iron Curtain was not such a terrible thing. He vastly underestimates the unjustifiable length and lethality of the Soviets’ fascist contraption (by orders of magnitude). To trick us Galeano confuses the “Iron Curtain” (thousands of kilometers long) and the “Berlin Wall” (part of the preceding, but just inside a particular city).
Here is Galeano:
“The Berlin Wall made the news every day. From morning till night we read, saw, heard: the Wall of Shame, the Wall of Infamy, the Iron Curtain…
In the end, a wall which deserved to fall fell. But other walls sprouted and continue sprouting across the world. Though they are much larger than the one in Berlin, we rarely hear of them.
Little is said about the wall the United States is building along the Mexican border, and less is said about the barbed-wire barriers surrounding the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the African coast.
Practically nothing is said about the West Bank Wall, which perpetuates the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and will be 15 times longer than the Berlin Wall. And nothing, nothing at all, is said about the Morocco Wall, which perpetuates the seizure of the Saharan homeland by the kingdom of Morocco, and is 60 times the length of the Berlin Wall.
Why are some walls so loud and others mute?”
The answer is simple: different walls, different situations. The Berlin Wall was a thundering lie, for all to hear. Other walls can reveal very loud truths, whom nobody in position of intellectual domination wants others to hear.
Why, for example, if Europe is such an horrendous colonialist, and America such a terrible imperialist, are the multitude so keen to shred themselves upon rows after rows of ten meter high razor blades fences as in Ceuta and Melilla? We need truths to explain those facts. Why Africans such lemmings throwing themselves across the sea towards the land of their oppressors and enslavers? Why so suicidal?
To each offense, a defense. Tied up together by causality, offenses and defense are, nevertheless, exact opposites. Somebody’s unjust aggression is someone else’s just war.
I have never heard of Eduardo Galeano before Paul Handover and “Tomdispatch”. I will try to get his book, I love different perspectives, challenges, and, especially, questions I can answer.
Writing about history is a heavy fate. It’s indeed easy to slip into commonality, Common Wisdom, that is, most often, propaganda. Unknowingly.
For example, Galeano implies that Alan Turing committed suicide because of the victimization he was submitted to, as a homosexual. Sounds good on the surface, and it is Conventional Wisdom (so Galeano repeats it, like a good, book selling parrot).
However, a more refined knowledge of what really happened reveals that Turing’s death was probably an accident that befell the already-at-the-time hyper famous Alan Turing, MBE, Member of the British Empire. Verily, Turing had left well behind his condemnation for unwise relations with someone all too young in his employ, whom Turing had imprudently accused of theft.
Some will say: “Why are you so vindictive about the innocent lemmings who love to allege that Turing was forced into suicide, for his homosexuality? Is not that a pretty tale? Does not that help homosexuals? Even if it’s false? Can’t you leave pretty tales alone? What do you have against homosexuals and Joan of Arc?”
Well, truth is my religion. From history, lessons are to be drawn. Correct ones are best. Incorrect ones, and deliberately so, criminal.
I partly draw my uncommon morality from meta-history (that’s the history of the systems of thought that made history).
First, if Turing died accidentally, there is a moral to it: accidents happen. Turing had long played with dangerous chemistry. Since childhood. he went one game with cyanide too far.
Second: whereas Turing was legally harassed for homosexuality, it’s important to realize that, at the time, that was not perceived as an intolerable injustice (even by Turing himself!). There is a higher, meta-lesson in this: the intolerable can look sufferable.
Parrot, repeating history, often engage in Thought Crime. TC: Though Crime, or Terrible Catastrophe.
Recently, some important guy from Hamas was saying something about Jewish children being bathed in blood (an old lie from Middle-Age Christian fascism). Common leftists and other vulgar intellectuals did not protest… Another Thought Crime.
I was listening the other day to a very educated French teacher, a biologist, telling a swarm of little French children, aged five to nine, the beautiful history of the victimization of Joan of Arc. Except that, as taught in France for the last 200 years, it’s sheer propaganda.
The bad “Anglais” were actually themselves French… The would-be French king, later Charles VII… was not the legitimate French King, and thus he was not keen to be sacred king… The Queen of Four Kingdoms manipulated Joan and Charles behind the scene, fatally opposing the legitimate kings, Henry V and Henry VI, kings of England and France, Paris and London.
Thus history is not joke, and nationalistic pitfalls, let alone plutocratic ones, everywhere.
Telling false history to little children teaches hatred.
I do view my activities as those of a historian, because I interpret history. I take some facts that are generally ignored, and point out that they demolish Conventional Wisdom, or the Politically Correct, let alone their vicious embrace. (Nietzsche did nothing different, and most philosophers have, indeed, re-interpreted history. Some of these reinterpretations have become Common Wisdom.)
Yet, I try to exert maximum honesty: when I say something, however controversial, it’s backed up, by serious logic and facts, to the best of my knowledge.
And I avoid historical salad: putting together obviously unrelated things, as if there was a logic to it.
Interrogating all these walls, as Eduardo does, is an excellent question. Yet there is an obviously huge difference between walls that keep people in, and those which keep them out. Blame is pointing out in directions opposite. One of them is right, not both.
The very fact that Europe and the USA have to build walls around themselves, as Rome did for five centuries, is a testimony to their success, not to their failure. And those walls are also a testimony to the failure of more general systems of thought (anti-“colonialism”, global plutocracy, pseudo-leftism, over-exploitation of the planet, crazed demographics, etc.)
Another example: I detest the Moroccan regime (supposedly directly descended from Mahomet, actually just a full blown plutocracy). Yet, one has to visualize the local conditions before crushing it with blanket blame.
And the EU will get some of the blame: the EU haughtily decreed that “Morocco was not European“. That is insulting. Moreover, it is false geographically, genetically, and according to deep history. To boot, it’s not wise, economically self-defeating, politically stupid and strategically dangerous.
All this, because European leaders are arrogant twerps with not much knowledge where it counts.
Knowing long term history (last 1,000 years), shows that the area claimed by the “Polisario” was long Moroccan (for want of a better word, as past empires, extending all the way to Spain, wore different names).
One such empire was that of the Almoravides, true founders of the present Moroccan regime. The Almoravides empire extended from Senegal (where a founder of the empire was killed by a poisoned arrow), to Alger, Lisbone, and the Baleares islands.
Thus the long grudge of Algeria’s FNL (or whatever it wants to call itself) against Morocco becomes something nine centuries old. It explains the FNL’s hostility against Morocco, its support of the Polisario… And the Moroccan wall does not sound as silly, and outrageous anymore.
Empires are not always wrong in all ways. By definition, they order (imperare), and they can order, because they can defend themselves. The best defense being, often, of course, attack. Thuse when Hannibal had taken residence in Italy for more than a decade, the Patrician who came to be known as Scipio Africanus, suggested to the Roman People to attack in Africa itself, and that audacious strategy was entirely successful: precipitously recalled to Carthage, Hannibal hastily gathered forces were soundly defeated just south of the Punic capital, soon to be punished.
With Mexico, the USA has two choices: build a wall, or impose order (imperare), all over Mexico. The latter was tried a bit in the past, more than once. Next time it could well be more thorough, and definitive.
For the USA, letting 100 million Mexicans in, is not really an option
As it is Spanish is already the second language of California, and, extrapolating some trends, could become the first someday. (I do speak Spanish a bit, BTW, so I am no rabid Spanish hater.)
However, as they are immigration flows in Europe and the USA are sustainable… As long as the dominant European and American civilization is successfully imposed. In France, by some estimates, 95% of anti-Judaic attacks are attributed to persons of Muslim ancestry. This is symptomatic of borderline dangerous assimilation situation (more than ten people have died because of it, some little children, directly targeted in an elementary school, for being Jewish, and other French people… including at least one Muslim French paratrooper… a natural victim of anti-Semitism!)
What was particularly grotesque about the Iron Curtain is that it was to keep in workers who were supposed to be living in a paradise made for them. In other words, it was a lie.
The walls between Europe and Africa are not a lie. At least 50,000 have already died trying to cross them in the last ten years (the EU officially says 35,000 drowned in the Mediterranean alone). If one includes the Algerian Harkis of 1962, one speaks about hundreds of thousands dead… trying to get to Europe.
This is testimony of another lie: the standard anti-colonialist discourse. According to it, colonialism, whatever that was, depicts the ultimate evil. Clearly, the regimes that succeeded have been worse, by many measures. And that was entirely predictable: removing the colonialist administrations was equivalent to removing most of the anti-plutocratic safeties.
So walls there are. Contemplating them is good. But the hardest walls to remove are in those erected with the minds which harbor them.