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The March Of History And The End Of Nations

Politics / GeoPolitics Oct 16, 2014 - 01:04 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Dancing at the Victims' Ball
By July 1794, with the surprise execution of ace executioner Maximilien de Robespierre, who himself had probably ordered more than 5000 killings by the then-newfangled and dreaded guillotine in the French revolution, faction rivalry akin to the type that sets al Qaeda against ISIS in the Middle East today was so intense that a new wave of Terror was at hand. Called counter-revolution by some, and even the “death of History” by others, the strident call for Saving the Nation became a powerful excuse for new purges, plots and mass executions leading in 1799 to the emergence of the self-styled supreme leader who could save the nation, Napoleon I.

De Robespierre, nicknamed The Incorruptible, was followed to the guillotine by around 20 of his revolutionary judges, ideologues and faction leaders who had sided with him. He had said that saving his revolutionary democracy was far more important than saving the nation. External threats included the Duke of Prussia, a leader who wanted to build a new and powerful nation in Europe – the future Germany – and above all wanted to stamp out the French revolution's anarchic threat to the ruling monarchies of Europe.

Mass killings driven by paranoia were triggered across France by the threat to the Nation. These featured the almost totally indiscriminate murder of foreigners, prisoners, Catholics in protestant-dominated areas, and the opposite in Catholic-majority areas, clergymen, nuns, and others. The mass drownings in Nantes, in early 1794, killing an unknown number of persons but probably over 4000, had been an outrider. The victims were anyone arrested and jailed for not consistently supporting the Revolution or suspected of being a royalist, or simply being a priest or nun, or accused of being a foreign national from a particularly suspect country like Switzerland, the UK or Austria, or being a member of a family accused of any of those crimes.

The victims were thrown into the river Loire, sometimes with stone weights attached to their bodies, sometimes dumped from the holds of ships, or sealed into the holds of ships which were then sunk. The chief executioner, Jean-Baptiste Carrier, who was later guillotined, sardonically nicknamed the river Loire “our national bathtub”.

By late 1794, in Paris, despite its counter-revolutionary nature and danger, the fear of La Terreur, the guillotine, food shortages or famine and the spread of epidemic diseases, like typhus, resulted in what were called Les Bals des Victimes. Relatives of victims, remaining bourgeois and the well-off, and others would shave their necks and mark the area where the guillotine blade would fall in red, wear black armbands and dress in strangely decadent ways including near-nakedness and red-splashed white clothing to evoke the coming flow of blood. Then they danced through the night.

Wiring-in Terror
Able to be called mass catharsis, decadence or collective paranoia, it became impossible for the revolutionaries to suppress the Victims' Balls which continued for several years. Mass terror in France had moved on from the revolutionary struggle, to a struggle for and against the nation-state. This struggle became hard-wired in society and caused a deep mutation of the idea of “the nation” Exactly the same has happened in western society, on an accelerating basis since 9 / 11 or the Islamic terror attacks in New York and Washington, in September 2001. To the extent that al Qaeda and ISIS dostrine exists and has any coherence, it is a “one world supranational concept”. The European federal project can be called a smaller-scale (but continental) version. The UN Agenda 21 and the NWO among other elite One World theories, if flimsy, are a sure and certain threat to nation states. Internet and social network “culture', globalization and mass migration are other threats to the nation state.

De Robespierre's execution was preceded by a few months with the trial and execution of Jacques Roux, the revolutionary Catholic priest who not only attacked the concept of the French nation and any nation, but also the existence of social classes, property, the issue and exchange of money, and “the capitalist counter-revolution”. Roux was a Christian fundamentalist and Marxist revolutionary well before Karl, and at his trial the main charge held against him was, ironically, counter-revolution.

His liberation theology was heavily tinted by “end times eschatology” or the Christian doctrine developed from Timothy, Chapter 4 which claims that Bible-derived study of 'end things' ranging from the end of an individual's life and the end of epochs, to the Apocalyptic end of the world will hasten the arrival of God's Kingdom on Earth. All nations will be swept away. Roux's political stance was difficult to call 'counter revolutionary' due to his millenarian streak. Other charges used against him at his trial ending with a death sentence included anarchy and even that he was a libertarian.

Roux like de Robespierre, Marx and Mao Zedong believed in permanent revolution – which would firstly destroy, and then stave off the return of nations, which all the above three revolutionaries said, like Islamic extremists say, is a potential or permanent invitation to Tyranny.

The nation is tyrannical by nature, rather than by the accidents of History.

Neither Roux nor any other French revolutionary (nor Marx or Mao we can argue) however admitted that the clash of social paradigms – both those in favour of nations and those opposed -  was a far more intense threat to their permanent revolution. De Robespierre for example claimed at his trial that the philosophy of Rousseau proved the existence of what he called a “natural social contract” which eliminated the need for nations. Rousseau, sometimes considered an early “post rational and ecstatic” philosopher, said that the individual human being's relationship with Nature provides an instinctive basis for operating society, far more fundamental than anything provided by the creation or existence of nations.

Today's events not only in Ukraine and the Middle East but also in troubled nations as far-flung as Thailand, China, Spain and Venezuela, and a range of “deliquescent” nation states of Africa, renews History and challenges the nation state.

The Handmaiden of Change
Violence as ever is the handmaiden of change and as mass violence grows, so does Terror, both revolutionary and counter revolutionary. . As the French revolution proved, both those who wanted to destroy the nation, and those who wanted to save it, used terror and indiscriminate killings.

This sombre and sociopathic trend can even be linked to the probable “prime movers” of the defeat of rationality in society at the level of the individual and how the individual interacts with society.  The case of Anders Breivik's mass killings in Norway – one of the main charges held against him at his two-month trial was “destabilizing the nation”. This and comparable cases showed that psychologically disturbing and destabilizing factors and processes, generally grouped together as information overload-sensory deprivation, produce and result in a large range of  defense reactions by the individual. At the society-wide level this can lead to the rejection of belief and confidence in the nation.

While he methodically shot dozens of his young fellow citizens Breivik felt nothing, like any psychopath. He did not know what he was doing – but claimed at his trial he was “saving the nation”

The individual “tunes out and shuts down”. Society can do the same, obviously with much graver results when this concerns a process ending with a reign of terror becoming 'normal'. At the individual level, psychologists describe “sensory gating action” which includes, for example, the 'cocktail party effect' or the ability to focus a single conversation in a hubbub of noise. Another example is the avoidance of strong lights and the perception of stressful movement, such as traffic in busy city streets by systematically wearing sunglasses even on days when light levels are not high or extreme.

Consciously-designed attempts by political and other ideologists, or by elites to 'shut down history' or to 'gate history' to save the nation can, we suppose, produce a defence reaction in individuals and society where even the reality of terror and its barbarity is shrugged off by a semi-automatic “inability to know”. The nation can however be one of the first victims. It is shut down with History.

After The End of History
When the Greek mythic god Phanes, the god of procreation and the primeval god of the human race and its urge to reproduce was opposed by barbarous enemies – and was shocked by the barbarity of his own troops – he opined that his love for fellow human beings had been betrayed or deceived He was disappointed by his troops' behavior. Phanes came to be associated with the opposites of barbarity including charitableness, clemency, compassion, humanity, kindness, tenderness, pity and warmth. Deciding to “assassinate history” can be called extreme barbarity.
The death of history theme developed by US historian Francis Fukuyama, which he later retracted, also included a sub-theme of a New Millenium where permanent economic growth was upon us, alongside the withering of old and outdated ideas like social justice, ethnic and religious identity, community, national identity - and even the basic concept of society, but Fukuyama was careful to stay ambiguous about whether nation states would go down the tube, with History. Supposedly, his theory suggested that society would be magically replaced by “the markets”.

Fukuyama's theory excluded all possibility of what really happens in our real world subjected to constant historical change, as well as economic, demographic, technological and other agents of change.  If or when attempts are made to “unknow” history and the reality of change, we inevitably get pent-up frustrated change. When this breaks out like a dam burst the likely result is a “break in series” and one analogy is as follows. Stack up enough agents of change and throw them down on the floor like a flask of mercury – but dont be surprised that the change which happens is inchoate. This means unpredictable and uncertain, not fully developed, and often a (bad) surprise.

Changing from a known future to the exact opposite – which is an unknown non-future - is part and parcel of a general retreat from rationality in our western society, and increasingly worldwide. For nations it is an almost certain endgame but the process is future avoidance - not future prevention.

What has happened since the 1980s is that the credibility of the “national identity paradigm” withered at an accelerating pace, but History forged forward and it is totally neutral on whether or not nations can come back through the front (or back) door when they are thrown out the window. Like the “sans-culottes” street mobs of Paris that were whipped up by Jacques Roux and other Flash Mob agitators of the day, western society found out that the actual content and values of the 1980s “bourgeois liberal” revolutionary paradigm they were forced to swallow had been swamped by unknowing. There was a moral vacuum. The New Economy was a flop. They had been fooled again!

Neither democracy nor “the markets” meant anything at all. Not only the “national identity paradigm” was denied and eroded, but also the never admitted and acknowledged but real acceptance of mindless violence, unfortunately followed like day follows night. History in the making.

By the 1990s or shortly after the turn of the century, called “the millenium”, harbingers of an accelerating erosion of nation states and national identities were not only present in the antique western democracies but almost everywhere. For example the so-called Arab Spring and Kiev Winter uprisings. These were wrongly attributed by western media and analysts as only concerning former or present Tyrannies and young-but-failing democracies of the former East bloc.

The Non-Nation State
The above examples and others like the Islamic State (which is not a state) are more accurately new non-nations. In these cases, for example Syria and Iraq, shards and splinters of former national identity still existed, but in kaleidoscope format. Putting them back together again is unlikely to succeed. The pat argument that these are only anarchic uprisings and in no caseThe reign of violence, in the Syrian case reaching extremes of barbarity, was installed but in no case could be called durable or sustainable ignores the role of violence “as the handmaiden of political change” as Marx said, but as in the French revolution the process of firstly degrading and degenerating society to a level of permanent violence will generate a linked but later process of regrouping and rebuilding society – which can takes time, often measured in decades.

End of Identity
History has plenty of examples of this. In a large number of cases the “post-terror process” simply moves straight to the emergence of dictatorships or tyranny – on the model of the French revolution. These maintain the reign of terror under new wraps, rationalized sometimes as “saving the nation” and justified as “meaningful terror”, not mindless psychopathy.

National identity is almost always a vaunted ideal of dictators and tyrants – until the 20th century in wetern society but for over 1000 years in the Muslim world. What are called “post-historical” mores, lifestyles and values (or lack of them) are easy to package in the same waste bag, with no ecology-oriented sorting and sifting of metals, glass and putrescible organics, placing them directly in the Nihilist one-way-trip bin because reaction and resistance is sure and certain.

Like privatization and downsizing in the economy, the same processes of the human psyche of individual persons marks a general retreat from knowledge and meaning with typical Narcissism as a side product – like the Victims' Balls of the French revolution. Social psychologists in many western democracies including EU28 countries, the US, Japan, Canada and South Korea report that the “recourse to narcissism”, partly as a defence reaction to social stress, is most certainly on the rise. One example is the refusal by large numbers of persons under 25 years age to participate in any interactive activity except the Internet social networks. The politicized versions, such as the youth-dominated Flash Mob uprising is harder-edged than that of classic individual narcissism as derived from the Greek myth where egoism plays a major role in an obsessional fascination of the individual with their own single person or persona.

The growing refusal to interact socially unless the persons involved in the interaction reflect only the chosen image of the narcissistic individual moves on and up from the stage of politics, and far from the classic concept of the nation state. As a “sensory gate” or shunt screening out harmful information the new narcissism is an after-stage of the loss of nationalidentity, then social identity, and finally a gating process that limits and screens off “damaging reality” and enables a further retreat into the private garden of the self-obsessed ego.

Calls for restoring and strengthening national identity are therefore fighting the tide of social change, naturally generating spontaneous attempts at reconstructing society. Before that stage becomes widespread and powerful, national identities can only further fritter away. As the Japanese Fukushima disaster has shown, we are easily dispossessed of what we took for granted and lost interest in

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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