Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I must return once more to that, at least to me, unknown classic of Victor Hugo's, "'93" (published in 2008 by Watchmaker Publishing with nary a word of introduction nor, inexplicably, even a mention of when it was initially published, forcing one to go to Wikipedia just to see when it was written ... what's up with that?).
The last section of the book deals with the attack by the Republic against the last stronghold of the Royalists and peasants that takes place in the meticulously described medieval structure called "La Tourgue".
In setting the scene for this cataclysmic finale, Hugo has introduced us to, not only, the subject of the previous post, Cimourdain, and his protege, Gauvain, but to their antagonist, Gauvain's uncle, Le Marquis de Lantenac, who has previously ordered the killing of women and children in the first battle he is involved in in Vendee, a stronghold of peasants who melt into the Fougeres forest via an underground network of tunnels and crypts.
One of the soldiers of the Republic, surveying the scene of slaughter, finds a wounded woman and her three children buried beneath the human carnage left by the Marquis' forces and saves the mother's life, but, not sure of her relationship to the bairns they discover with her, "adopt" the children and take them under the regiment's wing. Michele, their grievously wounded mother, has been run through with a sword, twice, and is barley alive. That's what necessitates their separation.
As the battle around La Tourgue takes shape, we're informed that somehow, the Marquis and a small group of his followers are trapped inside this fortress, where they've entrapped the three children, who they've kidnapped, and are threatening to blow them up unless the Republicans let the Marquis de Lantenac and his cohorts, go free.
The metaphor is obvious, and applicable to the conundrum facing the world, the entire globe, now. Once again we are witnessing the collapse of an old regime, and the struggle for something, what, nobody knows, to be born. Just as the Marquis, in '93, stands for the past, and the enslavement of the many by the elitist, privileged few, with Gauvain, representing the new world, whose dawn can be just faintly espied, like a shadowy chemical plant, filling one with dread and hope simultaneously, twinkling bewitchingly on the horizon. The children, representing, as children always do, the future, are being kept hostage by force of arms because the avatars of the ancien regime are loathe to give up what, to them, is rightfully theirs: France. France most decidedly does not belong to her people, but instead, by dint of their noble blood, to the aristocracy.
Rather than give up what is by birthright, his, the Marquis is in desperate battle to bring the English fleet, awaiting signal from him on the channel island of Guernsey, to his aid, turning over the country to a foreign invader rather than let it fall into the hand of its indigent people.
Such are the Republicans of today. They prefer the country to fall into economic ruin rather than let a man whom they consider doesn't have the birthright, be re-elected president. The party that allowed a group of brigands to take down the tallest towers in the Empire State and fly jets into the heart of our Capitol, all got rich pimping defense contracts for the industry that sat on its hands while those planes flew for 45 minutes toward NYC, licking their chops at the prospect of squeezing the most outrageous profits out of the incident and driving oil prices to unprecedented heights, fattening their bank accounts while ensuring that the vast fortunes pouring into them were free from paying their share of income taxes.
The man at the helm, GW, had the same disdain for such encumbrances as books, as the Marquis, who, once captured and imprisoned for his revolution against the Republic of France, railed against his nephew, decrying the fact that "it was all the fault of those scribblers. The Encyclopedia, bah! Here on the wall you can see the marks from the quartering-wheels (just like the GOP bringing back torture ... they knew how to do things right). We didn't allow any nonsense. No, no; no scribblers. As long as there are men who use their pens, as long as there is ink, there will be blots, as long as the paw of man grasps the goose quill, frivolous stupidities will engender cruel stupidities. Books cause crimes! What is the meaning of your song about "rights"? Rights of man! Rights of the people! All that is empty enough, stupid enough, imaginary enough, senseless enough! And to think none of this would've happened if Voltaire had been hanged and Rousseau had been sent to the galley. At least you won't make me cry 'Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!'".
The modern day version now call themselves Republicans, but they worship Empire. And the only ones standing against them have no idea what they fight. Voicing such rubbish as, "At the end of the day, we're all on the same team trying to make our neighborhoods, states and country, safer, stronger and more satisfying places to be, where differing opinions can be expressed freely and passionately without fear. Where the best elements of those opposing opinions can be forged to make our world better", the liberals make a mockery of everyone who has fought with them, as all those rubrics about wanting the same thing are wishful thinking.
The likes of Karl Rove and Grover Norquisling want nothing of the sort. They wish to have and retain the place of privilege at the trough that they've been granted, or stolen, made sacrosanct and passed down to their children, even as they see the flailing paradigm of cheap energy for everyone choke the cities, the country, and finally the entire globe.
Not caring a whit about humanity or their fellow countrymen or 'Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!, they scoff at them the same as Le Marquis, wanting only to take what, following the same twisted logic as he did, belongs, by right, to them.
Yet even that outrage is not enough. For all his bluster, the Marquis has a saving grace. As the small group he heads faces certain destruction, a secret passage opens up in the wall of La Tourgue, and a cohort appears to lead them to safety. As they scurry to escape, one of them volunteers to stay and fight off the advancing enemy, intent on not only ensuring his Lord's escape, but on performing one last act of villainy. He wickedly sets a snaking wick alight that leads to the powder which will ignite and burn the three children, held in a separate part of the tower, to death.
But, as it so happens, Hugo, while relating the circumstances and horrors of the battle, has also been detailing the trek of the mother toward La Torgue, where she has learned it is likely her children have been taken. As she finally drags herself across the plain that leads to the monolith glowing in flames on the horizon, she screams in agony at the sight of her three children, still asleep, as the flames start licking up the walls of their prison. However, this is exactly the same path that the Marquis has taken on his flight to freedom, and, while willing to order the murder in cold blood of the woman and children that brought them to this impasse, is unable to heartlessly make good his escape when he has the only key to a locked iron gate, without which, the children are trapped beyond rescue.
So instead he wheels in his flight and returns to where he is certain to be captured and executed, and saves the waifs from certain destruction. It is while waiting in his cell for his execution that he spits out the venom to his nephew detailed above. And that is when, in the name of honor, or a conscience similar to his uncle's that wouldn't let even children he's already told to be hacked to bits, burn, when confronted with the anguished wail of their despairing mother, that Gauvain can not allow the destruction of someone who, in order to save innocents, has willingly placed his neck under the blade of the guillotine.
Such valor is not present in the Marquis' current personification. The cowards that make up the current rulers of the Supra-class have no military service under their belts. They have no brave exploits or self-sacrifice to brag about, only institutions of fraud and monetary debauchery slapped together to extract the savings of those they consider the riff-Raff right out from under their noses while using the cry of Freedom! to fool the masses and mask their chicanery. Because what they mean by freedom is freedom to crush all opposition, freedom to suppress the votes of those that are against them, freedom to run roughshod over entire countries if they dislike their leaders.
So, when I hear fools mouth the words, "At the end of the day, we're all on the same team", I can't but shake my head in dismay.
Because, even after the way his uncle railed at him in the prison cell, Gauvain does what he had gone there planning to do. Calling the guard to let him out, he throws his cape and hood over his uncle's head, and shoves him out the door, leaving himself to face the guillotine instead, as that, he well knows, will be the fate that awaits him for abetting the escape of the most dangerous man in France. A momentous betrayal, just to ease the twinge of his conscience.
That is why I shake my head. Because, I believe we do the same thing as Gauvain. We let down all those who have rallied to our side, letting the blandishments of a totally morally corrupt minority sway us to "be fair". Letting them convince us that "the best elements of those opposing opinions can be forged to make our world better", even though they're voiced by the same people who staffed the white house when Lawrence Lindsey was peremptorily dismissed for voicing his opinion about the true costs (which were if anything still understated, despite being on the magnitude of ten times, yes TEN TIMES, the costs put forward by the Bush Regime) of the Iraq War.
To tell people that these monomaniacal dervishes are simply "trying to make our world better", when they are, in fact, trying to destroy it, take it back to the quartering wheel and resurrect the feudal structure with them ensconced at the top and the rest of us forced to serve at their whim under pain of death, or Guantanamo, or a drone strike against our family, is the height of foolishness, and a betrayal of those who helped vanquish the opposition. If the Republicans, for strategic reasons, wish to hide their true nature, it is not up to us to hold the fig leaf in front of their shriveled genitalia. It contrarily, is incumbent upon us to rip it away and, no matter how ugly the reality, reveal it for what it truly is: planned obsolescence for every social program ever devised and implemented by Liberal ideology.
Posted by Robert Lowrey at 3:02 PM