Here Thar Be Monsters!

From the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet, read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. We bring you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send thoughts and comments to luap.jkt at gmail, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all.


Bugs Baradei And Qadaffy Duck Show

Today, we take off the conspiracy glasses, through which we normally see the back-room deals behind the headlines, and put on our history glasses that allow us to see the threads that bind current events to historical trends.

For history buffs, this is one of those fun exercises that put the screaming headline news into the perspective of centuries of history. When we're done, we are better able to see the context of current events and, consequently, the players behind the scenes who are manipulating our reality.

One very fine historian, whom I highly recommend, is Daniel J. Boorstin, who sadly died a few years back. He was a master at showing the common thread of events that lead to current events.

At any rate, let's see if we can't pick up a thread or two in the tapestry of time that will put some perspective on Middle East events.

Over here, we find James I of England, who was cornered by the blue bloods of the time into signing the Magna Charta in AD 1215. This was the first major challenge to the Divine Right of Kings in history. It basically pulled the main support column out from under the absolute sovereignty of monarchs and started a trend towards democratization and constitutional governments.

Next, we pick up the thread of Martin Luther and his commonly-called Ninety-Five Theses. This was a direct challenge to the Roman Cathloic Chruch's hegimony in Europe, and was predicated on the radical new technology of moveable type, used famously by Guternberg to disseminate the Bible in the common tongue to thousands of people.

Like printing the US Constitution, people were able to look in the Bible for themselves and see that all the supposed power of the Holy See was not mentioned anywhere by the Gospels. This was a major blow to monarchical power.

This wave of Rome bashing emboldened Henry VIII to go head-to-head with the Roman church and ultimately declare the Church of England a separate authority, thus throwing gasoline on the fire of the Protestant Revolution (a term composed of the words "protest" and "revolt"...sound familiar yet?)

Luther's challenge was to the concept of 'pleniary' and 'extraordinary' indulgences, which the Roman church conceived whole-cloth out of its supposed supreme power over the Earth. The idea was that one could buy one's way out of 'purgatory' (another made-up concept) by buying or performing indulgences, which vastly enriched the Roman church.

Luther had the gall to point out that there was absolutely no Gospel foundation for either indulgences or purgatory. The people, naturally, were a bit miffed that they had been so deeply misled. Ultimately, this caused the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, which led to World War I.

In World War I, we have this rogue character names T. E. Lawrence, who you may know as Lawrence of Arabia. Though Lawrence was acting of his own volition, the Powers That Be found him to be a useful stooge, as he was leading the disparate Arab tribes to unification under King Faisal, who in turn was friendly to Western powers.

The Western powers, rememvering Hanibal and the Ottoman Empire, had sought for centuries to control the Middle East, which was a key trade route and a hot-bed of growing Muslim power. Being both an economic and religious threat to Western interests, the Middle East was key to diffusing any threats before they reached the outskirts of Europe.

Meantime, over in the Americas, a radical group of thinkers and tinkers had successfully rebelled against the English throne and established a reworking of the ancient concept of 'republic,' borrowing from Roman and Greek political thought.

The success of the American Revolution led to the French getting uppity, followed by the Australians, and finally to Ghandi in India. These revolts were devastating to the British Empire, which today is reeling from the blows, as its economy collapses under the weight of empire without resources.

Since the British Empire, through its naval dominion and lack of domestic resources, had cobbled together nations out of vastly differring cultures, it was vital that the empire be able to project force at a distance in order to maintain these artificial 'nations.' Examples include Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, and others. Without the ability to rape and pillage other continents, England was just a small, insignificant island off the west coast of Europe.

As the British Empire unwinds, after 300 years, so do the many manipulations it has perpetrated on the political world. Just as the Austrio-Hungarian Empire splintered into a hundred different countries (leading to the Serbia-Kosovo war a while back), and the Soviet Empire blew apart into dozens of 'Stans,' so too, the British Empire's death is causing major upheaval in the world.

As we continue pulling the threads, we see two themes coming apart: one is the absolute power of monarchs and the other is artificial countries cobbled together out of historical enemies for economic and political expediency.

The thread of monarchy, begun in 1215, with James I, continues to this moment as Moroccan and Saudi Arabian kings desparately cling to their thrones. The secular version of kings, commonly called dictators, are similarly being overthrown, as the common people begin to perceive 'the man behind the curtain.'

They are also doing a head-count and finding that, gee, there are a billion folks over here, and twenty over there.  Why do they get all the goodies?

One after another, they will continue to fall, just as the British colonies did before them. It is the inevitable outcome of history.

We have seen these same impulses in Asia, as the Chinese dynasties collapsed and the Japanese emporer became mortal again.  Even the Catholic Church is further unwinding as the corruption and decay behind two millenia of absolute rule are displayed for all to see.

The artificial 'nations' forced, like opposing poles of magnets, to come together, are now flying apart. British constructs, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Libya, and many others, are again splintering into their historic tribal affiliations.

Similarly, the Holy Roman Empire, reborn as the Austrio-Hungarian, then the Third Reich, and now the European Union, is blowing itself apart. These artifical constructs, based not on cultural unity, but on political expedience, are all crumbling, as the brick and mortar of empire decays.

There has been a major trend over centuries to democratize power and wealth. The masses, tired of the genetic crap-shoot that is monarchy, and weary of highly centralized power in the hands of moguls and bankers, the effects of which are the same, have taken to the streets to wrest power out of the hands of the few and into the hands of the individual.

As we pull all of these threads together, we can start to get a glimpse of the tapestry of history that is unfolding in today's headlines. Though this survey is hardly comprehensive, nor is it exhaustive, it does allow us to see some of the Big Picture, that looks so complicated at the level of pixels, but which make a good bit of sense when we draw back a little.

It's like looking at a Georges Seuurat painting. Up close, we perceive only discreet dots of color, but standing back, we can see hundreds of people engaged in various activities on a Sunday afternoon in the park.

Perhaps a bit of perspective removes some of the fear of current events, though it certainly does not lessen the profound loss of life, nor the major upheaval to the world order. It is the nature of humans to do everything they can to preserve the status quo, while at the same time wishing to change things for the better. This dichotomy within our souls is perhaps the grain of conflict in our outter reality. The impulse for change or not is further motivated by good or evil intent. We must be wary of the motives of those pulling the strings of history behind the wall of illusion we call 'reality.'

Just as Seurat's points of color blend at a distance to create the illusion of an image, or even the way pixels combine on your screen to give the illusion of text, which is further an illusion of abstract thought, we must maintain a broad enough perspective on history so that we are not slaves to it.

Slavery comes in many guises, both from outside and in. The shackles we place on ourselves are no less real than those put on us by others. The key to our freedom is having the proper perspective on things.

Even Death itself fears Knowledge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your own view of The Far Side.