Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marie Antoinette

A lot of the bad publicity surrounding Marie Antoinette emanates from the smear campaigns directed against her by the Jacobins, although incidences such as the Diamond Necklace Affair and the Madame Deficit labelling clearly pre-date the Jacobin attacks. I don’t believe that she was bad person however she does appear to be both frivolous, naive and if I have to say so not particularly bright.

Her love for her husband and children is admirable and she did seem to support Jacques Necker in his bid to bring the nation’s finances under control. Historians have debated for some time as to the degree of influence that she had on her husband but I do believe that she had a significant role in encouraging Louis XVI to make his ill-fated ‘Flight to Varennes’, a turning point in the fate of the monarchy as an institution. Her connection to the arch-enemy, Austria, was no doubt a legitimate concern for the revolutionary government, and did materialize into a real threat to France with the War of the First Coalition. I think that is reasonable to compare Marie Antoinette to Catherine the Great at least with respect to their origins in the political scene.

Both were foreigners (Antoinette from Austria, Catherine from the Germanic States), both were married to weak kings (Peter III for Catherine, Louis XVI for Marie Antoinette), both arrived in countries with large populations, that had strong nobilities and a gigantic poorly treated peasant/serf /third estate class. Each nation was a key centre for a brand of rigid Christianity (Eastern Orthodoxy for Russia, Catholicism for France). Both countries had a very strong war driven monarch who in the not too distant past had resurrected their countries fortunes from the doldrums (Peter the Great for Russia, Louis XIV for France).

Yet one of these women went on to greatness, Catherine, while the other, Antoinette, is associated with failure. It is tempting to blame this on spending but Catherine the Great was no fiscal conservative either. What I do believe was the big difference (other than their intellect) is that Catherine successfully ‘Russified’ herself from day one. She changed her name and dropped all connection to her German background. Antoinette did none of this and was always seen as a foreigner. So that when the revolution came it was natural that she should be vilified as an enemy of the state. If Marie Antoinette had stepped down from her pedestal on day one, it is possible that she may have become the People’s Queen, like Catherine and saved the nation from some of the bloodbath which was slated to occur

Thursday, September 25, 2014

First World War Documentary.

I just finished watching an incredible series documentary on the Great War. The Series is titled - The First World War and it is available in ten parts on You Tube. Each part is about 50 minutes long and it is based on the book by Hew Strachan. Below is the link to episode one.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

911 Remembered

It has been over thirteen years since Jihadists brought down the Twin Towers in New York. It's important that we in the West continue our fight against the Islamist barbarism in its many insidious forms. This includes being vigilant not only against the more obvious Jihadists (ISIL/ISIS, AL Q, Hezbollah, Hamas, the various Salafist groups, Boko Haram, the Brotherhood and others) but also those that operate by stealth such as CAIR, ISNA and the MSA.The radical left and many so-called progressives have helped empower some of these groups by muzzling free speech criticism and this has been extremely unfortunate. Obama appears to be waking up but his naivety on this front has cost America dearly. With Europe in the wake of demographic suicide the US is still the best hope for those who champion liberal democracy (although India may carry this mantra in the future)...but after six years of second rate leadership I just hope that it has not lost the belief that overall it is a force of good.

Great Society

While I admire Lyndon Johnson for his efforts in pushing through many of the important Civil Rights decisions in the US, his Great Society Vision has proven to be a disaster. Even with hindsight this is no surprise. At the core of the Great Society (GS) are values that are the antithesis to the fibre of what made the US exceptional and ultimately successful: individualism and self-reliance. The Great Society sought to redress the evils of the past by introducing group based discriminatory affirmative action programs, it also overextended the reach of government fostering a dependency that has been particularly hurtful to African-American communities. The rioting at Ferguson is a symptom of this failure, a more significant disaster has been the bankruptcy of Detroit and the financial collapse of municipalities controlled by snake oil salesmen from the Democrat Party, who see any deviation from the excesses of GS as racist. This is a modern day tragedy need and abetted by white liberals who can't see beyond their apparent guilt and continue to buy into a destructive narrative.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WWI Thoughts - II

One should not underestimate the role of David Lloyd-George in securing victory for the Allies in World War One. As British PM from 1916-1922 Lloyd-George tactfully agreed to many of the rational demands of organized labour. He championed a policy of conciliation rather than confrontation, preventing the Home Front from erupting with the same degree of violence that engulfed France, Germany , the Austro-Hungarian Empire and of course Russia. At Versailles the Welshman was under immense pressure to take a hardline stance against Germany but was constantly mindful of the repercussions that would endear. The British public wanted the Kaiser to hang for war crimes , France was obsessed with its future security and the Americans under Wilson needed to ensure that the debt owed to them by the Allies, for financing the war effort, would be repaid. Lloyd-George was caught up in this tangle but managed to secure the integrity of the British Empire (as well as the global domination of the British Navy) at a time when feelings of nationalism were running high. Lloyd-George was a unifier, he headed a coalition where his own party, the Liberals were in a minority, yet secured the political stability that Britain so craved during these turbulent times. His vital contribution to the nation should not be forgotten.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

WWI Thoughts - I

Its been one hundred years since the beginning of the 'War to End All Wars' and the outcome of this great conflict is still very relevant today, While the war ended the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and German Empires it was also responsible for the rise of Fascism, Marxist-Leninism and Islamism. Vladimir Putin is an extension of the KGB apparatus that originated with Lenin's Cheka (during WWI) and ISIS - gains its intellectual capital (if you can call it such a thing) from the Wahhabism that challenged Turkish superiority in the Arabian Peninsula. As well American Intervensionism, which has critics on both the left and the right, can take as its champion Woodrow Wilson, who rejected the isolation of old to thrust America into the global theatre as never before. One would not be mistaken to conclude that the genesis of the US as a superpower has its origin in WWI not necessarily in a military capacity (where it swung the war against the Central Pact in 1918) but in its ability to finance the allied war machine. The American economic power house grew to adulthood in the Great War.

Like a Phoenix Rising this blog is back

I am resurrecting this blog and will be taking it in a new direction. While I will post external source material where relevant...I am planning on using this blog as a conduit for expressing some of my ideas on world history as well. Readers are invited to post comments and debate is encouraged.