Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

History of Religion and Philosophy

Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father and only surviving family member, revisiting the attic; May 3rd, 1960.

Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father and only surviving family member, revisiting the attic, May 3rd, 1960 [700x897]

August 1, 1944 was the date of Anne Frank’s last diary entry; the last paragraph reads:

Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if . . . if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank

Her family was captured 3 days later. Of the 7 people hiding in the Secret Annex, only her father survived the holocaust, and he had her diary published.

A virtual tour of the secret annex, for anyone interested.

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Finland: The Swedish Period.

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The earliest period of Swedish colonization of Finland proper (in the area around the city of Turku) occurred at the end of the 12th century, and could be considered a part of the religious and political movement known as the Northern Crusade. The Swedish monarchs and nobles would have had numerous reasons for the effort including

•suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Finland and Aaland archipelago.
•conversion of Finnic tribes to Catholic Christianity.
•creation of markets, establishment of feifs, and access to raw materials.
•to check the influence of Novgorod, and counter the spread of the “heretical” Orthodox creed.

Indeed, the spread of Swedish language and construction of fortresses goes hand in hand with the construction of Catholic churches and cathedrals in the early period.

Skipping ahead from the 1200s up to the 1400s, Sweden joined Denmark and Norway in a union of the skandinavian kingdoms called the Union of Kalmar, which was dominated by Denmark. Under Gustav Erikson, later King Gustav I Vasa, Sweden (and Finland) left the Kalmar Union in 1523. Gustav Vasa profoundly changed the Swedish monarchy, weakening the power of the nobility and church to enhance his own power. Following a dispute with the Pope about the appointment of Bishops, Gustav allowed the spread of the Lutheran church in his kingdom. This period also saw the administration of the provinces in Finland come under the supervision of royally appointed bailiffs, rather than being administered by local Bishoprics and noble families (who tended to be Germans appointed by pre-Kalmar kings).

Following Gustav I, his sons Eric XIV and John III ruled. John originally ruled as Duke of Finland during his brother’s reign, and used his power base in Finland to depose his mentally unstable brother. John had strong catholic sympathies, and under his reign and that of his son Sigismund, Sweden would see the reintroduction of many Catholic ceremonies and the drift back towards Catholicism being the state religion.

Sigismund was troubled in that his Catholicism as well as his duties as King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth put him at odds with his Swedish nobles, and he was deposed in turn in favor of Gustav I’s youngest son Charles IX. During this conflict in Sweden proper, the provinces of Finland saw what has been called the Cudgel War, where peasants rebelled against burdensome and exploitative nobles and military garrisons. Charles IX expressed support for the peasantry, but his forces were engaged fighting Sigismund in Sweden.

The period of Charles IX reign would see the lessening of the old rivalry with the Russian principalities (Muscovy was descending into the Time of Troubles) and a heightening of rivalry with Poland-Lithuania ruled by the disgruntled Sigismund who never relinquished his claim to the crown of Sweden. In fact, this period would see Russia as the playground for Polish and Swedish invasions and puppet Czars (something never mentioned in discussions of Charles XII/Napoleon/Hitler).

Charles IX was succeeded by his illustrious son Gustav Adolph, also known by his latinized name Gustavus Adolphus. Gustav Adolph’s reign saw the conquest of Skane from the Danes by the young monarch, an extended war against his cousin, Sigismund, in Prussia, and eventually Swedish intervention in the 40 years war. During this long period of war, Finnish cavalry regiments known as Hakkapeliitas made a name for themselves for their endurance and savagery. Actually, Jean Sibelius wrote a concerto about them known as the Hakkapeliita March.

At the end of Gustav Adolph’s reign, Sweden could be considered one of the “great powers” of Europe to come out of the 40 years war, along with France.

However, Swedish strength would ebb away with the reforms of Peter the Great of Russia. King Christian XII fought the Russian Czar to a standstill in the early phases of the Great Northern War in 1700, but the Swedish monarch made the drastic mistake of engaging in a long and inconclusive war with Poland while the Russians recouped their strength. The result was Russia took over the territory of Estonia, gained access to the Gulf of Finland including the site on which St Petersburg was constructed, as well as the loss of Viipuri/Vyborg, the lynchpin of the eastern defenses of Finland.

Finally, Sweden would lose the entirety of Finland in the 1808-09 Finnish War.


Image

Rioters during the Bobby Sands hunger strike attack police in Belfast, Northern Ireland; ca. 1981

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François-Noël Babeuf: The First Revolutionary Communist.

François-Noël_Babeuf

François-Noël Babeuf was born in 1760, in Saint-Quentin, to a desperately poor family. He was born in filth, in his own words. He was given an education by his father, and had a hell of a mind. His intelligence, thirst for knowledge, and independent thinking complemented the short and informal education he received, and paved the the way for his future. He began working, digging a canal, at the age of twelve. A few years later, he worked for a notary specializing in feudal law. His job was to help the aristocracy claim as much as possible of their ancient privileges. Around the same time, he married Marie-Anne Langlet.

In 1789 he participated in drawing up the official complaints for his area to submit to the Estates General, but without much success. When the revolution broke out in 1789, Babeuf wrote a letter to his wife

How ill that joy made me! I was at the same time alike satisfied and ill content. I said, so much the better and so much the worse! I understand that the people should do justice for itself; I approve of that justice so long as the destruction of the guilty suffices for it, but has it not to-day become cruel? Punishments of all kinds – quartering, torture, the wheel, the stake, the whip, the gibbet, executions everywhere – have demoralised us! Our masters, instead of policing us, have made us barbarians, because they are such themselves. They reap, and will continue to reap, what they lave sown. For all this, O my poor wife! will have, as far as one can see, terrible consequences! We are as yet only at the beginning!

Despite his reaction, Babeuf threw himself into the revolution wholeheartedly. He changed his name to Camille, the French form of Camillus, after the neoclassical fashion of the time. He changed the name of his son, too, from Robert to Émile, in honor of Rousseau’s book. In 1790, he was imprisoned for his writings, which were judged to incite rebellion against the government. He wasn’t held long, and soon continued his activism. In October 1790, he started his own newspaper. He argued for the actual abolition of fiefdom, where feudal property was declared invalid, instead of the process started in 1789 to phase it out by allowing communities to buy themselves free.

Who wants to hold onto equality if it is in name only? Equality can’t be the name of a meaningless transaction. It has to show itself by immense, and positive results, by effects that are easily seen, and not by imaginary abstractions.

He was arrested against in 1791, but the outcry from the community was powerful enough that he was released within days. He spent the next few years writing, holding minor administrative positions, and going in and out of prison.

His attitude to violence remained. He opposed the Terror, and welcomed the end of its leaders, for whom he coined the word “terroriste”.

In 1794, he started a new paper, called Journal of Press Freedom, and later the Tribune of the People. At the same time, he took that name Gracchus. After the end of the Terror, tolerance for political radicalism was even lower than it had been before, and Babeuf was arrested the same year. In prison, he formed new connections, with people like Augustin Darthé, Sylvain Maréchal, and Filippo Buonarroti.

With them, he began a new part of his life, politically. These new friends and allies were admirers of Robespierre and the rest of the fallen left of the recent past. Babeuf came to see things from their point of view, and attempted to rehabilitate Robespierre and his fellow “terrorists”. After the Jacobin club had been forcibly closed, Babeuf and Co. created its successor, the Panthéon Club. They were quickly driven underground. This became the start of the Conspiracy of Equals, a clandestine movement to start a new revolution. Their goals were two-pronged, on the one hand, which was the side they showed in public, they wanted to return to the constitution of 1793, which had held the beginning of a welfare state, universal suffrage, and other democratic gains which the constitution of 1795 had undone. For those who had been let into the inner circle, they wanted to abolish the current system of government entirely, and to end private property. The second side to the movement was infinitely more threatening to the authorities, but even the “public” goals could get them all sentenced to death.

They gathered support through their writings, songs, and wall newspapers. The continuing setbacks for both democracy and equality swelled the ranks of Babeuf’s supporters, as did the threat from the growing royalist opposition.

In 1796, a police spy who had infiltrated the ranks of the Equals denounced them. Many members of the group were arrested, Babeuf, Buonarroti, Darthé and Maréchal among them. The next year, they were put on trial for conspiring to overthrow the government.

The trial was held in Vendôme, as the Parisian population was seen as too much of a risk. In the end, Babeuf and Darthé were sentenced to death. They were executed the next day.

Babeuf’s ideas to abolish private property and the current state were neither new nor unique, which he himself proved during his trial, but his attempt to put them into practice was unique. The Babouvist movement became the first seeds of what would later develop into socialism, communism and anarchism.

“Babeuf, the communist Babeuf, your teacher and mine,” said Jean Jaurès, “founded in our country not only socialist doctrine, but above all socialist politics”. The manifesto of the Comintern, written by Leon Trotsky, declared that

“We Communists, united in the Third International, consider ourselves the direct continuators of the heroic endeavors and martyrdom of a long line of revolutionary generations from Babeuf – to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.”

Today, Babeuf has disappeared from public consciousness, and having been mentioned a century ago by the new faces of communism and socialism, with a name drop in the Communist Manifesto, might be his biggest claim to fame.

More:

Chanson nouvelle à l’usage des faubourgs (Mourant du faim, mourant du froid), one of the most famous songs sung by the Babouvists, written by Sylvain Maréchal, performed by Rosalie Dubois.

Collection of texts by and about Babeuf and the Babouvists, on marxists.org

Communist historian Doug Enaa Greene lectures on the French communist revolutionary Gracchus Babeuf

I don’t know what the hell this is, but I found it while searching youtube for the video above


Humans and the End Times:

[This is limited to Europe and the Middle East.]

Amanat states that religions originating in the Middle East – Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam – all share broadly similar apocalyptic beliefs, often in a millennialist framework. This was, perhaps, partly a way of understanding the passage of time in general.

An obvious focus of millennialist beliefs was the year 1000. Fried argues that Europe broadly awaited the end of the world then, and any extraordinary events, even seasonal changes, were seen as prophetic. For example, it was reported that blood rained for three days in Aquitane in 1027. The Duke of Aquitane immediately informed the king, and the agitated Robert the Pious immediately wrote to Gauzlin of Fleury for clerical advice. Around the turn of the millenium, signs were observed by everyone, from the peasantry to the high aristocracy, to ascertain the time of the end of the world. It has even been argued that these apocalyptic expectations were the cause of an enhanced awareness of sin and thus the extraordinary piety around the 11th century, part of the causation for so many major medieval developments such as the crusades. This was, of course, part of a magical worldview shared by all social strata, and the statement in the Scripture that no one knows the day and the hour of the apocalypse except God surely did little to ease any fears. On the other hand, it should be remembered that this was also a time of intense violence and disorder, in which royal powers in France in particular were too weak to enforce justice: hence local warfare was very prevalent.

It seems, indeed, that apocalyptic fears arise most often in times of rapid change or disorder. Sebeos, writing in Armenia in the 7th century following the early Muslim invasions that both destroyed the Persian Empire and much reduced the power and prestige of the Byzantines quickly defaulted to an apocalyptic conclusion in the face of these events. He sees the Arab invasions as a fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy: “This fourth, arising from the south is the Kingdom of Ishmael, just as the archangel explained (to Daniel), “The fourth beast, the fourth kingdom, shall arise, which shall be greater than all kingdoms; and it will consume the whole earth”. Furthermore, he concludes: “‘The day of [the Arabs’] destruction is close; the Lord has arrived upon them in readiness”. Turmoil and quick political change were thus something that brought the end of times into the mind of a historian. This was not, however, unique to Armenia, and Byzantine authors of the period also predicted that the End was close at hand. For the Byzantines, the time was one of decline not only in military terms but also economically, and politically the empire saw coups d’etat.

Similarly, the Mongols, who invaded much of Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the 13th century, were promptly cast into an apocalyptic role as the tribes of Gog and Magog who too signaled the end of the world. These two occasions of millennialist fears appear to be an attempt to put new circumstances into a familiar framework of a Christian conception of history. If God willed all that happened, it had to be the case that the armies invading Christian lands would have been part of his plan. Historical moments found meaning through the way in which they were linked to divine intentions. Of course, after the situation became more permanent more pragmatic policies were followed: the Latin Christendom, for example, attempted to make alliances with the Mongols to gain influence and territory in the Middle East.

Millennialism around c. 1000 seems to have been more linked to general disorder, the year 1000, and the generally pessimistic Medieval world view: degeneration, after the Classical times or even Charlemagne’s reign, was apparent, and supernatural occurrences such as the rain of blood were further signs that the end was nigh. This is probably also the reason why apocalyptic fears were not as prominent in more prosperous times, or after great military successes. One of the most prominent aspects of an imminent apocalypse was a struggle between Good and Evil, and this could easily explain military conflicts and barbarian invasions that were incomprehensible if not part of “God’s plan” for mankind.