You know when you’re sitting out in the desert, thinking about Napoleon and how similar today’s situation is to the Enlightenment?
Maybe not, I seem to be the only one out here…
During the Enlightenment, where maintaining state power cost way too much money, and I’m thinking of France in the late 1700’s specifically, where those in power didn’t pay taxes, and the burden of maintaining state treasuries fell to the person in the street. Or in the fields and factories.
Probably not factories so much.
People had no say in how the country was run, while those in power were essentially parasites on the rest of the system. (Which is in itself just an extension of farming, but that’s a whole other discussion.)
Do you know how much in taxes America’s largest employers pay towards funding the growth and expansion of the United States or or for the benefit of its citizens? And how much in taxes do religious orginizations contribute to the public welfare?
Yep, same as in France during the 1770’s.
Besides giving the unwashed masses ideas of thinking for themselves, how did the Enlightenment alter the status quo?
I don’t think it did really.
Today we have plenty of ideas, indeed, all the information of the world sits on a little device in most people’s pocket, but there’s no action. Back then they had Bread riots. If you’ve never been hungry, without an idea of where your next meal is coming from, it is quite a motivating force. Make people desperate and they will look up from Facebook or Netflix, get off their couches and do something.
Alternatively, how would you prevent something like the French Revolution? Give working people the illusion of having a say in how power is wielded, and for Pete’s sake, keep their belly’s full. Some would say Food Stamps and Voting, but I think leisure opportunities would be enough. A decent annual vacation and weekends off would be enough to keep the majority in line.
A revolution is a messy thing for everyone involved. The madness of crowds and all that. Not something I’d want to be involved in, I’m more of a law and order guy. Instability breeds crime, which I hate, and wars abroad, which cost money and lives, and internal suspicions of the general population undermine any and all attempts at a cohesive state. I’m talking about France here, again, AKA the Reign of Terror, and the Committee for Public Safety, which sounds eerily familiar…
Does anyone remember history class?
Enter Napoleon, who had been down in Egypt and relatively forgotten, but also away from the drama in France, so that his name, and previous military exploits, had not been tarnished in the court of public opinion.
(FYI, People saying that the invasion of Egypt was a failure is a personal pet peeve of mine. Sure, on a military conquest level it was, but everything we know about Egypt today* is because of France.)
A popular guy, Napoleon makes some moves, boom, he’s the king, or eventually emperor. (Way more to that story, but I’ll save that for another time.)
Time to invade Britain, because they’re a global power, and British harassment was part of the reason the Egypt thing “failed”. Napoleon needs money to invade, and because of good relations with the new America, France had funded the early American Revolution to get back at Britain, he sells land to the the United States. The Louisiana Purchase, which, the United States has to borrow money from Britain to pay for… which just sounds stupid. Not only because that’s who Napoleon plans on invading once he gets his hands on the money, but also because, didn’t America just finish a war with the British themselves?
Except for the fact that debt/credit, is a weapon of mass destruction, which few people really understand and which might speak to their potential motivation. And there’s probably more to that story. Such as over confidence in their navy. Don’t forget they were a major world power at the time. I think I already mentioned that. But perhaps a lack of foresight, or even, something more sinister. But I’m sure that nobody with the ability to lend those sums of money would consider doing anything underhanded.
The British navy was also problem, for Napoleon, and Trafalgar, is that how you spell that, probably not, a little war where the potential combined fleet of France and Spain, which might have stood a chance against Britain was destroyed. Probably fairly clear to the Brit’s that this little navy had to be nipped in the bud. Any navy would have had to be undermined from the British point of view. This prevented Napoleon from having a navy of his own, and land battles being more his thing, moved east into the Holy Roman Empire.
Pretty soon no more Catholics… At least for a little bit.
Then a few wars, and just so they didn’t feel left out, an economic embargo against Britain… yada yada yada, the Portugese flee to Brazil and Russia starts trading with Great Britain, violating the trade embargo established by Napoleon’s Continental System, and has to be invaded, which, is obviously a mistake.
Making a move against Britain would have been the right, uh, move, and Russia was just doing business, and well, the territory is a logistical nightmare from a ground invasion perspective.
Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.
Which breaks everything for Napoleon, who is exiled, but decides to return after a brief vacation and resume power.
But nobody who had regained power outside of France particularly liked that, and Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. Which is a place, somewhere.
In his defeat Napoleon left a power vacuum that was filled by Great Britain for many years to come.
Which puts a sort of smoke screen over something else that’s going on at the time, but maybe I’m just imagining things. Bringing us back to today, where America was literally built as a response towards fixing just those sorts of problems that they had back then. The un-taxed leaders squandering public wealth, no taxation without representation, sort of thing.
It is too bad that we seem to have lost our way, starting before the first World War, but definitely by the Second. We’re not too far gone though, and if people would actually learn from history we wouldn’t have a lot of the problems we have today.
But what do I know?
I’m just a homeless guy in the desert letting his mind wander, and rambling what are probably incoherent thoughts out across cyberspace.
Do people even use the word cyberspace anymore?
Summary: In times of scarcity female bees will gnaw the wings off of male bees and push them out of the hive to die on the cold winter ground. Look it up. Don’t expect me to connect all the dots for you.
(*The possible exception would be hidden occult knowledge passed on through… well, that’s more conspiracy stuff. And while it may not seem like it, I am trying to remain focused here. Not sure on what though.)