Thursday, June 18, 2015

Battles and Loops

 Hat-tip here
Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the Netherlands.

From this piece in The Independent - a British newspaper -
The Battle of Waterloo will be celebrated with a national memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral to mark its bicentenary on Thursday (today) – and while descendants of those who fought there will be among the VIP guests, they have been warned that it will not be "triumphalist". Nonetheless, it has to be said, the Duke of Wellington's victory over Napoleon and the Bonapartists at a little ridge near the hamlet of Mont St Jean, 11 miles south of Brussels, was so complete that "Waterloo" has become synonymous with a crushing defeat.

But, it must also be added, that is not how it looked in the spring of 1815. Radical MPs such as Sam Whitbread, son of the brewer, were appalled at the prospect of Britain being dragged into another costly war against Napoleon. The Commons were just as divided as during the debates before the Iraq war in 2003. Whitbread and other Radical MPs accused Wellington of going to war for regime change – just as the anti-war MPs accused Tony Blair over Saddam Hussein.
Reading on, about the upshot of the Battle, and circumstances in Britain when soldiers returned home, the story of Waterloo bleeds into an uprising in northern England, I've blogged about this before:
The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester. In the present article circumstance leading to it is mentioned thus:
.....the bloated Prince Regent, who was as much reviled as the newly-restored Bourbon monarchy in France. In the same year as Waterloo, "Prinny" commissioned John Nash to turn his beach house in Brighton into a fantasy Moghul palace – the Royal Pavilion – and refurbish Carlton House at vast expense. The Government was so alarmed that Lord Liverpool, Lord Castlereagh and the Chancellor Nicholas Vansittart wrote to the spendthrift prince, warning him to rein in his spending as the only means of "weathering the impending storm"

The storm they feared broke in Manchester on 16 August 1819 when an estimated 60,000 men, women and children crowded onto St Peter's Field (now the site of the Radisson Hotel) to hear a powerful public speaker Henry "Orator" Hunt – the Tony Benn of his day – call for representation in Parliament for the burgeoning industrialised towns of the Midlands and the North, who had no MPs in the Commons to speak up for their people. And among the crowd was one Waterloo Man – John Lees – whose story can stand for many... (the story, of subsequent bloodshed, continues).
See also British Museum website for this illustration of the Peterloo Massacre:
The Manchester Yeomanry ride down women, children, and men, making for a platform (right) in the background, where Hunt stands with three supporters. The foremost points his sabre at a fainting woman with children round her, who is supported by a man; he says "None but the brave deserve the Fair." A little boy, holding his mother's kerchief, exclaims: "Oh pray Sir, doan't Kill Mammy, she only came to see Mr Hunt." Another man rides up furiously, saying, "Cut him [the boy] down, Cut him down." On the left the yeomanry ride forward in close formation. Above them the head of the Regent (poorly characterized) emerges from clouds, supporting the beam of a pair of scales. The heavier scale is inscribed 'Peculators' [Ministers and placemen], the other 'Reformers'. He says: "Cut them down, doan't be afraid, they are not Armed, courage my boys, and you shall have a vote of thanks, & he that Kills most shall be made a Knight errant [cf. No. 12811, &c.] and your exploits shall live for ever, in a Song, or second Chivey Chace." Hunt, hat in hand, exclaims: "Shame, Shame, Murder, Murder, Massacree [sic]." Two others echo "Shame." They have banners, one surmounted by a cap of Liberty.
Septemeber 1819. Hand-coloured etching
As has been said before in posts here, and in comments, it seems we are trapped in a loop - do you detect it? It's always us and them: us = ordinary people; them = the wealthy ruling elite and/or corporations. Like east and west, ne'er the twain shall meet, except in bloodshed and violence.

Oh...this is depressing...let's end with the song: Waterloo, the song with which ABBA won the Eurovision Song contest in 1974.


mike said...

I doubt you'll agree, Twilight, as you are more forgiving of the commoner, but we commoners are easily placated with small, distracting offerings from the elite that govern. Few of us are engaged with the TPP-TPA that you posted recently, which will have tragic, layered consequences. We don't seem to be bothered that the cheap merchandise we purchase, much from oppressive, dictatorial governments, further empowers those governments, despoils the Earth, and enslaves adults and children. We dislike that most of our congressional representatives do not represent us, are bought-and-sold, legislate for the highest bidder, and are motivated by self-interests, yet we continue with a broken system in hopes of eventually establishing proper representation every two or four years, not realizing that each cycle brings additional disrepair.

American corporations have some of the same legal rights of a person, yet the person has far fewer legal rights and protections compared to a corporation. We commoners continue to purchase services and goods from these businesses, though we express indignation on occasion. A hefty proportion of us are employed by the largest and most corrupt, very satisfied, particularly if the company offers golden handcuffs of higher pay and benefits. Corporations reward those of us that plot and ploy clever methods of exploiting their consumers.

Corporations, government, lobbyists, et al, are made of individuals, the "we" and the "us", yet get us together in a group with devious objectives, reward the participants for being clever, and voila, the benefits outweigh the morals and ethics. Deviant behavior runs amuck in group-think, when power, domination, and material riches are goals of the individual and-or the assemblage.

Historically, commoners revolt when there is nothing left to lose. I guess we have more to lose before we become mad as hell and won't take it anymore.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I do agree though, mike - and have to say that you've outlined our current predicament extremely well in your comment.

I am always on the side of we ordinary people, but that doesn't mean I cannot see our faults and mis-steps.

In the case of the USA, such a vast and diverse land, it's more difficult for the masses to feel sufficiently stirred in unison than it would be in a nation the size of Britain or France. Also, on our current historical spiral, contrasting with the situation in 19th century Britain mentioned in the post, things for a reasonably large proportion of the people in the USA are, as yet, still quite comfortable, if not exactly as comfortable as some might wish. Your last point is key - there's more to lose before enough people realise what has happened. When sufficient numbers of us feel angered enough to respond in some way - possibly violently, possibly by some mass non-violent protest which cannot be ignored by Powers that Be, we shall arrive at our 21st century Waterloo/Peterloo.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Regarding TPP-TPA you mentioned in your comment, I've just been reading a thread at Corrente where one commenter, the last one when I was reading (timed 1.26pm presumably Eastern Time) talks about people's lack of knowledge or even consciousness of TPP and what it entails, even what it is.

I don't watch TV news anymore, nor any political TV chat shows such as MSNBC, so I don't know how much has been said about the topic. Online there's plenty of information - but one has to be looking for it, and know where to look - which I'm sure today's social media crowd have at their fingertips, when they can stop updating their status on Facebook and texting people incessantly. Part of the problem = too many distractions, especially for the younger crowd - but it was ever thus, I guess.

The commenter (metamars) said he conducted an experiment in NJ yesterday - asked around 14 people about TPP, only 2 had even a vague idea.

Sonny G said...

I learn so much reading here.. Thank you Annie~! and commentors.

I have a weeks worth of Rachel Maddow to watch.. She too always helps me understand the inne workings of an issue..

mike (again) said...

We can only hope that the TPP-TPA will become a liability for candidates, as "letsgetitdone" states in his essay.

BTW - How's the weather up there? Did you escape the deluge? We've had very heavy rains here in Corpus, mainly yesterday and today, with some areas receiving up to 9" in one day! Lots of flooding, again.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I'm happy to know that, Sonny. I learn a lot myself by preparing the posts.
I like Rachel too, will still watch videos of clips of her on various topics. I always thought she'd be a good political candidate for the House or Senate - but that'd be cruel to her!

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes, we can but hope! LOL at the link! Cleverly done.

We've had heavy downpours yesterday and this morning - though likely not as heavy or prolonged as you've had there. It's dry at present. Our guttering has proved inefficient to deal with the kind of rain we've had this spring - more expense to repair, renew and add to portions of it. :-( These have been the wettest couple of months since I arrived here. El Niño doing its thing I suppose...yet another loop. ;-)

Anonymous said...

... What's that?
... I hear a continually descending, 4-note motif, with some sort of musical wind, or flurry of motion ...
... Ohh, now it's slowing down ... to
... A very loud, chorale type brass explosion, accompanied by bells ...
... And now I think I hear the Marseillaise.
... And are those canons?

What's that Kitty Cat? ... Right year, wrong War?
... Great Lakes?
... What are ya Meowing about?

What do you mean ... Paul's not dead?

... I better go make a coffee ...


Twilight said...

Anon/kidd ~ LOL... I had to check that using Wiki - The War of 1812 was a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. Seen by the United States and Canada as a war in its own right, it is frequently seen in Europe as a theatre of the Napoleonic Wars, as it was caused by issues related to that war (especially the Continental System).

Those must have been busy years for War Departments (if they had 'em in those days!) Or maybe they just winged it!

Paul not dead? Have you been listening to the video backwards then? :-/

R J Adams said...

Napoleon ~ vilified by history to the glory of old familial monarchies throughout Europe. History would have been so different had he won at Waterloo. He cemented the rapidly crumbling foundations left by the French Revolution, gave the French people a justice system still used to this day (as it is in Belgium), and was undoubtedly the greatest leader of his time, possibly ever. Wellington was lucky. The weather was against Napoleon. His Grande Armee became bogged down in heavy mud due to incessant rain. Napoleon was feared by the monarchies of Europe who were all too aware that revolution could topple them as it had Louis XVI. Britain bank-rolled for years the armies of Russia, Austria, Prussia against the French Emperor, and Napoleon saw them all off.
We may have had a fairer world today, with more equality, had he won the Battle of Waterloo. It may have been a victory for the British aristocracy, but for the British working people it was undoubtedly a defeat.
Napoleon was, in effect, the greatest socialist leader ever.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Thanks for this - a wee history lesson on a period I'm shaky about...I've either forgotten what I learned in school, or, more likely, our curriculum didn't include much on that period, other than sketchy mentions.