Archive for the ‘"J'Accuse" Letter to PM’ Category

Lies & Deceits, Postures & Imposture or The Decline of the Western Political Class.

Vendredi, mars 24th, 2017

If throughout human history the manipulation of information and desinformation has always been used as a political weapon, the deceitful manipulation of public opinion as an acknowledged legitimate system is recent. It is the inheritance of the policies of the Bush government in the United States and of Blair’s in the United Kingdom. In 2003 both were said to act on a divinely inspired mission to get rid of a dictator and to forcibly impose democracy on a sovereign state in the Middle East in order to justify its violation and armed invasion, with the ensuing catastrophic results for the country and the region. Bush and Blair have opened a Pandora box that has not ceased since to let loose its monstruous emanations on the Western political scene.

Its poisonous breath has corrupted the Western political leaders. In sympathetic mimetism, they have taken on the postures and techniques of the two Anglosaxons leaders in the use of brazen lies, the manipulation of public opinion through fear and appeal to the lower instincts, the abdication of the public good in favour of their own personal interests, the total absence of moral and ethical principles in the implicit, or explicit, claim of a divinely appointed right to ignore them, to the benefit of their own plans and convictions.

The communication techniques of the British spin doctors, such as Alastair Campbell, who confessed cynically having sexed-up the Iraki dossier to force Parliament into war, has created a precedent. The same meticulous manipulation of public opinion for months spreading lies and false promises, honing up a sustained rethoric in acting on ancestral fears and the lowest of passions, whipping up xenophobic hatred, has allowed Nigel Farage and his UKIP party to push through the Brexit in the June 2016 referendum. Farage like David Cameron, the initiator of this referendum, has since resigned from his party and left politics, assuming none of the catastrophic results of his 17 years personal campaigning against the European Union as a European member of Parlement. The ensuing chaos left behind is beyond belief, it puts into jeopardy the very fate of democracy and of the European Union. Can a referendum be lawful when its premices are deliberately distorted through the use of propaganda and millions spent on lies, concealment of reality, media hype, manipulation of public opinion? Is such a vote valid when the voters are deliberately blinded and unable to assess the actual consequences of their vote ? The United Kingdom has wakened up too late to the fraud and crude imposture that has blinded the country and divided it as it was over the Irak war. It now seems that Tony Blair, this conjurer of deceit and political maneuvring, who earns astronomical sums in preaching his inflammatory gospel, has the impudence of contesting a Brexit won through his own spin methods. No doubt he sees there a way to regain power : he enjoys the distinct honour of being the most hated Prime Minister in Britain.

Donald Trump has done the same in the United States, using lies, insults, mediatic one-upmanship, inflammatory speeches and financial power allied to a blatant and deliberate vulgarity of manners, with the same calamitous results : a divided country cut from the rest of the world through isolationism, social, racist and xenophobic hatred expressed in verbal and physical violence spreading like a plague all over the nation. In the Neetherlands, Geert Wilders, the ally of the French extremist Marine Le Pen, advocates the ‘shock of civilisations’ of George Bush, whipping up religious hatred against Islam, and nationalist hatred against Europe. Marine Le Pen is becoming more and more legitimate on the more and more chaotic and unstable French political scene. Her party, the Front National, is based on the worse of France : xenophobia, chauvinism, opportunism under the guise of hypocrisy, physical and verbal violence. Its nationalism is anchored in the ignorance and denial of the rich and varied roots of this ‘France profonde’ it claims to be the sole representative. The Front National is the voice of a shrunk, narrow-minded France, turned back onto itself in a suicidal rejection of the others, of their human value, of the intrinsic richness of their diversity. Le Pen puts herself above Republican laws and institutions, judging ‘ ‘immoral and illegal’ all attempts from the Law to stop her excesses ; she claims that she is been victimized by the system. In fact, among others, she is guilty of corruption and embezzlement of public funds in a case of fictitious employment at the European Parliament of one of her assistants, but refuses to appear in front of the juges.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Tony Blair’s clone, had acted in the same manner throughout his career. He whipped up racial hatred in his infamous Grenoble speech against the Gypsies in 2010, opened pointless and pernicious debates on national identity, openly insulted French citizens calling them ‘ scum’ who should be ‘got rid of with a Kärcher’. When need be he invokes the Republican principles of past illustrious French personalities, while scorning them when it suits him. His attitude towards the Law is just as perverse and ambiguous : all attempts to call him to account provoke indignant protestations and accusations of victimization and persecution against him. Whereas he uses the legal system with ruthless efficiency against his opponents, even in his own party, to discredit them and eliminate all opposition that could threaten his position and his power. He does not act as a responsible and rational politician, with the good of his country at heart, but as the boss of a mafia type gang using methods associated with delinquants. To make a public declaration of his wish to see Dominique de Villepin – a colleague and fellow member of the same party- ‘hanging from a butcher’s hook’ is unworthy of the presidential function, and an unacceptable example of verbal violence.
With the implausible Clearstream affair, in which Sarkozy had targeted and persecuted Villepin, he has effectively eliminated him from the French political scene. To any clear-headed and enlightened observer the whole affair was a vast deception destined not only to discredit a statesman superior to him in every way, but mostly to create a smoke screen and divert public attention from his own illegal activities. In particular the unlawful Libyan financing of his presidential campaign in 2007, for which Gaddafi and other protagonists paid with their lives. And as is stated by a parlementary attaché at the Senate, in the field of communication : ‘ Everbody knows that Sarkozy has abank account abroad, but it is not in Luxembourg…’

His malevolence towards an opponent who threatens him through his achievements, his moral, intellectual and political international stature, knows no limits. According to some commentators, in 2006 he had already encouraged and supported the demonstration against the Contrat Première Embauche (CPE) First Job Contract, proposed by Dominique de Villepin to reduce unemployment. In 2012 Sarkozy systematically undermined and sabotaged de Villepin’s presidential campaign, to which I participated, see my website: http://www.monique-riccardi-cubitt.com/ 9. Political engagement. Day by day he stole away the supporters of République Solidaire, he isolated his opponent whose movement became, in the contemptuous words of Xavier Bertrand, Sarkozy’s spokesman in the 2007 campaign, ‘République solitaire, Solitary Republique’, and eventually forced him to give up his candidacy. Dominique de Villepin once more showed himself superior morally and intellectually in rising above Sarkozy’s violent attacks and his own personnal and political prejudices. He pursued his own peace mission at the service of France and of his ideals, see his last volume, Mémoire de Paix pour temps de Guerre. Ed. Grasset, 2016 : ‘Throughout the whole of my life I have endeavoured to put the peace process at the heart of my action… The moment has come to get down to the peace process, to open our eyes to the wounds of the world and to create the tools necessary to build a new order, more just and more stable…I am convinced that France has a role to play in this new world, if it renews with its vocation to initiate, to mediate, to promote a dialogue, if it is loyal to its message and to its history.’ He has magnanimously forgiven to Sarkozy, and following his pacifist and diplomatic ideals, he offered his mediation in Tunisia in 2011 to try to prevent the armed intervention in Libya. Which did not fit with Sarkozy’s designs and interests. In emulation of Blair in 2003, and prompted by the ill-advised action of publicity-seeking Bernard-Henri Lévy, he blatantly lied on the Libyan situation in order to secure Britain and the United States’ support, with the approval of the United Nations.

The report of a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s enquiry published 14th Septembre 2016 questions the legitimity of the armed intervention in Libya. It claims that : ‘…Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence… the immediate threat to civilians was being publicly overstated’ to serve French interests in North Africa. The main purpose was to have access to Libyan oil resources, and more particularly to serve Sarkozy’s own political interests in gaining in prestige. He also wanted the international community’s approval to get rid of a generous sponsor who had became an embarassing witness to eliminate. In 2008 France had sold 168 million euros worth of weapons to Libya, in 2011 it spent 300 millions euros to fight Gaddafi’s regime with terrible losses in human lives. The allied intervention destabilized the whole region and created a vacuum filled by the forces of the Islamic State, Daech, forcing the population to migrate towards Italy and eventually to the North of Europe. Dominique de Villepin had predicted in 2011 : ‘ To win a war is one thing, to win peace is much more difficult… It is going to take many efforts from France’s diplomacy …a wealth of savoir-faire to prevent this Libyan revolution to turn back against those who helped them yesterday’. Against the ensuing terrorist attacks on French soil, his position stated in September 2014 on French national TV France 2, in the programme Ce soir ou jamais, remains the same : ‘We cannot win the war against terrorism because terrorism is an invisible hand, all the time in mutation, changeable and opportunist. It requires a capacity of thinking an action well beyond military action. One must be able to use cunningly the powers of the mind and all peaceful means available to desintegrate the forces that congregate around those terrorist forces.’ He adds : ‘ All we know of this type of war since Afghanistan has led to failure… We need a political strategy, a political vision and a capacity to think our action beyond the use of bombs… We must become aware that this Islamic State, Daech, we have created it ourselves for the largest part from war to war…There is a vicious cercle in which we have locked ourselves up. It is not only ineffective, but it is dangerous because this region in the Middle East is shaken by crisis, by wounds. It is in a profund crisis of modernization.’ His words reflect the long-standing French diplomatic tradition. It is one of France’s past glories : French was the diplomatic language by excellence until the Second World War. It stood not only for a culture but for a civilisation. Thus Philippe-Joseph Salazar sees it in his essay Blabla République. Au verbe, citoyens ! Ed. Lemieux, 2017. Rethoric or the oratorical art and science to convince in Aristotle’s manner, is also the art of the beautiful speech of Quintillien, the Roman orator. This art of debating with form and substance has become in the modern world ‘a speech technology’, a political speech devoid of its essential meaning, where slogans and trivialities stand for action for the elite in power. The citizens themselves are baffled by this constant verbiage and unable to express their own legitimate needs and aspirations. Salazar adds : ‘ Since the Third Republic there is no longer a moral authority in France’.

In the prevailing cacophony some voices still sounds true, such as Villepin’s own. But they are quickly stiffled and deliberately discredited, as says Claude Angeli in an interview with Mediapart on the 12th February 2017, incidentally quoting the former French Prime Minister on war and terrorism. The ex-editor of the satirical weekly, Le Canard enchaîné, talks about his recent book Les plaisirs du journalisme, Ed. Fayard, where he denounces : ‘ a mediocre epoch’, ‘a sluggish society’, where ‘ plain truth is been discredited’. In reference to the financial scandals and the corruption of the political class that have beset France for some months, speaking about the former socialist Cahuzac, and of the Right-wing presidential candidate, François Fillon, he adds grimly : ‘ I think that I have more respect for genuine thieves…’ It is difficult to understand how the French Right-wing can still support a candidate whose legitimacy was based on ethics and moral integrity ( Tweet 18th September 2016. To govern a country, I am convinced that one must be above reproach. I want to bring forward the principle of examplarity for the President and the ministers.) After years of nepotism and embezzlement of public funds kept secret, Fillon has several times lied to the nation he pretends represent. He has played Tartuffe to great acclaim, discrediting the very religion he invokes, his heart on his lips, and his hand on his heart : ‘I am a Christian !’ . Like Sarkozy he plays the victim, speaks of media persecution, condemns the Law and the press, denouncing in the same breath his own party by asking them ‘ to make their own examination of conscience’.

The very structure of the French political system is brought into disrepute, according to Mediapart ‘The Assemblée Nationale (French Parliament) has remunerated 52 wives, 28 sons et 32 daughters of members of Parliament in 2014’. France may have abolished the Ancien Régime but not its privileges : some are more equal than others. But no one wants to change this system of nepotism and favouritism, too many profit by it : the unscrupulous, not to say the crooked, politicians and civil servants. As for those, like de Villepin, who do not enter in these fiddles and rackets, his integrity is being discredited in vain attempts to prove that he has in some ways benefited from the Libyan financing of Sarkozy’s campaign. Which in the circumstances described above is highly implausible. So a so-called ‘ficticious employment’ for a Saudi firm is invented whereby a report in January 2009 apparently used some notes from a previous lecture. This is just an example of intellectual property when an author, or a lecturer, uses already researched material in a new service or performance, and is remunerated as such at the given rate by the contracting party. It is the same for a Tintin album bought at the aution sale of his library by a friend. An item put at auction has no intrinsic value other than that of the offer, as I have witnessed in London at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Whether it be Elton John’s diamanté glasses, Marilyn Monroe’s underwear, or the huge tartan underpant John Brown, the faithful servant, and some say perhaps lover, of Queen Victoria, wore under his kilt. And I can therefore now answer the intriguing question : What do the Scots wear under their kilts ? other than the lemon yellow and pale pink Marks & Spencer pants I have observed at the Scottish Highlands Games during the tossing of the caber ! The value given to an item depends on its provenance and is reflected in the covetousness of the buyers who, through the aution process, bring the price up. If one wants to discredit the integrity of someone honest, all means are used to cast doubt on his or her reputation. It would then confirm public opinion in its conviction : ‘They are all rotten !’ and encourage the ones who are truly so to carry on their rackets and cover-ups.

It would also justify the need for new blood, a so-called maverick, out of the system, who wrote a book on his political intentions entitled Révolution. Emmanuel Macron’s political programme is anything but revolutionary. In fact his movement with the slogan En Marche, using the initials of his name, is walking backwards. His economic plan is inspired by the neo-liberalism of the 80’s et 90’s of Thatcher and Reagan, then of the Clinton’s and Blair’s era. According to economists this system is damaging to society, and it is denounced even by the IMF. Macron is supported in his campaign by the merchant banks from which he draws his wealth and expertise, and by the large multinational companies. Like Trump in the States he wants to give back to the banks all the privileges they enjoyed before the 2008 subprimes crisis, notwithstanding the devastating consequences on the middle class worldwide, and the resulting human tragedies. His stand over l’Europe is far from being innovatory, he only takes on the instructions of the Council of Europe. He brings no answer to the radical rethinking and restructuring of a 60 years old institution required by the present crisis caused by the rising of so-called populist movements that have triggered off the Brexit. Lasting solutions have to be found to the humanitarian crisis bred by terrorism in the Middle East with a resulting incrontrollable emigration. Economic and environmental crisis due to the diminishing of natural resources over-exploited by the very multinational businesses who finance him must be talen into account, as well as the global warming of the climate and the rise in economic and political power of new nations such as China and India.

Fillon serves the High Mass if hypocrisy and invites Molière to the political scene, playing Tartuffe and M. Jourdain. His Pater familias image as a paragon of virtue and morality, a gentleman farmer with Landed Gentry ideals in his provincial manor house where his wife’s horses frolic around, is forever shattered. He has become Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, The middle-class aristocrat whose bright plumage conceals a venal and grasping soul, with the mean and petty spirit of a small provincial bigwig who, as in one of Balzac’ novel, has made it good in the capital through crooked means. In refusing to acknowledge his donwnfall, he has taken hostage the country and his own party, to further his own interests and ambitions. In any other country he would have had to resign and leave his place as presidential candidate to the second candidate, Alain Juppé. It is the logical outcome in such a case, as Dominique de Villepin pointed out. But the crazed obstination of Fillon has played in favour of Sarkozy, who cunningly went on supporting him, thus preventing the second candidate to take on the party candidacy. With malicious forethought he has put his own henchmen into place to pave the way for his eternal return.

As for Macron he officiates as the high priest of a narcissic cult at the service of Mammon, with for vestal virgin a mother goddess who plays Pygmalion : ‘We need young French people who want to become milliardaires’ . He is the guru at the head of a sect, manipulating the adepts and sending them into trance with the brainwashing methods and collective hysteria used by American companies to motivate their employees at the end of the 20th century. His lieutenants, brainwashed young people, are conditioned to react to the meeting planner’s SMS orders, and clap or shout theur approval at the given moment. Their reward is an all-night party paid by the party in a local nightclub. They are bribed to belong to what is made to appear as an exclusive club, a group of chosen few adepts with its own language, an incomprehensible franglais jargon taken from the business world. ‘I know the grammar of business’ says Macron, it is obvious in his political stance, a market research to build his programme, as much as in his way of conducting meetings. On December 10th 2016 in Paris at the Porte de Versailles, he got carried away by his messianic zeal and yelled at the end of his speech: ‘ What I want is that wherever you go you are going to carry it, because it is our project. Vive la République, vive la France’. His astonishing stance recalls Leonardo di Caprio’s performance in the film The wolf of Wall Street, brainwashing his traders at the New York Stock Exchange in the 80’s : ‘I want you to deal with problems by becoming rich, we are going to be f…telephone terrorists…’ The verbal violence, the collective hysteria are those of the American evangelist meetings where considerable financial and media hype are used to attract, brainwash and psychologically manipulate the adepts. The Macron sysrem has the same hypnotic effect on the pyblic and the media It is an imposture on a large scale supported by a powerful financial apparatus and dubious éminences grises, such as Alain Minc, who was a long-standing adviser to Sarkozy.

Macron is in no way the little creative genius he believes himself to be, and the media hype presents. The little Mozart of the Élysée, after 3 years musical studies at the Conservatoire, ( Mozart himself has not done as much !) has still to give us his version of The M agic Flute. His Papageno is more like the Pied Piper, the definition of which states: 1. A person who offers others strong yet delusive enticements, 2. One, such as a leader, who makes irresponsible promises. In both cases the ineluctable end leads to death and destruction, the hidden symbol of the flutist.

This Mr. Macron clad in a variegated political plumage is a bird of sinister omen. In fact there is around his couple a strange and disquieting aura of fakery and artificiality. It would be easy to describe this malaise in Freudian terms : the Oedipus complex is far too obvious. Macron has effectively eliminated and killed the father figure in getting married to his teacher, of the age of his parents, and taking on the banking profession of her former husband, whose family he stole in settling in his nest like a cuckoo. He shows no loyalty toward the men who have helped him on his way to power, such as François Hollande : symbolically he kills him in standing as a presidential candidate (Sarkozy did the same with Pasqua and President Chirac). It is a very bad example of ruthless betrayal, of a total lack of principles and ethics given to the youth he pretends to lead. However Jung suggests a subtler profile : the Peter Pan syndrome. It stands for the emotionally immature man, the eternal narcissic teenager, suffering from contradictory emotions with an impredictable beahaviour and incontrollable urges, Sarkozy is one example as is Donald Trump. In fact there is a strange correlation between the political couple formed by Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka ‘The woman Donald Trump cherishes most’ according to Newsmax, who is also his adviser, and the Macron couple. The Trump couple in their father/daughter relationship seems to be the verso of the Macrons (wife-mother/son). Even to the disturbing physical similarity between Trump et Brigitte Macron’s artificial image going back to the 80’s : same shock of blonde hair crowning a permanent orange tan.

‘In the realm of the blind, the one-eyed are kings’ , according to the defination of the Robert Dictionary of French phrases and expressions ed. 2017 :
‘Even a person of mediocre quality appears to be outstanding in the midst of people without discernment’, an apt description for Macron. He would lead France to disaster, tranforming it in a vast tourists’ Disneyland where large publicity panels would disfigure the countryside and promote consumerism as in Las Vegas (This Macron project was vetoed against by the Hollande government). On can also expect the French countryside to be devastated by the extraction of oil shale. And this French culture he says does not exist: ‘ There is no such thing as French culture’ he declared in London the 4th February 2017, would be diluted, distorted into an ersatz of American culture dominated by money. Far from being a trend-setter, the man himself is an ersatz : he says all and its contrary, adopting a particular posture according to the circumstances in Sarkozy’s manner. In Algeria, he described colonisation as ‘crimes against humanity’ and in emulation of the Général de Gaulle during the Algerian war, he ended his speech by the historical words ‘Je vous ai compris ! I have understood you !’. Carrying on this patriotic note, he quoted in his Lyon speech the words of the French poet René Char, engaged in the Résistance, from his work Les feuillets d’Hypnos : ‘On that day I fiercely loved my companions, well beyond self-sacrifice’. For a technocrat without empathy towards others, a man without any sense of collective history and memory, it is no longer theatrical trickery, it is a a shameful melodramatic fraud, indecent in its cheap sham.

Once more in London, on February 21th, and no doubt aiming to flatter his hosts, he reiterated the absence of ‘French culture’, adding that he had never seen ‘French art’. Which is most surprising considering that he has worked for the Rothschild bank. He seemed to have remained totally ignorant of the fact that the British branch of the Rothschild possess in Buckinghamshire one of the msot important collection in the British Isles of the French decorative arts of the 18th century and of paintings from the 17the and 18th century, with the Wallace Collection in Londres. Waddesdon Manor was built beween 1874 and 1889 in the style of the Loire châteaux by a French architect, art historian and collector, Hippolyte Destailleur. The British are enlightened art lovers and collectors and have always been keen on French art, which they have collected avidly. Furthermore French art has had an important influence on the development of British art since the arrival of Huguenot artists and craftsmen in the 17th century after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The two famous British auction houses, Christie’s et Sotheby’s have gained their renown and wealth through the French royal and aristocratic sales following the Revolution. M. Macron is an ignorant and uncivilized philistine, despite the supposedly ‘incredible culture’ of his wife. Smug and vain, he is showing off and strut his stuff, echoing Chérie Blair’s ill-meaning ignorant words during the campaign for the 2012 Olympic Games : ‘And what has Paris got to do with culture ?’. André Malraux created the very concept of a French national culture in 1959, with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs which he headed until 1969. He thus included culture in the social and economic modernisation projects of the De Gaulle government. France’s initiative set an example and has had a worldwide following ever since.

The level of mediocrity of the French presidential candidates makes one shudder for the country’s future. And if one can assess the moral stature of a man by his attitude towards women in general and his wife in particuluar, neither Fillon nor Macron show signs of practising the chivalry and courtesy usually described as French traits. Already Sarkozy treated his wife like a trophy, exhibiting her charms to public applause like a vulgar animal on the market-place. To defend himself and keep his candidacy Fillon has pushed his wife to lies and perjury after her past public statements of having never worked for him. As for Macron, when challenged about an interview in the magazine Paris Match, he accused his wife of ‘blunder and foolishness’. The couple has since given three more interviews to the magazine, of which Mrs. Macron has declared to be ‘very satisfied of the photographs !’ . Her husband does not seem to be overly concerned by her feelings. In his Lyon speech, with a smug, self-satisfied look on his face, he thought it fit to tell a bizarre story about the marital infidelity of the Princess de Ligne, a particularly indelicate act in the presence of his wife 24 years older, who looked very uneasy. Macron is not only a ham actor, he is a cad. His lack of consideration for others, and personal and professional ethics are reflected in his performance as a minister. He neglected his ministerial duties while Minister of Finances to spend his time and the ministry budget creating his own party. In short he is no different in his lack of principles and integrity than Sarkozy or Fillon. He lied to the country in concealing the complete privatisation of Toulouse airport in the 2015 sale to a Chinese investor, when the French authorities : the State, the region, the town were supposed to retain their shares. In any other democracy other than France, he should have had to resign. He is also responsible for the sale of the railway factory Alstom in Belfort. This factory, dating back to the 19th century and creator of the TGV, will stop its activities in 2018 following the sale organized byMacron to the American group General Electric, blocked by the precedent Finance Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, 450 workers and as many subcontrators will lose their jobs. Macron is selling off France’s family jewels to the highest bidders who become thus indebted to him for the future. He does not act for the benefit of the country, but for his own interests.

His wife says of him : ‘He thinks he is Joan of Arc… he comes from another planet’. He seems to be on a divine mission : in Lyon, his hand on his heart in the American manner like Fillon to emphazise the sincerity of his feelings, eyes shut, he sings La Marseillaise. It is an embarassingly ham perfomance worthy of Hollywood. He and his wife are living in the slushy dreamland of a TV soap series they have both created, which is daily recounted by the media : the world of the Wizard of Oz. One expects to see them in technicolor, leaving hand in hand for a new rosy dawn, hopping along like Judy Garland on the tune of Somewhere over the rainbow, in company of the brainless Scarecrow. This was the very role played at school by the 16 years old Macron in the play directed by his French teacher who is now his wife. Video to be viewed on YouTube : Macron fait l’épouvantail.

MONIQUE RICCARDI-CUBITT
BCiP Member
Paris, 15th March 2017

NB. Monique Riccardi-Cubitt is working on an essay on the decline of French prestige and culture.

The Ship of Fools by Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

Samedi, avril 16th, 2016

Towards the end of this hard-hitting political and historical review, BCiP member Monique Riccardi-Cubitt also accuses Europe in general of the Folly of creating a Union but refusing its Consequences.

THE SHIP OF FOOLS
TERRORIST ATTACKS, PARIS JANUARY 7th, NOVEMBER 13th 2015, BRUSSELS MARCH 22nd 2016.
HIERONYMUS BOSCH EXHIBITION, VISIONS OF GENIUS.
500th anniversairy, Noordbrabants Museum, s’-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, February 13th – May 8th 2016

320px-jheronimus_bosch_0111

The Ship of Fools c. 1500-5, Louvre, Paris

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L’Homo viator, The Wayfarer, recto shutter
The Haywain c.1500-2, Prado, Madrid

No, Europe and France are not at war, Messrs Hollande, Valls and company. War is in Palestine where Israël, with American lobbies’ financial support, encourages American settlers to create apartheid on the Palestianians’ ancestral land in persecuting and eliminating the natives. War is in Syria where an organized genocide is taking place since 2011, with no attempt whatsoever from Europe and the international community to stop the systematic slaughter of the population. War is in Iraq with Daesh, thanks to the American attack in 2003, supported by Tony Blair, devastating and forever destabilizing the region. War is in Libya where Daesh rules also, thanks to the intervention of Nicolas Sarkozy, Blair’s clone. He wanted to hurry the disappearance of the benefactor who, although he had contributed to his election campaign in 2007 and was received in great pomp in Paris, had become an embarrassing witness to eliminate. War is in Turkey where the Kurds are being massacred without any reactions from Europe and NATO. This new ally is being handsomely rewarded to get rid of the cumbersome problem of the migrants.

Gone are the high-minded principles of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, or those of Human Rights. Hordes of refugees are driven to exile to flee the horrors of systematic political and ethnic cleansing, persecution of all kinds, squalor, famine and epidemics, bombs destroying their houses, their lives, their land, forever polluting it with noxious remains, poisonning earth, air and water. They are no longer welcomed as asylum seekers in dire circumstances, but as barbarians invading Europe to spread Islam.

Five hundred years ago Europe saw the migration of another Oriental people. The Gypsies, Bohemians or Tsiganes took their name from the various countries they had crossed during their migration from India. They looked strange and exotic in their vividly colourful costumes. They were heirs to ancient knowledge and wisdom, living in harmony with nature in their worship of the Mother Goddess, Kali the Dark One. The Sunnite Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni had deported them during seventeen ramsacking campaigns from 1001 to 1026. Mahmoud had vowed to plunder India once a year, and to recite a Sura from the Koran after each destruction of a temple. In 1018 he sacked the cities of Mathurà and Kannauj and deported the latter’s population. His private secretary, Abu Naser al’Ubti, wrote in the Kitab-I-Yamini manuscrit : 53 000 men, women and children, of clear and dark complexions, by entire families. The Sultan used them to rebuild and embellish his mountain stronghold at Ghazni, in modern Afghanistan, where he had built the largest mosque of the time. Professional soldiers entered his service and fought for him until his death in 1030, following which they roamed the Near and Middle East, hiring themselves to the local Persian and Turkish tribes as non-free soldiers, or ghulams. Some of them settled in Asia Minor, others entered the service of the Turkish Seldjoukids, and freed Jerusalem from the Egyptian Fatimids, starting the First Crusade in 1095. The Gypsy warriors, also called Al-Ghulamis, in latin Angulani, are mentioned in the Gesta Francorum as polytheistic Sarrasins. After the Turkish armies’ defeat, they fought against the Crusaders on the Egyptians’ side. The spread of the Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor in the 14th century forced a massive Gypsy exodus towards Western Europe. At the end of the 14th century their presence is mentioned in the Byzantine Empire, in Crete, in Serbia, in Romania. At the beginning of the 15th century, they are found in Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland. In Italy the first Zingari arrived in 1392, following the Kosovo battle between the Ottomans and the Christian Serbs, who were defeated..

In Europe the Gypsies’ arrival aroused local curiosity wherever they went and settled. Their alluring exoticism in customs and costume, their freedom of movement, their divining gifts and magical powers, attracted all attention. They expressed their vital energy and joie-de-vivre through singing, music and above all in dancing. Dancing is for the Hindus the highest and noblest expression of divine worship, in emulation of Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance, whose cult unites all in India. The Gypsies’ participation in the First Crusade had created a bond with the European nobility. They shared with them the love of horses, the experience of the Orient, freedom of thought and movement and chivalric ideals. The Gypsies enjoyed aristocratic military patronage as mercenaries, despite the numerous decrees from absolutist States, in time denying them entry. Yet Gypsy culture has strongly influenced and revitalized European artistic creativity, not only in dance and music, but also in poetry, literature and painting. At the end of the Middle Ages in Europe, the ethos of the Bohemian is assimilated to the Oriental traditions of the minstrels’ courtly love, the Fedeli d’amore’s exalted feminine figure in Dante and Petrarch’s poetry, and Neoplatonic theories, and elevated to an archetype. In Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych in the Prado, The Haywain, c.1501, the Bohemian women, with their caracteristic high conical hats stand for a way of life detached from wordly possessions. The roaming Bohemian becomes the symbol of mankind engaged in the spiritual quest for Truth and Knowledge, as indicated by the recto of the outside shutters entitled The Path of Life, the key to the triptych’s allegory. It is the Homo viator described in the two poems of the French 14th century Cistercian monk, Guillaume de Deguileville, prior of the Chaalis abbey : The Pilgrimage of Human Life and The Pilgrimage of the Soul, the latter being published in Flemish in1486.

The 22nd card of the Tarot - an initiatory game from the Middle East introduced to France via Italy - uses this image. It is the major trump card, its lucky number stands for the accomplished human being in time and space. This arcana is unnumbered as subjected to human freewill, it is the Fool, The Mat, an Arab word meaning death, or the self-denial inherent to spiritual illumination. The Fool wears minstrel’s clothes, he is a traveller on life’s path, walking to the fulfilment of his destiny. He always carries the pilgrim’s staff and is accompanied by a dog, symbol of loyalty and fidelity to his own chosen path. Thus he is shown on the Mat Tarot card and in Bosch’s depictions called erroneously The Beggar or The Peddler, a third version appears on a tondo in the Museum Boijmans - Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

This Homo viator, Traveller or Holy Beggar, in the Sufi sense of the word, is seeking spiritual illumination. He will be granted it in begging his way on life’s path to people less evolved than himself, who will themselves rise in stature according to the secret alchemy of human interactive bonds. He is also represented in grisaille on the recto of another Bosch’s triptych, The Ship of Fools, in the Louvre. Initially it formed one panel witht the Allegory of Lust and Debauchery in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, from which he has been cut off. It was the pendant to the Death of the Miser panel in the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The other three Deadly sins : Wrath, Hubristic Pride and Sloth, or spiritual, moral and physical apathy, would have appeared in the now missing central panel.

The Ship of Fools ‘s theme and iconography takes on the allegory of the Strasbourg humanist Sébastien Brandt ‘s famous satirical poem, published in German in Basle in 1494. The volume is illustrated with woodcuts attributed to the youngAlbrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Bosch’s ship is similar to the frontispiece. This sharp satire of human folly depicted through contemporary European Renaissance society enjoyed an immediate popular success. As a result is was first translated in latin, the lingua franca of the time, in 1497, then in all other European languages : in Flemish at s’-Hertogenbosch in 1500, in English by Robert Barclay in 1509. The trope, or allegory, describing a ship without pilot, taken over by maddened giddy passengers, without sense nor discrimination, thoughtless and irresponsible in their actions, leading the ship to be wrecked, was common at the time. It goes back to Plato’s Republic, chapter VI, a satire on the art of governing countries and men.

Five hundred years later human condition has remained the same. The same politico-religious conflicts inflame and destroy whole countries, scattering away populations on land and sea, creating the same hatred, the same misery, the same despair. Or should one say that human folly has worsened ? Nowadays no one ventures to publically denounce it any longer, yet it is not one country, one region, one continent, that are threatened, but the whole planet, in the blind suicidal race to the gratification of materialism and consumerism, power and greed’s selfish needs. The spirituality of the medieval and Renaissance humanists, poets and artists does not exist any longer, the cult of Mammon has replaced it. Like many notables of his time, Bosch belonged to a brotherhood, The Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, dedicated to the Virgin. It was altogether an honour and a civic duty. The members were bound to support financially the charitable actions they also had to perform, according to the Seven Acts of Mercy, as stated in St. Matthew’s gospel : To feed the Hungry, to give drink to the Thirsty, to clothe the Naked, to shelter the Homeless, to visit the Sick, to visit the Imprisoned, to bury the Dead. Bosch’s works, like Brandt’s Ship of Fools, is satirical and didactic, aiming to make men conscious of their own folly in ignoring the results of their spinelessness and weaknesses, their excesses, their vices and dishonourable behaviour. To see in them solely an expression of the fantastic and surrealism, in the modern materialistic atheist point of view, is to betray the serious intent of the artists and poets’message and mission. This intellectual appraisal bears no relation to the exalted ethos of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance, their gaiety and sense of mockery. These images draw their power of evocation from an exhilarating vital force, an irrepressible joie-de-vivre, encompassing the whole spectrum of human experience, even in its darker aspects, as can be seen in the art of the cathedrals and of miniatures. Popular festive events and Carnivals, when the Fool became King and ruled for one day, were iniatory moments of the exorcism of human folly, echoing the didactic role of psychic release of the antique Greek theatre. Modern man’s sick soul, bogged down in matter and possessions, self-obsessed, dismantled by psychoanalysis, without altruism and joie-de-vivre, could draw from it all some salutary lessons.

Most particularly the ex-French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who speaks of Christian values in interviews given on the Radio Notre Dame network or to the Catholic newspaper La Croix, after visiting the Pope with a delegation, his wife and his son at his heels. He wants to gain the French Catholics’s vote in his party’s primary elections to be able to stand for the Presidency, which he has so abused in the past, in the next 2017 elections. Among the Human Follies of Brandt’s Ship of Fools, in Robert Barclay’s translation, he would do well to meditate on Folio 111, Of the ende of worldly honour and power and of folys that trust therin. It shows donkeys tied up to a wheel, the Wheel of Fortune, which always ends up by turning. One teaches and rules by being an examplary model, but it seems that the so-called ruling elites care little about this duty of theirs. To be credible Sarkozy should have taken the opportunity of being in Rome for the Holy Week and go up the Scala Santa, not once, but several times, to expiate his numerous turpitudes and his government’s corruption, the destruction of Lybia and all the human misery he has altogether created. To show his real Christian values, he should have paid a visit to the refugees’camp on the island of Lampedusa. There he and his wife could have witnessed at first hand the distress of those who had to flee from the catastrophic results of Western political intervention in the Near and the Middle East, and the human suffering to which he has so greatly contributed by action and by omission. Having braved the seas, those refugees are parked in makeshift camps and survive on the locals’ charity. He could then have made a gesture towards those he is morally responsible in their misfortune. It would have been a salutary lesson in Christian charity to his spoilt, arms-loving son, and vain, superficial and frivolous wife. Only concerned with appearances, at this first visit to the Vatican, she must certainly have exclaimed in forced astonishment, as she did at the official dinner in St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle : WOW !

A contemporary Ship of Fools would be thus declined :

For the French President François Hollande, aping François Mitterand’s stiff, rigid, starchy and falsely dignified image in his duplicity, and Nicolas Sarkozy’s superficial and ineffective hyperactivity: Of the Folly of imitating one’s Predecessors and blindly repeating their Folly.

On his dithering, contradictory, incoherent government’s policy: Of the Folly of ruling a Country without Vision and Direction

For his reactive armed policy towards Daesh, thus endowing it with an official status and exposing France to reprisals, and with the Prime Minister Manuel Valls, for an abusive policy towards French citizens’s individual freedom in the repression of terrorism: Of the Folly of reacting vith Violence in Dangerous Situations in order to show-off one’s Power, and to make the Consequences worse.

For his triumphalism after Salah Abdeslam’s arrest in Belgique, who had participated in the attack at the Palais des Sports in Novembre 2016, provoking as a result the Brussels attack : Of the Folly of Boasting too Soon and too Loudly of precarious Victories, and to Sink as result.

For failing to have the French Constitution reviewed to include the loss of nationality for terrorists : Of the Folly of submitting unfair botched-up Laws in Emergency without prior Deliberation and Support..

For the French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, critizing Belgium after the March 22nd Brussels attack « when one sees a district in danger of communitarianism one must act, one must act with a city policy, with an integration policy, with the schools and with the language » : Of the Folly of seeing the Mote in one’s Neighbour’s eye and not the Beam in one’s Own, and to gloat about it.

For the Éducation Nationale in general and its Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, in particular, for wasting her time in pointless debates on the circumflex accent instead of having civic morals taught in school, the discipline of the French language, the citizens’ identity heritage. The loss of syntax and text analysis, which forms the structure of the French language and of its discursive power has resulted in its continued deterioration. It has now been replaced by an incomprehensible Franglais gibberish : Of the Folly of speaking in Tongues and not the Tongue, of lowering Excellence and building up Mediocrity.
For the Armed Forces General and Police Director, Bertrand Soubelet, who says : « Listen to the young, they respect nothing any longer » : Of the Folly of the Elders to complain about their Juniors to whom they have given a Bad Example.

Thus for the Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande’s bad manners and discourteous behaviour, that is a lack of respect towards others. For the former, the invective Casse toi pov’c…, for failing to reciprocate hospitality according to protocole and invite the Queen to the French Embassy, while on a State visit to London, to send SMS in the Pope’s presence, and for both to sit down before the Pope has done so, and for Hollande, to be the only one not to bow his head in respect during the Rev. Richard Spencer’s prayer for the American soldiers lost during the Second World War, on June 6th 2014, at the American Cemetery at Colleville, and to sit down first while receiving the Queen at the Élysée Palace : Of the Folly of the Frog who wants to be bigger than the Ox. Appearances can be deceiving, when one is born in one’s heart Villein, Villein one remains.

For Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Kouchner, in the dismantling of the French Foreign Office : Of the Folly of entrusting unworthy Men with a precious National Heritage.

For Nicolas Sarkozy’s mea culpa in his book : La France pour la vie : Of the Folly of Tartuffe beating his breast while preparing further Tartuffe duperies.
For France on the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan terrorist attacks: Of the Folly of kindling Hatred through Blasphemy and Arrogance.
For the failure of the various French Secret Services to trace presumed terrorists : Of the Folly of a cumbersome and rigid Administration with no efficient Power of Analysis and Dialogue.

For Europe in general : Of the Folly of creating a Union and refusing its Consequences.

For the outrageous media overexposure of private and public life: Of the Folly of propulsing into Light what should remain in the Shadow, that is the most Secret, the most Sacred, the most Precious and should remain so.

Those passengers of The Ship of Fools, blind and uneducated, ignorant of themselves, of others, of their heritage, mad men without a vision of the future, sailing to their own demise, should do well to meditate the first Lauda, Praise, of the 13th century Umbrian franciscan friar, poet and mystic, Jacopone Da Todi: La Prima Lauda del Libro di questa Morte : Armate, omo, che se passa l’ora.

The First Praise of the Book of this Death : To Arms, man, the Hour has come !

Copyright MONIQUE RICCARDI-CUBITT. Paris, March 31st 2016
https://blogs.mediapart.fr/monique-riccardi-cubitt/blog