I'm afraid I don't have a source, but these are allegedly headlines from the French Newspaper "Moniteur" in March of 1815, on the subject of Napoleon's escape from Alba and return to power:
March 9, 1815 The Monster has escaped from his place of banishment.
March 10, 1815 The Corsican Ogre has landed at Cape Juan.
March 11, 1815 The Tiger has shown himself at Gap. The Troops are advancing on all sides to arrest his progress. He will conclude his miserable adventure by becoming a wanderer among the mountains.
March 12, 1815 The Monster has actually advanced as far as Grenoble.
March 13, 1815 The Tyrant is now at Lyon. Fear and Terror seized all at his appearance.
March 18, 1815 The Usurper has ventured to approach to within 60 hours' march of the capital.
March 19, 1815 Bonaparte is advancing by forced marches, but it is impossible he can reach Paris.
March 20, 1815 Napoleon will arrive under the walls of Paris tomorrow.
March 21, 1815 The Emperor Napoleon is at Fountainbleau.
March 22, 1815 Yesterday evening His Majesty the Emperor made his public entry and arrived at the Tuileries. Nothing can exceed the universal joy.
Such is the nature of power, my friends. We may also look at the progress of Nazification in Germany in the 1930s. I don't have a good primary source, but we have all seen the pictures and have heard many stories, so we can imagine the headlines in newspapers and magazines, and the changes in displayed symbology in Germany as we read along with this rough timeline:
February 1924 Hitler's trial for his part in the Munich Putsch began. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison but only served 10 months. During his time in prison Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
August 1927 The first annual party conference to be held at Nuremburg. Known as the Nuremburg Rally all subsequent annual meetings were held at Nuremburg.
September 1930 The Nazi party gained 18.3% of the vote in the Reichstag elections to become the second largest party.
July 1933 The Nazi party gained 37.4% of the vote in the Reichstag elections to become the largest party.
January 1933 Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Hindenburg
March 1933 With the Communist party banned Hitler ordered a new election at which the Nazi party gained 44% of the General election vote.
May 1933 25,000 'un-German' books burned in an “Action against the Un-German Spirit”. The move was encouraged by Joseph Goebbels, Head of Propaganda.
July 1933 All political parties except the Nazis were banned
August 1934 President Hindenburg died. Hitler combined the post of President and Chancellor and called himself Fuhrer.
September 1934 In a speech to the National Socialist Women's Organization, Hitler defined women's role stating that a woman's "world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home."
September 1935 Nuremburg Laws defined German citizenship. Relationships between Jews and Aryans were banned.
Etcetera. By 1937, the normal parts of Berlin looked like this:
Note the flag flown by formally unaligned organizations. The symbology is important. It says who's in charge, and flying the banners demonstrates loyalty. Always and everywhere, the ambitious kneel to the powerful, and affirm their symbols and ideologies.
Of course, by 1945, Berlin had a new set of symbols:
Under Communist rule in Eastern Europe in 1978, Vaclav Havel made some observations, did some thinking, and wrote "The Power of the Powerless", of which this excerpt is particularly choice:
The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: "Workers of the world, unite!" Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment's thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?
I think it can safely be assumed that the overwhelming majority of shopkeepers never think about the slogans they put in their windows, nor do they use them to express their real opinions. That poster was delivered to our greengrocer from the enterprise headquarters along with the onions and carrots. He put them all into the window simply because it has been done that way for years, because everyone does it, and because that is the way it has to be. If he were to refuse, there could be trouble. He could be reproached for not having the proper decoration in his window; someone might even accuse him of disloyalty. He does it because these things must be done if one is to get along in life. It is one of the thousands of details that guarantee him a relatively tranquil life "in harmony with society," as they say.
Obviously the greengrocer . . . does not put the slogan in his window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: "I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace." This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer's superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan's real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer's existence. It reflects his vital interests. But what are those vital interests?
Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan "I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient;' he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say, "What's wrong with the workers of the world uniting?" Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power. It hides them behind the facade of something high. And that something is ideology.
Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves. It is a very pragmatic but, at the same time, an apparently dignified way of legitimizing what is above, below, and on either side. It is directed toward people and toward God. It is a veil behind which human beings can hide their own fallen existence, their trivialization, and their adaptation to the status quo. It is an excuse that everyone can use, from the greengrocer, who conceals his fear of losing his job behind an alleged interest in the unification of the workers of the world, to the highest functionary, whose interest in staying in power can be cloaked in phrases about service to the working class. The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the post-totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe. . . .
In summary, his thesis on the relationship between these supposedly ideological symbols and the power dynamic is that displaying the symbols of power communicates loyal obedience to the powerful, and subtly shifts the implicit social landscape of what's acceptable for everyone else, and it does so in a plausibly deniable way. And when things get to an advanced enough state, failing to do so communicates punishable dissent.
Normally, the policy at this blog is one of strict non-engagement with the present; we try to maintain a position outside of history so as to avoid embroiling ourselves in active political conflicts or getting blindered into too-narrow a historical perspective. But in contradiction of our usual preference, "today" is a word that we very reluctantly dust off to document some important news:
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled that all states are compelled to legalize same sex marriage. As usual, Massachusetts (in other words, Harvard, et al) led the charge:
Relatedly, about a week previous to this article, we finally got a good example of a racist white man attacking innocent black churchgoers, leading to a national outcry and calls to ban confederate (the loser of the last civil war) imagery in the United States. Someone has produced a graphic to help us understand the connection:
And indeed, today America flies a new flag:
For those of you joining us from the post-American future, note that the "White House" there in the lower right is the official seat of power in the United States; currently the most officially powerful throne in the world. The rainbow flag represents the interests and pride of the homosexual community and fellow travellers, and is one of the core symbols of contemporary American Liberalism, which is officially at the time of writing still an optional ideology in what is at least supposed to be an intellectually tolerant political landscape.
Being ever conscious of power dynamics, we are of course eager to join everybody else in the fashionable and ambitious crowd today in celebrating this new milestone in the ascension of American Liberalism to the status of an official and compulsory ideology. The Future Primaeval proudly supports our new(?) overlords, as best as we can figure out who they are:
Being not entirely in the present, and not quite as in touch with the rapidly changing social realities of the day, we hope you'll excuse us if we have missed any subtleties or gotten any details wrong.
We eagerly await future developments in the history of power and its symbols. Who knows, perhaps some day we will be singing the praises of His Imperial Highness, Last and Greatest Defender of Christian Civilization, Tsar Vladimir Putin:
But for now, the tyrant is only at Crimea. Fear and terror seized all at his appearance, of course.