Monday, July 8, 2024

Freedom & Unfreedom

Independence Day was last week. For the benighted of the world--a growing group by the way, judging from recent events--that was the day in 1776 that we declared we would throw off the yoke of British and kingly tyranny and would be a free people and an independent nation. On July 4, 2024, we in America celebrated. On that same day in the country of our old colonial masters, the people threw off the so-called Conservatives of the United Kingdom and put a new yoke around there necks by electing a lot of leftists and socialists to Parliament. I'm not sure that anybody can defend the Conservatives--or Tories as we called them two and a half centuries ago when we chased them out of our new nation--with a straight face. They got what they deserved, I think. Now I suspect the British people will get what they deserve once their new representatives are installed. The place was already on its way to becoming Airstrip One. Now the whole process can be accelerated.

Three days later, France elected its own brand of leftists, socialists, and worse. Rassemblement National got more votes than any other party, and yet they'll be kept out of power by a coalition formed in opposition to them. I saw a short video of a large gathering in France in celebration of that result. There wasn't a French flag in sight but plenty of flags representing the Jew-haters of the world. In other words, leftists, socialists, and members of the religion of pieces got together to deny Marie Le Pen's party a shot at running the country. It seems like I have heard something like this before . . .

Michel Houellebecq is a French author. In 1991, he had published an essay called "H. P. Lovecraft: Contre le monde, contre la vie." Since then, M. Houellebecq's essay has been reprinted several times, not only in French but also in German and Spanish. In 2005, McSweeney's Books published an English-language version as H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life. People in Europe who work in high literary forms are a lot less squeamish about these things than are their American counterparts. Even so, figures as varied as Leslie Fielder and Jack Matthews wrote about--or at least mentioned--H. P. Lovecraft. In any event, Michel Houellebecq has attached his name to the lowly genres of pulp magazines.

Michel Houellebecq was born in the 1950s. Like Cthulhu, he's from an island in the southern hemisphere. M. Houellebecq has written what you could call science fiction. He even has an entry in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. For people who like circles and connections, consider that his publisher is Flammarion. In 2015, two days before Islamists murdered the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Flammarion issued M. Houellebecq's novel Soumission. I haven't read this book, but I can tell you a little about its plot. Very little, actually, but enough: in 2022, just two years past now, a coalition of socialists and Muslims forms to prevent--you guessed it--Marie Le Pen from assuming power (executive rather than legislative) in France. We've said it before and we'll all say it again: science fiction is not about predicting or prognosticating on the future. It's about extrapolating future events and situations from what we know about human nature, science, human history, and so on. But you've got to give M. Houellebecq credit. Almost a decade ago, he called it. Maybe not in the particulars, but he called it.

In our revolutionary period of the eighteenth century, we strove--albeit imperfectly--towards greater freedom and the recognition of the unalienable rights of men (and women). In France's revolutionary period, they traded one form of tyranny for another that was arguably far worse. Now they're doing it again, I think, they and the British, hand in hand. We're watching them. I hope we decide not to follow.

Copyright 2024 Terence E. Hanley

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