Back to the future: history is the sanctuary of memory

Back to the future: history is the sanctuary of memory
Back to the future: history is the sanctuary of memory

Inspired by the film “If you want to build a time machine in politics, why not do it with a certain style? »

History is the sanctuary of memory, which should be visited frequently to seek to understand the present and build on its ruins the frescoes of the future.

King Justanid ordered the construction of the fortress of Alamut when, during a hunting party, an eagle landed on a rocky promontory whose strategic advantage had not escaped him.

When Hassan as-Sabbah, the old man of the mountain, probably so nicknamed following the account of Marco Polo, the founder of Nizari Ismaili Shiism but also of the order of assassins, took possession of the fortress, with the intention to manipulate religious devotion and remove the region from Sunni control in order to extend the Ismaili doctrine to the territory, he used the most subtle of tools: religion, violence and hypnosis.

First, he created a legendary research center for its bewitching gardens, library and laboratories where philosophers, scientists and theologians could debate in complete intellectual freedom. One of the great intellectual losses of the ancient world was the destruction of the library by the Mongol invasion. But what the modern world has retained is its manipulation of the human soul through drugged hypnosis, the promise of paradise and religious obedience, the necessary tools that would help it persuade young fanatics by his heavenly promises that the best way to enter heaven was through the act of murder and the portal of martyrdom. Violence was recognized as a divine dogma. The cult of death as a divine persuasion. But he had above all instilled in his devotees the notion of permanent war to achieve the objective, the implication of which still reverberates today.

When Rashid al-Din Sinane, the “new” old man of the mountain, became the heir of Hassan as-Sabbah and leader of the assassins now established in the fortress of Masyaf in northern Syria, he had to face two enemies, the Crusaders and their enemy Saladin.

Saladin, more concerned with Sinane than with Richard the Lionheart, had laid siege to the citadel protecting the assassins, who saw Saladin as a greater threat than the Crusaders. The latter, obsessed with a real or fictitious night vision of Sinane, following two assassination attempts, despite the protection of his guards, was going to lift the siege and make an agreement allowing him to continue his campaign against the Crusaders. The range of victims of the order of assassins had taken on a more exhaustive dimension, accumulating both Muslim and Christian leaders, constituting a permanent threat to the Fatimids, the Abbasids, the Seljuk authority, but also to the Crusaders and the king of Jerusalem. A long, nightmarish period of nearly 300 years, troubled by terror and dread, was to engulf the region, resulting in a dismantling of the balance of power, allowing the Mongol invasion of the Levant without effective resistance. From this state of permanent war, a new era had just been born.

The permanent state of war

In 2011, James Joyner wrote an article in The Atlantic magazine whose title bore the full measure of the dilemma: “How perpetual war became a US ideology? (How Permanent War Became an American Ideology). An ideological dominance of the neoconservatives had glimpsed the urgency of delivering the American ideal to the rest of the world, following the bankruptcy of communism, attributed to an emotional necessity, built during the emotionally charged period of the Cold War.

Currently, there is a sense of disappointment in US international policy, but also a loss of interest in this perspective. Neither Donald Trump nor have yet been able to recover the authoritarian losses contingent on the moral nihilism that permeates the state of permanent war.

While moral nihilism, supported by an ideology of perpetual war, manifests itself in all forms of broadcast, autocracy, sloganeering and partisan fascism, liberal, democratic legitimacy is on the decline. Alexis de Tocqueville had already written in his essay On Democracy in America the following thought: “There is no long war which in a democratic country does not put freedom at great risk. It is not precisely that we should be afraid of seeing there, after each victory, the victorious generals seizing the sovereign power by force, in the manner of Sylla and Caesar. The danger is of another kind. War does not always deliver democratic peoples to military government; but it cannot fail to increase immensely, among these peoples, the attributes of civil government; it almost necessarily centralizes in the hands of the latter the direction of all men and the use of all things. If it does not suddenly lead to despotism by violence, it gently leads to it by habit. All who seek to destroy freedom in the bosom of a democratic nation must know that the surest and shortest means of doing so is war. This is the first axiom of science. »

The tragedy of the Arab countries is to have accepted for a long period to follow the ideological slope of the countries of the axis of resistance, whose permanent state of war had already practically diluted the understanding, eroded the heart and dispossessed the soul of their nation. The need for change had been felt during the turbulent period of the “Arab Spring”, whose bankruptcy was only a reflection of their complicit apathy. So close to culpable debility, it degrades human relations and camouflages collective bankruptcy. In his famous and very personal novel The Idiot, Dostoyevsky recounts the behavior of a man caught up in social turmoil, manipulated like an idiot by intrigues with multiple ricochets, but whose moral attitude had forced him to want to save a soul. in pain and resigning himself to a diminutive condition, accentuated by a mentally disturbing epileptic fit, suggesting to his disappointment that social asthenia had made a mockery of a man’s sacred beliefs. The movement of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf towards universal integration reflects the need for change.

The monster of idiocy is difficult to uproot, because it will have crossed the fields of ideologies, religions, autocracies, peppered with corruption and pride. Two antagonistic positions appear at the beginning of this year. That of Hezbollah, which advocates a return to the culture of Alamut, and that of France, which calls for a break with certain Lebanese leaders. A puppet game, already adopted without remorse by budding candidates, which diminishes the value of the presidency, previously affected by insipid decisions and the choice of presidents incapable of autonomy. A situation that recalls the penance of Canossa, when the King of the Romans Henry IV, excommunicated by Pope Gregory VII, comes to kneel with his family in the snow so that the Pope agrees to lift the terrible condemnation.

The division of the loot between a consensual candidate and a sovereigntist candidate already distorts the electoral perspective and induces the mind to analyze the situation in a mythical discourse, which seems to be the only negotiation framework of which the country is capable. The only candidate who should be considered is one sufficiently competent in the reconstruction of the country, but no one has yet put forward a plan likely to restore confidence and security. Maybe no one is able or decided. The contempt of the discourse of competing otherness cannot lead to a result. We can certainly not return to Alamut or Masyaf, but faced with the miserable alternative of permanent war, the question remains of knowing how to make the song of freedom the only and unanimous battle cry.

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Inspired by the film “If you want to build a time machine in politics, why not do it with a certain style? History is the sanctuary of memory, which should be visited frequently to seek to understand the present and build on its ruins the frescoes of the future. King Justanid ordered the construction of the fortress of Alamut…


The article is in French

Tags: future history sanctuary memory

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