Hoe verkoop je een troonopvolger? Poëzie, Politiek, Propaganda in de laat-Romeinse oudheid

claudius-claudianus

Claudius Claudinius
(ca. 370 – ca. 404)

In het huidige Engeland bezit het koningshuis geen politieke macht, maar heeft wel de status van nationale totempaal. Engelse historici en sociologen, die ten aanzien van hún koningshuis minder aan taboegevoelens leden dan hun Nederlandse collega’s, hebben onderzocht hoe koninklijke feestdagen, zoals de kroning van Elizabeth of het huwelijk van Lady Di, zijn geënsceneerd en welke effecten bij het publiek werden nagestreefd en bereikt. Boeiende onderzoeksresultaten werden gepubliceerd in een boek dat de realistische, voor sommige lezers cynische, titel droeg: The Selling of a Monarchy (’De Verkoop van een Vorstenhuis’). Een reportage van een koninklijk feest heeft nu eenmaal bepaalde raakvlakken met reclame-televisie. De titel van bovengenoemd boek vormt trouwens, evenals de titel van dit opstel, een zinspeling op een studie die in Amerika over presidentsverkiezingen geschreven werd: How to Sell a President?

Koninkrijken kennen altijd vele ceremoniële bijeenkomsten, feesten, herdenkingen, en bij al die gelegenheden werd en wordt het woord gevoerd. In de klassieke retorica noemt men dergelijke gelegenheids-speeches panegyrische redevoeringen, een term afkomstig van het Griekse woord ‘panegyrikon’ dat algemene (feest)vergadering betekent. Nog altijd neemt bij plechtigheden als ambtsaanvaarding, aankomst, huwelijk, verjaardag, begrafenis e.d. van een staatshoofd een officiële spreker het woord. Nu is het opmerkelijk dat de Romeinse dichter Claudius Claudianus, de held van ons verhaal, ook veel van dit soort speeches heeft gehouden, maar dan in poëtisch-metrische vorm (de dactylische hexameter die ook voor het epos werd gebruikt). Aan het hof van de jonge keizer Honorius te Milaan trad hij op als ‘poet laureate’ (dichter des vaderlands) in de jaren 396-404 na Christus. Honorius was in 395 tien jaar oud toen hij zijn vader, de beroemde christen-keizer Theodosius, opvolgde die op 17 januari van dat jaar plotseling gestorven was. Van de dichter Claudianus zijn een tiental ceremoniële, poëtische voordrachten bewaard gebleven. Men heeft wel eens verondersteld dat er van hogerhand roofbouw op de dichter is gepleegd. Zo’n groot aantal speeches en ceremoniën binnen tien jaar aan een en hetzelfde hof is géén blijk van grote populariteit van de keizerlijke familie, integendeel, het is een symptoom van de wankelheid van de troon. Al deze feesten en redevoeringen hebben tot functie de bevolking en de partijen rond de troon te verenigen en de plaats van de vorst als centrum van de macht of van de nationale eenheid te benadrukken.

De strikt literaire, antiek-retorische theorie van de panegyrische speech is naar moderne maatstaven naïef en misleidend. De schuld hiervan ligt bij de grote Aristoteles die in zijn bespreking van dit soort redevoeringen het publiek louter als toeschouwer definiëerde en de speech louter als pronkspeech, een verbaal huzarenstukje, voorloper van ‘l’art pour l’art’ en a-politieke ‘belles lettres’. Aristoteles heeft vermoedelijk aan de sofistische virtuositeit van zijn tijd gedacht en aan de Griekse stadsstaat van 1500 burgers, niet aan een miljoenenpubliek dat door massa-media kan worden gemanipuleerd. Tegenwoordig hebben moderne historici veel meer aandacht voor de politieke, massa-psychologische effecten van parades en speeches rond koningen en presidenten, rond Führer en Duce. Zo noemen Engelse historici, verenigd in het Engelse tijdschrift Past and Present, een drietal elementen die bij ceremoniële gelegenheden rond keizers en koningen e.d. een rol spelen en ook in dit opstel over Claudianus en Honorius achtereenvolgens aan de orde zullen komen: 1. charisma van het staatshoofd, zijn majesteit in de meest letterlijke betekenis van superioriteit, 2. consensus, de brede instemming van de onderdanen waardoor de troon wordt gesteund, 3. uitvinden van tradities. Read more

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Is Another World Really Possible? The Slogans Of The French Revolution Reconsidered

The famous slogan of the French Revolution was “liberty, equality, fraternity“. In the succeeding two centuries the world has demonstrated both the contradictions of this slogan and the very limited degree to which in fact any of its three elements have been realized anywhere in the modern world-system.

Today, the question is whether, in a future world-system, there are ways of making this trio more compatible each with the other. We are dealing here not with this trinity but rather with the relation between inequality, pluralism, and the environment. It is hard to say what the French revolutionaries would make of this discussion. Pluralism was exactly the opposite of their aspirations, since they wished to eliminate all intermediaries between the individual and the state of all the citizens. The environment was entirely outside their topic. And inequality was assumed to be inevitable on tis way out, precisely because of their victorious revolution.
But these questions about both trinities are very much unresolved today. The next several decades will be a period of collective world decision about precisely these issues, about whether anoth­er world is real­­ly possible in a foreseeable future. I shall start by dis­cuss­ing the least discussed, indeed the long almost-forgotten, member of the French Revolution’s trinity, fra­ternity. It is only in rec­ent decades that fraternity has re­turned to the forefront of our collective concerns, but it has indeed re­turned, and with a vengeance”.
Read more

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Freedom House ~ Freedom On The Net 2014

freedom_houseFreedom on the Net 2014 – The fifth annual comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe, covering developments in 65 countries that occurred between May 2013 and May 2014 –finds internet freedom around the world in decline for the fourth consecutive year, with 36 out of 65 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period.

In a departure from the past, when most governments preferred a behind-the-scenes approach to internet control, countries rapidly adopted new laws that legitimize existing repression and effectively criminalize online dissent.

The past year also saw increased government pres­sure on independent news websites, which had previously been among the few uninhibited sources of information in many countries, in addition to more people detained or prosecuted for their digital activities than ever before.

Between May 2013 and May 2014, 41 countries passed or proposed legislation to penalize legitimate forms of speech online, increase government powers to control content, or expand government surveillance capabilities.

Since May 2013, arrests for online communications pertinent to politics and social issues were documented in 38 of the 65 countries, most notably in the Middle East and North Africa, where detentions occurred in 10 out of the 11 countries examined in the region.
Pressure on independent news websites, among the few unfettered sources of information in many countries, dramatically increased. Dozens of citizen journalists were attacked while reporting on conflict in Syria and antigovernment protests in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine. Other governments stepped up licensing and regulation for web platforms.

Seehttps://www.freedomhouse.org/report

See also: The Economist ~ How protestors evade digital censorship

Government censorship in the face of unrest is nothing new. And as social media become an increasingly important tool in the protestor’s arsenal, some governments have responded by tightening their grip on the internet. So how do protestors evade digital censorship?

First, protesters are using new, or newer technology than that of the governments trying to muffle them. Hong Kong’ s protestors are using an app called “FireChat” to work around China’s control of the web. The application uses direct Bluetooth links between handsets in a crowd, meaning protestors can still communicate via messages and forums, even without a mobile network or access to other forms of social media.

Second, tech savvy protestors in Turkey used VPNs – Virtual Private Networks. These allow users to mask the address of their devices, meaning they seem to be wherever the VPN provider is. Now that the user appears to be located somewhere like Indianapolis instead of Istanbul, they can access Twitter and other banned sites when the government has blocked local access.

Another technology called Tor, goes a step further. Tor anonymises users by bouncing their traffic through a network of volunteer computers. In the days following the contested 2009 election in Iran, the number of people using Tor to protect their online identity surged. Originally funded by the US government, some people (like Edward Snowden) also use it to evade surveillance by the very government that helped launch it.

The web was built to be fault-tolerant – information is simply re-routed if the network is tampered with. As unrest unfolds around the world, people and social networks are upholding that same idea.

For more multimedia content from The Economist visit our website: http://econ.st/1xzDu0y

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December 1, 2014 – The RQ Celebrating 1800 Posts ~ 300 Pages Of Information, Intelligence, Orientation, Learning & Wisdom. And Some Entertainment.

cheersbooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes – Bette Midler

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Professional Blindness And Missing The Mark ~ The Historical Analysis Of Four Major Crises During The First Two Decades Of The Republic Of Indonesia

OmslagHoltzappel

Within a few days we will begin publishing Professional Blindness And Missing The Mark ~ The Historical Analysis Of Four Major Crises During The First Two Decades Of The Republic Of Indonesia. The paperback edition will be available in the beginning of 2015 (EHV Academicpress – Bremen).

This book contains six captivating articles about decisive moments in the first two decennia of the Republic of Indonesia’s existence (1945-1965); one per chapter with an introduction. They were presented at the memorial in honor of Professor dr. Wim Wertheim’s centennial birthday in 2008 – the doyen of post-war Dutch Indonesia research.

Each chapter explores a significant event from that era and was written by experienced researchers – Mary van Delden, Saskia Wieringa, Ben White, Pieter Drooglever and Coen Holtzappel – making use of source material that for the most part has been neglected by previous research. The analyses of the material reveal the new Republic’s struggle to bring together, and keep together, the colonial heritage of the Dutch East Indies in one independent and productive Republic of Indonesia. The foundation of a domestically, across the archipelago, and internationally accepted national government, as well as obedient regional governments and obliging armed forces, were deciding factors in this struggle.

Violent confrontations between armed forces and the communist party PKI took place in 1948 during the Indonesian National Revolution, as well as in 1965 after the Republic had already been independent for 14 years. The dividing issue was the power balance between politics and army top in state, government and land. A rigorous break with the past was made in 1965, which saw the installation of a junta regime under the leadership of General Soeharto that stayed in place for the following 32 years. Democracy had to wait until the army top made sure every part of politics and armed forces was finely adapted to work with the other. Not until then would the clock of government, production and control be fully set.

The articles reveal a blind spot in Western research of Indonesian developments in the discussed period; research that from 1965 onward was further, and permanently, influenced by the Indonesian army’s view. The Cold War raged domestically as well as abroad.

CONTENTS
Coen Holtzappel – Preface
Mary van Delden – Internees from the Republic
Coen Holtzappel – The year 1948 and the Madiun affairs, a year of cheat and rumours
Pieter Drooglever – Papua Nationalism. Another blind spot
Coen Holtzappel – The Thirtieth September Movement of 1965, as viewed by the perpetrators – Part One
Coen Holtzappel – The Thirtieth September Movement of 1965, as viewed by the perpetrators – Part Two
Coen Holtzappel – The Thirtieth September Movement of 1965, as viewed by the perpetrators – Part Three
Saskia Eleonora Wieringa – Sexual Slander And The 1965/66 Mass Killings In Indonesia: Political And Methodological Considerations
Ben White – The anthropologist’s blind spot: Clifford Geertz on class, killings and communists in Indonesia
Coen Holtzappel & Pieter Drooglever – Postscript
About the authors

 

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Professional Blindness And Missing The Mark ~ Preface

OmslagHoltzappelThe articles contain the edited versions of the presentations discussed during the Wertheim Seminar, held on June 4, 2008 in the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam. The subject was Blind Spots and Preoccupation in the research on Post War Indonesian Political Crises. The seminar was part of the 3-day Wertheim Centennial. It was hosted by the International Institute of Social History (IISH), the ASIA Platform of the University of Amsterdam and the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) and organized by a team from the Wertheim Foundation, i.e. Ibrahim Isa – secretary, Farida Ishaya – member, Jaap Erkelens – member, and Coen Holtzappel – chairman and convener of the Wertheim seminar. The speakers, guests and audience honored the legacy of Professor Doctor Wim Wertheim with this event, the distinguished academic who after World War II founded the Amsterdam school of the historical sociological analysis of modern Asian history and political development. Wertheim also played an important role in the Dutch and international resistance against the murderous war on Indonesian communism, which President Suharto started after the 1 October 1965 Affair, and his destruction of Indonesia’s Sukarno legacy. The seminar was opened by Emil Schwidder, research staff member of the IISH, with a special task on the China collection. He reminded the audience of the close professional relationship that Professor Wertheim and IISH maintained during his life, and the fact that Wertheim’s children donated their father’s correspondence, publications and other documents and tapes to the institute. The IISH was founded in 1935 and has become one of the leading institutes in the world to rescue, conserve and register important archives of socialist social movements. Before the Second World War, archives were rescued from Austria, Germany and Spain, including papers by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. War archives from Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and Asia followed. The collection of Wertheim’s personal and official correspondence, publications, personal and press photographs is now part of the archives.

Coen Holtzappel, convener of the seminar and chairman of the Wertheim Foundation, thanked Emil Schwidder for his kind opening words and welcomed the speakers, the audience, and the special guests. He called to attention the subject of the seminar, i.e. the disturbing role of political and social ignorance, taboos, neglect and denial in the study of historical events and phenomena. They should not be mistaken for “white spots” in our knowledge of the world; i.e. not yet discovered domains of research and phenomena. The real focus is on subjects and domains of knowledge that governments and political elite groups close for research, for example to hide specific aspects of their political behavior, such as crimes, irresponsible wars, blunders, and crimes against humanity. The speakers of the seminar would discuss examples of such disturbances they encountered during their studies of major political crises in and between the Republic Indonesia and the Netherlands during the first two decades of Indonesia’s existence. For many Indonesians, the Netherlands is still the former colonizer and occupier. For many Dutch people Indonesia is the former Netherlands East Indies. They call Indonesian food “Indies food.” According to Wertheim, such ‘blinkers’ have a history. In authoritarian states they are the products of carefully maintained systems of political myth formation, created by elites. To cite the closing statement of Ben White’s chapter in this book, which stems from Wertheim’s Elite and Mass, “The blind and the ignorant, in general, are not busy making themselves or others blind and ignorant. What Wertheim drew our attention to, in contrast, was a process by which elites, and scholars, choose to describe societies and history in ways which made both themselves and others blind to social reality.” In other words, the sources of blindness and ignorance that we should pay attention to, are the elite groups and scholars that use their power and influence to make people look at the things they want them to see and refrain them from looking at things they want them to ignore or deny.

Although I am convinced that such tyrants also exist in people’s personal life, bringing others to crime and suicide, in social and political history we are primarily interested in the political and public social level at which political tyranny occurs. The level where political and religious leaders program people to follow their prejudice and abstain them from using their innate human capacities to study the unknown. In this respect the chapters presented in this book reflect an effort to tackle the problem of how to approach the prejudices in the Dutch-Indonesian discourse about the history of the first decades of Independence War and subsequent decolonization. Instead of the dislikes that burden Dutch and Indonesian views of each other, we should work on a value free and neutral historiography of the shared process of separating Indonesian and Dutch households and interests, and the development of their own ways of continuance. Central in this effort should be the urgent advice to historians, social and political academics to base restudies of past crises and events on the primary sources and eye witness reports. It is the only way to stay as close to the past as possible.

The subjects covered by the seminar are as follows:
[1] The ignorance in Dutch and Indonesian literature regarding the role of the Republican Pemuda units as protectors of Indo-Europeans after the Japanese capitulation. The findings of Mary van Delden appear to challenge conceptions that still exist on both the Indonesian and the Dutch side,
[2] Coen Holtzappel calls attention to General Nasution’s analysis of the roots of the Madiun Affair of 1948 as exposed in Part 8 of his 10 volume Publication on the Indonesian Independence War. Instead of delivering a tale about how he crushed the communist Madiun coup, Nasution went back to his notes, and the available Indonesian and Dutch sources. He produced a study of the registered and unregistered events that caused the Indonesian military Madiun uprising of 1948 and the communist support of it.
[3] Pieter Drooglever emphasizes the ignorance regarding the roots and meaning of Papua nationalism during and after the conflict about the international status of Netherlands New Guinea between the Netherlands and Indonesia.
[4] Holtzappel uses the minutes of the first two martial law trials against two leaders of the Thirtieth September Movement of 1965 to show that Western and Indonesian analysts ignore the conflict that ignited the movement. Their focus is too much on the view of “winner” General Suharto and ignores the view of the “losers” which reveals a different story.
[5] Saskia Wieringa turns our attention to the ignorance and denial after the Reformasi of 1999 of the use of sexual slander against the communist women’s organization Gerwani by General Suharto. Sexual slander was used to stigmatize communism, and communist women in particular; and to legitimize genocide in order to destroy President Sukarno’s political and social legacy. Apparently, Reformasi has not created the clean break with the Suharto past many had hoped for in 1999. There still is no room for reconciliation and truth finding, unlike other countries with a communist past and a dirty war against it.
[6] Ben White points to the conservative roots of a renowned American anthropologist’s unwillingness to analyze the massacre, which fitted existing standards of scientific knowledge and morality. Referring to outsiders in order to explain the massacre as having cultural roots shows elitist escapism. It asks the question but leaves the answer to the anonymous and politically disabled victims and the perpetrators. Read more

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Dutch Docu Channel – Dutch Colonial Empire

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