What happens when the state is transcendent

People have always recognized Napoleon’s over-weening ego.  Heck, we have a whole phrase for it, especially when applied to men of shorter stature:  “Napoleon complex.”  Still, Napoleon is generally admired for breaking down the last medieval walls on the European continent, both figuratively and literally.  Also, people with a bone to pick against British Imperialism like the way in which he kept the British on their toes for decades.  And considering that he lost to the imperialist power, he has the lovely smell about him of a victim of, yes, imperialism.  In France, he’s lauded for breaking down social barriers and bringing about universal education.  All of which leads to the “but….” sentence, explaining why we shouldn’t admire him too much.

It turns out that there is quite a big “but” to append to Napoleon’s accomplishments — and it may explain, beyond the shared idea of world domination, just why Hitler admired Napoleon so much.  More than 120 years before Hitler, Napoleon was big on mass torture and genocide, including gassing 100,000 people to death using sulfur smoke in ship holds.  As with the Nazis, Napoleon believed in collective punishment, public torture and execution, and the destruction of those races he deemed inferior (Caribbean blacks, and Turks).

It all makes for harrowing reading, and it reminds us, yet again, that a State has no conscience so that, once its leaders set a goal, there is nothing to stop their most extreme efforts to carry it out.  Conscience resides in individuals, and when they are subordinated to the state, anything goes, no matter how foul.

Hat tip:  Danny Lemieux

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  • Danny Lemieux

    Ah, yes, the sophisticated French, that revolutionary land of “liberty, equality, fraternity” that gave us Napoleon, Socialism, Communism, Naziism….and some Americans – a whole party of them, in fact – want us to be just like them.

  • Ymarsakar

    The War of 1812 was going on here in the States, when Napoleon was in exile, I believe. The dates for that is unclear to me, but what is clear is that the US was counting on Britain’s mess with Napoleon to hold them off from us before 1812.

    For the budding United States, Napoleon had sold us territory and was only apparently interested in internal European wars. Britain, however, was the greater threat, combined with Spain to the south, due to the fact that Britain liked to “meddle” in what they still saw as “Colonial” business.

    This is actually part of the primary reason why stupid Wilson’s decision to ally with Britain and France against Germany was pretty far fetched. Out of all the nations in WWI, Germany was the only nation that was neutral in our affairs, or at least the closest to it. France wanted us to distract Britain, they weren’t interested in what was best for us.

    All of Europe had totalitarian problems. It was only America that stood alone in trying to create civil liberty and the rule of law. The British did a half way good job due to their Parliament, but it was never enough. Hell, it’s not enough even now. It wasn’t enough before WWII and it wasn’t enough after WWII when they sacked Churchill and chose their new god named Socialism.

    During those times, Germany immigrants and Irish refugees came across and composed much of our armed forces. To ally with our historical enemy, the British, along with their historical enemy, the French, against Germany… was a pretty dumb geo-political decision. Especially given WWII, where America was shackled with at least one no good “ally”, France.

    The German culture was always about order and security and discipline. It was what America most needed to learn, it was what America most deserved to have in an ally. But we got the British and the French, for some reason. Our old enemies and our new enemies.

    France wasn’t our enemy when we were fighting Britain, but that’s what they ended up as after WWII.

    So what did we actually get by helping Europe? A few World Wars to give America the challenge she needed to become a superpower, at the cost of nuclear fallout for the entire globe, that is.

    Personally, the Kaiser during WWI was an idiot and a fool. We should have exiled him and annexed Germany. The Germans would have lived far better lives afterwards.

    And we would have gotten millions of good quality soldiers as well the PRussian junkers, who had very good war experience backgrounds in their family trees.

    On War, a vital military text we still study, came not from the English or the French, but from the Germans.

    England does get some credit for having a better and more disciplined military in the High era of Medieval times, sometime after 1300 AD. But England’s fatal flaw was that they never chose to highlight their Roman Empire heritage. Due to the invasions by the Saxons and Normans, Britain was no longer “Roman” any more, even though they had the highways of Rome to benefit from as well as certain other things Rome left behind.

    France, if you saw them make war before the 1400s, would have resembled people with hammers that saw every foe as a nail. The French cavalry were very brave and very impetuous. Much like Scots, actually.

    America, however, purposefully chose to lift the best traits from Enlightement and Classical times.

    What this all leads is simply that Europe, as a whole, prefer top down leadership. But you can’t build an Empire or create global peace and prosperity with that kind of top-down leadership. To spread security and prevent wars across the globe, you needed a system called an Empire.

    Europe tried to build up empires on a sea of blood and guts, but it never really took. For the greatest Empires are not built by Emperors. They are built by the single soldier, the single farmer, the single teacher supporting a strong, wise, and just leader.

  • Al

    The article does make one gasp. I remember reading in a volume entitled “Napoleon In Egypt” that Napoleon stated if he had an annual income of 10,000 soldiers, he could conquer the world.
    The will to power must be rejected. And all those with it.

  • Ymarsakar

    Napoleon also wasted good soldiers on a fruitless attempt to conquer Russia. Russia did not have any particular benefits that he could have, but he wanted it anyways cause an Emperor has to be Emperor of the world or he ain’t jack.