Today: 6th Day of Christmas, Soviet Union, Grenada Massacre, War of the Roses, Rasputin, Kipling, Bernard Gui, Alberto Vargas, and And More . . .
Holidays and Observances on December 30
Today is the 6th Day of Christmas . . .
There is no specific celebration tied to this day. The Feast of the Holy Family, celebrated yesterday in 2019, is sometimes celebrated on Dec. 30, but only during years in which no Sunday falls between the Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary.
Major Events on December 30
Over three centuries, and by 1917, Imperial Russia ruled the third largest empire in history. When the regime collapsed in 1917, several groups took part in the Russian Civil War, with the Bolsheviks led by Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky emerging victorious. They recaptured and reformed the empire as a communist police state.
On this date in 1922, the Bolsheviks convened “a conference of plenipotentiary delegations from the Russian SFSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR. The four delegations, on this date, approved formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The Soviet Union represented the first long term experiment in socialism / communism as espoused by Marx. Others would follow in its wake, most supported one way or another by the Soviets. Communism proved able to survive so long as the government controlled the guns, the government had scapegoats, the people were terrorized and the government could tap a source of foreign funds that were not tied to their own moribund, centrally managed economy.
In the case of the Soviet Union, it was their tremendous natural resources, particularly oil and gas, that kept the government afloat. In the end, it wasn’t enough. Once the people stopped being afraid of the Soviet government in the wake of the failed Afghan war, and with no more groups to scapegoat and no reforms to the economy, the Soviet Union imploded 70 years later.
China and several other communist nations saw the writing on the wall. They’ve tried to survive both by terrorizing their populace while simultaneously liberalizing their command economy and allowing for some measure of private property. Whether they will be able to survive in the long run is an open question.
Notable Events on December 30
1066 – Granada massacre: A Muslim mob storms the royal palace in Granada Caliphate, crucifies Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacres most of the Jewish population of the city. As the Muslim leader of the mob wrote at the time: ”Do not consider it a breach of faith to kill [the Jews], the breach of faith would be to let them carry on.” Genocidal antisemitic hatred has a long pedigree in Islam.
1460 – The bloody three-plus decade civil wars, the Wars of the Roses, between the House of Lancaster and the House of York for control of the English Crown, saw the male lines of both families extinguished. And on this day in 1460, the Duke of York sallied out of his castle to engage a Lancastrian army only to be killed in the Battle of Wakefield along with his 17-year-old second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland. The Lancasters placed their heads on the gates of York.
1813 – War of 1812: British soldiers burn Buffalo, New York in a tit-for-tat after U.S. soldiers set fire to the village of Newark during a failed invasion of Canada.
1916 – Russian mystic and advisor to the Tsar, Grigori Rasputin was murdered by a loyalist group led by conservative noblemen. Rasputin’s terrible reputation helped discredit the tsarist government, and thus helped precipitate the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty, which happened a few weeks after he was assassinated
1936 – The United Auto Workers union stages its first sitdown strike. At its greatest, over 1.5 million people belonged to the UAW in the 1970’s. Since then, membership has declined to about 400,000.
Born on December 30
AD 39 – Titus, commander of the Roman Army that put down the Jewish rebellion. In 70, he besieged and captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the city and the Second Temple. He later became a popular Roman Emperor.
1865 – Rudyard Kipling, the great British author and poet. His most famous book is The Jungle Book. Two of his more famous poems are If and Gods of the Copybook Headings, the latter referring to the practice in grade school at the time of having students repeatedly copy into a book (a copybook) a sentence dealing with morals and proverbs.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Died on December 30
1331 – Bernard Gui, a friar and perhaps the most famous medieval Papal inquisitor behind Torqeumada. Modern fiction has portrayed Gui as cruel and merciless, but the modern historical consensus is that his inquisitorial career was characterized by moderation and leniency.
1906 – Josephine Butler, English feminist and social reformer during the Victorian era. She campaigned for women’s suffrage, the right of women to better education, equality before the law, and an end to sex trafficking of women and children.
1979 – Richard Rodgers, best known for his creative partnerships with Oscar Hammerstein and Lorenz Hart, Rogers published 43 Broadway plays, including Oklahoma and The Sound of Music, and over 900 songs.
1982 – Alberto Vargas, Peruvian borne artist famous for his paintings of pin-up girls. His work was featured in Esquire and Playboy magazines.
Header image: Detail from Lenin on the Rostrum, by Aleksandr Gerasimov.