Today January 21 is the anniversary of the execution of King Louis XVI. We frequently say that a King's first love and his first duty are to his country. He is the Father of his people, and his loyalty to them, in the name of God and country, is the basis of his policy. A bad king, a hated king, is one who does not act in the interests of his people.
Opposing the King, at the opposite end of the spectrum are the rebellious and violent children who rise up and murder their father. They are always there, waiting for their chance, and in 1789, by a baneful conjunction of circumstances, they did indeed rise up and murder their father, without remorse or restraint, innocent though he was.
The Greek notion of endless retribution and endless hatred between the different factions of a broken country or a broken family has been relived every day in France since the Revolution, without resolution, although there have been periods when resolution seemed at hand.
This does not mean resolution is impossible, only that it has not happened. In the terrible twentieth century, the violent children, descendants of those who killed King Louis XVI, acquired more power, influence and predominance than ever before. In the form of ideologies called socialism and communism they set about to destroy the very idea of a nation. Today, under other denominations, such as globalism, anti-racism, libertarianism, egalitarianism, Europeanism, as well as the tried and true socialism, they are having an easier time of it, thanks in part to the media and to the as-yet unexplained apathy of so many leaders, than they did in 1789, when all of Europe opposed them, or during the 19th century, when new levels of comfort in everyday living made it unlikely people would rise up against their own civilization. On the eve of WWI Europe had been enjoying decades of comfortable peace, and many thought the new conflict would be a cakewalk.
A French poet named Louis Aragon (1897-1982), raised in a dysfunctional household by his young mother who he thought was his sister, went off to the First World War having just learned that his "sister" was really his mother, and that his father had repudiated him. This must have had a profound effect on the 19-year old, for in 1925, in a work entitled "The Surrealist Revolution" he wrote these lines as cited by Novopress:
"We will ruin this civilization that is dear to you."
"Western World, you are condemned to death."
"We are the defeatists of Europe: See how dry this land is and good for all fires."
"May the drug traffickers hurl themselves onto our terrified country."
"May the East, your terror, respond at last to our voice."
"We are those who will always give our hand to the enemy."
While still young, Louis Aragon became a card-carrying member of the Communist Party and one of the founders of the surrealist literary movement along with André Breton. He married a Russian woman named Elsa Triolet and wrote of his great love for her in many poems, but when she died, he was no longer obligated to conceal his homosexuality.
He remained forever the child in rebellion against his father. We perceive, in his words, the depth of hatred, shared by a large portion of the French population, for the father-image, the king, the fatherland.
In the 24th Book of the Iliad, Achilles and Priam reconcile because, though technically enemies, they are equally legitimate and equally honorable men of rare quality. The defeat of the latter by the former does not prevent Achilles from feeling love and compassion for the aged Trojan king.
Such a reconciliation could never occur between the likes of Louis XVI and Louis Aragon. It's one or the other. The only resolution possible for France is the victory of the ideals of the former over those of the latter, unless by some miracle the latter grows up.
Read more about Louis Aragon at Wikipedia.
Engraving of the execution of Louis XVI on January 21, 1793, from Wikipedia.