Dear Sancho Governor of cheap Isle,
In the winter of 1077 Henry VII of Luxembourg is waiting outside the Pope Gregory’s VII residential palace of Canossa, drenched to the bone. He is waiting for the Pope’s remission. He got excommunicate. He is an emperor. He is the emperor of the shrunken Holy Roman Empire. Good old times. No acronyms around.
No Onu, no NATO, no G7, G8 or G20. No UNESCO, WTA, no European Union neither African Union nor Arab League. No headaches. As our charming Eurocentric history teacher, (from primary school to university) taught us, just two entities, often, according to the necessity, tangled together. “The city of God and that of the Cesar”, wrote that majestic ex-sinner of St. Augustine. What had the poor Henry done to deserve that treatment, to quiver with his hoarse around a bonfire like a neglected Romeo?
He simply tried to keep for himself the business of the investitures, that is to say, the pleasure to name bishops and abbots and through them a thorough control of the rotting European leftovers inherited by the Romans. The barbarians had come. They always do. Gregory VII did not enjoy very much the attempt. And in times when the bunga-bungers were burnt out or crucified, an excommunication was a pretty serious issue, especially in geopolitical terms.
Henry waited for three days, during which, according to a long tradition of medieval iconography, kneeled down in pray for most of the time. Three days of hypocritical penitential mumbling under the storming snow. Now, this is what I call an apology. Naturally, after the reconciliation, Henry kept on smuggling investitures and received the second excommunication. No final agreement was found and the Canossa’s altar boy set alight the eternal city of Rome. Realpolitik ante litteram.
No poetry is around in politics nowadays. The heroic world, since Homer, needs black and white, good and evil. Perhaps is just a matter of distance and perspective and we are all sluggish narcissistic able to enjoy things just when they are gusting shadows of the past. That’s why we feel comfortable in hurling the TV out of the window, hewing the radio to crumbles, tearing the paper to pieces or shutting the laptop and opening Dante’s Inferno once again, when we acknowledge that the umpteenth a prime minister has apologized for his Country’s past.
The last altar boy is David Cameron, who, visiting yesterday a drooling crowd of Pakistani university youngsters admitted that “Britain caused many of the world’s problems”. The humble ambiguity refers in this specific case the unresolved Kashmir conflict between the ex-colonies, present-nuclear-powers, Pakistan and India. The Prime Minister said that he doesn’t “want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world’s problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place.” Sorry, too busy with the colonies-to-come at the moment.
Mr. Cameron is not the first Briton to embrace this “sorry-blower” postmodern fashion.
In 2009, Gordon Brown issued a formal Government apology to tens of thousands of British children shipped to Australia and other Commonwealth countries between the 1920s and 1960s. Sorry for the way we sorted out our Malthusian exceeds. Poor brats.
They did pretty well after all, didn’t they?
In 1997, Tony Blair apologized to the Irish people for the famine the country suffered in the mid-19th century. And in 2006, he spoke of his “deep sorrow” at Britain’s historic role in the African slave trade. We must recognize Blair’s historical depth: the Irish potatoes-eaters and the African slaves were the mile stone of the capitalistic development of United Kingdom’s successor, the United States. What a waste of Labour. Thanks the city of God the city of London is not alone. The postmodern apologies are an excellent subject to strike up a conversation with dumb new democracies’ businessmen all over the planet.
In November 2007 the fresh elected Sarkozy hurried himself to present his apologies to the jewel of the France colonial era, Algeria: “Yes, the colonial system was profoundly unjust, contrary to the three founding words of our republic: liberty, equality, fraternity.” He forgot to add that that slogan ceased to be meaningful three years after the ’89, with the Jacobin terror, which lead in turn to Napoleon’s empire and to the Third Republic and the second Napoleon, the III, father of French imperialism. Not to say about the Fifth Republic, created out of thin air by De Gaulle and bosom of the Algerians horrors. French people are sophisticated. Look what they did with five numbers only.
Sarkozy produced the same sort of rigmarole during his first (and unique) presidential visit to Rwanda, when he admitted a “misjudgment” in perceiving to massacre of 800.000 Tutsis in three months. The Hutu are notorious for their silence-killing genocidal techniques.
But the promptness of an ex colonial power is proportional to the ex colony’s exported materials’ value. One month if you export oil and gas like Libya, four months if you export cocoa like Ivory Coast and kind excuses if you are a stamp of dusty hills where wealth and power depend on the number of cows.
Italy and Libya smoked the peace calumet under the shadow of a tent in Palazzo Chigi in September 2008. The two buddies agreed on the Italian sunny cruelty and fixed the bill for 2.5 billion pound to be released in 25 years in form of technologies and infrastructures. Berlusconi and Ghaddafi are two pragmatic men. No words, facts. Orgies and Green Books. Two days ago Italy was the second state to recognize the Benghazi Government as the only political entity in Libya. The French cousins get there always first. Next week it might be the US’s turn.
Even the meek, silver tongue, limb, professor Obama had to expose himself to the postmodern rhetoric. In January 2009 told the Arab TV Al Arabiya: “… America was not born as a colonial power,“- and he regretfully confessed- “We sometimes make mistakes. We are not perfect.” He’s always been so busy that he even didn’t have the time to watch “Dances with the wolves”. America expressed its imperialism first against the agricultural and slave South, then against the Indians. Then against Mexico. The Monroe doctrine came later on, inaugurating a long history of domination (always implicit, by God) in South America. True, they chipped in to save the world from the Germans’ obscure totalitarism in two occasions. They did the same with the Bolsheviks. After Berlin’s ’89 and the Moscow’s ’91 the Islamic terrorists took over. Not to mention Saddam and Ahmadinejad. It’s not America’s fault. But now we have hope, because yes, yes, we can. We can even win the first anticipative Nobel Prize.
What about the Russians then? In September 2009 Mr. Putin visited Poland to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII. That is to say the invasion stipulated by the previous Ribbentrop- Molotov date. The Poles expected with trembling hearts the postmodern apologies and…nothing. “Russia is a freak of nature”, said once Dostoevsky. It should be in Crime and Punishment. The “barbarians” are on the way.
They always are.