On the defacement of Liberty leading the people

Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peuple

This picture is emblematic of French nationalism. It is the positive self-image of Frenchness. It used to be on our currency, and some anti-capitalist protesters recreate it everytime ther’s a camera around (no gun wielding child though, usually). The kind of protesters who say that deporting illegal immigrants is shameful from the ‘country of human rights’, who invoke Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité as Republican principles. My only reason to oppose defacing it is that everyone has a great legitimate reason to want to add their own message to this nationalist absurdity. But someone actually did it (and is now in custody as they are trying to establish whether she is insane or not).

Two things attracted my attention in this story, though, one is that a sensible, reasonable individual whose views I respect recently linked to this New Statesman article as a justification to vote in the Scottish independence referendum: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/politics/2013/02/spirit-bannockburn

The article claims that the exaltation of the so called ‘spirit of Bannockburn’ is not nationalism. ‘O rly?’ comes to mind. Scotland became a wealthy nation thanks to the slave-trade. Its attempts at empire-building failed though, so it united with England. Now there are no more benefits to colonies, so it wants out. Nationalism is what sugar-coats this bleak reality with things such as the Spirit of Bannockburn. Nationalism as resistance, nationalism as revolution.

The second is that what the individual wrote on the painting was a reference to a 9/11 conspiracy theory. So much for an act of extreme anti-nationalist yellowism.

People desillusioned by communism turn to nationalism, people desillusioned by nationalism turn to conspiracy theory… Is hopping from one bankrupt ideology to the next all that is left in a world gone mad? Liberty is not leading anyone anywhere anymore.