Victor Davis Hanson: Is Trump Our Napoleon?Posted: October 27, 2015
Doesn’t America already have one Napoleon already? (Actual Newsweek cover from November of 2012 on left.)
What are Trump’s politics? Like Napoleon’s, no one quite knows, beyond an equally burning desire to make his nation ‘great again.’
For a decade and a half Napoleon wrecked Europe. He hijacked the platitudes of the French Revolution to mask his own dictatorship at home and imperialism abroad. Yet today, two centuries after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, he remains an icon for many in, and a few outside, France. Why? How could geniuses like the novelists Victor Hugo and Stendhal acknowledge Napoleon’s pathologies and the damage that he did to the early 19th century European world, and yet enthuse that he made the French feel both politically and morally “great”? Most French even today believe that he did.
“Donald Trump is not going to invade Russia, but he is starting to sound a lot like Bonaparte, well aside from a similarly narcissistic convergence of America’s future with his own Napoleonic persona.”
Of course, for a while at least, Napoleon really did “make France great again,” at least in terms of territory and power. At its pinnacle between 1806-11, Imperial France ruled the continent in a way not seen again until the Third Reich’s briefer rule between 1940 and 1942 from the Atlantic Ocean to the Volga River. It threatened to do away with the incompetent and reactionary regimes in every European country and replace them with a supposedly meritocratic class of social reformers, beholden to a natural Napoleonic hierarchy.
Moreover, Napoleon’s own political agenda was a mishmash of conservative authoritarianism and populist social justice. So effective was the strange brew that even to this day scholars fight over whether Napoleon was a proto-Hitler whose unhinged ambitions led to millions of innocent European, Russian, Caribbean and North Africa dead, or a loyal defender of the French Revolution, whose eleventh-hour iron hand alone kept alive the threatened ideals of fraternity and egalitarianism.
Donald Trump is not going to invade Russia, but he is starting to sound a lot like Bonaparte, well aside from a similarly narcissistic convergence of America’s future with his own Napoleonic persona.
What are Trump’s politics? Like Napoleon’s, no one quite knows. In the past, he has praised Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. He may well have favored Barack Obama in 2008. He’s running as a Republican, but has….(read more)
Source: Works and Days
- Napoleonic skeletons found in Frankfurt (oddonion.com)
- French thought once dazzled the world – what went wrong? (aeon.co)
- The Debunker: Did Napoleon’s Soldiers Shoot Off the Sphinx’s Nose? (woot.com)
- Subversive voting, or how the French spoil their ballot papers (oup.com)
- Touching Down on “This Cursed Rock”: First Plane Lands in Napoleon’s Last Exile (gereports.com)
- Before the French Revolution Devolved into Madness, Executions, and Terror, it was a Revolution of Ideas… (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Turning State Against Church: The Meaning of the Coming Fight Over Religious Tax Exemptions (nationalreview.com)
- The Strategic Conundrum Of Defeating Islamic Terrorism: The Vacuity Of Modernity (dailycaller.com)
- The Apocalypse Tapestry (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- The Antiwar Museum That Wasn’t (city-journal.org)