Kage Baker was a keen observer of history. She said there was nothing quite as true as the statement Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it – although, in her grimmer moments, she also said that whether you learned anything or not was not that much help. History tended to go round and round in repeatable (and inevitably repeated) cycles anyway.
Skirt lengths go up and down, the amount of leg and bosom going in and out like the phases of the moon; the genders trade sides on who gets to wear bright colours, who has to go veiled, whose basic garment is the source of all fashion. (Don’t believe it? Skirts have been the yardstick much more often than breeches.) Fads in government are no more lasting than fads in music, and each one comes and goes constantly. Somewhere in the world, percussion and volume are always in fashion; somewhere else, anarchy, monarchy, tribalism and democracy trade partners in a constant pas de deux.
Though more of the time it’s more like a clumsy do si do: politics is seldom elegant. There’s an awful lot of flat-footed boot-stomping involved. It’s like one of those kindergarten dances where half the corps de ballet is scared to death and other half is looped on sugar. Or a country dance where people are shouting “Hay left! Hay left! Your other left!”
And as soon as this batch of dancers learns left from right and the band identifies the beat – a huge flock of newbies shows and up and you all have to start over.
One of the things that did comfort Kage, though, was that certain processes have apparently inevitable ends. Life will find a way; so will justice, and in both cases it often takes a generation for change to show. The classical sentiment referenced in today’s title is a good example of that. For those of you who did not take Latin (what do they teach in school these days? Tut tut harumph …) it means Thus will death always come to tyrants.
This is because even tyrants die. All politicians are disposable; tyrants more than most. Any lifespan is unnaturally long for a tyrant, and most die of the violence they propagated – not enough of them, but lots.
This has been a pretty good harvest year for that kind of action. Today, it appears one of the bigger nuts finally fell off the tree. Moamar Ghaddafi , the fashion-and-spelling-impaired dictator of Libya, has been killed.
The most comprehensive reports I have seen so far are from the BBC. It appears that, while fleeing for the border in a mercenary convoy,Ghaddafi’s party was strafed by jets. It is assumed at this time they were NATO. Some of the party scarpered for a nearby sewer outlet, carrying a wounded Ghaddafi; from whence they were extracted by locals, loaded in a truck and whisked off to the nearest city – Ghaddafi’s own birthplace, Surt. He is reported to have “died from his wounds after capture”. At least one account says he was last seen alive being pulled from the back of a truck by an angry mob …
How … classical. How apt. How much classier than his usual behaviour. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Nothing so became him like his ending, and all that; mostly because he has, yes, finally ended.
What goes around, comes around, Kage would have said approvingly. Indeed to God.
Update: I have, since posting this, seen a video taken by camera phone of the finale in Surt. A man who certainly appears to be Ghaddafi, wounded, and still alive is pulled from the bed of a pickup truck. The hands of the mob hustle him roughly off like a specimen to be mounted, until all the arms and hands and shouting faces close over him. It’s blood chilling.