zw2.05: reign czech

Intrepid journalist Hank Talbot continues his exposé of the disturbing political agenda behind the zoo world facebook propaganda blitz.

A simpleton might jump to the conclusion that the ferris wheel represents American democracy or some such nonsense. This notion, perhaps fueled by the presence of “George Washington” in the name of the wheel’s inventor (George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.), is lacking a larger historical perspective. Identifying the wheel with capitalism is similarly small-minded. The fact that Ferris’s Chicago Wheel made a good deal of money only serves to underscore the magnitude of the thievery of the Columbian Exposition’s planners, who absconded with the profits and left poor Ferris . . . well, poor.


reign czech: habsburg–lorraine mulligan

part 5

It is time to finish dot connection. Last time we covered the history of the ferris wheel, including: the erection of a monument to stormy revolutionaries; the short-lived triumph of “unrealistic” ingenuity; the unfortunate detainment of a robbed man’s remains—and the concomitant construction of a resilient wiener. We explored this sad history in an attempt to gain insight regarding the ferris wheel element of the facebook ad’s query line: “Why have a Merry-Go-Round when you can have a Ferris Wheel?”

kaiser wheel

kaiser wheel

Just as we identified the symbolic meaning of the carousel and the merry-go-round (see part 3), we shall now divine the meaning of the ferris wheel.

A simpleton might jump to the conclusion that the ferris wheel represents American democracy or some such nonsense. This notion, perhaps fueled by the presence of “George Washington” in the name of the wheel’s inventor (George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.), is lacking a larger historical perspective. Identifying the wheel with capitalism is similarly small-minded. The fact that Ferris’s Chicago Wheel made a good deal of money only serves to underscore the magnitude of the thievery of the Columbian Exposition’s planners, who absconded with the profits and left poor Ferris . . . well, poor.

In fact, the story is profoundly anti-capitalist:

  1. Ferris pitched an idea.
    It was rejected.
  2. Ferris got endorsement from industry experts,
    financial backing from private investors.
    The idea was accepted.
  3. The idea succeeded and made a lot of money.
  4. Ferris got screwed.
    He couldn’t pay back his investors,
    couldn’t get his money back in the courts,
    died too destitute to cover the cost of his own funeral.

Items 1-3 set up the perfect capitalist success story. If Gale [Ferris] had fared as well as Gustav [Dentzel], item 4 would be about him enjoying the prosperity and rewards he so richly deserved. I won’t argue that real-world capitalism often works out something like the actual item 4 above. That’s why there are so few investors, so many lawyers, and welfare. When dealing in symbolism and propaganda, however, it is the ideal that matters. For the Ferris Wheel to represent capitalism, the story would need to align better with the ideal version of capitalism—not it’s substantive implementation.

There is no question that the birth of the Ferris Wheel was intimately connected with the World’s Fair. Ferris, or perhaps even somebody else (!), probably would have built one sooner or later, but the first Ferris Wheel was commissioned and constructed for the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Furthermore, the planners made no secret of their intent to best the French, whose 1889 Eiffel Tower loomed across the Atlantic like a thousand-foot-tall middle finger. The Ferris Wheel was birthed in open and notorious oppposition to the Eiffel Tower.

· diagram zw2.5a ·

ferris's steel wheel

ferris's steel wheel

vs.

eiffel's ferrous tower

eiffel's ferrous tower

But Gustave Eiffel’s tremendous erection was also a symbol, a monument commemorating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. We Yanks choose July 4th to celebrate our independence from imperial rule. The signing of the Declaration of Independence is the symbolic event we celebrate, even though most of the process of attaining and defining our independent sovereignty took place after July 4th, 1776. Similarly, the French choose July 14th to celebrate their political exodus from monarchic absolutism and subjugation to the clergy and nobility of the First and Second Estates. The triumphant storming of the Bastille is celebrated as the symbolic beginning of the French Revolution, but I assure you there was plenty of head-chopping-off that took place after July 14th, 1789.

The glorified goings-on of that fateful day were largely symbolic in nature; only seven souls were locked up in the Bastille prison fortress at the time. The Tennis Court Oath is perhaps a better analog to our signing of the Declaration of Independence . . . but the storming of the Bastille is way cooler.

liberty, equality, brotherhood, or death

what a motto!

Moreover, Bastille Day represents the uprising of the modern nation, the first steps on the road to the French First Republic. “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, ou la Mort” (Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood, or Death!) was their rallying cry. Sacrebleu! those guys were full of pisse et de vinaigre, non?

As it turned out, however, there was a little too much of the mort and not quite enough of the liberté, egalité, fraternité. You don’t have to be a history buff to figure that the ensuing “The Reign of Terror” probably wasn’t a watershed moment for the whole liberty, equality, brotherhood crowd. The famous “Thermidorian Reaction” sounds a bit tamer, but didn’t really get things back on track so much as stop the bleeding—ironically, with 22 strokes of the guillotine on July 28th, 1794.



re: thermidorian reaction


ms. thermidor

from a really, really old french calendar

Unless you use a really, really old French calendar, you might think the Thermidorian Reaction was some famous chemistry experiment on heat transfer. Understandable. Or maybe you DO use a really, really old French calendar and thought that Ms. Thermidor, due to some sort of swan allergy, developed a rash on her left sein after her calendar photo shoot. An honest mistake. But if you fancy yourself an expert historian regarding revolutionary movements, you should know that the events of 9 Thermidor, Year II (July 27th, 1974) and their fallout serve as the model for the revolutionary Thermidor: a period where the pendulum of power swings away from the radical revolutionaries and back towards a more conservative group. Sometimes it swings so far back that things are worse than they were before the revolution. Take Stalin, for example. Trotsky did, when he wrote about Stalin as the Soviet Thermidor in the 1937 book “A Revolution Betrayed.” Then again, Trotsky was killed by a soviet assassin with an ice axe. So perhaps don’t take Stalin for example.

jacque-louis david: napoleon crossing the alps

pre-blunder

Eventually a short, complex guy came along and took the reigns, scrapping the republic in favor of the empire. Yes, a step backwards on the road to the modern nation and all that—but he got the French to stop killing each other and start killing the various people groups of Europe. Things were going pretty well until he fell victim to the first classic blunder (see part 2 for enumeration of the classic blunders). Poor little guy.

But I digress. As shown by the dedication of a thousand-foot iron erection in 1889, a century marred by imperialism and monarchy did nothing to tarnish the iconic grandeur of the storming of the Bastille. The spirit of freedom, after all, is chumbawamba-like in nature: [she] gets knocked down, but [she] get[s] up again; you ain’t never gonna keep [her] down.

liberty leading the people

she sings the songs that remind her of the good times, she sings the songs that remind her of the breast times

If the Eiffel Tower represents the French Revolution, it represents opposition to king and empire. It is anti-imperialist. But we have already established that the Ferris Wheel represents opposition to the Eiffel Tower! It is anti-anti-imperialist; which simplifies, of course, to: imperialist.

That’s right. The Ferris Wheel represents Imperialism.

Let that soak in for a moment or three. Then come back for part six.

 


re: chumbawamba

In case you thought chumbawamba was a total non sequitur, check out these album covers:

· diagram zw2.05chumba ·

chumbawamba: english rebel songs 1381-1984

admittedly english (not french), and bereft of bare bosoms . . .

chumbawamba: english rebel songs 1381-1914

. . . but the idea is pretty much the same

You can read more about the band, or check out their website.

4 thoughts on “zw2.05: reign czech

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