• a violent attempt to overthrow a government
  • a coup: a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government

[Etymology: early 20th century: from Swiss German, literally ‘thrust, blow’.]

July-last saw a strange failed Turkish attempt that compares to a more conventional, and successful, Egyptian putsch of 2013. Thailand had a string of coups — five between 1947 and 2014. The Iranian Revolution, of 1978-9, we’ll call a coup. And Hitler’s November 1923 failed Beer-Hall Putsch: nothing new. A coup, a putsch, an overthrow: it’s power politics in motion.


2016 saw Turkey’s fifth attempted military coup since 1960. Seizing airports and television stations, the self-claimed secular protectors of democracy amid increasing Islamisation, the “Peace at Home Council”, labelled President Erdogan “treasonous”. Holidaying in Izmir, the President resorted to FaceTime calls for a citizen blockade against a most “treacherous” attack.

Mr Erdogan, who 15 years earlier founded the ruling Islamist AKP party, managed to go from AKP leader and Prime Minister to Turkey’s President without foregoing AKP power despite a Turkish constitution prohibiting presidential party affiliation. One way Mr Erdogan achieved this, while still AKP leader, for instance, was removing his then second-in-command, Mr Devoteglu.

Single-handedly, Mr Erdogan then transforms a secular state of representation into a presidential Islamist nation; effectively turning the political clock in Turkey back one hundred years. “Ottoman” Turkey now ranks 155th in the world on the Reporters without Borders’ (RSF) 2017 Press Freedom Index, its page dedicated to Turkey revealing:

The witchhunt waged by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government against its media critics has come to a head since the abortive coup of July 2016. The authorities have used their fight against “terrorism” as grounds for an unprecedented purge. A state of emergency has allowed them to eliminate dozens of media outlets at the stroke of a pen, reducing pluralism to a handful of low-circulation publications. Dozens of journalists have been imprisoned without trial, turning Turkey into the world’s biggest prison for media personnel. Those still free are exposed to other forms of arbitrary treatment including waves of trials, withdrawal of press cards, cancellation of passports, and seizure of assets. Censorship of online social networks has also reached unprecedented levels.

In the last year, 42 Turkish journalists called “four-walls-and-a-wash-basin” home.


The 2011 Arab Spring met Egypt’s three-decade long presidency of Hosni Mubarak with an untimely end. The following year the nation chose a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) candidate, Mohammed Morsi, to the auspicious occasion of first Islamist elected head of state. Morsi wasted little time enacting an Islamist agenda, and constitution, granting himself unlimited powers, inclusive of legislative, despite decries from the Supreme Constitutional Court. Thereafter followed prosecutions of journalists and attacks upon passive demonstrators. Over ensuing months the 2012 Egyptian Protests escalated, turning violent on storming of the MB’s headquarters, where five of its members were killed. Retaliatory attacks by supporters of Morsi led to 16 deaths in Nasr City, and then a further ten in surrounding districts. In a nation with a history of military power projection over its polity, the then Egyptian military chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sis, warned, amid the rancour, of the risk of state collapse, proffering a 48-hour ultimatum.

While the Turkish clock was winding back, Egypt’s time had run out. General el-Sis led a coup d’état on 3 July 2013, seizing power and suspending the constitution. Arresting Morsi and the MB leaders, the overthrow was supported by Opposition leader Mohammad ElBaradei, leading Muslim cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb, and Coptic Pope Tawadros. Apart from Tunisia, Arab nations were generally supportive of the military action. The United States refused to label the action a coup. Nonetheless, Egypt found herself suspended from the African Union.

[Video: Egyptian army ousts Mursi and scraps constitution – Al Arabiya].

Five years on, straddled by Syrian chaos and Libyan bedlam, the Egyptian polity, however, stabilised under el-Sisi’s anti-Islamist agenda; proactively striking against Islamic State (IS) militants in both Libya and the Sinai. El-Sisi’s presidency has been marked also by large public works, sponsored by the House of Saud — widening of the Suez Canal and enlarging the nation’s foundering electrical grid capacity.


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Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch

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USA Today is a centrist media agency perhaps leaning slightly, as is media agency wont, to left of centre.

Further Reading

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Juanito Apiñani in the Ring of Madrid, ca. 1815-16, Francisco de Goya (1746-1848) [Wikimedia Commons]

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.

Micah 7:8

Nina Kraft Rolls Into T2, 2010 [Wikimedia Commons]

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Pelé dribbling past a defender during Malmö-Brazil 1-7, 1960 [Wikimedia Commons]

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:8

French rock climber and mountaineer Catherine Monique Suzanne Destivelle, first woman to solo ascend the Eiger’s North face [pinterest]

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

Psalms 139:13

American rock climber, BASE jumper, and wingsuit flyer, Steph Davis [vimeo]

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

American artistic gymnast Alexander Artemev on Pommel Horse, 2008 [flickr, Angela Radulescu]

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Proverbs 22:29

Lauren Mitchell, 41st AG World Championship, 2009 [Wikimedia Commons]

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

1986 World Cup FIFA Golden Ball winner, Diego Maradonna of Argentina [Pinterest]

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Astronaut Steve Bown Spacewalks at ISS [NASA on the Commons, flickr]

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psalm 139:14

[Note: Pilgrim Bobby cannot condone jumping out of perfectly good planes, from large rocks, or off buildings.]

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau, literally “New Art”, arose from a deliberate move away from the staid neo-classicist history of the nineteenth century, itself defined by a more noble and sombre approach than preceding Rococo sensuality.

Extrapolating from the post-industrial revolution arts and craft movement, art and design were now finally considered part of every day life, as form finally met function, and so nature should be represented heavily in art and design. As such, Art Nouveau was characterised by ornate rounded and sinusoidal patterns often based on plant-inspired motifs and female forms.

The Encyclopaedia of Art History renders it like this:

Art Nouveau means much more than a single look or mood: we are reminded of tall grasses in light wind, or swirling lines of stormy water, or intricate vegetation – all stemming from organic nature: an interest in which should be understood as proceeding from a sense of life’s order lost or perverted amidst urban industrial stress.¹

“La Vague” – Saintenoy [Wikimedia Commons]
Staircase Petit Palais [Pixabay]
While it started in the dying stages of the nineteenth century, perhaps 1890, Art Nouveau gained great leverage at the Paris World Fair of 1900. It came to symbolise La Belle Epoque, “The Beautiful Era”, a retrospective nostalgic label, applied after the carnage of the First World War, for the almost five-decade long relative tranquility of, especially Paris, between the years 1871 to 1914. La Belle Epoque stands also as testament to what man can achieve when he has, for the most part, stopped forever looking over his shoulder.

Inside view of the Galerie des machines, which was designed by the architect Dutert. The building was located on the Champ-de-Mars, in front of the Ecole Militaire (which still exists today). It housed an exhibit about technological inventions. It was the biggest and tallest hall created for the 1889 exhibit, and was used again in the 1900 World Fair. It was eventually destroyed shortly afterwards. [Image and Text: Wikimedia Commons]
Interior view of the dome between the Palais des expositions diverses and the Palais des machines. The staircaise in the background of the image was located at the end of the Galerie de trente mètres, and led to the second floor of the Palais des machines; this second floor was a platform that would encircle the inside of the Palais, and would allow visitors to see the exhibit from above ground. The fountain in the center of the image was created by Bartholdi specifically for the World Fair; after the event, it was dismantled and taken to Lyon, where it still stands today. The horses represent the many streams and smaller rivers that flow into the Saône river, and the sculpture was eventually entitled “The Saône and its tributaries”. The sculpture on the foreground represents Saint-Michael killing the dragon. [Image and Text: Wikimedia Commons]
The style was widely employed in discipline and through various materials, from interior design to architecture, glassware and jewellery, poster art and illustration, painting and sculpture.²

Tournai, Avenue Van Cutsem, 19 [Wikimedia Commons]
Hôtel Céramic, art nouveau (Paris) [Wikimedia Commons]
From its centre of Paris, Art Nouveau spread across Europe and then across the Atlantic, and finally the Pacific, at each location known respectively by its local colloquialism:

  • Jugendstil (Germany)  term for a style dating from around 1900 that arose as an offshoot of the French and Belgian art nouveau
  • Secession Style (Austria)
  • Modern Style (England, Russia, and others)
  • Stile Liberty (Italy)
  • Tiffany style (America)

But we keep coming back to Paris, home of Art Nouveau and the Trocadero. While the Trocadero predates Art Nouveau in both time and style, it was home to many of the meetings of those who came to the Exposition Internationale.

Completed in 1867 in anticipation of the 1878 World Fair in Paris, was The Palais du Trocadéro. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
Art Nouveau, replaced by the Art Deco of the 1920s, was a bridge that let man cross from Neoclassicism to modernism.

Further Reading/Viewing

  1. “Art Nouveau (c.1890-1914).” Art Nouveau Design: Characteristics, History, Artists. Accessed November 26, 2017. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/history-of-art/art-nouveau.htm#artnouveau.
  2. “Art Nouveau (c.1890-1914).” Art Nouveau Design: Characteristics, History, Artists. Accessed November 26, 2017. http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/history-of-art/art-nouveau.htm#artnouveau.
Featured Image

Tour Eiffel & Exposition Universelle, Paris, France, 1889 [Flickr: trialsanderrors]

Past Postmodern and beyond Postcolonial

Are the competing empires of pre-Great War Europe a rapidly fading memory or will they live on in perpetual continental residence and in satellite nations in neocolonialist guise for years to come? Beyond this post-colonial period of decolonisation, is neocolonialism now waning or waxing?

Bill Ashcroft defines Postcolonialism simply as the residual colonial legacy of once colonised societies. Additionally, he says:

As originally used by historians after the Second World War in terms such as the post-colonial state , ‘postcolonial’ had a clearly chronological meaning, designating the post-independence period. However, from the late 1970s the term has been used by literary critics to discuss the various cultural effects of colonization.[1]

Dutch East Indies: The submission of Diepo Negoro to Lieutenant-General Hendrik Merkus Baron de Kock, 28 March 1830, which ended the Java War (1825–30). [Image and Text: Wikimedia Commons]
Neo-colonialism was a term coined by first Ghanaian president and leading exponent of pan-Africanism, Kwame Nikrumah, in his Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965), of which Ashcroft says:

This title, which echoed Lenin ’s definition of imperialism as the last stage of capitalism, suggested that, although countries such as Ghana had achieved political independence, the excolonial powers and the newly emerging superpowers such as the United States continued to play a decisive role in their cultures and economies through new instruments of indirect control such as international monetary bodies, through the power of multinational corporations and cartels which artificially fixed prices in world markets, and through a variety of other educational and cultural NGOs (non-governmental organizations). In fact, Nkrumah argued that neo-colonialism was more insidious and more difficult to detect and resist than the direct control exercised by classic colonialism.[2]

Decolonization – World In 1945 [Wikimedia Commons]
The era, however, of anti-imperialism and decolonisation, the 20th century — or at least its latter half — has passed. According to Wasserstein, in 2005 “[c]olonies were no longer objects of European diplomacy.”[3] But against this view neocolonial discourse persists years, sometimes decades, after decolonization:

the process of revealing and dismantling colonialist power in all its forms. This includes dismantling the hidden aspects of those institutional and cultural forces that had maintained the colonialist power and that remain even after political independence is achieved.[4]

Havana, Cuba [Image: AndyLeungHK, Pixabay]
What of colonial legacies? Why are nascent independent states struggling to govern themselves effectively? Do they need Europe to continue bottle-feeding them or has the process of weaning already begun? Are newly-independent states going back to their cultural future to reinvent themselves — recalibrating their cultural roots against a colonial legacy? Is the alt-right in Europe reacting to imperialist Europe’s blowback? Will nascent states emerge stronger and the remnants of Europe’s “conquistadors” continue to decline? Is this a global reversion to the mean, heading for an era of multipolarity?

In a post post-modern world, globalisation is on the nose with nationalism on the rise the world over. Does this mean globalism is dead? Yes and no. I think an element of globalism is here to stay but that nations will increasingly look also internally to redefine themselves within the global context. I envisage a multipolar world: the USA as regional power of the Americas; Israel the emerging dominant power of the Middle East; Australia will be the dominant power of Oceania; Russia will maintain hegemony over Eurasia. That means reduced American global power projection, and an increase, conversely, of that of emerging powers like Germany and India, for instance. Ultimately, however, the overarching contextual link that will bind the regions together, or codify their cooperation, will be a modified Judaeo-Christian ethic after it has jettisoned some of its false alacrity amid the current reawakening forced upon it by Islam. And, in turn, Islam will have to concede some error of its own. Is it possible that we will see a mass-migration to Christianity in India, for example, which, according to 2011 census data, was nominally 2.5% Christians.

Of course, the question remains. Will we get there peacefully or through unimaginable violence?

  1. Ashcroft, Bill, Griffiths, Gareth, and Tiffin, Helen. “Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts.” (London: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Accessed November 20, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central), p. 204.
  2. Ashcroft, Post-Colonial Studies, p. 177-78.
  3. Bernard Wasserstein. “Preface”. Barbarism and Civilization: a history of Europe in our time. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. viii.
  4. Ashcroft, Post-Colonial Studies, p. 73.