The historical period was the 1240s. Medieval Catholic Europe was completely embroiled in its genocidal and murderous colonizations versus the Enemy. At that time in history, the Church’s enemies included all of their religious-ideological rivals around the Mediterranean and Eurasian worlds.
In the east and the south lived the Orthodox Byzantines and the Muslim Caliphates. In the west, such as Spain, the Muslim caliphate was weak, but the last stronghold remained in Nasrid Granada. In Italy, there resided Orthodox Christian groups and other heretics called Waldensian Protestants. Holdouts of pagans and nominal Christians survived in the northern fringes of Europe, such as western Ireland and in Old Prussia-Lithuania. In the south of France, a strong and vibrant Manichean influenced community, called Cathars or Albigensians, flourished. And of course, the eternal enemies of the Church, the Jews, were everywhere.
The Pope had thought that his Catholic knights of the Cross and the Sword had once again landed at the golden cusp of history. He was sure that they could recapture, reconquer and destroy forever, the Church’s ideological rivals. The times seemed fortuitous. God had definitely given the Church, and the Christian Crowns in service of the Church, good omens of Victory. During the same decade, the Church’s greatest doctor theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was prepping notes for his opus work, ‘Summa Theologica.’ The Glories of the Cross and the Mass resided in the clouds. The pope at the time, Innocent IV, was so convinced of such good fortune that he convened an ecumenical church council at Lyon, France, which demanded complete obedience of all secular authority to the Roman pontiff.
But like all emperors, dictators, despots, tyrants, presidents, politicians, prime ministers, sociopaths and leaders, he was wrong. The man probably knew his theology well, but history was his weakness. And just as it has been for most of humanity’s watchers within the real theater of the absurd, called life and humanity. History has six truths, and those humans that do not know them will never understand how the human world operates. With Pope Innocent IV’s lurid visions of victory, arrived the cataclysms of multiple defeats.
His secular defender, Saint King Louis IX of France, had just exterminated the Albigensian Cathars during the siege at the castle of Montsegur in Occitania, now southern France. Yet, this same saintly King went on two crusades, the Seventh and Eighth, and could never recapture Jerusalem again, and even their Crusader castles on the Levant coast would eventually fall to the Muslim Saracens. The French did not get their revenge until 1920 when they reoccupied the Levant and carved out, ‘Lebanon,’ from the lands of greater Syria.
During the Seventh Crusade, the Saracens even captured Saint King Louis after a battle, and then demanded that the French royal court pay a hefty ransom, for the King’s release. This hostage fee completely depleted the French royal court’s capital. The English royal court would attack their French royals around fifty years later. Such incidents began the First Hundred Years War. During his voyage on the Eighth Crusade, Saint Louis ultimately died a bad death. He fell sick due to catching a traveler’s disease, in Tunis, north Africa. Saint Louis’ contemporary fame has pinned itself to a crime ridden American city along the Mississippi River.
More troubles for Christendom ensued. The Teutonic German knights were almost certain that they could force a complete extermination of the pagans in Old Prussia and Lithuania, or even force them towards Christian conversion. The Teutonic Knights occupied more lands and territories each successive year. Yet, their most recent battles against the pagans were utter disasters. The Baltic pagans fortified their cities, temples, and rites, and they remained committed pagan pantheists for another 200 years!
Then all of a sudden, the maximum upheaval took place, which no one during that decade could foresee. An invading army from the east had attacked the Chinese emperor, the Muslim Caliph in Baghdad, and the Russian Emperor. And this imperial onslaught continued to move westerly. History refers to this invasion as the Mongol Empire under the Khan, called Genghis Khan. The Mongols eventually attacked the Catholic monarchs of the East, such as the Poles and then defeated the Hungarians, all until their routs ended with defeats in the Balkans. The Catholic kings of the East could do nothing.
The Byzantines in Greece next regrouped, and succeeded in taking Constantinople once again for the Orthodox Church. The French royal court tried to form a military arrangement with the Mongols, and the Pope even sent Franciscan monks as emissaries to the Great Khan to advance a mutual pact. The Church hoped to form an alliance with the pagan Mongols to exterminate all the world’s Muslims. The Pope’s evil intentions fell into the chamber pot. Less than a hundred years later, the majority of the Mongols in central Asia eventually converted to Islam instead! Pope Innocent IV just did not understand the six truths to world history.
The first truth of history is that all particular civilizations and political-economic-military empires decay and implode upon themselves after their rise to power. This cycle will continue until the human race naturally extinguishes itself on the Earth.
The second truth of history is that world history moves in circular cycles, not through linear stories, such as the ideologies of Human Progress, the coming Utopia, the Second Coming, the return of the Messiah, or the Battle of Armageddon of the Apocalypse.
The third truth of history is that there was never any Golden Age, nor did there exist any mythical Kingdom of Justice, such as Atlantis, the Garden of Eden, Paradise, etc. There were however, various cultures that had Anarchist social relations of equality, with no social class differences, no fixed property relations, no prisons, no police forces, no permanent social exclusions, and they supplied all the basic necessities for all of their members: clothing, community, culture, shelter and food. Modern states and empires have successfully exterminated such cultures – and they will continue to do so.
The fourth truth of history is that the grand conspiracy theories of evil groups that control or pervert world power, such as the Jews, the Illuminati or the Masons, have never existed and nor do they now exist. Humanity is too complex in order for such groups to have complete power and influence over our lives.
The fifth truth of history is that all state apparatuses, institutional bureaucracies, criminal enterprises, despotic empires and tyrannical regimes generally relax and slightly liberalize their brutal systems, so that they can save time for implementing even harsher laws in the future. They liberalize with token reforms, and criminalize gradually through retroactive laws.
The sixth truth of history is that state criminals, corrupt politicians, despots, and tyrants often act on sudden or extreme positions due to the harsh actuality of the current situation, or due to expediency within the political moment. The actions of state criminals rarely begin with planned plots inside of closed, secretive quarters. Hopefully, the reader can see that Pope Innocent IV failed to understand the six truths of world history. No empire, whether papal or secular, can survive the ravages of time and human cultural change.
The Amerikan Empire is good at murdering millions of victims across the earth and inside of its own continent, but the Amerikan Empire tends to lose its wars in the end. The US government destroyed the Confederate States, both militarily and economically, during the Civil War. Yet, the Confederate South won the culture war, which was greatly more important. The cult of the Wild West, outlaws, rebels, guns, Evangelical Christianity, racism against African-Americans and other racial castes, barbecue and Country folk have transformed the official American culture. This cultural hodgepodge will always remain ‘Americana’ until the US government decides to exterminate the residues. And once it initiates this cultural and physical liquidation, the empire will crack into a maelstrom of violence that will even shock most of the world’s inhabitants. The US military recruits mostly from the white South.
The Pope thought that the Papacy had reached a Golden Age of power, and it some ways it did, but other empires also received their second winds, such as Islamic world culture, the Mongol Empire, the Mexica-Aztecs, the Sukhothai Empire, the Mali Empire, the Yuan-Mongol dynasty of China, and even the Inca Empire would reach its coming glory. In every historical period, there are gaining and receding powers.
Pope Innocent thought that the evil heretics, the eternally wicked Jews, and the reprobate Muslims, deserved the final destiny of the fire and the sword. Finally, the Church could eliminate the satanic conspiracy that plagued the known world. The Church could ultimately reform itself and not have to worry about the evil conspiracies around it. Even during the 1240s, the world was a complex place. The Jews, the Muslims, the Orthodox – and Heresy survived.
However, Pope Innocent IV was a moderate strategy player when the political situation demanded action. He pardoned the noble knights that defended the Cathar heretics in the south of France. He wanted to use their military prowess against his rival, the German Emperor Frederick, (the Holy Roman Empire). He next tried to form an alliance with the pagan Mongols for a counterattack on the Muslims. Pope Innocent IV also institutionalized the authority and power of the Holy Office of the Inquisition to discover, redeem – or extirpate, (meaning murder), all ‘heretics.’ Even with his newly empowered Inquisitorial courts, Innocent IV could never destroy all of the heretics.
The political and cultural situation of the world today is not much different. The technological advances have made the world a faster and more complicated place to survive, but the human god-animal is still a complex and absurd actor on the globe stage. As long as there exists a human condition under civilization, the six truths of history will never change.
Anarchists should understand these six truths of history, so that they can relax and party, stay free and enjoy the absurdity of life, keep vigilant against any token state-criminal reforms and warn others about the state’s corresponding methods of gradual repression, and like always – continue the revolutionary practice, the revolutionary art, and the revolutionary life.