In the global arena, every country has its image, but how would they look as people? That was the question that Russian artist Anastasia Bulgakova thought about for a year before starting her latest project. “I draw personifications of different countries,” she wrote. “All of them will be militant and warrior-like, with dirt and blood. Not because of some political persuasion, but simply because that what I always draw in any case, and the idea of warrior-countries gives a lot of creative freedom.”
“Every character is going to have some stereotypical attributes that I am going to use in one way or another.” From an American that’s a bit naive and idealistic to a silent Japanese guy with a suspicious smile, you’d easily recognize these ‘people’ if you met them in the street.
The elderly Prussian army captain marched smartly up to a platoon of soldiers on a Berlin street and began to bark orders imperiously. He stopped a bus bound for the outlying Kopenick district and hustled the men abroad. There, as shown in the picture below, he marched them briskly to the office of Kopenickâ€™s mayor and snapped: â€œYou are under arrest !â€ Intimidated by the authoritative overbearing manner of the army officer, the mayor managed to ask timidly â€œWhere is your warrant ?â€ â€œMy warrantâ€ roared the captain â€œis the men I command.â€ The mayor, himself a reserve officer, was curious about the captainâ€™s appearance at the time, but he kept his curiosity to himself. The captain then ordered the borough treasurer to hand over all of the cash in the treasury, just over 4,000 marks, and issued an â€œofficialâ€ receipt. The mayor, his wife, the treasurer and the deputy mayor were then marched outside the town hall and held under guard. The captain ordered his men to stay at their posts for half an hour and marched away with the 4,000 marks.
The captain was in fact Wilhelm Voigt, a cobbler and ex-convict who had exploited the Prussian awe of uniformed authority to rob Kopenick of its petty cash in October 1906. Ten days later, when the police arrived at Voigtâ€™s attic home, they found the uniform wrapped in a bundle. He did not resist arrest but asked only to be allowed to finish his breakfast. Voigt, who explained that he had learnt to mimic the speech and mannerisms of Prussian officers while mending their boots as an apprentice, was jailed for four years.
His exploits had attracted great public sympathy and affection, however, and he was pardoned by the Kaiser after serving half his sentence. Voigt retired in comfort to Luxembourg on a life pension, given to him by a rich Berlin dowager who had been impressed by his sheer audacity.
I didn’t think it could be done, but Rory Sutherland, in the Spectator, makes (sort of) a case for supporting Trump.
Iâ€™m not sure about my prefrontal cortex, but if I were American, my amygdala would vote for Donald. Because, in primatological terms, Trump is a beta maleâ€™s idea of what an alpha male should be. Trump does what most normal people imagine they would do if they had a billion dollars: he enjoys it. He buys a plane with his name on it and flies around mouthing off. It reminds me of visiting Texas, where I realised that Texans were exactly what my Welsh farming relatives would have become if theyâ€™d had oil instead of sheep.
Heâ€™s also unapologetically American â€” one of your own. Somehow we like our leaders to magnify the flaws of the cultures they represent. Itâ€™s why Britain is led by a slightly vague but amiable posh bloke, France is run by a man who visits his mistress on a moped and Germany is run by Rosa Klebb. This â€˜vote your national stereo-typeâ€™ thing is definitely a trend. And I havenâ€™t even mentioned Russia because I often drink tea in hotels.
Trump could only be American. And much as elite opinion despises his banausic tribe, America really would not be America without them. The country owes its success to the fact that, for a few hundred years, it became the natural homeland for the worldâ€™s overconfident loudmouths, blowhards, wiseacres and minor assholes. It didnâ€™t get rich through agonising about safe spaces and the gender assignment of bathrooms. It got rich because of people called Vinnie building things.
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.
The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.
Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”
The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose.”
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Three more escalation levels remain: “Crikey!” “I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is canceled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.