by Jake Block
“Tontine | ˈtäntēn |
an annuity shared by subscribers to a loan or common fund, the shares increasing as subscribers die until the last survivor enjoys the whole income.
• a scheme for life insurance in which the beneficiaries are those who survive and maintain a policy to the end of a given period.
mid 18th century: from French, named after Lorenzo Tonti (1630–95), a Neapolitan banker who started such a scheme to raise government loans in France (c.1653).”
This concept was taken up by certain French and American soldiers fighting in the deadly trenches of Europe during World War I. In this iteration, soldiers of the same platoon or squad would secure a bottle of wine, over which they would make a solemn pledge to guard it, and the lives of all of the others in their group throughout the war and beyond, to maintain their camaraderie until there was one lone survivor, who would be given final possession of the sacred bottle. Then he would in the presence of others for whom he held affection, drink one last toast to those now dead, before he too joined them in death.
But even farther back in world history, we can see the sentiment in the rise of Giovani di Lorenzo de’ Medici (1475-1521), a Catholic Cardinal who in 1513, was elevated to Pope of the Church of Rome, becoming Pope Leo X, who then infamously said, “God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.” He then went on to use his position to loot the treasury through his extravagances and political machinations, ultimately culminating in the rise in influence of the German priest, Martin Luther who, in 1517, nailed the famous “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.
“To the victor belong the spoils,” was a sentiment coined in 1832 by the American Senator William Learned Macy (1786-1857). In this relative expression of the concept, it referred to the cut-throat politics of the age, in the election between the incumbent President John Quincy Adams and his rival Andrew Jackson, and is seen as the incident that inaugurated the age of American partisan politics that exists to this day. It was the sentiment that “We’ve survived the political wars, so now we’ll do what we want to do.”
It’s pretty much a dead concept, these days. Or, is it? So, on to today and beyond. We live in a world of change. Lives change, circumstances change, and so too do philosophies that we might embrace at any given time. However, most often upon the death of those who were either the innovative force or the catalytic influencers of what, during their lifetimes, became a viable and self sustaining school of thought, a void becomes apparent. Nature, abhorring a vacuum will in time work to fill it with one who either supports the philosophy or one who can adapt it to the current times and guide it into the future.
Philosophy, at its core, is the acceptance of a mental construct that (ideally) results in behaviors consistent with that construct, in those who claim adherence to its principles and/or tenets. Otherwise, it’s just an opinion of one or the few. A valid philosophy has a life of its own and sustains those for whom it holds a special meaning. It grows with acceptance and it thrives, as those who embrace it thrive. Its decline is the sign of some fault found within its construct or, sadly, a decline in its acceptance as those who support it find another philosophy more malleable to their circumstance, need and desire. It’s natural that it happens, and just as natural that someone will be the last to hold true to the essence of a philosophy. Just as BC became AD, and 1966 became the year 1 Anno Satanas, so too will there come a time, when the last holder of the dream that was born in 1966 will pop that bottle of wine. Unless he dies as alone as it can sometimes feel, he’ll share it with a friend and he may whisper the words, “I drink to the past with honor and respect, and to the future in resigned trepidation.”
The Satanic philosophical tontine is an inevitability. One can only hope that someone who follows can bring it more closely to it its original vector, or surely in time, it will morph to something else perhaps more palatable for a generation yet unborn.