Politics and Fortune-telling

Home > Opinion > Columns

print dictionary print

Politics and Fortune-telling

Hitler had an astrologer called Eric Hanussen whom he often called to his official residence to discuss affairs of state. Unfortunately, Hanussen ended up in prison after recklessly forecasting the downfall of the Third Reich. Some even say that the fate of Nazi Germany would have taken a different course if Hitler had paid greater heed to Hanussen's warning.

During World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill also frequented a female astrologer in London called Barbara Harris, famed for her remarkable ability to predict the future. Stalin received guidance from Waolf Messin, an astrologer-cum-hypnotist. Stalin, who had sided with the Western allied forces to fight against Hitler, reportedly based his decision to stake the destiny of the eastern frontline at Stalingrad on Messin's advice.

The fact that France's former President Charles de Gaulle, commonly considered the French hero of the 20th century, frequently sought the counsel of an astrologer has recently became a topic of great interest. The latest issue of 'Nouvel Observateur', a French current affairs magazine, features the confessions of Major Maurice Vasset (85), who secretly served as de Gaulle's exclusive astrologer for 25 years. "Although I cannot reveal specific details due to my duties both as a soldier and an astrologer, it is true that I often supplied him with necessary information," Vasset stated in the magazine. When de Gaulle wanted to call a referendum after May 1968, a month marked in France by violent clashes between extreme right-wing groups and students protesting the Vietnam War, Vasset dissuaded him, claiming that "divination signs bode ill." The referendum, which instead took place in the following year, was voted down and de Gaulle had to step down as president.

It has been a long tradition for rulers across all ages and nations to consult astrologers or fortune-tellers on affairs of state. Since astrology first emerged in Mesopotamia around 3,000 B.C., used to predict the fate of a nation by studying the positions and phases of celestial bodies, astrology and fortune-telling have been used to support the continuation of sovereign power. Pharaohs of Egypt and emperors of Rome listened to the advice of astrologers. Until the early 16th century, the official position of "royal astrologer" existed in France.

Elizabeth Teissier, a beautiful astrologer who occasionally met with former French President Francois Mitterand, recalled in her book that "Mitterand sought counsel from me as if he were seeking advice from Jacques Attali." Attali, former advisor to Mitterand, himself predicts that astrology will flourish in the 21st century by merging with information technology and life science.

Many politicians in Korea also reportedly ask fortune-tellers and shamans for guidance. Perhaps some politicians waited in vain for a telephone call after being told that they would get an appointment in the cabinet shake-up earlier this week. Fortune-telling is not the only thing politicians cling to without fully trusting. They cannot stop worshipping the polls, however many times they are deceived by skewed results. Perhaps politics is an art of uncertainty.

by Bae Myong-bok

Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now