The metal iron is ruled by Mars. Margaret Thatcher, famously known as The Iron Lady had the Sun conjunct Mars. She was however, not the first political leader to be given an iron moniker. Leon Blum, the three times Prime Minister of France was known as the Man of Iron and not only did he have a Sun / Mars conjunction, but he had it in Mars’ own sign, Aries.
Blum’s Sun / Mars was part of a stellium of 5 planets in the 10th house of career, the Sun, Neptune and Mars in Aries and the Moon and Mercury in early Taurus. Such a concentration particularly including the Sun, Moon and Mars in the 10th house would inevitably bring Blum to prominence in whatever career he chose. The fact that the Sun, Mars and Neptune were apex planets for a T Square including an Ascendant / Jupiter / Uranus conjunction in opposition to Saturn makes it an extremely powerful chart which would thrust Leon Blum to the very top. As it’s a T Square based on an opposition involving Saturn it would not be an easy ride by any means.
In keeping with the radical Uranus rising, Blum was a socialist, the leader of the SFIO. The peak of his career coincided with Pluto making its only aspects to his T Square planets, between 1929 and 1938.
Blum was elected as Deputy for Narbonne in 1929, this marked the most important turning point in his life as Pluto was conjunct the Sun at the time. Political circumstances changed in 1934, as a response to the rise of German dictator Adolf Hitler and fascist riots in Paris. In 1935 all the parties of the left and centre formed the Popular Front, which at the elections of June 1936 won a sweeping victory.
Blum became the first socialist and the first Jew to serve as Prime Minister of France. As such he was an object of particular hatred to the Catholic and anti-Semitic right. In February 1936, just before the election Blum was dragged from a car and almost beaten to death by a group of anti-Semites and royalists.
The industrial workers responded to the election of the Popular Front government by occupying their factories, confident that “the revolution” was imminent. For Blum, as a Marxist, this was an agonising moment. He did not believe that socialism could be achieved by parliamentary means. But he could not encourage the workers to launch a violent revolution, believing that the army would intervene and the poor workers would be massacred so he persuaded them to accept pay raises and go back to work.
Despite its short life, the Popular Front government passed much important legislation, including the 40-hour week, paid holidays for the workers, collective bargaining on wage claims and the nationalisation of the arms industry.
The Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936 and Blum was forced to adopt a policy of neutrality rather than assist his ideological fellows, the Spanish Left-leaning Republicans, for fear of splitting his alliance with the centrist Radicals, or even precipitating a religious civil war in France. His refusal to send arms to Spain strained his alliance with Communists, who followed Soviet policy, and urged all-out support for the Spanish Republic. The impossible dilemma caused by this issue led Blum to resign in June 1937.
Leon Blum was briefly Prime Minister again in March and April 1938, long enough to ship France’s heavy artillery and much needed military equipment to the Spanish Republicans, but he was unable to establish a stable ministry in France. Blum’s socialist government fell and he was removed from office.
Pluto was conjunct Blum’s Ascendant from 1936 – 38 but it was also conjunct Uranus and square Mars as well showing the changing, unpredictable and violent events that accompanied his period as French Prime Minister.
When the Germans occupied France in June 1940, Blum made no effort to leave the country, despite the extreme danger he was in as a Jew and a socialist leader. He was among the “The Vichy 80”, a minority of parliamentarians that refused to grant full powers to Marshal Philippe Pétain. He was arrested by the authorities and held until 1942, when he was put on trial on charges of treason, for having “weakened France’s defences” by ordering her arsenal to be shipped to Spain, leaving France’s infantry unsupported by heavy artillery on the eastern front against Nazi Germany. He used the courtroom to make a brilliant indictment of the French military and pro-German politicians like Pierre Laval. The trial was such an embarrassment to the Vichy regime that the Germans ordered it called off. He was transferred to German custody and imprisoned until 1945. In the last weeks of the war the Nazi regime gave orders that he was to be executed but the local authorities decided not to obey them.
The period form 1943 to 45 saw Pluto transit the remaining planets in the stellium, by squaring the Moon and Mercury.
After the war, Léon Blum returned to politics, and was again briefly Prime Minister in the transitional postwar coalition government. Although his government lasted less than five weeks it still succeeded in implementing a number of measures which helped to reduce the cost of living.
The period when Pluto transited through Blum’s stellium was probably the most cataclysmic in France’s history since the revolution. It’s extraordinary that the man that led the nation through much of this time was a Jewish socialist, who despite the turmoil managed to pass significant left wing legislation. But then Leon Blum was the Mars in Aries Man of Iron.