The Symbol of the Progressive French Revolution was the Guillotine. The Symbol of the Conservative American Revolution was Lady Liberty. The Russian, Chinese, N Korean, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Cuban Revolutions all follow the Progressive Model…and their people suffer greatly.
The French Revolution was led by sociopaths who politicized language, much like today’s Jacobins.
We start with the moral and political catastrophe that was the French Revolution. It was more a nationwide psychotic break than a revolt—a great nation at its own throat, swept by a spirit not only of regicide but suicide. For 10 years they simply enjoyed killing each other. They could have done what England was doing—a long nonviolent revolution, a gradual diminution of the power of king and court, an establishment of the rights of the people and their legislators so that the regent ended up a lovely person on a stamp. Instead they chose blood. Scholars like to make a distinction between the Revolution and the Terror that followed, but “the Terror was merely 1789 with a higher body count.” From the Storming of the Bastille onward, “it was apparent that violence was not just an unfortunate side effect. . . . It was the Revolution’s source of collective energy. It was what made the Revolution revolutionary.”
Instead of ensuring grain supplies at a reasonable price, Mr. Schama notes, the government committed itself to the new modern principle of free trade: “British textiles had been let into France, robbing Norman and Flemish spinners and weavers of work.” They experienced it as “some sort of conspiracy against the People.”
One does see parallels. But they’re not what I mean.
It was a revolution largely run by sociopaths. One, Robespierre, the “messianic schoolmaster,” saw it as an opportunity for the moral instruction of the nation. Everything would be politicized, no part of the citizen’s life left untouched. (Source)
“The politics of purism makes people stupid. And nasty.”
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