Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sowing the Seeds of Future Misery: The French Revolution Causes Pain for Centuries

The history of the French Revolution is a complex, shocking, and ultimately depressing narrative of a movement which began by seeking freedom, and ended by destroying freedom to an extent rarely seen in human history.

It started in 1789 with demands for freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, and of belief; with demands for the right “peaceably to assemble;” with demands for fewer taxes and less taxation; with a demand that the government reduce its flagrant spending and avoid national debt; and with demands for the economic opportunities offered by a free and unregulated market.

It ended in 1799, having murdered thousands of men, women, and children because they were merely suspected of harboring affection for the king, because they were merely suspected of engaging in a personal faith in Jesus, or because they merely expressed a political opinion. Censorship was total.

Viewing the ten years of the French Revolution, historian Jonah Goldberg writes, “it is no longer controversial to say that the French Revolution was disastrous and cruel.”

Although many people in various countries applauded it when it began, the vicious public executions of innocent civilians, by means of the guillotine, led the world eventually to decide that “it was fascist.”

Goldberg goes on to note that “the French Revolution is the fons et origo of the” fascist movement, and of other political trends: totalitarianism and statism. The French Revolution is the very antithesis of liberty.

The failure of the French Revolution caused thinkers in Europe and around the world to “look fondly on the American Revolution.” While the French Revolution proclaimed ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ as its slogan, the American Revolution actually achieved those things.

The French Revolution was evil disguising itself in noble words.

To compare the French to the American situations, consider that American women began voting in 1869, fifty years before the 19th amendment; women in France did not vote until 1945.

Consider that the abolition of slavery in the United States was already a stated goal, toward which concrete progress had been made by 1800, while the French Revolution actually imposed a form of slavery on ordinary French citizens.

For a decade, the civilized world was “shuddering at the horrors and follies of Jacobinism. But if the French Revolution was fascist, then its heirs would have to be seen as the fruit of this poisoned tree, and fascism itself would finally and correctly be placed where it belongs in the story of the” development of political movements.

The French Revolution was not only a homicidal rampage inflicted on the French people, but it the source of political misery for the next two centuries: fascism, totalitarianism, statism and dictatorships of various stripes.

It gave birth to Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot, Tojo, Lenin, Kim Il-sung, and other murderous tyrants.

The French Revolution is a tragic example of flawed human nature attempting to effectuate a utopia by any means necessary.