September 16, 2020


Did the French Revolution cause Nazism?: If Louis XVI had hung onto his throne, Europe wouldn't have been overrun by tyranny (John Lewis-Stempel, September 15, 2020, The Critic)

All the great political woes of the modern era -- Communism, Fascism, and its German bier and swastika variant, Nazism -- have their tangled, bitter beginnings in the storming of the Bastille. The French Revolution was the taproot of Tyranny in our time. No French Revolution, no Marx, no Hitler. Voila!

The French Revolution began in 1789 as an Enlightenment experiment. In 1793, however, the Jacobins, led by Robespierre, tried to turn France into a Rousseauian theme park -- where the people were sans private possessions and sans self-interest, but were suborned to the state ("the general will") -- by destroying the rich. The Jacobins also wanted to export the 'benedictions' of Revolution via the barrel of a cannon. 

Sound familiar? Yes, it is the same millenarian collectivist philosophy of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Pol Pot, Osama Bin Laden. The accompanying praxis was, and is, murder. Mass murder. As Robespierre so delightfully put it: "We must smother the internal and external enemies of the Republic or perish with them...Terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice; it is therefore an emanation of virtue." Before 1793, Europe  was no stranger to violence, but not until the French Revolution was murder used systematically to erase a designated internal enemy from its existence. The Jacobin's mass firing squads anticipated absolutely the Nazis' Einsatzgruppen.

The Jacobins desired "Year One," a cheerless utopia in which individual freedom was rescinded in the name of the commune, and where the people were dosed daily with propaganda to rid them of their vices -- such as the desire to own a home of their own ("Property is theft!"), to possess freedom of thought or to enjoy a private life. The Jacobins and their descendant mini-mes, in their thirst and thrust for absolute power, have disavowed all ordinary amusements. Hence the purist, monkish public image cultivated by Robespierre, Hitler, Mao, et al.

It could have been so different. In June 1791 Louis XVI was about to flee Paris in a fast carriage; at the last moment, MarieAntoinette (and her voluminous baggage) insisted on accompanying him, rather than travelling separately. Uxorious to the nth degree, the king agreed. Consequently, they took the big and literal slow coach instead of the speedy light one -- and were intercepted by revolutionaries a mere 25 miles from the safety of the Belgian border. The royal couple were then returned to Paris to be shortened by Madame Guillotine.

But in a parallel universe, there exist Les Annals Alternatives de la France and they tell of Europe's avoidance of the nightmare of tyranny: the right, fast route taken. The relevant extract follows.

Modernity consists of nothing more than the faith of the Anglosphere vs the Rationalism of the Continent. Avoiding the Enlightenment was the singular triumph of the English-Speaking world and a simple function of our ingrained skepticism.

Posted by at September 16, 2020 7:40 AM