Bloody Democracy

One of the more abused words in the English language is the word “democracy” which has come to mean just about anything. Our politicians love talking about the glories of democracy, especially after they have won an election. When they lose, as we are seeing with the Left these days, well, it is an assault on democracy! The word has become a Western version of Juche, the North Korean state ideology. It is not a form of government, but a mystical spirit that is the essence of the people’s goodness.

For Progressives, democracy is one the of the primary abracadabra words in their book of incantations. Whatever they want, it is almost always decorated with the word democracy or some reference to it. It’s not that they have any respect for the will of the people; it is that they truly believe their whims and causes are imbued with the magic they associate with the word democracy. Democracy is what they call that supernatural force that guides history and carries the righteous to the promised land.

This article from the Progressive site Jacobin is a good example. America, of course, is not a democracy. It is a representative republic. In fact, what we have come to know as liberal democracy in the West is explicitly not democracy. Instead, Western nations employ various forms of representative government. The reason for that is experiments with democracy have been disastrous. It turns out that mob rule is not a great way to run a country. The usual result is a blood bath followed by a tyrant.

Of course, the Left is not all that interested in democracy as a form of government. For them, it is trolley they ride from where they are now to the place they wish to be. That place is where they have an iron grip on society. Naturally, while they are waiting for that trolley to take them to the promised land, they sing the glories of the trolley system they call democracy. If things don’t work out as planned, well, the system is not democratic and the proof of that is they lost. After all, the spiritual goodness of the people is on their side.

The linked article is interesting and entertaining for a number of reasons beyond the less than credible claims about the glories of democracy. What’s fascinating about it is what it reveals about the Left. The author, after detailing what he sees as the facts of the undemocratic outcome, falls back on the example of revolutionary France. Appropriately enough, for a site called the Jacobin, the author wants some sort of National Constituent Assembly, where the people can fashion a new constitution.

The National Constituent Assembly lasted two years and can only be viewed as a failure, as it led to the radicalization of the Paris mob and eventually The Reign of Terror. Roughly 16,000 people were sent to the guillotine and another 25,000 were hung, shot or beaten to death by mobs. All of these murders were done in the name of the people. After all, what is more democratic than murdering people in the name of the people? Most of those killed were in no way opposed to the revolution. They either got in the way or failed to do what the radicals expected.

Nowhere in that long piece does the author mention Maximilien Robespierre, Les Enragés (“the enraged ones”) or Madame Guillotine. He later celebrates the Marxist revolts of the 19th century and then the glories of the Bolshevik Revolution in the 20th century. No mention in those cases of the bloody outcomes. That would require either a reconsideration of the glories of radical democracy or the celebration of senseless murder by angry mobs. It’s better to just skip past those problems.

That’s the revealing bit in the piece. The Left has learned nothing from the past, even their own past. The Right is often accused of being captive to a romanticized past, but it is the Left that is trapped in a permanent time warp. The first radicals of the Left followed the logic of Rousseau to its natural conclusion, murdered a bunch of people and then gave way to a tyrant. They keep repeating this pattern without ever having learned from past results. The Bolsheviks, for example, looked to the Jacobins as examples.

Part of this is explained by the radical fixation on the future. The Left has always been blind to the past as they put all of their energy into reaching the glorious future. The bigger issue is that radicalism is an intellectual dead end. When the only acceptable answer to the natural inequality of man is more democracy, you eventually end up with pure democracy, but the same natural inequality. That leaves enforced equality as the logical next step. With coercion naturally comes political violence and then terror.

103 thoughts on “Bloody Democracy

  1. Its Saturday so i read Daniel Lazare’s article. I have a healthy distrust for the intellectual simply because they tend to be grossly irresponsible for their prognostications when things don’t work. Based on that premise, if this were the 1780″s i would not be too upset that Daniel would most likely have a date with Madame Guillotine. it appears by the tone of his other writings that his heros like trotsky and lenin and all things socialist must be getting him dates at various universities, probably with armpit haired dimwit women to realize he couldn’t change a tire or hunt for his own food. Bless him none the less, someone’s acedemic pursuits are required to define “Idiot” !!

  2. For radical leftists, “democracy” means everyone is equal not only in law but in everything. (Of course, various “protected classes” need affirmative action to be equal.) The trouble is that in real life people differ in aptitudes, and this keeps the self-styled progressives in a permanent state of agitation that can easily build into hatred and persecution. The obstinate refusal of reality to conform to the ideology must never be allowed to lead to recognition of the actual human condition. It must always be blamed on the ruling class, reactionaries, racists, white privilege beneficiaries, or whatever the devil du jour happens to be.

    The founders of the United States understood that pure democracy is an invitation to rule by whoever can stir up the most resentment and vote themselves “equality” payoffs. The checks, balances, and limitations on federal power placed in the Constitution have taken a severe beating since Lincoln’s War and are now hanging by a thread. And we live in fear of tyranny by the masses, which has a way of rising to a crescendo of violence before subsiding into routine corruption. Time to make a stand against the fantasy of democracy and return, if we can, to a republic.

  3. Roughly 16,000 people were sent to the guillotine and another 25,000 were hung, shot or beaten to death by mobs.

    “They said you was hung!”
    “And they was right.”

    • Ha. I almost always us “hung” rather than “hanged” for that reason. It makes me laugh.

  4. I’ve always thought that this ‘democracy’ vs. ‘republic’ way of viewing modern political systems is a red herring. “Democracy” simply means ‘rule by the people’, which signifies a system in which the governed have a role in determining who exercises public powers and how laws are made. This is opposed to systems of government in which either a single individual (‘monarchy’) or small groups of people (‘oligarch’) rule over everybody else.

    Leftists then decided to call it ‘anti-democratic’ if the democratic form of government didn’t give them the direct result that’s supposedly favored by the majority. In effect, this demands the equation of ‘democracy’ with ‘direct democracy’, that is, a system in which the supposed view of the majority must ipso facto be converted into public policy. The only previous example of such a system is democratic Athens in antiquity, where any adult male city could walk down to the assembly place and vote immediately and directly on whatever topic was being discussed. While Thucydides and most ancient authors were derisive about such ‘ochlocracy’ (‘rule by mob’), it has been fundamentally impossible for any political organization larger than a Greek city state (with a population numbering around 5000) to be organized in this way. (Of course, the Athenian democracy ultimately proved inept, but so does every form of government sooner or later, so you can’t really hold that against them.)

    As already stated, direct democracy is pretty much unmanageable in any modern setting, so we all have come up with some sort of electoral system in which the populace fills in a piece of paper or pulls a switch, which in one way or another results in the selection of a much smaller number of individuals whose function is to pass laws and enforce them. This sort of indirect rule can be called ‘republican government’, but it’s not opposed to ‘democratic’ rule, it’s just a subspecies. And far and away the most common subspecies outside of a Swiss canton or a condominium association.

    When people spoke during the two world wars of the ‘democratic powers’ (ignoring Russia in both instances), they obviously didn’t mean to suggest that ‘direct democracy’ had anything to do with it. They just referred to the political systems where the ruled had a say in their government (which even applied to the monarchical UK, which had a limited male suffrage during the First World War, a system that, amusingly enough, was less democratic than that of Imperial Germany’s Reichstag!).

    Anyway, ‘democracy’ is a broad, generic term that encompasses ‘republican government’ and is not synonym with ‘direct democracy’ (unless you’re speaking of ancient Athens). And it tactically disadvantageous for the ‘right’-minded to adopt the leftist rhetoric that implicitly denies the ‘democratic’ nature of a republican form of government. Right from the stat, then, you conceded a large part of the argument of that lunatic in Jacobin who wants to arm the peasants against the landowners. Or, more pertinently, those who wish to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s incoming administration by claiming that it doesn’t really reflect the sovereign will of le peuple

    Vive la république démocratique!

  5. I don’t often read Robert Lindsay because my sympathy and taste levels don’t much overlap… But he is a realist alt-leftist on some race and gender and world history issues and I have some time for his thinking.

    He has lately been at pains to stress that the alt-left as he understands it is still of the left, and quite vehemently so. A series on which kind of fascist Trump is, the Latin American fascism of Trump, the need for all such people to ultimately get a ‘taste’ of their own violence, and so forth. He might have a point wrt to the tax-cutting without context wing of the GOP as offering nothing to working class people, and even about the GOP’s inability to offer dignity in a world of inevitable post-work for most. But I can’t quite fathom his hatred for even the mild Edmund Burke. Perhaps Burke is too into veneration of tradition, institutions, property, nationality-based allegiance and so on.

    At any rate, he did some writing lately on the American right’s unwillingness to accept democracy might produce it’s defeat. The flip side of our host’s point.

    I fall on the Zman side of that without doubt. But I had to pause to consider. It does seem like we have reached a point of social and political division so great, with so much future at stake, that no one is really willing to let ‘democracy’, however defined, make the call on which path to take.

    These are darker times than they look, perhaps.

  6. Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on the dinner menu.

    * * *

    “Communism & Socialism are ideal societies reached only if men do what is necessary to attain them. Those who resist must be persuaded; if they cannot be persuaded, laws must be passed to restrain them; if that does not work, then coercion, if need be violence will inevitably have to be used—if necessary, terror, & slaughter.” –Derived from Isaiah Berlin

  7. I find it curious that articles recommending California and New York have more influence over Presidential elections seldom discuss what life is like in those states. They are obviously poorly run. California is a disgrace. So why would we want them to have more say over how the rest of the country is run?

    I love the European touch of calling the Republicans “ultra right wing”. It is the Dems that have moved off into ultra territory. Repubs from the 60s would still fit in fine with the current party. Dems from the 60s would be Republicans.

    • Exactly, Its all about the Benjamin’s!! take the appropriation of Electoral College vote between Wyoming and California and apply the ratio of debt load per resident of each state and I’ll take Wyoming any day!!

  8. It begs the question of who is going to be the left’s stormtroopers? The ghetto? Special snowflakes? Government bureaucrats?

    I don’t find any of those particularly scary.

    • African mercs? I’ve been told we used lots of them for base defense in Iraq. So the contract boilerplate is out there as well as the recruiting networks, veteran mercs, and US shell companies.

      I am not particularly afraid of Tercero Mundo mercs either, but they could cause a lot of damage in the short term, especially if officered by traitors.

    • I consider all the ME “immigrants” Barry is planting all over the country plus the BLM types to be threats. Give them the weapons and armament that various Gov. Departments have been stocking up on and they have the means to an end. I have not heard one peep from anyone about “defanging” these departments. Surely you don’t think the Fed employees of those departments would be the ones to actually use those weapons? No. They are being cached by Barry’s appointees (fellow Mooslims and Socialist minds) for use at the times and places of their choosing. Which makes it imperative that the Justice System take action to corral this “Fast & Furious II” on steroids right here on our homeland.

  9. The leftists and the big-government types have subjected us to deracination and atomization;
    deracination — tearing us away from our roots, our family friends and communities;
    atomizing — making us into small insignificant individuals.
    All so we become utterly dependant upon the huge government to support us, supporting us financially, as well as supporting us emotionally, but only IF we agree with their political slant, and if we kow-tow to them in every way.
    They believe in a highly centralized totalitarian gov’t which micromanages every aspect of our public and personal lives.

    They are the antithesis of Freedom, the haters of true individualism.

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  11. The Left isn’t blind to history – they are intentionally ignorant of anything that might disrupt their worldview. I was a history major 30 years ago and the rot had already started. Today, the study is worthless at most colleges and universities with the exception of rare places like Hillsdale or the military academies.

    When I cite examples of democracies going off the rails and ending in mass murder, progressives dismiss and ignore it as unrelated to their present pursuits. Their response to examples such as the Reign of Terror, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and all the rest is the equivalent of covering their ears and screaming.

    • Normal people assume that the Left operates as they do, under some sort of rational philosophy and long term survival strategy. They do nothing of the sort. They are a combination of primal scream and basically grabbing what they want when they want it. The rest of it is a facade, done to placate the rest of us and try to convince the rest of us that they, too, operate under some sort of ordinary philosophical playbook. I’m not buying what they have been selling.

      I believe that the realization of one’s own death and finite time on Earth is a defining element of being human. Most of us find worth in family, community, and doing what we can to make the world a better place, sometimes in big ways but usually in small ones. We do what we can do, and then check out. With the Lefties, that doesn’t work, so they operate under the two ideas of finding a way to grab what you can, when you can, and burning down the house if you don’t get your way. In that sense, the Left and the fundamentalist Muslims do have a lot in common.

      Most of the scribblings of the Left represent either a call to arms for themselves, or attempts to justify their stone cold greed and envy to the rest of us. The mainstream media and public education are the two major tools of this Leftist exercise. Awareness of what they are up to is a necessary first step in pushing back against it.

  12. I’m convinced that public schools have not taught basic US Civics in over 30 years. The US Constitution defines a *federal* republic, in which states are sovereign entities which share power with a Federal government. The national popular vote for President is utterly irrelevant in a federal republic, as it should be. Moreover, the electoral college worked *exactly* as the founding fathers intended in the 2016 election, i.e., it prevented the populous states of California and New York from overwhelming the interests of the less populous states. I was taught this in seventh grade.

    The 2016 election was a disaster for raw democracy and a yuuuuge win for federal republicanism. This is precisely in accordance with US constitutional structure.

    As satisfying as the 2016 election was, the most probable outcome is that Trump got us a four year reprieve from our slide into a permanent Democrat majority at the federal level. Trump won a very narrow victory in 2016 because Hillary Clinton was a despicable career criminal who hates America and Americans. The Democrats won’t run a career criminal in 2020, and demographic changes in America will ensure permanent Democratic control of the presidency by 2024 or 2028. Demographics is destiny, and it’s game over in America.

    To use a Vietnam era metaphor, the American Republic is entering the Ben Tre stage of its existence. We have to kill the Republic to save the Republic. Negotiate or impose a Calexit and the Republic survives another 50-100 years.

    • Look at the map, and particularly the highway system before you jettison California. First of all it would outflank Trump’s wall unless he decided to make a north hook and take the wall at least as far as the Columbia River. The Rot in California is only a more exaggerated example of the same rot running through Eugene, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle, and other White Californians not wanting to “move to Mexico” will head northward, with all their political baggage. Latinos will also move northward. Prepare to jettison the entire Western seaboard. Cut off like that, Hawaii would not last long. It would also imperil the land path to Alaska, and probably end the sea route.How long could they last before deciding to switch their affiliation to Canada or Russia. Prepare your new American border in the foothills of the Rockies

      • With all respect, that was precisely the point of my Ben Tre metaphor. We have to kill the Republic to save the Republic.

        Maps are important, but demographics is destiny. The Latino population surpassed the white population in 2014 and the Hispanic fertility rate is approximately twice the white fertility rate. The game is over in California–it is destined to become a melting pot of ethnic groups competing for political and economic resources.

        Recent events in California demonstrate that the Hispanic population in California already precludes any local or state cooperation on enforcing immigration laws. This effect will only become more pronounced as the white population in California dwindles. California will do everything it can to keep its border porous and to support immigrant populations using mostly federal dollars.

        California is a cancer on the Republic. If we jettison California now the Republic can survive another 50-100 years. If California stays the Democrats will have a permanent lock on federal political power by 2024 or 2028. It’s an easy choice.

    • Seems to me the best bet is to let Trump to do some negotiating. Like he is currently doing with China on the issue of NorKo, there should be ways to bring California to heel (back into the fold) through negotiation without going all nuclear on their ass.

      And don’t forget, even if they went, we still have liberal cesspools like NYC and Boston to deal with on the East Coast.

      • CA is a water and energy importer. Cut off their water supplies from the Colorado and they die. Same with energy.

        If Trump really wanted to screw with CA all he has to do is favor other Western states for their water demands.

        The only reason CA hasn’t imploded yet is because of the stock market keeping CALPERS from going boom and state revenue at sufficient levels to keep the charade going.

  13. The problem is, bloodshed is a feature not a bug of the Leftist worldview. Marx and all his acolytes down to now spent about three sentences on the glorious communist future; they’ve written hundreds of thousands of pages rhapsodizing over the violence getting there will entail. I know, I know, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs, but Lefties never get around to making any omelets, while breaking eggs with jackhammers….. which seems to indicate breaking eggs is the point. Which of course proves your point about them not learning form even their own history — Robespierre was guillotined, and bourgeois intellectuals were first up against the wall in Russia (and Cambodia, China, etc.).

    • Severin;

      You are right and you also make Z Man’s point about Leftist ignoring inconvenient history. Almost all violent Leftist uprisings over the last 200 years have been violently suppressed and given rise to authoritarian governments, yet the Marxists yearn for this anyway.

      For example, Marxists rose up in all the defeated powers’ Woodrow Wilson new states in 1918 – 1919. Only in Russia did they prevail. With an exception or two (Czechoslovakia ?) the rest became military dictatorships of one sort or another, sooner or later. Why_? The local military offered to end the Marxists’ bloodbaths and the rest of the people, who only wanted to live quiet lives, accepted.

      I will say that I find the Jacobin author’s clarity a refreshing contrast to the usual elite media fluffy multiculturalism.

  14. Our soon-to-be-former President has been signaling he is not going graciously into a quiet retirement. Someone here yesterday,forgive me,I forget who,linked to 2 websites that cater to the BLM movement types. Reading the articles,and particularly the comments was an eye-opener. There are elements in our communities who are itching for a race war. the The hiring of Eric Holder by the CA legislature yesterday is setting the stage to keep blacks and latinos riled up against the “racist white oppressor Trump”. Take note of where young male “refugees” are being sent. Arizona is getting more than their fair share. Why? My guess is future punishment. Sheriff Arpaio was targeted for years because of La Raza-they succeeded this time because of yes,Soros money. The local newspaper,the Arizona Republic,has morphed from its conservative beginnings into WaPo West,and has led the Arpaio smear campaign for years. This administration has been community organizing this entire country for 8 years. They intend to see that it bears fruit.

  15. My take on it is that Western ‘democracy’ (at least in the UK, though this event may be longer in the States) last for about the length of time it takes to make an X on a ballot paper. After that, God knows what can take place but rest assured it is nothing to do with the ‘people’ in any shape or form.

    The Brexit vote more or less proved that for all time on this side of the pond: vote for it, it is promised no matter what and then… nothing will be done about it, apparently because the majority are stupid and know nothing other than making a simple mark on a bit of paper.

  16. I stopped looking at the article once I saw the phrase, “Constituent Assembly.” I’m sure Daniel Lazare would be there with the Red Guards to make sure they bang their rifle butts on the floor every time some “bourgeois” speaker comes to the podium (referring here to the Russian version of the Constituent Assembly, not the French).

  17. I’ve mentioned before the idea of intellectus thinking versus ratio thinking and how these relate somewhat to the dirt and cloud people Z has talked about. After writing my little screed earlier I picked up Burke RotRiF. In the part where he’s describibing social contract theory as a partnership between the living, the dead, and those not yet born he says: The municipal corporations of that universal kingdom are not morally at liberty at their pleasure, and on speculations of a contingent improvement, wholly to separate and tear assunder the bands of their subordinate community, and to dissolve it into an unsocial, uncivil, unconnected chaos of elementary principles.
    Chaos of elementary principles. This is the notion that society can be broken down, analyzed and reconstructed out of parts. This is the fallacy of the Marxist categories or whatever elementary particles that the left thinks they have divined in their sociopolitical cyclotron. It is the fallacy of ratio thinking.
    In a paragraph earlier on Burke describes this kind of thinking as being like the Frankenstein monster decades before Mary W. Shelley wrote it: By this wise prejudice we are taught to look with horror on those children of their country who are prompt rashly to hack that aged parent in pieces, and put him into the kettle of magicians, in hopes that by their poisonous weeds, and wild incantations, they may regenerate the paternal constitution, and renovate their father’s life.
    A while back I talked about how some people have tried to make Burke into some kind of philosopher. He was any thing but a man of system, to steal the words of Adam Smith.

    • Progressives lack in complex, multi-dimensional thinking. The concept of emergence, for example, is baffling to them. The idea that the whole is not the sum of the parts is viewed as an impossibility. Interestingly, creationists suffer from this as well.

        • I’m thinking of the guys who say evolution is impossible because complexity cannot arise from simplicity. Ergo, complex organism cannot arise from simple organism.

          • While I won’t say categorically that evolution is “impossible” it just strikes me as awfully difficult to lean on as the basis for the origin of life. I base my sense of things primarily on entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics which states that “all things tend towards chaos, deterioration, collapse.” (my paraphrase) You start with a simple organism and argue that complex organisms can therefore result, but I am still at the point of wondering just how that “very first” organism evolved and how did it survive long enough to have the intelligence, desire, or ability to replicate itself for millions of years before then becoming some kind of “complex” organism.

            And then I look at the complexity of just the human body and it’s component parts, systems, processes and I marvel at the design. Just take the human eye as a for instance. Incredible. Amazing. I do not believe that happened by chance. That was Intelligent Design by a Creator. And then there is the rest of creation to consider.

            We adapt, are capable of adapting as are plants and animals. So I would call that evolution. But as to what provided the spark for all the earthly forms of life, evolution seems far too simple to me.

          • “Purines and pyrimidines…self replicaing units” . They are only self replicating with the proper organelles and enzymes facilitating that replication. DNA doesn’t reproduce itself in a biological vacuum. This all boils down to the problem of infinite regression that Aristotle talked about. At some point you have a point of irreducible complexity that requires a first mover.

      • Knowing that I once spent some time in the business world, an academic colleague asked me, in all apparent sincerity, to explain where the money comes from when you buy a share at $3 and sell it at $5. Did that $2 just materialize, he asked sarcastically, since of course all educated people know that this $2 is really the big capitalist expropriation Marx was talking about. The guy had a PhD, a mortgage, kids in school, etc. I’m sure his IQ was plenty high, but oh lord how ideology had enstupidated him. And **these** are the geniuses who want to draft your new constitution.

        • The Dems have wholeheartedly signed on to capturing that magical $2. They do it through public pensions, and they crassly argue for their political favorites by stating that their people are good for the stock market and the others are bad for the market. They think the magic $2 is what drives the rest of us, too, not understanding that many of us have cognizance of how the $2 is generated over the long term, and how one truly positions oneself to capture the $2 (hint, it’s not solely about showing up in the morning). They do live simply, in their own heads. Sometimes knowing more can be a bit of a burden.

    • Interesting comments, TPD. Just yesterday, I sat down with a cup of tea and Crane Brinton. I was reading his book that compares the four revolutions (Russian, French, British and American), the title of which escapes me now. As an intellectual historian, Crane is committed to the notion that all revolutions have similar, findable causes, though he’s not so blinded by his own presuppositions to avoid the obvious differences between them.

      What struck me, as I read, was how top-down was his analysis. In France, he believes intellectuals and “leaders” ran that revolution like CEOs — ordinary people were merely caught up in the frenzy, or irrelevant hangers-on. The role of ordinary people was slighted.

      Now, I was reading this because I’m curious about the Alt-Right and the New Right as it is forming around Trump. What I see in our contemporary situation is the opposite of what Crane described happening in France: the middle, the ordinary guys and gals, run this show. In fact, Trump’s election was a leaderless coup, one that avoided or shunned the typical “leaders” in Congress and the states; a referendum, if you will, on wannabe elitists. Of course, Trump’s role in all of this is ???? Is he a leader? I don’t think so. Is he a follower? Not really.

      Most importantly, are we living through a revolution … and don’t know it?

      Love your comments by the way, TPD. You’re a wise man.

      • Trump is a leader, but. He was led by the lights left on for two generations by ordinary people, and by some extraordinary people who saw what he was up to and believed it could be done.

        There are some in the Alt-Right, like Brett Stevens, who cannot be moved from the idea that society must be organized by 130 plus IQ elites, and that society crumbles when those elites become consumed with the bad habits of the proles–which includes the 120’s. I would hazard to guess that most in the Alt-Right see that the other way around. At any rate, there haven’t been so many well thought arguments since 1789.

        • Yes.

          One issue I toying with, now, is the tension between:

          1) leaders who re-present the people, that is, are average
          2) leaders who are a cut above (IQ or whatever) the people.

          I tend to think that in good times, it is imperative to have elected “leaders” who think and act like those they’re supposedly re-presenting; in difficult times, such as now, we may actually need leaders who are a cut above those supposedly being led.

          Which is why I’m so concerned about the horrible — just mind-bogglingly dull, if that makes sense — low-level elected representatives. All those state reps, mayors, city council members … I can’t think of one I admire. For that matter, I can’t think of any elected official in my state (Colorado) that I’d find interesting over coffee, that’s well read or even successful.

          What we have is a group of people who re-present the ordinariness of the ordinary. Again, that’s good in good times. But …

      • Sorry to get to this so late. Anatomy of Revolution. Good book in a general sense. I think it’s the first (only?) attempt at looking at all four simultaneously. The main thing is the question about leadership and how this developed. There was no absolute leadership in the FR in the beginning. There were key events that occurred leading up to the crisis in the Estates General but no single person or group seems to be the driver of these events. No historian has been able to document any conspiracy. Forces were in play, and individuals had desires met by events, but no evidence can be found to demonstrate that anyone or any group was the driver. Various persons found themselves ostensibly in positions of leadership, but in the long view all of these were transient. A few of the ideas these transient leaders introduced had longer lives, however.
        My own opinion is a bit of a muddle. I accept Tocqueville’s idea that the mass of the royal bureaucracy survived the revolution either personally or in spirit and that the disease of centralization continued all through the FR and Napoleon. This basically means that French society was altered but its ideas of government remained fundamentally the same. Royal absolutism was replaced with an absolute General Will expressed through both elected and unelected officials who arrogated to themselves the claim to power. In fact the absolutism became much stronger. Some say that the entire notion of sovereignty is to blame. The king had made himself absolute, and the idea that there had to be a replacement for this absolute sovereignty, rather that perhaps, having it divided between orders and states as we got via our Founder’s idea of mixed government and confederated republic did. But that is a history of ideas, not leadership.
        However, people can represent ideas, and when the ideas are the drivers, and not necessarily the people momentarily the face of those ideas, then those faces become less important as the ideas become more so. Another way to look at this is that there were a few dominant ideas floating around that had various amounts of cache with various groups, and that the people who held these ideas had them in their minds rather inchoately developed, so that even when an idea seemed to have won out over others, the fact that it hadn’t been hashed out and defined meant that there were great disagreements about it even after it had won the day. As such the leaders who seemed to have carried it up to one point might be replaced with leaders who had a different idea about how it was to be implemented. This is ideological crowd sourcing. The big problem is that the ideas weren’t worked out before these people came into political power.
        One thing that many note is that in America we had the advantage of a century of self government before our revolution, so that throwing off royalty for us was getting rid of a nuisance, whereas for France it was overturning the entire way of life. Our founders had decades to debate the ideas of politics and the ideas that were predominant among them came out of the English/Scottish enlightenment rather than the immoral salons of Paris and a few arrogant shithead frenchies. You know, Continental Europeans.
        I think I’ll stop there. This could go on all day.

  18. Big subject that doesn’t travel as easily as it would seem. I only skimmed the article, but once you understand that the author is a Marxist you know that he will adhere to what is called the classical interpretation of the FR influenced by G. Lefebvre and his acolytes. That interpretation was that the initial revolution was advanced by bourgeoisie elements, it was taken over by the proletariat in the middle, and then there was a Thermidorian reaction where moderate elements again took over, who then allowed the man on the white horse to rule when they couldn’t hold it together. That interpretation has exploded under scrutiny over the past thirty years or so. When you take a closer look at what was going on the use of Marxist categories to describe what was happening doesn’t hold up. One problem that we all have is that the use of these categories has become so prevalent because of the leftist march through the institutions that even conservatives today automatically fall into their use and even do so on an unconscious level. What’s funny about this is that we are the ones who are supposed to be the simplistic ones, while the categories of Marx are arithmetic when political calculus is needed.
    Z is right. The National Assembly was anything but democratic. But at the same time circumstances didn’t really allow for anything resembling actual democracy to take place. The men who declared themselves the national assembly, which became the national constituent assembly after attaining power, were originally delegates to the Estates General that had been called by the king to solve the problem of the public debt and to do so by coming up with a new method of taxation. Various missteps and misunderstandings led to them losing trust in the king and declaring themselves the government. Once they did this they overstepped the mandates that they had been elected or appointed for by the people who sent them to Paris. And they went far beyond what their local cahiers de doleances or lists of grievances that the local assemblies had approved. The circumstances that caused them to overstep were that they could not very well disband and rejigger everything so that the body was truly representative in the sense that the people electing them could decide on what they were to do in forming a new government, and they became dependent on the support of the Paris mob to tamp down royal opposition during the early transition, and this led to the mob having undue influence on the course of things to come. Further complicating the situation were the problems of feeding Paris the year after a disastrous harvest and the threat of war from Austria. These forces caused a siege mentality to sink in which affected their ability to consider issues dispassionately.
    What all this resulted in was a group of men declaring themselves the national government, many of whom had little or no experience in large scale administration, stepping into a vacuum of power created by a vacillating king (whose son had just died), whose power was hanging by a thread throughout the whole process, which power they also knew to lack legitimacy for the purpose that they were using it for. That is the key here. They were not sent to Paris to remake the government of the entire country. And that, among many other reasons is why the country ended up being plunged into civil war, which is a largely overlooked fact of the FR. One thing Z is wrong about is the extent of the murders on both sides. Hundreds of thousands were killed, not tens.
    The question of the terror has come up. The people largely responsible for it were factions of the Jacobin Club. It was carried out under the prosecutorial powers that had been delegated to the Committee for Public Safety that was then under the influence of Robespierre and Saint-Just. The interesting thing about it is that in a way, you could almost look at it a a moderate action under the perverse circumstances that these intemperate fools got themselves into because the killed people both to their right and to their left. There’s a good movie about it on YouTube called Danton. I highly recommend it.
    Getting back to the idea of democracy, I think that the course of the FR reflects in the mind of the Marxist, not a desire for actual democracy, but a lust for power. The saying that in the heart of a leftist is a totalitarian screaming to get out is true. They long for the days when they can lead their enemies to the scaffold, or load them onto boats to be scuttled. They are at heart more evil than they even dream that we can be, all the while affixing angels wings to their Mao jackets.

    • Doc, thanks for the History lesson. Great stuff.

      Your last paragraph is the perfect summary of the unstated goals of those who bandy around the word “Democracy” as a tool to lure many to their way of thinking. It is especially effective when the larger culture, corporations, etc., and the government gives credence to their claims by acting in very clearly “anti-democratic” deeds and methods.

      Consider the recent passage by Obama and Congress of Senate Bill S.2943. And the move against freedom continues …

    • For one thing the leaders of the Jacobin “Mountain” and the Terrorists were a mixed bag but more or less lower-bourgeois as the classes stood at the time. A lot of provincials with training for the professions who could not have expected careers at Paris, let alone anywhere near Court, under the old regime. Even Robespierre, a lawyer.

      Yes, the Paris mob and its more working class leaders played a role, and sometimes drove events toward violence and against targets not always the same as the montagnards would have wanted. But the real power at the radical phase of the revolution was not the proto-working class. It was the intellectual vanguard of the crazed provincial bourgeoisie.

      Come to think, that isn’t too far from the Leninist world view, but it’s not all that classical Marxist.

    • “Danton” of 1983 starring then-young Gerard Depardieu is an excellent film.

      Less powerfully acted, but anyone who can get a hold of the 1989 miniseries ‘la revolution francaise’/’The French Revolution’, it is also recommended. It was a commemorative film but covered a lot of ground and the actors were pretty good. Lovely set design too. There is a lot of coverage of the terror and the doings of the Committee of Public Safety and the National Convention. There is a lovely moment, as the whims of mob and convention alike have just turned, when Robespierre charges into the chamber and demands, as was his way, “Citizen President, may I have leave to speak?” The convention, for the first time, growls and then howls him down. I remember the actor doing a pretty good impression of what must have been Robespierre’s dawning realization that he was about to have a very bad day.

      Also the actor did a suitably chilling version of one of R’s speeches about the essential conceptual unity of Terror and Virtue.

      Good times.

  19. We’re having an election.
    There’s a lot of folks who SHOULDN’T vote.
    We need to verify their credentials.
    “Oh, you can’t do that, because Democracy!!!!!”
    Well, OK. Good thing we have a system to to balance that!
    “But THOSE people shouldn’t be allowed to vote differently than the polls, um THIS time!!!!!”
    Well, this is who’s involved. They’ve suffered threats, and attempts at vote intimidation.
    Vote’s in.
    Sorry, Fake News.
    “Oh, well, NOW we want to verify the minutia of the voting credentials of the Electoral College!!!!!”
    (and displace more foreign “refugees”, to recently established “strategic” parts of the country, at an ALARMING rate)

    • Obama has been doing this for some time. Bringing in loads of ME “immigrants” and then having them shipped off to all parts of the country basically establishing “cells” for their networks. Obama and his minions know where these “ticking time bombs” are located but interestingly no one knows who or where but the American taxpayer is footing the bill. That is where lots of the “trillion” dollar deficit is going; there and to the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Where is the media on any of this? There has to be a boat load of people, Americans, troops, LEO’s, transpo, even real estate agents working on this but not a peep. Where is Wikileaks for the next big news story? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • This will be a big, big story when things play out the next few years. Willful blindness is an interesting thing.

  20. There are two things in the world that the only thing you can do with it is shoot it dead. 1. A full on Rabid Dog. 2. A full on rabid liberal. Act accordingly.

  21. Quote from the article:

    “Rather than a one-off affair, Trump’s victory is thus a sign of things to come.”

    The Left sees eight years of trump and United States becoming a one party state for a generation. The article is basically giving excuse to BLM type violent protests in the future.

    There is very little rational thought in this . Some people are just most comfortable being in opposition, screaming from outside.

  22. Tocqueville–Princes had turned violence into a physical thing but our democratic republics have made it into something as intellectual as the human will it intends to restrict. What concerns me in our democratic republics is not that mediocrity will become commonplace, but that it may be enforced.

  23. I find it interesting that most people, including our supposedly knowledgeable and observant media and academia, do not see the correlation between those entities that seem “always” include the word “Democratic” or “American” in an effort to obfuscate their true mission. Or if they do see it, they fail to mention it for sake of their religion.

    The connotation is that if it is “Democratic” then it is pro-freedom, pro-liberty, pro-individual, and nothing could be further from the truth. Example: When the Democrat party renamed itself the “Democratic” party, to go along with their new gang color “BLUE.” Red was always, at least in my time, associated with Commies. But the Left got Repub/Conservatives to wear Red which is a complete reversal of previous history.

    Here is a good write-up on the word games that get played and some history to go along with it:

    American Thinker – Ideas Behind the Words


    • Did the Democrats actually used to use the noun form as an adjective for their party, ie. “We are from the Democrat Party and we are here to help you”? That seems like a weird usage to have developed when “Democratic” would have normally been the correct adjective. As in, “We are Democrats, that is to say we are from the Democratic Party, and we are here to help you”.

      Granted, in either case the response of those on the receiving end must be to flee into the hills and/or take up arms.

  24. Bravo! What a screed. Give the sonofabitches both barrels Zman! Way to go, Yes Sir! That’s your rant and I for one are sticking to it with you. A fine and most proper statement of truth. Most excellent. Wow.

  25. I remember reading a book in the early 90s warning about the trend of lawmaking by pure referrendum, as has become popular in the US, particularly in California. Pure democracy is unrestrained amplification.

  26. Great post – as always. But it leads to more complex issues.

    – How to “undo” the existing calamity – which extends back countless generations in one form or another.

    – Understanding the massive population issues (what – now 7 billion?)

    – The technology issues, transportation, food, lifestyle… i.e., the problems of modernization without contemplation…

    – The economic issues (trade, monetary units, value of life… contribution to society…)

    – And of course, the “conglomerates” of the world which have in essence “centralized” everything we do to their own benefit.

    I’m leaving out many others (like education ~ indoctrination). But what we have on our hands here is a gargantuan global problem.

    And no simple solution.

    Sure – many can theorize on how it can be done. Not many can handle the logistics. Maybe this is where people like Jeff Bezos who have a knack for logistics can help. But I doubt it because they focus on robotics and income rather than humanity and sensibility.

    • Yep, there are indeed many issues of which you named just a few.

      What I cannot fathom, however, and I say this as a Christian, that I do not see how a world inhabited by so many, in their own lands, with free will of their own, with a brain/mind/intelligence whatever level that might be, should be “our” problem.

      Of course, problems in their situation can spill over into our world but I believe that natural processes have been circumvented by the “do-gooder” NGO type organizations that supposedly function to help these same people. Instead of providing good nourishment, living conditions and education, they live lives of utter desperation and an existence that even animals can exceed as they fend for themselves more effectively and nature culls the herd. But the money that is supposed to help these people is stolen. And if those people are helped, it is to their greater detriment as the “do-gooders” intervene on what would undoubtedly be a more vicious display of nature regarding their inability to deal with circumstances.

      I strikes me as a conundrum that many of these countries are supposedly “Christian” and yet, birth rates are beyond control and the children born into a situation where there is literally no hope. No food, no clothing, no healthcare, no education, no stable home, no protection from nature or warlords, these children are left to pretty much raise themselves and scrounge for a subsistence living before turning to serious crime, if they survive that long. Human beings, responsible adults, parents, and especially those who call themselves “Christian” should be taking a second to think about what kind of life they are giving to these “children” of God.

      Wow, 7.4 billion and counting with the number to expected to reach 11 billion by the year 2100. And of today’s 7 billion (2016 data), 1.4 billion are Chinese, 1.3 billion are Indian and 1.2 billion are African. That is 53% of the world’s population. Go figure.

        • Our success, surplus, is our undoing.
          Overflow in the petri dish.
          R’s outbreeding k’s.
          Note that the producer nations responded quit overpopulating.

          Nature’s balance often means mass dieoffs- or new frontier: oceans, arctics, space.

    • I’m with Lets here. First, if the 250 year experiment in enlightened secular rule politics of various shades teaches anything, it is that there is no fixing the human condition by human means. And the beauty of our Constitution is that it doesn’t try to do so.

      Second, given the above, the least bad political idea for us, then and now, is that tending our own garden our own way ought to be our first priority.

      Third, given the unfixable condition of human depravity, there will be those who will want to steal our produce or rip up our garden just to satisfy that depravity. So, adequate police power is needed internally and adequate military power is needed eternally: STARTING WITH A SECURE BORDER. President W was quite clear about the relationship in his Cloud-backwards way when he justified intervening everywhere as playing ‘the away game’ instead of ‘playing the home game’. I can’t be the only ex military guy who thought that was stupid at the time: If Islamists can’t come here or create fester if they do slip through, there is no need to try to remake the entire ME.

      • We prevent the overbreeders from culling themselves. Its a crazy cat lady strategy.

        They see our glittering, emptying cities and hunger to take what they can not build.

  27. Seems like the left’s stranglehold on society has been broken; they are in the first stages of a historic rout from the public space. Once the nationalism gets going, they will be driven from the country entirely. They made a huge huge mistake with all the tantrums and rioting.

  28. For those who believe that government can provide everything and create utopia, here is a quote from the man with more common sense than most, Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

    “A ‘liberal paradise’ would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive health care, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities and only law enforcement personnel have guns. And, believe it or not, such a liberal utopia does indeed exist. … It’s called prison.”

    • Our* Sheriff Joe was tossed out on his ear this past election cycle for a Liberal Wife Beater replacement courtesy of Soros’s money. Arizona also passed a law that went in to effect January 1st: $15.00 minimum wage. My son lives in the Phoenix area and kept me aware of the idiocy occurring in Arizona this election season.

      Dan Kurt

      * Sheriff Joe was an example of a real American law man.

      • ” … IS” as he ain’t dead yet! He is an example of a real American law man, doing the hard work that the rest of society would rather not know about. I think President Trump will have great use for a man like Sheriff Joe.

      • Utter BS, an example of a corrupt pig maybe. Do you live in Maricopa county? Read about his past in office, nothing but a money-grubbing glory hound. Don’t put this bastard on a pedestal, do your homework. I’m a freedom loving military vet conservative who calls a spade a spade.

        • I am up for researching Sammy but maybe you could enlighten us who don’t live in Maricopa Cty. Can you summarize your main points of dislike or contention with the Sheriff?

          I admit to only hearing about him primarily through Fox News and some other media but what I have heard that I appreciated was his handling of criminals with the hand of justice and not coddling them like regular prisons/jails do giving them all the free amenities that make 3 squares a day, and time to waste away (or not: maybe they become self taught attooorneys or just go in big for weight lifting and becoming the Hulk) while they further learn the criminal tricks of the trade.

          I might expect liberals to not take a shine to his “harsh” treatment of criminals but if you have some beefs, I would like to know about them. Seriously. Thanks.

          • I used to live in Maricopa country and keep close ties to the politicos there, so let me fill this in a bit for you. Joe and McCain represent two warring factions within the R party. McCain has always had the upper hand: he’s got the connections, the weak party apparatus, the lobbyists and the moneymen. Joe has had ordinary people as well as the power of the sheriff’s office, which isn’t inconsiderable. Joe knows dirt on McCain and his minions: McCain knows dirt on Joe and his minions. Since neither Joe nor McCain would retire if their nemesis was in office, they kept running and running … into their 80s … and winning.

            Finally, McCain, after a twenty year run, won. But he won with the help of Soros, a bit like signing on with the devil, however, which taints his reputation forever. McCain has managed, single-handedly, to put some of the weakest, most compliant people in office. His stable of support includes the incompetent senator, Jeff Flake, and a lot of downticket Republicans in state and local office. I can’t think of any shining stars, at this point, in Arizona. They’re all dullards.

            I live in Colorado now and am watching the same process here. It’s truly amazing how inconsequential are the state reps. Truly mediocre. They’re not bad people, just dull ones, and utterly incapable of doing anything other than protecting the status quo. I can’t think of any with real accomplishments, to speak of, in their lives. Little pencil pushers. Little bureaucrats collecting government pensions, doubling up. Little military mid-wits, who used to have “jobs” such as military lawyer (non-sequitor?) or XXXX specialist now populate the lowest ranks of the Republican ladder. It’s tragic, really.

            Anyway, that’s the backstory on McCain and Joe.

          • Same process in Nevada. Grassroots conservative Republicans at the center of the party were replaced by professional conservatives who are now losing generals to Democrats. Plus there are lots of Mexicans of course.

          • Mr KRK: Don’t have a clue where your Colo vantage point is, however Kimmi Lewis was just elected as a rep in district 64. She is incorruptible. She took on the army and Nature Conservancy over the Pinon Canyon expansion which happened to correlate to the “wildlands project”. Rancher, good mom and sharperthanarazor………….

          • Good to know that there’s one … of 65. Face it — Republicans in Colorado are pathetic. I just graphed the decline of the Republican Party v. population in four western states.

            1. The Repubs here claim the influx of CA voters have liberalized their state, but as a percentage of the whole, CO has received the least number of Californians. So that’s not it.
            2. What about hispanics? Could the republicans be losing ground because more Hispanics have been moving here compared to other states? Nope. Compared to NV and AZ, Colorado has far fewer Hispanics as a percentage of the whole.

            The CO Republican Party has managed to lose the trust of Coloradoans, slowly. They’ve pushed people away with their wishy-washy incompetence. Few people show up at their conventions and conferences … fewer bother to become precinct committepersons. There’s no life in this party.

            Time for a new one?

          • Coupling that information, KRK, with the data on Republican gains throughout the country during the Obama years, it seems like some other explanation is a work in Colorado. If someone at the RNC was doing their job, Colorado would show up as an “outlier” and cause some serious inquisition of that State’s political leadership. Or, maybe I am being too analytical about this?

      • Isn’t the Phoenix area a major illegal alien and illegal drug corridor for the cartels? Opening this up with a Soros proxy sheriff and a having two bought and paid for open border putz senators seems strategic.
        We had better understand there is an active war going on, it’s not just theoretical party politics.
        Islamo-terrorists also allied with Soros and McCain(Syria). Treasonous Bastards.

        • Wierd- sounds almost like Saint Dubya and his AG buddy, J. Sutton, and their “death house” in Juarez (across the Rio from El Paso.)

  29. You found a real piece of work in Lazare, Z. It’s amazing to me how many complete idiots there are in this world who talk through their asses. I looked at his books on Amazon and quickly saw that the NYT gave one a glowing review. It was something about the “frozen”constitution killing American democracy, published in 1997. He’s been riding this horse for a while. There was no comment section to the piece. If there was I would have asked him to give us his first draft of our new constitution. That would be fun to read.

    • I think it would be dangerous for either side to reopen the constitution in such a fundamental way, but I have some respect for a leftist who wants to actually do that. It’s a good deal more respectful of what a constitution is than just constantly warbling about how it’s a living tree and anything the courts do to it is legitimate, because tree.

      • Article V authorizes a constitutional convention but it doesn’t provide any groundrules, which means if a convention is called (it’s never happened) it would be chaos. If the idea is to go around the constitution then you’re talking violent revolution.

        • True on both counts. After I wrote I looked back and realized his call for a constituent assembly, although it could be taken as a call for an article 5 convention, isn’t necessarily that. It’s more like the sporadic European model of going back to the ‘constitutive power’ or ‘constituent power’ believed to reside in the sovereign people, and calling a new assembly based on that. That approach would be extra-constitutional or pre-constitutional with regard to the constitution of 1787-9.

          I’m not clear as to whether the founders or their opponents would actually be in favour of that notion – Jeffersonian and maybe even antifederalist rhetoric could support that idea of the fundamentally sovereign people.

          But it would also sidestep federalism and the prior sovereignty of the people in their states and act on the assumption that the people, as one writ large, are the sovereign body.

          I would tend to call it revolutionary.

  30. There are no endings, there are only new beginnings. Every day we are one day closer to our progressive utopia. We, progressives are assuredly on the right side of history.
    Do real people think these type thoughts?

    • Every day, in every way. There no business like your business. And Lord knows you cannot manage your life without the help of those more enlightened and wise than you or me. Heaven forbid you make a mistake, learn or find happiness with your choices. That just will not do. “We know better than you what is right for man because we created man, at least in our own minds. See, we think we are god.” And never, ever forget … “from each according to his abilities, to those according to their needs.”

      Even though these people are atheists for the most part, they sure do assume many of the traits attributed to Him, don’t they?

    • I think them too, because I live in often daily terror that they are right.

      I actually had a little bout of depression and anxiety AFTER Trump was elected, from reading progressive railings against him. Somehow, they still seem like they will win out and will soon enough have the permanent majority they need for that last mile’s run to the finish line.

      Hope does not spring eternal. But sooner or later some barbarians will arise within or without to tear their utopia a new one. So there’s that.

  31. The US is almost a democracy thanks to the 17th amendment. The senators might as well be elected nationally for all the money that comes from outside their respective home states. Repeal the 14A, 16A, and 17A. I know, but a man can dream.

    • re: “Repeal the 14A, 16A, and 17A.” Fred

      Don’t forget to repeal #24 and of course #19. While you are at it also deep six #26.

      Dan Kurt

    • This is a pet project of mine — repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, that is. Interesting that it was put into place at the same time the Federal Reserve was set up. Also, the income tax.

    • “Almost a Demoncracy” ????? The USSA has been a hybrid Dictatorial Demoncracy since FDR.; some presidents being more dictatorial than others, but always with a persistent roaring feral demoncracy in DC.

  32. I’d like to ask teapartydoc to expand on a previous comment about the French Revolution.
    He mentioned that the people who led France to crisis were the same ones who ran the Terror.
    Who were they? Political professional class, the bureaucrats, opportunistic apparatchniks?

    • Political professionals in some areas with some of the more charismatic former apparatchiks. They saw opportunity to sow a revolution and take some power, overthrowing Louis and Marie Antoinette, who were fairly mild in the monarch status compared to some of the past.

      • The whole mess of the French Revolution started with the drought, IMO, and just went to shit from there. There’s no one real, solid, underlying philosophy to the whole thing. Robespierre emerges as the face as of the late revolution, as he was, but you had the Girondists, you had the noble Mirabeau (in the pay of Austria IIRC), and various other constitutional-monarchists, republicans, etc. There were crazy broads marching on Versailles. Heck, early in the revolution people were setting the King up as a sort of first-citizen, a hero of French liberty.

        What the entire period is marked by is chaos and lack of leadership. Successive bad harvests and horrendous management of the nation’s finances have created an anxious populace, but Louis is constantly refusing to do anything meaningful. The one decisive act he takes, IMO, is to hang some petitioners very early on in the proceedings. Petitioners who certainly did not deserve, and probably did not need, to be hanged. Later, when people did need hanging (or shooting), he sat on his hands and went hunting. (Look up 10th August, and how he actually ordered his guards to stop returning fire. [And they listened!])

        So you have a giant vacuum, and into that vacuum comes a mish-mash of Rousseau’s philosophy and the paranoid, murderous politics that became commonplace in the Chinese and Soviet regimes. (Weird how leftism and political murder seem to travel together). So while the terror was arguably lead by middle-class guys like Danton and Robespierre, I’m not sure how useful an analysis that is. For example, were they leading the mob, or was the mob leading them? How much of what they did was motivated by political infighting? (Plenty of “good republicans” were backstabbed and sent to the Guillotine, of course).

        It ended up a vicious, violent purity spiral of who could be the most demotic, combined with sheer murder-for-the-sake-of-power.

        And if you want to talk about “Thermidorian reaction,” I think you have to look at the motivations of the soldiers and of Napoleon himself. The soldiers weren’t being paid half the time, for one. Napoleon himself had fought for some variation of the post-Louis “republic.” And it’s not as if Napoleon took the throne and made nice with the traditional monarchies. He marched on their asses (granted, they’d struck first).

        Anyway, that’s the opinion of a guy who read a book once.

        • Pretty good summary. You definitely captured the difficulty of pinning discrete sets of consistent motives on any given actor or group, and the sheer power of contingency and circumstance under which everybody was acting. I yield to the temptation as much as anyone, but it’s hard to really take entirely seriously the idea of Robespierre as a forerunner of Marxist revolution. He was more complicated than that and his apparent philosophy looked more like violent extremist centrism with a Deist cult attached. And even then he was mostly just dancing tiptoe across the surface of a volcano trying not to fall in. There’s room for sympathy for him.

          Even Bonaparte comes across as a man born to be a Caesar who was presented with circumstances in which he could use those talents to then further shape his times. His governing philosophy had its progressive, rationalizing side, but mostly in the vein of rationalizing administration and maximizing the capacity of the state to rally its people to nationalism and mobilize resources. Enlightened despotism, liberalism [even] could find their reflections in him.

    • The answer is not a short one, but a study is well worth the time, I think. I recommend Mike Duncan’s “Revolutions” podcast. The French Revolution will take you many episodes and many hours, but you won’t be shortchanged.

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