Bastille Daze

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Their methods ultimately became their principles. “Liberty is a bitch who likes to be bedded on a mattress of cadavers,” opined Desmoulins. “Let us be terrible so that the people will not have to be,” exhorted Danton. “There must be blood to cement the revolution,” Madame Roland maintained. Their revolutionary executioners agreed.

The French Revolution proved a dry-run for the twentieth century. Fanatics systematically liquidated internal enemies. They exported revolution to those unlucky enough to share their borders. They ignored all of history and believed all of posterity would see them as the starting point. Words, such as “Committee of Public Safety,” conveyed the very opposite of their meanings. The inability to attain the glorious ends that rationalized their terrible means left just the terror.

An unwitting accomplice of great evil is always extreme arrogance. The Jacobins attempted to replace more than a millennium of Christianity with a Cult of Reason, which smashed burial crosses and placed a “Goddess of Reason” on the altar at Notre Dame Cathedral. After overthrowing the king, they attempted to overthrow established units of weights and measures through the metric system. And they vainly replaced Gregory’s calendar with a Revolutionary one, placing their own event at the start of time, naming weeks of the month, and renaming months of the year.

The terrible irony is that the fanatics who sought to overthrow tradition instead established one. When French President Francois Hollande jettisons a budget-ceiling agreement with the European Union, seeks to hike tax rates to 75 percent on the wealthy, and pledges an oxymoronic “end to austerity” for a government that spends more than half of the gross domestic product, he acts moderately within a culture that celebrates rioters who shouted “Death to the rich, death to the aristocrats” with a national holiday. Radicals appear conservative when operating within a radical tradition.

Don’t celebrate Bastille Day this weekend. Do celebrate that July 14, 2012 isn’t du Quintidi, 25 Messidor, CCXX.

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  • Stephan

    Yes, it was "kill the rich". Soon after the Revolution, the motto was sometime written as "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death". Google for revolution money — the assignates — and sooner or later you find it in the corner of the five livres notes.

  • BS77

    Read Ann Coulter's DEMONIC for an in depth examination of the vast differences between the American Revolution and the French. Excellent book.

  • tagalog

    My favorite slogan from the French Revolution has always been, "Kill the priests and rape the nuns!" That one encapsulates several French Revolutionary conceptions.

  • Schlomotion

    Ha! I've heard of people trying to roll back the 1960's cultural revolution, but trying to roll back the French Revolution is just ridiculous.

  • Iratus Vulgas

    The French Revolution remains the working template of the Left. The 30's, the 60's, and even in these contemporary times, pseudo-revolutionaries and malcontented anarchists still love a good riot..

  • SAG

    If anyone thinks that the French Revolution was a triumph of reason is defintely not thinking. This was the example of irrationalism and envy. And, it highlights what happens when Rosseau's philosophy is taken seriously and put into reality. Our country followed Locke and the Enlightenment and we got freedom. France got chaos and the gulliotine.

  • PAthena

    Maxillian Robespierre, leader of the Jacobins during the French Revolution, introduced the Reign of Terror and, in a speech of February 4, 1794, justified terror as a means of instilling virtue. This is the origin of terrorism.

  • Ghostwriter

    I read Ann Coulter's book,"Demonic." She did a good job at describing the French Revolution in all it's horrors. It's a shame our revolution was never copied as highly as France's one was. America's revolution ended far better than France's did.

  • Lady_Dr

    Did anyone else catch this "An unwitting accomplice of great evil is always extreme arrogance." ?

    Who, in America today, is noted for their arrogance? BHO. While not a big Romney fan – I say WE MUST ELECT HIM, and a GOP/TEA PARTY majority. Then we must hold their feet to the fire – the Constitution. Only then will we be free men again.

  • anotheranonymous

    1) The Day celebrates this… which has nothing to do with the storming of the Bastille

    2) If Louis XIV had not gone hand in hand with the Radicals in pushing for war with Austria and the United Kingdom as a way to rally people around him, mayhaps the early defeats of 1791 would not had permitted the radicals to grow in power.

    3) This "lawful" King, his father (Louis XV) and his grand father (Louis XIV) had already trampled the medieval French common law when for close to 100 years they imposed taxes and ordinations on the French people without consulting the Estates General as was the common law. So yes blame the Frenchmen for rebeliing against a King who trampled on the law of the land and taxed without representation.

    Before writing about the significance of a celebration, know what it actually celebrates and also know a bit about the history around it, beyond the parts you cherry pick to fit your worldview.