They will not accept, under the name of liberty, any model of government
but that which is conformable to their own opinions and ideas, and that
all men must learn from the mouth of their cannon the propagation
of their system.
– William Pitt the Younger
Over these last few months as the laughable political circus that is the Trump-Russia investigation has unfolded, a fear has been steadily growing in my mind; a fear of a possible result as this circus is being carefully driven to a predetermined conclusion by it’s self-appointed ringmasters. My fear is rooted in the sinking realization that History holds a story similar to the one currently unfolding, which began almost 230 years ago. A story of a public political and domestic disaster of epic proportions which had never been seen in the civilized world up to that time. A disaster which so thoroughly ruined one of the world’s great nations that, to this day, one can legitimately question whether this nation has ever truly recovered from it. The disaster which we know today, as the French Revolution.
The French Revolution, which began in 1789, stands unique in the annals of history as not unfolding from any great popular suffering, deprivation, tyranny or friction (despite what some popular histories are inclined to say). At the time, France was suffering from government inefficiency caused by neglect under the previous three kings and some long outdated or abusive taxes and practices, but the monarchs of that time, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, were reformers working to address and curb those practices and abuses. For example, under previous monarchs, the peasants had been required to endure a type of servitude known as corvee, whereby peasants were required to sacrifice two weeks of every year to do unpaid-for work on public roads. Louis XVI, seeing the injustice in this practice, took the steps to have it abolished, even though he was strongly opposed in this effort by influential factions inside the French government of the time. Marie Antoinette did her share by abolishing a tithe required from French subjects to the Queen at her succession to the throne known as “The Queen’s Belt” and by freely visiting her people and helping them wherever she could, especially amongst the poor and disabled. These reforms and many others like them, as well as the constant almsgiving the royal family engaged in, slowly began to bring about the desired change in the happiness and well-being of the French people and helped endear the monarchs to their subjects, especially among the poor and less fortunate among them. The only other affliction which France suffered from at that time was from debts incurred during the American War for Independence, but Louis XVI was also hard at work attempting to address that issue, helped by the inventiveness of Marie Antoinette who turned down gifts such as the diamond necklace around which would center the “Diamond Necklace Affair” in order to leave more money for France to settle its debts. These good works by the King and Queen and the improvement in the everyday lives of the French people of the time (documented today in reputable histories of the period by historians such as Nesta Webster, Vincent Cronin and Simon Schama) show that the conditions which would normally lead to a great upheaval such as the Revolution simply did not exist in 1789.
So why did the French Revolution really happen? An analysis of the state of the intellectual and influential classes of that era provides the answer. The intellectual and influential classes of several European countries of the time contained a substantial number of dilettanti* and pseudo-intellectuals posing as scholars, philosophic thinkers and trendsetters. Men such as Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, who robbed his family and dropped out of law school to engage in inflammatory actions and literary efforts, and Jean-Paul Marat who was a quack doctor and had lived a criminal life in Britain before coming to France posing as a doctor and later a journalist. These individuals proclaimed their adherence to the philosophical thoughts of the Enlightenment and so posed as “Philosophers” whose opinions and thoughts were to be taken with high regard and treated as statements worthy of thought, deliberation, and finally, acceptance. However, the reality was that most of these men were really only interested in advancing their own power at the expense of those whom they saw restricting their powers (i.e. the Monarchy, the Catholic Church, Christian civilization in general). Their intellectualism was bereft of any real grounding in natural law or common sense and as a result they had the mentality that, since they considered themselves intellectually superior, whatever they did was completely permissible, provided it advanced their cause, no matter how much suffering it caused or how morally repulsive it was. This mentality would best be expressed later during the Revolution by Saint-Just in this statement recorded for history by one of his biographers, Eugene Curtis: “A nation regenerates itself only upon heaps of corpses.” These people would let nothing stand in the way of their drive to acquire the power for which they lusted.
These men, desiring the power which government positions would give them, soon began to embark on campaigns of disinformation and slander against those who stood in their way. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were the primary targets of this nefarious campaign until many people who adhered to the Enlightenment principles began to believe these lies thick with hatred and disdain which were told about them, such as the play entitled La Destruction de l’Aristocratisme which charged that Marie Antoinette harbored such hatred for the French people that she would delightedly ‘bathe in their blood’. Some of these slanderous lies were so horrible that even to this day it requires special permission to read the pamphlets written about them which have been preserved in museums in France. As the Revolution unfolded in 1789, with the men lusting for power seeing the acquisition of their goals in sight, the slander and hatred rose with it. As the hatred rose, so did the acts of violence against the royal family, such as the storming of the Palace at Versailles in October 1789. This venom would lead to mobs threatening them with death many times over the next several years; culminating finally in Louis and Marie Antoinette’s arrest, trial and execution by the revolutionaries upon the instrument of terror known as the guillotine.
By the time the King and Queen were executed, the entire country of France would be in a massive whirlwind of violence and terror. Massacres by mobs were common, mass killings by the guillotine would be taking place every day in Paris and various other French cities, and genocides occurred against various groups of French people such as the people of the Vendee who opposed the insane directions of the Revolution. This era has rightly been called “The Reign of Terror” as people who dared to make even a mild protest against the doings of the revolutionaries were either killed by the mob or arrested and executed on the guillotine. With the monarchs gone, the revolutionaries would turn on others who opposed the violence and anarchy of the Revolution with the prime groups being Christians in France and the French aristocracy. To remove this perceived threat to their power, the Revolutionaries would ruthlessly slander and hunt down these individuals to become their next victims, accusing them of treason and sedition in an attempt to justify the executions to the nation and the world. This violence would continue until France would become such a wrecked nation that it would lie wide open to be taken over and dominated by a military genius of great ambitions who would plunge all of Europe into the forerunners of the twentieth century world wars, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Fast forwarding to today’s world, the parallels between pre- and early Revolutionary France and America today should be quite disturbingly obvious. Once again a country is plagued by a class of people whose ranks stretch across all ideological boundaries, whose intellectualism is not grounded in natural law or common sense, and who are only interested in advancing their power and financial prowess. Adhering to principles from the failed ideologies of Totalitarianism which holds that the state has the ultimate determining power over individual citizens, and Authoritarianism which believes in a concentration of power in an elite group not constitutionally responsible to the people, this “elitist” class of people have been engaging in tactics of disinformation, slander and insults against those whom they have viewed as threats to their power, agendas, and money-making schemes for decades now. Emboldened by years of success in carrying out these tactics, this elitist class has turned to more and more outlandish versions of these tactics as the stakes have risen higher and as the disastrous results of their policies have begun to tear the facade off their messages to the everyday people.
This has led to the current situation America now finds herself in. America’s everyday people have slowly begun to understand the true nature of the elitist message and have begun to reject it publicly over the last ten years. The ultimate manifestation of their rejection of the elitists to date has been the election of the bombastic non-politician Donald Trump as President of the United States. For all of his personal faults, Trump effectively channeled the anger of the everyday people into a successful campaign to win both the nomination of the Republican Party and the American presidency through his ravings against the elitist class and promises to ‘drain the swamp’ or clean out the government corruption and corrupt individuals. His election, which happened in spite of all the propaganda and predictions, stunned the elitist class and emboldened the everyday people, a majority of whom have continued to support Trump in spite of his stumblings as he has learned how to govern on the job.
Since Trump’s election, the elitists have launched a new campaign against him which is remarkable for it’s falsities and breath-taking in it’s divisiveness and utter hatred. The primary thrust of their campaign has been one of seeking to delegitimize Trump’s election by trying to manufacture a case that Russia illegally interfered in the election to ensure Trump’s election and that Trump was fully aware of it. However, as the investigation into the Trump-Russia connection has traveled from the journalistic field into the halls of Congress, it has become more and more apparent to those who have looked beyond the antics and at the actual evidence, that the evidence presented in support of these accusations is so flimsy, contrived, and contradictory as to be non-existent. This has not stopped the elitists however from continuing to push and heighten the groundless Russia connection allegations against Trump and his administration as the investigation has continued. In addition, the elitists have now resorted to far more vicious and inflammatory attacks and portrayals of hatred against Trump. From Kathy Griffin’s disgusting stunt on CNN to the recent New York Public Theater play portraying a disturbing scene of Trump being assassinated, the elitists have clearly pulled out all the stops to threaten and destroy Trump.
This is where the parallel to Revolutionary France is most disturbingly found. This display of hatred and slander against Trump bears strong resemblances to the slander and hatred expressed against Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette by the French Revolutionaries. If History is any indicator, the hatred will continue to build until it explodes in some form of disastrous violence which, once it has consumed its primary targets, will move on to consume other targets, mainly those who are seen as supporters of the original targets.
Is the fate which befell France in the late 18th Century inevitably coming to America? It is impossible to say for sure. However the old warning goes that “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of History are doomed to repeat them.” If those leading the Counter-Trump movement do not learn from these lessons of History and bring their opposition tactics back under control, renouncing what is deliberately inflammatory and slanderous, then it will not be Putin alone but the entire world which will be looking upon our nation in horror asking: “Have you all lost your senses over there?!”
*dilettanti: Plural form of dilettante which means: “A person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.”
© 2017 Grant Dahl & On This Terrestrial Ball. All rights reserved. This material may not be re-published, re-broadcast, re-written or re-distributed without permission from the author of this piece.