Today is Bastille Day, typically associated with the start of the French Revolution. In honor of that blessed event, I offer up this classic piece by John Zmirak:
Remember when the L.A. riots spun out of control, and engulfed the whole United States? The key moment was no doubt when police and Army commanders took fright and changed sides, throwing their support to the Committee for Public Safety led by Tom Hayden, along with Noam Chomsky, Barbara Boxer, Michael Moore, and Edward Said. After Hayden’s fall and execution, his successor, Marion Barry, insisted that President Bush and his wife Barbara be tried for treason. Their executions shocked the world but sparked wild celebrations in the capital, as the First Couple’s severed heads danced on poles in daylong parades. A crack whore was duly enshrined in the National Cathedral as the Goddess of Reason.
Of course, Hayden and Barry were each executed in due course, and replaced by the “incorruptible” Maxine Waters. The ensuing Terror killed tens of thousands including corporate executives, Indian software engineers, Korean grocers, many harmless courtiers and celebrities such as Liz Taylor, Goldie Hawn, Bill Cosby and Adam Sandler, and unnumbered professors, priests, ministers and cloistered nuns, all accused of “subversion.”
When conservatives rose up in Arkansas and Louisiana, the Army crushed the counterrevolution, crowded its supporters onto rafts on the Mississippi, then sank them, drowning thousands of unarmed civilians. The Terror only ended when General Louis Farrakhan used a “whiff of grapeshot” to cow the mob. His ruthless secret police calmed the chaos at home – ended the church burnings and massacres, for instance – but his foreign policy adventurism started wars with Mexico, Canada, Great Britain and finally Russia, ending only with his ignominious defeat and exile to Staten Island. But all this is ancient history now. The Revolution and its wars have ended, at a cost of over 20 million lives, and the U.S. standard of living now equals Serbia’s. Was it all worth it?
That little thought experiment should give you an idea of what the French Revolution was really like – a digestive eruption of all the basest instincts in the lowest elements of society, led by power-drunk ideologues of the radical Left. (If you click on the link for any of the imaginary events given above, you’ll find its real-life parallel in the French Revolution.) It was utterly unlike the American rebellion against the English colonial officials – which amounted to a regional secession, led by the responsible members of the upper middle class. And for that fact we should be forever grateful, as should other countries which emulated the American model of political reform, rather than the French, as Hannah Arendt and Wilhelm Röpke have written.