Tag: French Revolution

QotD: On the Execution of Anacharsis Cloots

 

Excluded at the insistence of Maximilien Robespierre from the Jacobin Club, he remained a foreigner in many eyes. When the Committee of Public Safety levelled accusations of treason against the Hébertists, they also implicated Cloots to give substance to their charge of a foreign plot. Although his innocence was manifest, he was condemned and subsequently guillotined on 24 March 1794. He incongruously followed Vincent, Ronsin, Momoro and the rest of the Hébertist leadership to the scaffold, in front of the largest crowd ever assembled for a public execution.—Wikipedia entry on Anacharsis Cloots (Emphasis mine.)

Cloots, by the way, was born as Jean-Baptiste du Val-de-Grâce, baron de Cloots. That’s right: Baron. An aristocrat cheering on the end of the aristocracy got himself shortened by a head. Ah, the French Revolution! Such a time to be alive. Puts a frisson in one’s blood, never knowing when that blood may be spilled. Sort of like the CHAZ or CHOP Zone today. Being one of the cheerleaders didn’t save Cloots, and it isn’t saving anyone today. It is easy to read about then and be appalled or even to have a bit of schadenfreude for those who went into the Revolution with full-throated cheers and came out through Madame Guillotine. It is not so funny as we watch the mobs in action in America today.

Murdering People in the Third World

 

The broken windows fallacy of economics has often been discussed in these pages, but it does not go far enough. First, for those who are new to Ricochet or only read the funny stuff, the broken windows fallacy is the thought that all types of economic activity are equal. So, a restaurateur who has a brick thrown through his window has to hire people to replace the window. This is good, because he is spending money, right? Except that this is spending money that would have otherwise gone into the economy in higher value ways. Maybe he could have hired an executive chef to make his food better. Maybe he could have afforded to buy higher-quality meats. Maybe he would have used that money as a down payment on a delivery truck. Maybe he could have invested in stocks for a start-up that would have invented and marketed the next great thing. Whatever the restaurateur would have done with his money, it’s not going to happen now, because he is buying a new window and paying to have it installed. Besides his costs, that window and work installing it could have gone into a new commercial building instead of to repairing his building. Everything cascades from there. Windows may cost more because of higher demand. Installation may cost more because of higher demand. What we see of lost opportunity costs is merely the tip of the iceberg in what is lost to the overall economy because someone decided to throw a brick through a window. And we recognize that all types of economic activity are decidedly not equal.

Now, let’s multiply that by a million times by having riots across the nation. While we are at it, let’s deliver pallets of bricks to shopping areas to ensure the rioters have plenty of ammunition for breaking windows. Let’s also deliver supplies of Molotov cocktails to those same areas to ensure stores can be burned after being looted. (This is seriously happening.) Many of the businesses are not going to replace the window and move forward, because it’s not just one broken window they have. Some have been looted and others have been burned to the ground. While some may rebuild, many will not bother. Keep a store in a bad neighborhood that is prone to riots? No, thanks; it costs too much. Insurance rates will be up. Jobs are lost. It costs more for people in the riot-torn neighborhoods to reach the stores that are in another neighborhood, either until stores are rebuilt in their neighborhoods or until West Texas freezes over.

Member Post

 

La Révolution est comme Saturne : elle dévore ses propres enfants. Translation: The revolution is like Saturn: It devours its own children.  Pierre Vergniaud, French revolutionary These were the last word of a French revolutionary, a talented orator and advocate of liberty, equality, and fraternity.   He, like many other revolutionaries, ended up having a date with […]

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Member Post

 

I commend to your attention this article by Jaspreet Singh Boparai, which appeared in the web-zine Quillette on March 10. It looks back on a forgotten episode in modern history, but one that reverberates to this day. “The French Genocide That Has Been Air-Brushed From History” Preview Open

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Quote of the Day: Happy Bastille Day

 

“[W]hat truly makes the French Revolution the first fascist revolution was its effort to turn politics into a religion. (In this the revolutionaries were inspired by Rousseau, whose concept of the general will divinized the people while rendering the person an afterthought.)”
— Jonah Goldberg, in his book Liberal Fascism

Left, Right, and Politics

 

Talking American sends me thinking now and again. All the questions about the left and the right came up again the other day, questions that come up more often than I think they should, and which I fear can never be articulated in a way that contains partisan passions. That’s how it is: The terms of political art are almost unique in how contentious and disputable they really are. But this sent me thinking, as I said, so I have some questions and remarks below, and a sketch for a crash course on the politics of left and right — I hope you’ll be interested in this enough to make it possible to have more conversations and, possibly, more clarity.

  1. Is it worth learning what left and right mean in politics? Where they come from? How we ended up talking this way?
  2. Do people who talk this way think of it as more than a mere expedient?
  3. Do people who insist on talking this way have any good faith that’s not limited to partisanship?
  4. Do people who want to go beyond left and right really get what’s in people’s hearts as per the previous two points?

I might write something serious and respectable about this, but is it worth the time? I do have some provisional remarks, meanwhile, about what seems to me to be at stake:

  1. Recovering this language of left and right might bring back dispute as coming down on the yes and the no of serious questions. That’s surely needed!
  2. Another reason, related, is less about pugnacity and more about its ground. Deliberation implies a common ground, which surely is also needed now.
  3. Further, as with partisanship, there is more than mere denunciation–aspiration is part of it, too. Being on the left or the right seems to involve knowing some things and being serious about what you know.
  4. Contrariwise, there’s a danger of ending up not being for anything–not knowing even how to associate with like-minded people, for principle, or interest, or because circumstances require striving in common.

One way to think about this is the study proper to the liberal arts. That way of grasping the matter looks like this:

Member Post

 

My friends, I know what you’re thinking. The French Revolution with its terrible descent into pure democracy followed then by a lateral pass to dictatorship was hardly a good thing. Not only were there incidents like the Terror and heads being chopped off left and right, but there were many other leftist ideas being tried […]

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Member Post

 

Within the French Revolution during the time of the national convention a group known as the sans-culottes began to exert their power over the nascent French nation. The sans-culottes were essentially the working class of Paris. What makes their case interesting is the outsized influence they placed on the National Convention and national policy despite […]

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