Monday, January 21, 2013

French Revolution debated

A highly intelligent young friend of mine, on whom I like to think I've had a little influence, posted on Facebook a status mourning the anniversary of the regicide of Louis XVI which was actually more provocative than mine in that he explicitly distanced himself from today's rather better-publicized twin celebrations of Martin Luther King Day and President Obama's second inauguration, which I have simply tried to ignore.  While most of my non-monarchist Facebook Friends seem to ignore my royalist posts most of the time, some of his are apparently more combative and his status unleashed a storm of comments, some of them even defending the French Revolution as a necessary reaction to "oppression" (never specifically demonstrated).  I wrote (rather quickly) this impassioned response and hope it will still make sense here out of context.  At the close of a day during which I have felt even more estranged from the world than usual, I am grateful for my like-minded friends (with two of whom I attended a traditional Latin mass at Fisher More College this afternoon followed by lunch at which we toasted His Most Christian Majesty's memory) who keep me from feeling completely alone in this mad world enslaved to the banality of liberalism and republicanism. Vive le Roi.

[My friend] is of course absolutely right. I do not admire either Martin Luther King or Obama and am not willing to give them even as much credit as [his mother] does, but I would rather not go into that as it would detract from the main focus of today which should be the Regicide (the most heinous sin there is after Deicide--if Dante's Inferno were to be updated to include more recent historical figures, Brutus, Cassius, & Judas would have plenty of company in the centre) of King Louis XVI.

I am appalled by some of the pro-Revolutionary sentiments above. There was nothing "oppressive" about the monarchy of Louis XVI (do some of those commenting even know anything about him?), one of the most kind-hearted men ever to serve as any country's head of state, certainly not in comparison with the Reign of Terror that replaced it or even the modern democratic state which exerts far more control over the average inhabitant than the ancien regime ever did. If Louis XVI erred it was to support the American revolutionaries in their rebellion against their King, which bankrupted the French Treasury and precipitated the Revolution. But even this serious mistake does not make him an "oppressor" or a "tyrant" who deserved to be overthrown, let alone murdered, by any stretch of the imagination.

Do you know what the French Revolution was? It was unborn babies ripped from their mothers' wombs and killed with the women raped then killed. It was peasant men, women, and children tied together on rafts and drowned in "Republican Marriages." It was the destruction of churches. It was the murder of priests and the rape of nuns. It was a once-angelic eight-year-old boy forced to spend the last two years of his short life in miserable squalor that would have appalled the poorest peasants because he happened to be the son of the King and Queen. It was countless people who had committed no crime executed for having the "wrong" ancestry--a forerunner to the genocides of the 20th century. It was the establishment of the evil principle that the State may exterminate those who get in the way of the creation of a New Order. It was oceans of blood. It was in short the most diabolical explosion of evil the world had yet seen and cannot be condoned by anyone who is both decent and well-informed.

It is suggested above that the French Revolution constituted unjustifiably harsh means in pursuit of valid ends. But I fundamentally disagree even with this temperate analysis, for to purport to replace an ancient Christian Monarchy, one of the most beautiful and venerable institutions in all the world, from which all that was noble and admirable in France flowed, with a Republic would be intrinsically evil even if accomplished (as if this were possible) by peaceful means. I deny that "Democracy" is a good in itself, for what is inherently virtuous about majority rule, especially in a society as depraved as ours? As traditional Catholic writer Chris Ferrara demonstrates exhaustively in his magnum opus
Liberty: The God That Failed, the enthronement of "Liberty" as an idol has always and everywhere meant the diminishing of actual liberty in practice. The replacement of kings with presidents and other regimes has led to nothing but misery and corruption. The sooner humanity awakens from its enslavement to the false goddess "Liberty," the better. But I am not optimistic.


Flambeaux said...

With you until the remarks about liberty and the reference to Ferrara.

I'm with von Kuehnelt-Leddihn that the choice is between Liberty or Equality.

Liberty isn't the problem and the greatest argument I see, again from K-L, is that monarchy is the best guarantor of authentic liberty.

Theodore Harvey said...

Authentic liberty, yes, but "Liberty" since the American and French Revolutions has become something else entirely, as I think we agree.

Flambeaux said...

I'm not so sure. I'd need to reread and meditate on K-L's Liberty or Equality again before I'd commit.

Just because the enemy redefines terms doesn't mean we cede them that ground. That they use "monarchy" as code for nationalistic, centralized, totalitarian, illiberal despotisms of the so-called Enlightenment is another case in point.

Theodore Harvey said...

While I like Ferrara better than you do, I'm not particularly inclined to defend him at the moment, since I'm a little hurt that he never replied to the e-mail I sent him praising his book. But it's still a good book, especially on the American Revolution.

Flambeaux said...

FWIW, I had a similar discussion on G+ regarding the martyr-king and the Revolution.

carmeljamaica said...

Thank you, Theodore, for this. Couldn't have said it better.

Even there were bad monarchs, but none so evil as the rule of the mob, in this depraved world of ours.

Vive le roi!

James said...

I don't know what is your deal against MLK. Would you mind explaining?