Never mind the current crop of smug and hateful Frenchies. This post isn't about them. This post is a celebration of the common people of France, who decided, finally, on July 14, 1789, that the would no longer be slaves to an absolute and corrupt minority and that they would no longer be led around, like sheep, by a corrupt and hypocritical clergy.Many, by which I mean not one single person, have asked me why I ommited to mention Bastille Day 2006. The answer is simple: I plain forgot. To make ammends let's celebrate another wonderful moment in French History: The guillotining of Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre.
July 14, 1789 wasn't the end of the dizzy era of excess and abuse - there are still spoiled aristos and unaccountable priests, still places where peasents are poor and exploited - but July 14, 1789 was the begining of the end. And though the long liberal trip made many wrong turns, and committed excesses of it's own, there's no doubt at all that humankind is better off today - by every conceivable measure - than it was before the liberal journey started. And that embarkment -Bastille Day- is something to celebrate.
So pass the french fries!
Robespierre's Reign of Terror represents one of the wrong turns I wrote about last year. Though he started off as a liberal, in the end he was a fanatic, who like all fanatics was marked by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm for his cause. Rather then trust democracy to solve disagreements between the various factions competing for influence in revolutionary France, he settled arguments with the guillotine, premeiring the sort of purges men like Stalin would later perfect. In the name of the revolution he subverted the revolution by murdering monarchists, republicans and many others. During the Terror, there was no king and there was no clergy but Robespierre, the man who had swept them all away, was every bit as diabolical, corrupted not by money or power, but by the awful, uncompromising, purity of his own beliefs.
Maximillien Robespierre was executed today, 10th Thermidor An II