Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day?

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the French Revolution, when the peasants of Paris and renegade soldiers stormed the prison known as the Bastille, releasing all the prisoners and beginning what was supposed to be a movement to bring brotherhood and equality to the downtrodden of France, in emulation of the American Revolution.

Instead, Bastille Day began an especially bloody and vicious process of revolution and counter-revolution-within-the-revolution, where tens of thousands were executed -- The French Revolution brought us the Guillotine, developed to deal with the great numbers of political prisoners who needed killin' in them days -- not so much for their supposed crimes (many often got no trial at all, and were 'convicted' on the flimsiest of evidence), but for activities and opinions which made them politically-suspect. Political Correctness kills, and it killed many in a revolution that claimed as it's motivating force a love of it's fellow Men and a respect of the rights of conscience and free thought.

In due course, the King, Louis XVI, was arrested and eventually guillotined himself (along with his queen, the infamous Marie-Antoinette, who contrary to popular belief did NOT say "Let them eat cake...") after being convicted of treason. The government which followed the Monarchy was chaotic, confused, and bloody, leading some to wonder if the King's Demise had perhaps been a bad idea.

Eventually, France found itself living under an Emperor (wait, didn't they just kill the King?), who became absolute dictator (wait, what happened to freedom and democracy?), and yet it could somehow still believe the fiction that Napoleon's Grand Armee was a force for Liberation in Europe, bringing "democracy" to every country they could persuade with bayonets and cannon fire. The Little Dictator (that's Napoleon Bonaparte, not Harry Reid) was decisively and unceremoniously shown the door by The Duke of Wellington and Marshall Blucher, at the Battle of Waterloo, where they broke the power of Bonaparte and shattered the Grand Armee, leading to one of those delicious ironies of History; the future democratic Nation States of Europe that were born from the wreckage of Napoleon's Empire, can consider the English and the Prussian Imperialists who fought Napoleon to have been their figurative midwives.

Perhaps the French ought to rethink this holiday....

No comments: