Bastille Day is no cause for celebration

LaLibertéThe telltale sign of ideological contrivances is that their origin – unlike that of organic commonwealths like England – can be pinpointed to a concrete date. One should always be wary of such states, especially if their date of birth is associated with a revolutionary outburst.

The three dates bemoaned by everyone who despises our vulgar, soulless, materialistic modernity are the dates on which said modernity found its quintessential physical embodiments: 4 July in America, 7 November in Russia and 14 July in France.

(One could legitimately add to this roster 31 October, 1517, when the Reformation started, but today is the occasion for focusing on specifically political subversion.)

‘Liberty’ arrived in France exactly 227 years ago, when 300 thugs stormed the Bastille, kicking off the revolution. The event inspired Edmund Burke to write his seminal work Reflections on the Revolution in France, which should be at the top of the reading list for anyone interested in modern politics – or wishing to understand the inherent evil of revolutions.

By the looks of it, Reflections wasn’t on Immanuel Kant’s reading list at all, which is why he lied by writing that “…this revolution finds in the heart of all observers the kind of sympathy that borders on enthusiasm.”

Not quite all, Herr Professor. The only enthusiastic hearts were those stuffed to the brim with the ideology of hatred and destruction going by the misnomer of the Enlightenment – the denial of the very reason it inscribed on its banners.

Such hearts ruled their possessors’ heads, overriding reason regardless of whether it was of a high order, like Kant’s, or an abysmally low one, like Robbie Burns’s. Scotland’s national poet responded to the upheaval with the poem The Tree of Liberty:

“It stands where ance the Bastile stood, //A prison built by kings, man,// When Superstition’s hellish brood //Kept France in leading-strings, man.”

At the time of its demise, the ‘prison built by kings’ and sanctified by ‘Superstition’s hellish brood’ (Christianity, that is) kept ‘in leading-strings’ a grand total of seven prisoners: four counterfeiters, one sexual deviant, a failed regicide, along with a chap who believed he was Julius Caesar and, once liberated, was immediately transferred to a lunatic asylum.

Now that liberty has had a free run for 227 years, France boasts a prison population of 66,678, which is impressive, if paling by comparison to the corresponding figures for the other two reference countries of modernity, Russia (651,360) and the US (2,217,947). The US leads the way, but then it is the world’s leader.

However, that disastrous event is best assessed in philosophical terms, rather than arithmetical ones. For, while the French Revolution didn’t produce intellectual, cultural and social perdition either immediately or singlehandedly, it was surely one of the foremost landmarks on the road to it.

The Enlightenment, whose pent-up animus burst out 227 years ago, was inspired by hatred of Christianity (‘Superstition’s hellish brood’) and the urge to destroy the civilisation begotten by it. The vestiges of that civilisation are still hanging on by the skin of their teeth, but something vital was indeed destroyed: humanity as a cohesive entity.

It’s an idiotic modern perversion to perceive man in strictly physical terms. The destructive consequences of such a puny misapprehension are clear, for possessing the same number of limbs or internal organs doesn’t bring people any closer. Only metaphysics can do that, by imbuing most people with the same understanding of truth.

This can only happen when truth is perceived as absolute and hence, by definition, the same for all. To act in that capacity, truth has to be infinitely higher than quotidian life: it must be accepted as the end, not the means.

Once such truth is shunted aside, it’s not just religion that suffers. Reason itself is compromised, deprived as it now is of a teleological aspect. Dostoyevsky wasn’t talking about reason when he wrote that “without God everything is permitted”, but he might as well have been.

Absolute truth is the gauge by which thought can be verified; it’s also a control valve by which thought can be regulated. Remove it, and reason loses discipline, meaning it also loses definition and ultimately any kind of sound content.

Suddenly anything, no matter how illogical or downright stupid, can be said, and inanity demands equal time with intelligence. It’s only in such an intellectual atmosphere that our politicians can rise to power: any brainless slogan mouthed by brainless nonentities can appeal to brainless masses.

What goes for reason also goes for morality: relativism damages both, with moral egotism joining intellectual solipsism to reign supreme. The Enlightenment ordered man to look for truth only inside himself – which he did, but to his horror found only himself there.

For having to spend an eternity with oneself only, as an atom disconnected from its molecule, is a working definition of hell – doing so in this life defines hell on earth. That the hell in which we live is physically comfortable makes the contrast between the physical and metaphysical even more terrifying.

It was that ultimate Reign of Terror that was adumbrated by the French Revolution. This is what the French are celebrating today, along with other victims blissfully unaware of their victimhood.



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