The problem with successful revolutions (as with battles and wars) is what the victors decide to do with their victory. All the high passion and strident rhetoric about freedom all too often disappear in an orgy of violent retribution upon the former oppressors. Between 1793-4, the Terror in France is said to have beheaded 30 000 “traitors” before it was ended by its chief perpetrator, Robespierre, taking his turn at the guillotine. The “Terror Phase” of revolution is usually followed by new sets of restrictions and limitations to control embittered losers and other dissidents, and firmly entrench the new definers of freedom in control with their hands on the machinery of State and jurisprudence.
Tag Archives: Rousseau
The Uses of History, 6 – From France 1812 to Russia, 1917, 3
In the long run, the most influential of all the “Big Three” thinkers of the French Enlightenment was Rousseau. Rousseau stands apart. As a brilliant thinker and writer in his own right, he shocked even the trendy, progressive “salon set” with his radicalism between 1754 and his death in 1778. He further scandalized the elite social set by deliberately affronting the ethical and moral standards of the day. He was an iconoclast par excellence.
The Third Way, 48: Saviours and Salvation, 4 – The Three Witnesses
Even today, with all the weight of our educational apparatus and cultural propaganda against bowing to “the absolute” and accepting our natural awe of the transcendent, the vast majority of humankind still adhere to what the sages of the ages have told us about the spiritual foundation of reality and the presence within it of mystery and things we are intended to seek, but from which we are estranged.
The Third Way, 43: Kohelet, 7 – Pascal and Kohelet
“Your faith tells you that you need not fear any god or God to whom you will give an account for the things you have done, said, and thought during your very short time on this earth. But you really do not know whether you are right or wrong. You are taking a great gamble, like staking everything, absolutely everything, on a single flip of a coin.”
The Third Way, 41: Kohelet, 5 – The Dare of Love
Kohelet’s diagnosis of the boomer age (“too many dreams, aimless activities and words”) would be no different for the generations following with a whole new list for “authentically self-actualizing” themselves and their potential, and denouncing the evil establishment which perpetrates and perpetuates the current world-crisis of climate change. His prescription for “getting real” (really just staying real) is ultra-simple and ultra-relevant, then and now and through all the centuries in between: “God takes no pleasure in fools…