The Legacy of Bastille Day

The Legacy of Bastille Day

Geoffrey Botkin
July 14, 2017

France appears to be committing suicide. Her government is surrendering to Islamic colonizers, and the supporters of President Emmanuel Macron are too busy partying to care. President Macron this week was busy showing off whatever he could find of original French civilization to President Trump. What did Macron find? There are a few buildings Mr. Trump called “beautiful,” and a holiday the French call Bastille Day.

What happened on the first Bastille Day? A prison was attacked by citizens. But the raid was not to make “liberte” for political prisoners. There were no political prisoners in the Bastille. The attack was a riotous effort to liberate guns from a government prison so the guns could be used for murder and revolution.

Bastille Day should be a day of remembrance, but not of French civilization or France’s love of liberty. The statesman Edmund Burke watched the first Bastille Day from Britain and said about the revolutionaries, “Their liberty is not liberal; their science is presumptuous ignorance; their humanity is savage and brutal.”

Bastille Day should be remembered as the beginning of the end for France. The suicide of France began when French revolutionaries set out to assassinate moral order and moral authority.

“All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off,” explained Burke in his famous letter “Reflections on the Revolution in France.”

One illustrious story should be noted from the day of the queen’s unlawful execution in 1793. As Marie Antoinette was manhandled to the guillotine, she accidentally stepped on the toe of her rude executioner. Instinctively, she said “Forgive me, sir.” She was then ridiculed, then murdered, then ridiculed again.

Burke analyzed the multi-year horror in his remarkable letter. “Humanity and compassion,” he wrote, “are ridiculed as the fruits of superstition and ignorance.”

The first Bastille Day in 1789 inspired yet more mob violence against what Burke called “the sentiments which beautify and soften private society.” On October the 5th, a crowd of agitated women picked up knives and set off to find and kill the queen because of some contrived rumor that was being spread about her.

“Reduced to the status of animals,” summarizes Robin Phillips, “the women were singing songs about raping the queen, while others demanded to have her entrails.”

Arriving en masse at the palace, some 7,000 women overpowered and beheaded two of the royal bodyguards, displaying their severed heads on pikes. When they raided the queen’s bedchamber, they were furious she had fled and plunged their knives deep into her bed, leaving her mattress in a thousand pieces.

The revolution then became yet more animalistic, even though the king was in favor of working with greedy nobles and impatient citizens on improving the rule of law – writing a French constitution. But the revolutionaries favored death, chaos and a 12-man secular, lawless dictatorship. This “Committee of Safety” created safe spaces in which revolutionaries could kill people in the name of “liberté, égalité, fraternité.”

The most colorful revolutionary was Maximilien Robespierre, a devoted fan of Rousseau and Voltaire. Rousseau had advocated for a kind of social justice he defined as an atmosphere of chaos and fear where political incorrectness would not be tolerated.

In Robespierre’s Paris there would be tolerance of every form of rebellion, but not toward fidelity to Christian ethics, Christian culture, or Christian civilization. Over 40,000 French citizens were led to the guillotine. More than 350,000 Parisians spent time in jail for being suspected enemies of the revolution. An estimated 300,000 were murdered by firing squad.

The revolution was organized into a deliberate reign of ferocious terror. Organizers did everything they could to heighten the terror and social unrest as the years went by. They subverted not only religious faith but even language and definitions. They spread suspicion and mistrust toward every authority. They mobilized malice, envy, hatred and jealousy.

As the French economy collapsed, the revolutionaries worked to make things worse. There were food shortages and hunger. But social-justice agitators deliberately spread into the countryside to destroy all remaining grain stores and to threaten the inhabitants. Hired mobs staged spontaneous riots in Paris. The government ordered an elitist media industry to endorse the systematic chaos and popularized debauchery.

Historian Otto Scott wrote that for the first time since the decadent days of Rome, pornography emerged and circulated openly in a once-civilized nation. Perversion became not only acceptable, but fashionable. New religious cults appeared, and the chaos was leveraged to reconstruct all of traditional French society, institutions and the identity of the people who became progressively more comfortable with the moral chaos of relativism, which is currently paralyzing the French population during a time of political crisis.

Burke reported a “strange chaos of levity and ferocity … All sorts of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies.” Even today French media continue to be a stale mixture of political correctness, pornography and irreverence.

This legacy is being illustrated vividly again in the face of Islamic terrorism on the streets of France.

Instead of responding to murderous attacks on the innocent with courage, resolve and moral indignation, the French population whimpers. There is no virtue. There are tolerance vigils featuring cluttered altars to the passive surrender of civilization. The French place flowers, teddy bears and candles on the blood-stained pavements.

The greatest defiance Parisians could muster after the Eagles of Death Metal concert massacre of 2015 was a shopping spree. They went to bookstores to purchase Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast” to show terrorists that nothing can stop Parisians in their ongoing escapism. It was as if to say, “We can escape into secular hedonism faster than you can kill us. So there, take that!”

When one well-wisher started hashtag Pray-for-Paris, a Parisian responded, “Friends from the whole world, thank you for #prayforParis, but we don’t need more religion! Our faith goes to music! Kissing! Life! Champagne … drunkenness, joy. The people who died tonight … didn’t know [the Muslims] had declared war.”

I think his point was this: Those who died were privileged to die in blissful, French, secularized ignorance.

Edmund Burke saw the same willful drunkenness in the 18th century and called it a “drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell,” meaning bad liquor distilled in hell.

Burke issued a warning to the West. If, he said, in France’s moment of riot, we in the West “should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and amongst many other nations … some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.”

This is precisely what has happened all over the West. The morning after the concert massacre, a superstitious Parisian consoled his family with this comforting “thought”: “[The terrorists] may have guns, but we have flowers.”

This is how the jihadists see it, too. France is dead meat. So are the French people. And so is everything left standing of French civilization. Donald Trump may be the last American president to lay eyes on the physical aesthetics of the Ancien Régime before it is turned into Islamic rubble.

Bastille Day should be a reminder that France has been losing the battle for civilization for 228 years. The Committee of Safety formed a government department of anti-Christianity. Churches were closed or torn down. Revolutionary leaders invented a new religion called “the cult of reason.” Surviving churches were renamed “temples of reason,” and France was renamed the “Republic of Virtue.”

So how is that virtue working out when jihadists attack the innocent? Vox Day summarized the surrender this way: “Bringing secularism to a civilizational war is akin to bringing a rubber knife to a gun fight.”

True. But what else can France bring to the fight? This is all France has got. French suicidal secularism. If France wants to survive and win the ongoing civilizational war on French soil, she will need to mount a counter revolution immediately and get back to the transcendent ethics of Christendom.

Social justice can never be achieved by revolution. Revolution against moral authority has always been the road to social injustice, national genocide, immoral absolutism, civilizational suicide and ethical imbecility. This is the deadly legacy of Bastille Day.

About the Author

Geoffrey Botkin is a cultural analyst, political consultant, veteran filmmaker, husband, and father. He currently serves as a senior consultant to the Western Conservatory of the Arts & Sciences.

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