French Revolution: Why it failed. Why we still live in it…

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“Day of 21 January 1793 the death of Louis Capet on the Place de la Révolution” – French engraving [Source: Wikimedia]

“May my blood unite the French! I forgive all…”

The phrase was never completed. The guilotine fell and its thud ended the life of Louis XVI, giving its place to silence. For some seconds.

“Vive la démocratie”

Cheers echoed across Place de la Concorde after the execution. A king had fallen. Democracy was born.

But is that so?

Seeing things from a different perspective and with the advantage of historical distance from the actual facts, allows us to answer No to that question. Nothing is as it seems. The following text will try to clarify some of the biggest misunderstanding regarding the French Revolution and why we should really be interested in it, since it still affects us.

Louis XVI in early adulthood [Source: Wikimedia]

Why are we interested in this?

But why Harmonia Philosophica deals with this? This is a philosophy portal is it not? It sure is. However history is also part of us and it formulates our philosophy is ways we not even consider. Knowing our history and its implications is crucial in understanding the history of philosophy as well and, thus, philosophy per se! The French Reovlution is a very important chapter of modern European history which shaped the way we think. From the modern hate towards anything religious to the almost unconditional admiration of logic, many elements of modern philosophy are a by-product of the events which started in France in 1789…

What is the goal?

The events that led to the Revolution are documented in great detail by many writers. I will by no means try to document them again here. Anyone interested in the subject can find many great resources on the subject in books or in the Internet. The goal of this article is to go beyond the events and try to reveal the true nature of the Revolution and what it means, along with the effects it is having until to-day.

The sources

The sources used for this endeavour are the following:

  • Almbert Mathiez, The French Revolution.
  • Marilyn Yalom, Compelled to Witness: Women’s Memoirs of the French Revolution.
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America.
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the Revolution.
  • Οι μεγάλες δίκες – Η δίκη του Λουδοβίκου ΙΣΤ’ (Greek).

By having these sources as a starting point one can easily navigate safely through the ocean of sources available on the matter. They provide an initial full picture of the Revolution from a philosophical, political and human perspective that will help the uninitiated quickly gain some valuable insights on this important part of our history.

The National Assembly taking the Tennis Court Oath (sketch by Jacques-Louis David) [Source: Wikimedia]

What did the Revolution accomplish?

Short answer: It managed to stir emotions and hatred.

Long answer: Read below.

Many people believe that the Revolution brought many innovations in the political scene of France and helped the state better organize itself so as to provide to its people freedoms they longed for. Yet, this is one of the biggest misconceptions regarding the French Revolution. Alexis de Tocqueville in his important book “The Old Regime and the Revolution” analyzed and showed how everything positive that we believe came from the Revolution was actually based on foundations laid by the Old Regime!

France failed to follow America’s example. The masses – who looked only to the egalitarianism they had learned from the revolution – turned to the state to support their expectations, making the latter the greatest threat to democracy. And as mentioned by Tocqueville  in his other great work “Democracy in America”, despotism is one of the potential problems that a democracy can have if it is not properly manipulated.

All that was left of the Revolution were deep divisions that exacerbated the pathology of the society inherited from the Old Regime: leveling down and extreme individualization were prevalent, eroding not only social solidarity but also the regulatory sense of public spirit. The era of the Revolution was characterized by an inadequate awareness of the value of freedom for a healthy political community.

The French forgot the importance of freedom and were content with equality. An equality under a ruler, which turned all visions of rights into a farce. The solution, according to Tocqueville, would be to further establish freedom in France. France, however, did not have the preconditions for a liberal state like America. The French attempted something no other nation had attempted: to cut themselves off from their history. Their success, however, was far less than we believe and as much as they themselves believed at the time of the Revolution. France could not escape its history, which haunted it in every manifestation of its new political reality.Although many believed the opposite, the Revolution took place in conditions of improved living conditions and expanded prosperity as a result of changes already conducted by the Old Regime. Almost everything (if not everything) positive that the revolution supposedly produced was in fact a consequence of the Old Regime. The centralization of administrative functions – which the revolutionaries considered to be their greatest achievement (although as the same time this centralization was said to have been one of its causes, because of the inequalities it reproduced) – has existed since the time of Louis.Administrative justice and the independence of the judiciary system are also products of the Old Regime that the Revolution overturned. The administrative revolution of reducing the unlimited powers of the prefect through the establishment of provincial assemblies had already taken place under Louis. (It is worth noting, however, that the incomplete implementation of the reforms in all cases, made the existing injusticies for those who were not happy with the fruits of these reforms more intense, resulting in increased dissatisfaction)

The excessive fragmentation of land ownership due to the abolition of slavery, which allowed the peasants to own land, had already begun long before the Revolution. For a long time the landlord of each area was not the one who actually ruled the villagers – in his place there were now (during the Old Regime) public officials. In general, the nobles had ceased to exercise power in the parishes and cantons – all that remained was their (often provocative) privileges.The equality that had been imposed from above by the Old Regime, became a beacon in the vortex of the chaos of the Revolution between a blind leadership and an enraged people. The administrative practices of the Old Regime, the society that emerged from them and the political modernity that shaped it after the Revolution, did not lead to freedom but to the authoritarianism of the Second Empire. The state and its structures as they were before the Revolution, were used after it. And that became the basis of the despotism that Tocqueville warned about.

All in all, Tocqueville managed to touch a very sensitive subject and tried to watch at the Revolution from a more objective point of view, away from fanfare of the type “Revolution changed everything” or “Revolution changed nothing”. His analysis was to the point and based on data of the Old Regime which where reviewed by Tocqueville himself. In that sense, this work is of extreme importance reminding us of the obvious: Nothing is born out of nothing. Even the most democratic revolution can have fruits which were planted during the previoud totalitarian regime…

All we need to do is stay humble and look at history with a more open eye.

Note: This work is based on the “Ελευθερία ως Μοίρα – Η αποτυχία της Επανάστασης” (Freedom as Destiny – The failure of the Revolution) work which is unpublished.

French Revolution [Source: Wikimedia]

Revolution and the ‘Philosophy of the New’

With the Revolution, people were found to hate the new because it is new or – vice versa – to love the new because it is new and only for that. And it is important to understand that with the Revolution, France went to the new by completely dissolving the old. Thus in the new situation it could not use what was useful to the Old Regime, as the general tendency was to question everything old. Old and respected traditions fell victim to a ruthless attack. The intellectuals, also blind, had convinced the people that religion (the pillar of old society) could not coexist with freedom.

This philosophy still affects modern way of thinking. By default what is modern is better than the traditional. By definition what is metamodern is better than what is modern. And the story goes on and on. Until we reach a dead-end. Not by reaching the end of the road but by not reaching any end! Modern man keeps on questioning everything and lives with a constant urge to ‘move forward’. Never feeling home, always pushing for something different, for something else.

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This is exactly the philosophy that Harmonia Philosophica warns its readers for years now. There is no way to reach your destination if your compass is always changing direction. There is an old saying in chess: “A bad plan is better than no plan”. The reason? Well, if you do not have a plan you simply make random moves (even moves which momentarily seem as good ones) which are incoherent with one another. A society cannot thrive with such random moves. A person cannot progress with constantly changing goals and ideals. Foundations laid on shifting sand as simply not foundations. It is hard to realize this, let alone correct it. Knowing though where this tendency of ours came from (i.e. the French Revolution and the hatred for the Old) could make the task of changing out set of mind more easy.

History is Philosophy and Philosophy is History in much more real ways than we can think of.

Conclusion

As in all things, perspective is important. If one sees the Revolution from aclose distance, we might see that at the end, the Revolution resulted in an even more authoritarian regime. If one however sees the picture from a larger distance, we can surely verify that the seeds of democracy had been laid but on a infertile soil. It would take many years for those seeds to actually produce healthy fruits, some of which we are only now starting to taste. We must take whatever is good from the Revolution but also try to dig out the weeds that started growing on Place de la Concorde that morning on 21 January 1793. As David Mitchell mentioned in Cloud Atlas “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future”…

The ugly angelic face of atheism (Against Enlightenment II)

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Old photo of the Finish museum of Natural History

Finland is a wonderful country. Everyone knows it. I do too. So I am really sad to write this with a Finnish museum as a motive. Having said that, I want to stress that Finland is awesome and a country worth visiting and certainly worth felling in love with! What I mention below apply more to other countries than Finland.

To the story now…

I recently went to the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki. The museum – as everything else in Finland – is very nice and organized. The exhibits were all awesome and the whole visit was very entertaining and educational.

Until…

I went to see some polar animals in a place with funny lights. There, among the – again interesting – exhibits I saw a painting of Virgin Mary. My immediate reaction was enthusiasm. Inside the museum they had for some reason a religious image! How wonderful and unexpected!

Then the harsh truth came to ruin everything…

According to the information below the painting, the place we were was part of a chapel and we were standing – as it seemed by the space geometry – inside the shrine of that chapel! Bewilderment and puzzlement were the first reactions, which were immediately replaced by anger and sadness.

The old chapel which has now turned into a disco with animals (literally)

The holy place where no one could enter except the priest was now full of disco colors and animals, right next to a picture which only served as a reminder of the real purpose of this place. I am sure Fins did not mean anything wrong by this – nonetheless they did perpetrate something very wrong. Not as part of a great conspiracy against Christianity (the fight against Christianity is well beyond the conspiracy level now, it is out in the open) but as part of the ugliest face of atheism today: Indifference. Apathy. Hollowness.

Indifference towards anything religious. Apathy towards any of the great metaphysical questions which men strive to answer for thousands of years. Hollowness expressed via a shallow interest for knowledge without realizing that any knowledge without the necessary theological substrate only leads to ugly dead ends.

A small caption explaining the past of the place…

Museums are much more important than museums! someone would argue. After Enlightenment there has been a great shift from religion to secular ways of achieving education and that has been one of the cornerstones of modern society. And yet, this path is not enlightened but quite the opposite: Dark as the void of space. A void in which we believe firmly, after “Enlightenment” has made us believe that we are nothing more than a speck of dust inside a irrational meaningless universe. We now “know” that we are just meat, bones and blood, nothing different than animals of the lowest form. We now “know” that we are just machines. So why care about a church which only spreads lies? Why care about religion which only sustains stupidity?

The detailed answers to all of the above lie in the thousand of articles in Harmonia Philosophica. The short answer is something like this: No, we are not just meat and bones. Every man and woman knows that we are more than that. A set of lifeless electrons cannot be alive in any sense. A set of particles is just a set of particles. Every great philosopher and scientist (including most of the founders of the physics we know today) believed that we have a soul and that God exists. Not because they were stupid and they believed anything, but because evidence and logic points towards that path! The founder of Logic, Aristotle, argued in favor of the existence of a First Cause. The greatest logician of all times after Aristotle, Godel, wrote a proof for the existence of God. The people who first believed in Christ did so because of what they saw (empirical evidence) and not because of what some stupid liar said to them. Believing in a cosmos which exists for no reason and which came to be out of nothing is much more irrational than the belief in a cosmos which was created by something/ someone. I could go on for ever, but I rest assured that anyone who wants to discover more arguments for theism can read this site in more detail. Anyone who doesn’t want to do so, would have skipped this section of the article anyway.

Modern society is an expert in disguising ugliness with shallow beauty. Enlightenment did cover everything with the cloak of “freedom” and no one paid attention that this meant you are free to believe in anything except if you are a Christian. In that case they got you and the guillotine was the way to get “enlightened”. Enlightenment did cover everything with the dress of “progress” and yet no one took notice that there is literally no reason to dogmatically believe that new ideas are by definition better than the old ones. Unless you want to believe modern eugenics is a better idea than the “old” belief that all men are children of God. Enlightenment did dress the ugliness of anti-Christian hate with a so-called love for “knowledge”. A knowledge which leads to a dark world. Remember that Mengele had two phDs and his work was used extensively by scientists all over the world. And yet it was a work done in the darkest depths of evil. Enlightenment wants to educate everyone and yet no one realizes that education has nothing to do with morality of ethics per se (or even that the most educated men can be evil, but that is something I analyze in my paper “Against the fallacy of education as a source ethics”, MCDSARE, 2019). Enlightenment praises the rush of young people to do things, and yet no one recalls that the wisdom of old men was – and still is – the source of civilization for thousands of years.

Now Helsinki does have a great museum and that is great. I will for sure go again! But this could be done in a new building (or the rest of the building) and leave the chapel where it was. If not for use (if no one is going) but at least as part of a reminder of a traditional past which we ought to respect. “Isn’t it useless to keep old things which are of no use?” one could ask. I believe the bones of dead animals which existed millions of years ago can answer that. And if we go to the practical aspect, one can speak for days about the practical ways in which the church helps society. For example modern society hates religion but at the other hand loves psychology, without realizing that the church covers also many practical psychological needs of the person. Needs which a science which has the soul in its name tries to cover, even though it does not even believe in it. In an era where humans feel more and more alone (how could you not, if you have been made to believe that you are just a set of atoms in a vast nothingness) and depression is the number one disease, we love seeing dead apes and whales and bones to educate our selves and our children. And when they ask us what does this all matter, we stumble upon the great void of our soul which is still there, waiting to be fed…

Modern world has more museums now. And less churches.

Watch out all that beauty.

The devil has a pleasing face…

The world is enlightened now. And yet it is more dark than ever…

Related article: Against Enlightenment: The Enlightenment was not light. The Enlightenment is darkness.

God is Dead. Along with some babies. The era of Enlightenment as an Era of Evil.

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‘We promised our little boy every single day that we would take him home’, said the mother of little Charlie. We want to give him a bath at home, put him in a cot which he has never slept in but we are now being denied that. We know what day our son is going to die but don’t get a say in how that will happen’ [mother of Charlie – source]

An article written in the occasion of the Charlie Gard case…

The cosmos is an evil place.

This is the harsh reality today. And anyone not admitting it, is either lucky enough to have temporarily avoided that evil, stupid or part of that evil.

We live in the age of death. Not death in the sense of physically dying. This was always the case. And all we had to do was to accept it. But a spiritual death.

We are in the age of euthanasia justified by the notion of “human dignity”. As if all those people who die every passing minute have non. We live in the age of killing babies, where the murder is named “termination” and the “right to my body” is misinterpreted as a right to destroy another person into pieces and suck him into a vacuum only because you prefer drinking mojitos at Mykonos without anyone annoying you. We live in the age of childless leaders, who prefer to adopt dogs rather than human children who suffer. We live in the age of society destroying the notion of family, thus sentencing the souls of young child into a life of misery, just in order to be regarded as “progressive”. And this happens at the same time when pedophilia is starting to be considered acceptable in the name of the “enlightenment” of our “modern” society. We live in the age of hospitals and courts deciding who lives and who dies, all in the name of some nicely named “right”. We live in the era where people believe in science, which in turns believes humans as spiritual beings do not exist…

God is dead.

He used to Be among us. But we killed him.
Because we were part of Him as well.
And we could thus kill Him with our own actions if we wished so.

God is dead.

And no, this is not something to celebrate about.
Charlie is in his cot now. Don’t cry anymore…

Against Enlightenment: The Enlightenment was not light. The Enlightenment is darkness.

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Since as early as 17th century – the era of René Descartes and Benedict De Spinoza – opposition to the church and faith in “logic” was starting to be the new fashion. [1] Later on, in an era of revolutions during the 1789-1848 period, the reaction to the secular powers became synonym to reaction to the church as well, since the latter had been closely related to the first for so long. [2] Finally and after many “battles”, science finally seemed to have “won”. Everyone cheered. Together with the democratization of the world, the rise of atomism and the obviation of the privileges of the few, the church was defeated. The masses had – at last – a saying in how things were going to be in the world. And it was going to be a “logical” world at last!

But…

Was the Enlightenment enlightenment or just a… blackout? How many times had the masses the correct answer to ANY philosophical problem? What will we see if we look at the history of human civilization? Did the world “suddenly” progress in the 19th century or did we progress thousands of year ago and ever since we are in a constant decay?

Ancient Greece: Man started to wonder about his existence. Philosophy was born, along with theatre, tragedy, arts, geometry. Man questions and tries to answer big metaphysical questions. Nature is in the center of human thought. Man simply participates in the marvel of existence.

33 A.C. A man died for the sins of all people. The world seemed to change. Love appeared for the first time at the very core of a new philosophical system. Man can be God. A new era seemed to emerge.

Temporarily. The years that followed humans forgot the teaching of this Man. And the world became darker and darker every passing minute… Rome fall from the barbarians. Constantinople fell from the barbarians. And later on was completely destroyed from the other barbarians of the East.

The remains of Christianism were strong enough to act as foundation of the European civilization [3], but not strong enough to withhold the tide of darkness stemming from the inner soul of the barbarians. The barbarians who never stopped worshiping the moon or the sun, instead of the light within our soul. A few enlightened (with the true meaning of the word) men continued to spread and live by the teachings of Jesus but few paid attention.

17th century. While science and logic were on the rise, few people noticed the deafening silence of one of the wisest thinkers of that time. Pascal [Blaise Pascal] stood silent and troubled [4] next to the hordes of people enthusiastically screaming “rationalism” with no one paying attention. The masses had already decided on the path they would follow…

18th century. The world’s first freemasons’ Grand Lodge was established. [12] The new religion without God demanded space. [13] Some enlightened people still advocated the logic of believing in God (e.g. Newton) but the many were already too excited to listen. Some few suggested there were limits to the all mighty logic (e.g. Kant) but even fewer listened. Philosophers keep talking about how everything must be based on logic and not faith. While science and logic set the foundations of their imperium, many cheered when Rousseau [Jean-Jacques Rousseau] talked against the church but few paid much attention when the same man spoke against science, as if it were the greatest evil of all times. [5] (this is why wise people should talk simply to the stupid, because the latter will use whatever they like and throw away the rest) Man was now considered as tabula rasa and should be taught nihilism, should be made to understand that he is just a gear in the vast mechanism of the soulless universe.

19th century. The era of revolutions against the establishment, part of which was the church. The era of optimism. The era of communism. The era of logic. Nietzsche [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche] wrote that God is dead and everyone cheered. Few people understood that the great thinker wrote that phrase as a sad conclusion [4] and not as a triumphant cry for science, which he hated as much as he hated rationalism (he was the founder of irrationalism after all).

For sure the church made mistakes. But the mistakes were due to NOT following the teachings of Jesus and not because it did! Unfortunately few noticed that and the hordes of barbarians found saw a great opportunity to express their hatred and the “My arm aches, let’s cut the head” mentality prevailed. The City [Κωνσταντινούπολη] had fallen. The barbarians won. Now they were just solidifying their power. The poems of Marx to Satan and the image of Lucifer on the cover of the first Encyclopedia of Diderot clearly show the character of a heavily anti-Christianic era. The massive eugenics experiments of the West ling before Hitler (experiments which are actually continued until today), show that the barbarians have won. And the participation of the Clinton’s head campaign manager for the 2016 elections in satanistic dinners along with other prominent members of society, no matter how the establishment tries to disguise them as “art“, show that this era of darkness is here too stay. People is the new power. And the new power wants anything old destroyed. Not because it is wrong. But simply because it is old. God, the One, society are dead. Now the individual (or nature) is the new god.

Belief in the ability of human to control things. This was the main premise of magic. This is the main premise of science. The distance from Romanticism [6] to Marxism [7] is so small. When people can have more cars, why even bother listening to “crazy” people like Kierkegaard [Søren Aabye Kierkegaard] or Shestov [Lev Isaakovich Shestov]? The ideological victory of communism [8] established the destruction of the church and Christianity which so many regard as the “absolute evil”, while in fact it was the basis of the western civilization. Magic and the faith in imaginary things (e.g. parallel universes, fields [9] etc) won over the pure, primitive and all honest acceptance of one’s empirical data [10] (seeing the resurrection, experiencing miracles, feeling God, feeling that I exist as a conscious being, knowing that I have free will et cetera). Belief in a new system of ethics rose. A new system of ethics where man as an individual is the new god. The good of society or the cosmos seem irrelevant to the “freedom” of the individual. And of course with no one setting the foundations, each and every one sets his own. Belief in Logic returned. But people had forgotten that logic as founded by Aristotle supported the existence of a First Mover. Having forgotten how Christianity helped create universities as we know them today (part of which were many atheists, like Adam Weishaupt) and was the basis of Humanism in Europe, people “started” believing in the freedom of different opinion for the sake of… difference. But only if the different opinion was non-Christian. [read Religion and Science Unification – Towards religional science, Harmonia Philosophica for the fake cases of Hypatia and Galileo] The world started becoming more logical and we forgot that the most important things – love, emotions, fantasy, inspiration, acceptance, forgiveness, axioms, art, (autoanaphorical) consciousness, ethics, life itself – are not based on logic.

Everybody think that enlightenment showed the way to progress (a Christian idea by the way) through the return to the ancient Greek philosophers but no one wondered for the obvious: if the ancient Greeks had all the answers, then why did they have so much discrimination, oppression and problems? (not to mention… religion) Everybody think that enlightenment showed the way to freedom of the individual, but no one wondered for the obvious: freedom of which individual and from what? We are all part of the cosmos (One, God). How can we be free from Him? Everybody think that enlightenment showed the way to light. But since when does the lights of stars at night have logic? Everybody think that enlightenment rationalized everything. But what is the rationale behind a tear of love? Everybody thought that enlightenment proved to be the end of the “disease” of faith. But isn’t that what drives a scientist believe in the axioms he uses? And how bad is faith in your fellow human and in love? How much “proof” do we need to believe in it? The evolution of thought is a good thing. However, it should be gradual and controlled, under the rule of reason and good sense and not under the shouts of hatred of a social group (anti-Christians) against the others.

The masses won. And they imposed their own illogical logic as the only true logic. The world became cold again as it was in the beginning of civilization. In a forest illuminated by the moon again, man is free to do whatever he wants – but he is already dead inside.

Darkness engulfed the light.
And stole its name…

References

  1. Science and Religion – Some historical perspectives, John Hedley Brooke, Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  2. The era of revolutions 1789-1848, E.J. Hobsbawm, National Bank Cultural Foundation, Athens, 2008. [p. 308-329]
  3. Middle Ages – An era of light! [Harmonia Philosophica]
  4. Papanoutsos, “Philosophical Problems”, Ikaros editions, second edition, Athens, Greece, 1978 [p. 213-215]
  5. Philosophy Wire: Science, Prometheus, Rousseau
  6. Romanticism – An illustration guide, Duncan Heath and Judy Boreham, Icon Books, 1999.
  7. Marxism – An illustration guide, Rupert Woodfin and Oscar Zarate, Icon Books, 2004.
  8. Why Communism WON after all… Why are YOU here today? Do you feel God? [Harmonia Philosophica]
  9. Zeus exists, so do atoms… [Harmonia Philosophica]
  10. Religion and Science Unification – Towards religional science [Harmonia Philosophica]
  11. Βυζάντιο – Η Χιλιόχρονη Ελληνική Αυτοκρατορία [Harmonia Philosophica]
  12. Freemasonry, Wikipedia
  13. The age of Enlightenment and Freemasonry, by W. Bro. Ronald Paul Ng

Important note: Even though it is true that generalizations are to be avoided, they are usually the only possible tool to use when one wishes to analyze and understand a field as broad as the evolution of human philosophical intellect regarding belief in God. Most of the times, the tree makes you lose sight of the forest. Anyone wishing to go deeper into specifics can start his quest from the Religion and Science unification – Towards religional science article or from the List of Articles of Harmonia Philosophica here and here.

Photos, inspiration and other information at…