1776 vs. 1789
As the 4th of July holiday approaches, it should be noted that France also celebrates the beginning of its similar revolution that began with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Both nations overcame overwhelming odds to successfully end rule by monarchies, but the results were poles apart. The French Revolution soon degenerated into mob violence and a reign of terror that included many thousands of public beheadings under the progressive leadership of Maximilien Robespierre. By 1794, he also felt the guillotine. The end result was not "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité." Instead, a military dictatorship emerged under Napoleon Bonaparte. He soon launched costly but initially popular wars of conquest that continued until his military defeat at Waterloo in 1815.
What went wrong is explored in two recent books far too intellectual and factual to make the New York Times Best Seller list. Both should be required college reading. Os Guinness authored Last Call for Liberty in 2018. He brings the outsider's perspective of an Oxford-educated, seasoned British scholar, born to Christian missionary parents in pre-communist China. The other book, The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro, followed in 2019. Yes, he is the same well known conservative speaker disgracefully banned from speaking at many U.S. colleges.
Both authors see the disaster of the French Revolution as a warning about the Democrat's love of democratic socialism. For example, both Democrats and the progressive French founders placed equality as their top priority along with direct democracy and redistribution of wealth. The vast majority of French citizens in 1789 lived in abject poverty, had minimal or no education, and often faced starvation. So motivated, they overwhelmingly supported leaders advocating these untested promises, especially the wealth redistribution part. The French founders also had a different concept of individual liberty — one that was dependent upon each citizen's contribution to the collective. Criticism of the bureaucratic collective was not tolerated. They also despised the politicized Catholic Church as much as the monarchy, so God was banished. This move resembles our increasingly secular Democratic Party.
The similarity of the democratic socialist vision of the postmodern American left and the post-revolution French government is unmistakable. Yet unlike 1789 France, prosperous America lacks similarly huge numbers of truly oppressed, impoverished voters to make it happen. Nevertheless, the American left has successfully compensated by fomenting analogous levels of fear and resentment through its tribal grievance groups so attractive to those raised with an artificially inflated sense of self-esteem and entitlement mentality. The Dems are well aware that those raised with older principles of self-control and self-reliance are fading out. But have no fear: should the Left take political control in the near future, repeat guillotines are unlikely. Opposition can be silenced equally well by name-calling, social media character assassinations, and fake news.
In 2020, we must choose the path of either 1776 or 1789.