Written by Daniel Greenfield
When Madame Roland, the moderate French Republican, was a prisoner in the hands of the radicals, she wrote; "Oh my friends. Heaven grant that you may reach the United States-- that last refuge of liberty-- in safety!" Two-hundred years later, her "last refuge of liberty" is under siege by the same power hungry fanatics who turned the French Revolution into a reign of terror.
The modern Western republics were born out of military or political revolutions against a hereditary nobility. These revolutions led to republics, but did not allow the revolutionaries to replace them with a program of state controlled equality for very long. The most notorious example of such state control in France fell after a bloody reign of terror. The revolutionaries then moved on to the second phase of their program, targeting the democratization of wealth through free enterprise that had made a revolution against a hereditary nobility possible.
The second revolution never fully took hold outside of the USSR, but some elements of its agenda were incorporated by even conservative governments in the form of subsidies, social safety nets, worker representation and price controls. By the 21st century, the second revolution has prevailed in policy, but not in the absolutism of its aims. Most countries have accepted some degree of socialism to the degree that they no longer recognize it as such. And the prosperity of industrial democracy neutered the second revolution. The subsidies became part of the cost of doing business. But another revolution was still waiting.
The third revolution demanded state control over social life in the name of equality. These revolutions are often described in terms of civil rights, human rights, etc. They did not accomplish all their goals, but they allowed the revolutionaries to overlay a new thicker layer of state control in the name of social equality, over the existing layer of state controlled economic equality.
While none of the revolutions were able to impose the absolute state controlled equality that they sought, they made significant gains with the second and third revolutions. Winning a seat at the table allowed them to reshape society through the bureaucracy that had been created to appease them. And the creation and implementation of that bureaucracy was always at the heart of their demands.
Rather than directly impose a radical 'people's government' as the Jacobins or the Bolsheviks had done, they allowed the democratic system and its elected representatives to be the 'human face' of their socialism, while they became the ones who actually ran things. Democratic republics slowly sank into an invisible tyranny. A tyranny that everyone encountered, but lacked the vocabulary to describe. The tyranny of the shadow government brought into being by the second and third revolutions, mostly immune to democratic change, rooted in a bureaucracy that endured as politicians came and went. A bureaucracy that used words like 'democracy' and the 'public', but like the Bolsheviks and the Jacobins, it meant something very different by them.
Like the Bolsheviks and the Jacobins they used the mob to get to power. But they did it indirectly. They organized violent protests and riots, but without real hope of using them to directly seize power. Instead they presented themselves as the only men and women who could turn off the violence. The community organizers, the labor racketeers, the representatives of oppressed groups-- the reasonable people who just wanted to negotiate the terms on which the violence would stop.
Each of the revolutions used mob violence to create chaos, and confrontation to force a political solution. As the republics grew more complex, both structurally and socially, they also became more vulnerable to such political blackmail. Mob violence rising out of urban areas in capital cities had to be quickly addressed through concessions, before it brought down governments and industries. As the importance of the city increased, so did the ability of the mob to bring it to its knees. Technological infrastructure added more vulnerabilities. Population density meant long term rioting carried with it an unthinkable cost. The level of political resistance and willingness to use force to suppress riots that had existed during the second revolution, had been greatly diminished by the third revolution.
A riot is a primitive power grab. It is the organizers who orchestrate it and translate the violence into political gains. Whether it is the sans-culottes or racial minorities, there are always groups at loose ends, who feel deprived and who can field a few thousand members eager for random violence. And once the violence begins it does not matter whether the rioters are representative of the group or not. The power grab makes them representative through sheer dominance.
This is what the radical left has always understood. That for all the facade of one man, one vote-- one man with a rock is better than ten thousand votes. We have the voting booth to democratize power, but all violence centralizes power. Whether it is the weapons of an army, the paving stones wielded by rioters or the suicide bomber-- violence centralizes power. And those who have the ability to unleash violence wield the power.
Only by democratizing violence, through such measures as the second amendment, is there any popular defense against such centralization of violence. But as states grow more complex, they centralize power and monopolize violence, and then become more vulnerable to violence. Populist violence is a more effective lever against a centralized state that has isolated itself from the people. Once a political system becomes isolated, it also becomes tyrannical, and vulnerable. And its elites are more amenable to blackmail.
The second revolution began to fizzle out as governments and companies stole the left's thunder and proved willing to offer free medical care, pensions and worker's rights. All premised on a high rate of growth. And so the third revolution took its place. But the third revolution was also subsumed by governments and companies willing to offer an artificial equality in exchange for social harmony.
Both revolutions are still ongoing, but their edge has been lost and their ambitions have been fulfilled. Now we are slowly transitioning to the fourth revolution. And it is the most ambitious of them all.
The fourth revolution globalizes state control to avert war and environmental disaster. It sets into place a world government in the name of promoting the equality of all people and all biological life on the planet. This is a profound leap for political movements which have relied on advocacy rooted in more immediate political and economic demands by a disadvantaged constituency. They want to use the fourth revolution to deliver a death blow to democracy and free enterprise. The end of the political and economic rights of the individual is here.
It is easy enough to see how this functions in intermittent stages of world government such as the EU, which replaces democracy with bureaucracy in the name of the public good. Feudalism in a power suit and with a tablet computer. While the second and third revolutions pretended to be representing an oppressed group, the fourth revolution is much less concerned with carrying on the charade. Instead its organizers present themselves as the enlightened ones who will represent our best interests, as they see them.
The fourth revolution undoes the first revolution, restoring a nobility that is as of yet not directly hereditary. At least not unless you count the reality that the children of the powerful and well connected go on to become powerful and well connected themselves. And in the absence of a democratic process, there is no check on their power, but that which comes from their internal rivalries.
We are approaching the point where the shadow government of bureaucracies, agencies, ngo's and lobbies is preparing to openly squash the old system of popular representation, and step into its place. They have been trying to do this for some time now, but this fourth revolution of theirs is the biggest and riskiest step to date. It is a step over the abyss. They are slowly leaving behind constituencies and relying on the chaos of multicultural societies and economic downturns to make the transition more palatable.
The enlightened have agreed for well over a century that it would take a world government to avert war. When the Cold War marked the end of the large scale conflicts that had served as the basis for a move toward world government before, global environmentalism stepped into its place. The argument stayed the same. The irresponsibility of individuals and governments that made war and environmental abuse possible demanded a larger solution. A global covenant of wiser minds who would sign treaties and use international law to restrain the greed and selfish impulses of individual states.
But the global solution has always suffered from a marked lack of public enthusiasm. And with the second and third revolutions running out of steam, the time is also running out to implement it. Reasonable people all agree that we need it, but like Al Gore lecturing on tidal flows, they are unable to stir up much enthusiasm for the cause.
The first revolution has been irrelevant since the 19th century. The second and third revolutions have a mixed track record. And the third revolution has undermined the second. There is no constituency for a fourth revolution outside the ranks of its organizers. There are no violent mobs to demand it. And it would completely destroy the achievements of the second revolution by creating mass poverty. Which would also destroy the third revolution, if the third revolution doesn't do that on its own.
The slow rise to power depended on a world community as its final goal, but the end of colonization, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of new mercantile states in non-Western countries, has thrown the old European model out the window. While the EU clunks along, as the embodiment of what some 19th century European academics and politicians once envisioned as a major achievement for humanity, the rest of the world is caught in a power struggle. And the only world government they will accept is theirs.
The left had succeeded in bringing down the West, all the while failing to realize that it is part of an intellectual tradition that will die with the Western world. Its plans for world government are of little interest to aspiring Chinese and Islamic empires. And all they can do now is cling bitterly to power in the West, while accepting new models internationally and domestically, that remove their notions of law , equality and human rights from the table. Their rule is a shadow over the liberty of the free world.
"'Here I have chosen my abode and will establish it forever,' I have not forgotten the notes of this little passage, but can repeat them as accurately as I had heard them only yesterday. Good God! with what emphasis should I utter them now in America!" wrote Madame Roland. Today some Europeans still continue to flee here in search of freedom. Whether it's freedom from political and religious persecution or simply in search of a freer society. But America is besieged by the same forces that Europe is. Its walls are stronger, its people are more insulated and resistant, but if a siege is persistent enough, then the walls sooner or later fall.
On ascending the steps to the guillotine, Madame Roland said, "Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" It could just as easily apply to the left today, which promises liberty through equality, but delivers only tyranny through bureaucracy
From NY to Jerusalem , Daniel Greenfield Covers the Stories Behind the News. Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, author and columnists covering international affairs, the rising threat of terrorism and the growing problems of socialism. His daily blog can be viewed at Sultan Knish.