AP_bill_de_blasio_jef_141229_16x9_992“On a sudden, the Earth yawns asunder, and amid Tartarean smoke, and glare of fierce brightness, rises Sansculottism, many-headed, fire-breathing, and asks: What think ye of me? Well may the buckram masks start together, terror-struck; ‘into expressive well-concerted groups!’ It is indeed, Friends, a most singular, most fatal thing.” Thus wrote Thomas Carlyle, reflecting upon the desolate abyss that was revolutionary France, a time whose spirit has re-emerged in contemporary culture through the purposeful conjuring of ideological necromancers.

Even Thomas Carlyle, the great Scottish historian and Jacobin sympathizer, knew that revolutions devour their own enthusiasts. Upon bloody gallows erected by fanatical idealists in the name of liberty, equality, and brotherhood, French radicals claimed the lives of their enemies, friends, and ultimately, their leaders. As the great British statesman Edmund Burke thundered in intrepid opposition to the French radicals, “in the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.” Here, in New York, in the twenty-first century, those gallows took the form of a police cruiser in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Stoking the fires of range and frenzy, the leaders of the French Revolution stirred emotions and outrage that, once unleashed, became impossible to contain. Fueled by similar imprudence, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his allies at City Hall—the very persons charged with maintaining public order and peace—have abdicated their responsibilities to the city of New York and the police force sworn to protect it by encouraging public disorder and lawlessness, and exacerbating (if not manufacturing) racial tensions through repeated calls for demonstrations and acquiescence to the demands of self-promoting demagogues such as Al Sharpton. As one commentator recently observed, Mayor de Blasio acts more like the leader of a revolution than the chief-executive of the world’s greatest city. The mayor should recall, however, that both Danton and Robespierre—the leaders of the French revolutionary cause—each found their unexpected demise on the very guillotines they helped to erect.

Given that Mayor de Blasio views himself as an architect of the new “civil rights” movement, which is clearly animated by avarice and political ambition rather than concern for the community it claims to represent, it is of little surprise that he tolerates unprecedented, uncivilized breaches of public peace; however, it is scandalous that he encourages rebellion against the very laws he has sworn to uphold. In the name of a disfigured notion of justice, Mayor de Blasio dishonors civil disobedience, the legacy of the authentic civil rights movement, and the people who entrusted him with the keys to Gracie Mansion.

For the first time in decades, under the leadership of this self-anointed prophet of social progress, New York is drained of all civility and grace—it has lost its self-confidence and its dignity. The tone of the city is bleak, if not outright depressing. Protestors unhinged and permitted to block ambulances on Fifth Avenue, police officers ordered to stand down and suffer humiliation at the hands of self-righteous thugs, and a mayor quickly losing control of the mob he nurtured and encouraged—these are wounds inflicted in haste that may take generations to mend. Given the nature of revolutionary fervor and the unmitigated hysteria stirred by City Hall, it is unlikely that the mayor can mollify the furies he has unleashed, but he can at least begin the healing process by setting a new tone and trying to behave like a genuine statesman.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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21 replies to this post
  1. This article has some rather astonishingly strong rhetoric. Unfortunately, the article sets forth very few specific supporting facts, and no footnotes, citations, or links to the sources that purportedly support any facts. All of the foregoing is necessary in order to evaluate whether the strong rhetoric is warranted or not. Furthermore, the articles fails to discuss the problem that has motivated these protests and what should be done to rectify it.

  2. Hyperbole and distortion seem to be the order of the day with this article. de Blasio a revolutionary?!!! Was it because he thought people should have the right to protest? That’s revolutionary? And what are people protesting about? Isn’t it police violence and the abuse of authority? And who in the world would say that protesting the abuse of authority is wrong except those who enjoy the exercise of that authority?

    And why compare what is going on in NYC with the French Revolution? And why make such an overgeneralization about revolutions devouring their own? Is that what the writer of this article thought the American revolution did?

    The French Revolution devoured its own because the degree of abuse exercised by the nobility and, please note, the Church, is what poisoned the soul of the revolutionaries. After all, violence begets violence and abuse begets abuse. Those are general truths that will be true often though not all of the time. The revolutionaries of France practiced what many who have or seek power practice: externalization of evil. When one sees evil as only being outside of one’s own self or group, then any perceived difference is seen as a threat and is answered harshly. And isn’t that what we see in the abuse of power exercised by too many police officers and others with authority?

  3. “The French Revolution devoured its own because the degree of abuse exercised by the nobility and, please note, the Church, is what poisoned the soul of the revolutionaries. ”

    Ah, the old left wing excuse. It’s always someone else’s fault, society made me do it, blah, blah, blah ad nauseum …

  4. Eric,
    You really didn’t argue well against what I said. That society has an impact on our behavior is indisputable. The extent of the impact will vary. And thus, in denying that what you are doing is speaking for society as it is be blamed for much of what on in the French Revolution. As society, you are simply saying, ‘it isn’t my fault, it is always the individual’s fault.’

    • The French Revolution dissolved into a horrific bloodbath and ate its own children in the end. It’s crimes were its own, its faults to be blamed on no one or nothing but its own intrinsic faults.

      And these protests in NY are not necessarily about “abuse begetting abuse”–a lot of these protesters want justification for their own inclinations toward violence, whatever the case may be. It is a herd mentality that reigns.

      It is not a case of, say, the Palestinians, who, being treated like cattle by Israel over decades, turned around returned the favor.

      • Thomas,
        We know that many people who abuse others have been abused themselves. Do we really want to say that such people have no one to blame but themselves so that we only focus on the abuser and ignore those who abused him or her?

        It is more Western than anything else to place the blame for a person’s sin(s) entirely on the person. We know that the Scriptures do not do that. For example, Achan and his whole family were put to death because of Achan’s sin (Joshua 7) and we know that Daniel talked about the connection between the sin of the people of his day and the sins of their forefathers (Daniel 9). And we know from Romans that Adam’s sin was passed down to all of us and that Christ’s righteousness w is passed down to all believers.

        We don’t parent haphazardly thinking that because the child will be solely responsible for themselves as adults, it doesn’t matter how we parent now. And Jesus didn’t talk about the fate those who act as stumbling blocks to others for no reason.

        Finally, what is your source of data for the claims you are making about the protesters? Have you talked to enough protesters to form an informed opinion?

  5. I am no fan of De Blasio, but this is an unsubstantiated screed that is the farthest thing from “imaginative.” Most of us like to think of ourselves as Burkeans around here, but that doesn’t make every public figure we happen to dislike the avatar of Robespierre; even if they are, it doesn’t relieve us of the burden of thoughtful argumentation. There are a hundred websites where I can read this kind of bomb-throwing (less erudite though those other polemics may be).

  6. Mr. Haupl, I find it peculiar that you extend such understanding to the Palestinian cause while effectively dismissing the grievances underlying the protests against police misconduct (as if there were no gratuitous violence perpetrated by Palestinians!). Yes, some people use protest as a cover for thuggery. That’s not, however, a refutation of the claims they are making about policing and race. Even if those claims are wrong or exaggerated, as they often are, they are not simply going away.

  7. “That society has an impact on our behavior is indisputable. ”

    That’s the excuse made by every murderer, rapist, thief, pimp, drug dealer, since the beginning of time. Of course, if we conservatives hanged every left winger from a lamppost and then blamed it on “Society”, I’m sure you’d be singing a different tune.

    • Eric,
      Are you afraid of facing the fact that groups of criminals, such as murderers, rapists, thieves, and so on could be a partial reflection of the society you live in?

      To say that society has an impact on our behavior does not imply that one can excuse their own crimes. To believe otherwise is to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. If we honestly want to see how we can reduce those crimes, we will look at the kind of impact society can have while acknowledging the criminal’s responsibility for his/her own actions. But if we are not concerned with reducing those crimes, we will do nothing but blame the criminal by punishing them and then wringing our hands and gnashing our teeth as new criminals commit old crimes. The choice is ours.

  8. Deblasio reminds me of Neidermeyer from “Animal House”, who was killied in Vietnam by his own troops. When your own troops (the NYPD) turn against you, it is time to resign.

  9. PS Curt, I think you’d be singing a different tune about the french revolution if it were your neck (or your wife or child’s) in the guillotine. Left wingers love to murder, they just don’t want to be held accountable for it.

  10. Eric,
    Ideological bigotry is as harmful to all as any other kind of bigotry. Howard Zinn and Martin Luther King Jr are just a couple examples of many Leftists who didn’t want to murder. And besides, what about all of the murders that took place by those in authority before the Revolution. Who was that conducted by and where was their accountability?

    The danger every group advocating a cause has is that of becoming like the pharisee from the parable of the two men praying. Such a view leads to the externalization of evil. And it is the externalization of evil that can lead to the bloodshed seen in the French revolution. And no group has a monopoly on that trait since some from every group is vulnerable the self-righteousness that leads to it.

  11. The fact is, left wing ideology is the most murderous thing in human history, the best estimate (from “The Black Book of Communism”) being about 85 million killed. That was the point of my post. Do left wingers EVER empathize with the people who were killed by their ideology, or, like Comrade Stalin, are these millions a mere statistic?

  12. Eric,
    Your point is valid if the Left is a monolith. The fact is that Lenin hijacked the Russian Revolution and by implementing elite-center rule, by his own admission, he turned from the Left. Again, Luxemburg called what Lenin did a Bourgeoisie dictatorship. Kautsky complained of the lack of democracy and the silencing of dissent from fellow socialists under Lenin.

    Some Leftists identify with Lenin and Stalin but many, including their contemporaries, do not. There was no proletariate dictatorship under either leader as Marx prescribed.

    So again, your point is valid as long as the Left is a monolith. But the problem is that it isn’t. So while you can rightfully condemn Lenin and Stalin for the cold-blooded mass murders, you can’t pin that on the Left. In addition, you might want to consider how many murders our nation is responsible for when one includes the deaths that occurred from slave trading and slave ownership, the number of American Indians we killed, and the number of nonAmericans killed either in an effort to fulfill Manifest Destiny or as we invaded/attacked other countries.

  13. Thing is – Lenin and Stalin were not anomalies. ALL Communist leaders, from Lenin to Stalin, to Mao to the Kim dynasty in North Korea, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, etc., were thuggish, it’s just some were more brutal than others. These were the norm, not the exception.

    But back to my main point. Do left wingers EVER feel guilty about the vast crimes committed by their ideology? America, as a nation, continues to wrestle with guilt over the racial issues resulting from slavery and segregation, but you never see that kind of thing from the left about their own guilty past. There’s no sense of self-awareness, self-examination of the kind that you see in a healthy liberal (in the classical sense of the term “Liberal”) society, no sense among left wingers that their own ideology might be fundamentally flawed to allow such things to happen.

  14. Eric,
    And there are socialists who opposed Lenin, Stalin, Minh et al. And their writings are clear. In addition, you have the Paris Commune and the Spanish Revolution where the gov’t didn’t revolve around autocratic leaders. But more importantly, you have Marx’s emphasis on the proletariate dictatorship which was broken by Lenin and his successors along with Marx chiding the Left in Russia for not supporting him.

    So this brings us to your question. That question assumes that the Left is a monolith. That Leftists like me should feel guilty for the crimes committed by Lenin, Stalin, et al because you imply that we share the same ideology. Sorry to disappoint you here but I can’t feel guilty for what Lenin, Stalin, et all did because I do not share their ideology. If you don’t believe me, search my blog to see if you can prove your assertion. Finally, I cannot speak for those who share the ideology of Lenin, Stalin, et al.

    In the meantime, we need to ask how much the status quo contributes to the problem behavior we see exhibited all too much.

  15. “That question assumes that the Left is a monolith.”

    That’s more a matter of semantics. Because, whether a left winger calls himself a socialist, Marxist, Communist or whatever, they all fall under the ideological umbrella of Collectivism. Which is the polar opposite of the American ideal of individual liberty. The collectivist, ultimately, seeks to control others, that is the core of his ideology and why it is completely incompatible with American values.

  16. Eric,
    That is much more than a matter of semantics. People who view the Left as a monolith have failed to study what the Left is all about and what made the Left what it is are the external and internal struggles it has faced. Those who view the Left or the Right as a monolith tend engage in all-or-nothing thinking.

    And that last point brings me to your next statement. The American ideal of individual liberty will always lead to elite-centered rule when taken in an all-or-nothing manner. BTW, just as a correction, Socialism is more about worker control than it is about collectivism though both are essential. That aside, consider your view of individual liberty with that of Martin Luther King Jr.’s:

    Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both.

    The conservative tendency to reduce all liberty to individual liberty is to sabotage democracy whether it is a pure democracy or it is in the form of a republic. And anytime we reduce a complex entity into a single issue, we passionately embrace all-or-nothing thinking.

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