Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thoughts on Bastille Day

Bastille Day, July 14, was the beginning of the end for the French Monarchy. It was also the start of a bloody revolution that ended up with millions dead. The dictatorship and mass murder that followed was typical of the dismal aftermath of every single such armed revolution that I’ve ever studied.

That’s why right-wingers disgust me so much, because their policies of “let them eat cake” and dismissive sneers at the plight of the poor always lead to such bloodshed because, here’s a clue: human beings do not voluntarily just sit down and die just because right wingers think the poor are excess population if they can’t feed themselves. They will do anything — ANYTHING — they think will increase their chances of survival. Including following the sorts who always end up in charge of these violent revolutions — sorts who are not, as a rule, nice people.

My opinion of this aftermath of violent revolution is irrelevant, because reality simply is, and doesn't require the approval of myself nor the approval of right wingers. Reality is that if you treat your population with disdain as they starve, your population will rise up and bloodshed will happen. It’s called CAUSE AND EFFECT. If there’s lots of humidity in the air and a cold front comes through, it rains. If there’s lots of poverty in the population and the royalty says “Let them eat cake”, bloodshed happens. Whether I or right wingers approve of it or not is irrelevant, it rains (water or blood) just as hard. Reality simply is.

-- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin


  1. The French monarchy did not say "Let them eat cake", Marie Antoinette didn't even say it. It was actually a Spanish princess 500 years before she was even born. It's weird to "defend" this queen but I can't stand when she is maligned for saying something witty. She was not a smart woman and had she been the French may have had a monarchy for a longer period.

    A stupid girl who grew up to be a stupid woman, though never witty or mean. Just FYI :)

  2. I assure you I'm quite aware that Marie Antoinette did not say "let them eat cake" and that, indeed, no member of the French monarchy stated any such thing in the runup to the Revolution. I was talking about an attitude, not a statement. And the attitude, the sneering dismissiveness of the plight of the poor, was pervasive amongst French royalty, just as it was amongst Austrian royalty (i.e., the people who raised Marie Antoinette).

    - Badtux the Attitudinal Penguin

  3. Marie might not have EXACTLY said "Let them eat cake" (I heard the actual bread substitute she had in mind was brioche) but Charlie Munger (who is Warren Buffett's sidekick) DID say "suck it in and cope" when giving advice to America's dispossessed.

    Seriously, though, I wonder whether Amurkins WILL actually go nuts as they starve to death. They've been conditioned as a society to revere the rich and to blame themselves for their misfortune. They have no sense of class consciousness. There have been other societies where people perished in orderly fashion during famines, like the Holodomor in Soviet-era Ukraine and uncountable Asian and African nations. A strong central police state with a dispirited, unorganized populace equals no-fuss population elimination.

    One might think that food stamps (yeah, I know it's SNAP cards now) for 44 million people are all that stands between calm and chaos. But I think the mental shackles are strong enough to keep the sheeple from stampeding down to loot the nearest Wal-Mart. And if they do lash out, it will be laterally against perceived outsiders at their own level, not against he rich bastards who are grinding them down.

  4. Violence begets violence. Injustice plus personal loss due to theft are both forms of violence, begets violence on a personal scale equals violence on a personal scalel it creates outlaws. If huge numbers of people experience these things and a strong leader happens along, the result can very well be violent revolution. Walter McDougal, in "Freedom Is Just Around The Corner", wrote "No large nation on earth has provided more stability, properity, security and liverty to more people than the United States." We are a cowboy nation, at bottom, as the popularity of the character Rambo attests. The theft of those things, which is happening now, will surely result in violent revolution, but only if perceived as the theft that it is. It is not something I look forward to.

  5. Bukko, violent revolutions rarely lash out against the people who are actually to blame for the condition of the peasantry. As for the Soviet-era Ukraine, Stalin had a couple of things that our own rulers don't have. He had a large supply of ethnic Russians to use to suppress and displace ethnic Ukrainians, and he had Siberia and the gulags to use to deport entire communities to if there were dissent therein. The fundamental structure of the Russian Empire that Stalin inherited was that of an empire built by conquest, with ethnic minorities all over the place in geographically confined areas. The structure of the U.S., on the other hand, is not exactly that of the famed "melting pot", more like a potluck where all the ethnicities are at the same table, but still, our rulers can't use an ethnicity from one region to suppress an ethnicity in another region like Stalin did, and we don't have a Siberia to deport entire populations to.

    In short, if the food safety net collapses, things will get bad here *quickly*. Let us not forget that Roosevelt created the New Deal not because he was fundamentally a liberal (he was the scion of a wealthy New York family, for cryin' out loud!), but because the alternative would have been a violent revolution of those who were starving, and the probable end of democracy in America when the inevitable strongman took over. In other words, FDR was sane. Which, alas, does not apply to today's right wingers who are intent upon dismantling the structures FDR put in place to prevent violent revolution.

    - Badtux the Socioeconomics Penguin

  6. As I've been telling quite a few of my friends lately, we can raise taxes on the mega-rich today or we can raise gallows for 'em tomorrow.

    Unfortunately, the powers-that-be have got us fighting among ourselves instead of being focused on the actual problems...

  7. We'll start with the Marquis Evrémonde:

    "Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend," observed the Marquis, "will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof," looking up to it, "shuts out the sky." (Tale of Two Cities)
    And then move on to burn down the Hamptons before marching A Sherman's path through the better parts of Connecticut,

  8. I have to think that modern technology renders fantasies of violent revolution naive. Vocal leaders can be detected as soon as they speak to recruit #1. Weapons caches are *already* identified. Even the local constabulary outguns the citizens, never mind the local militia. Hell, the local police probably *outnumber* the citizens that would take up arms, even in the face of starvation.

    And Bukko is right. A significant number of "revolutionaries" would be solely aiming at the ethnic "other" and economic "same."

  9. Nan, whether it is the French Revolution or any other revolution, the fact that the military is drawn from amongst the citizenry rather than from the upper classes has been an important part of the equation. The importance of Bastille Day is that the military stayed in their barracks rather than coming out to suppress the demonstrations, rather than anything to do with the prison itself, which held only a few prisoners. While paramilitary police forces are a worrying development, one of the things that has happened recently is that policemen are being laid off all over the country due to lack of tax revenues due to all the money being sucked up by the top 1%, who largely evade local taxes. So I would not count on local police forces being loyal to the elites in the end, when their brothers in blue are being laid off and they themselves are being forced to take massive pay cuts in order to retain their jobs...

    In short, by their short-sightedness in destroying the tax base, the elites are destroying the very paramilitary police forces that they need to retain power. How stupid is that?!

    - Badtux the "It's all going down" Penguin

  10. But if your intent is to depopulate the planet, then Republican strategies that seem bat-shit crazy to sane people are exactly right.


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