The real “virus” infecting any number of societies for much of the past 500 years is not organic but philosophical in origin. This is the “virus” of revolutionism.
Paul Craig Roberts just penned a brilliant piece focusing on how revolutionism puts ruthless tyrants in power, as during the French Revolution, and how expansionist emperor-types such as Napoleon sometimes follow.
How much reminding do we need? Revolutions are a very bad idea!?
Societies end up ruled by their absolute worst: criminals, bullies, thugs, and losers.
And whatever the problems of the government they just overthrew, revolutions always leave everyone except the newly empowered worse off than before.
It’s good that PCR takes note of how the so-called “American Revolution” wasn’t really a revolution at all in this sense.
British rule was ended, and the Founders established a republican government still based on British common law, and on balances of power against power at different levels — something never before achieved.
The major changes happened at the top. For the rest of society, the old order merged seamlessly into the new. The overall worldview (essentially Christian, if with denominational variations) and ways of life remained the same. Those not actively fighting the British did not experience the level of upheaval that struck France in 1789.
Revolutionism is fundamentally Jacobin. What does this mean? Who were the original Jacobins?
They were a group of far left activists and political operatives who came of age in Revolution-era France. They drew inspiration from Enlightenment thought, especially the strain that led from Rousseau to Robespierre, through whom they enacted the Terror.
The Jacobins believed it possible to place all of a society’s institutions under the microscope of an abstract “Reason,” raze them to the ground if they didn’t measure up to “rational” ideals of liberty, equality, and the fraternity or brotherhood of [all] men, and build up a new society on an Enlightenment-based, “rational” footing.
For those who didn’t measure up, the original Jacobins’ favorite device for dispatch was the guillotine.
Historically, what results from revolutions is always tyranny, since the old “irrational” order must be purged. Everything that would threaten the new order must be gotten rid of. This means all independent thought and writing must be crushed. Those unwilling to get with the program may be guillotined as in France, or with the strains of Jacobin revolutionism to come, shot, set to gulags, or otherwise destroyed. Entire populations that don’t fit the “rational” plan become nonpersons and may be “canceled.”
Thus the elimination not just of the French monarchy but the ousted king’s entire family.
Thus the Soviets’ elimination of all opponents of collective farming, with Stalin adding a new wrinkle: deliberate policies that resulted in mass starvation.
Thus the fate of Jews who didn’t flee Nazi Germany.
Is America falling prey to the “virus” of Jacobian revolutionism? You better believe it!
I’m not referring just to Antifa anarchists and Black Lives Matter cultural Marxists. They are just tools — agents of chaos, one might say, whose primary targets are conservative white people (liberal whites, as fellow Jacobin fellow travelers, get a pass, for now).
These movements are bankrolled by a powerful Jacobin globalist named George Soros, probably among others of the revolutionist power elite.
What will be the fate of Americans of any race and creed who resist or don’t fit into the planned New World Order being masterminded in globalist organizations ranging from the Trilateral Commission to the International Monetary Fund to the World Economic Forum? The question bears asking!
Revolutionism has a deeper philosophical root, and as a trained philosopher, I’m the obvious person to ferret it out.
The deeper philosophical root of revolutionism is Cartesianism, the name reserved for the intellectual product of early 17th century French philosopher René Descartes.
Descartes (1596 – 1650) is often called the Father of Modern Philosophy. He might also be thought of as the Godfather of the Enlightenment, and therefore of Jacobinism.
Descartes worked out a methodology. He thought it possible to raze all his beliefs to the ground based on an abstract logical possibility they could be false: the testimony of his senses, the findings of science as they then existed, God Himself. Descartes thought it possible to build up, from scratch, a whole new rationalist system of knowledge, based on the indubitable foundation of “Cogito; ergo, sum” (“I think; therefore, I am).
In the history of ideas, this was a gamechanger! It was the most influential philosophical product, in one way or another, for centuries — as important as Newton’s physics if not more so. The Newtonian revolution, well over a century later, might not have happened had Newton not been willing to raze Aristotle to the ground.
Note carefully: For Descartes, his abstract intellect using Reason alone, could dismantle all his former convictions. And then rebuild them from scratch on that foundation.
This abstract intellect was not religious until it “proved” God’s existence (Descartes offered a proof, but it failed miserably). It was disembodied. It had no culture, was not loyal to any nationality or place, had no psychological makeup. It was not subject to ethical imperatives that could not be proved — in later forms, not of its own choosing. The door to relativism and subjectivism opened.
Was this not the most stupendous wrecking ball any intellectual had ever unleashed on the world?
The Jacobins studied Descartes as well as Rousseau, because everybody studied Descartes. All they did was apply his basic method to the political realm. This released the “virus” of modern revolutionism, in which political and economic institutions, monarchy or any other governance, a church, “inessential” businesses, the family unit — really, anything not justifiable by abstract “Reason” — can be “canceled.”
Modern liberalism is Jacobin in its origins. So is neoconservatism, and so, by default, is neoliberalism. While we do not have space to explore all its strains, Jacobinism in a broad sense is literally everywhere, operating at multiple levels, from the street thugs of Antifa to the “commanding heights” of globalist elites.
Jacobinism is the connecting link between the hard left and globalism, and explains the unholy alliance between the two. But the “virus” also infected liberal democracies.
In classical liberal economics, the Cartesian abstract intellect became the “sovereign consumer” who makes marketplace decisions solely on utility maximizing. Subsequent schools of economic thought increased in mathematical complexity and incorporated some psychology, but did not touch that basic premise.
Since Jacobinism leads naturally to questioning everything except itself, often manufacturing problems when it can’t find any, the revolutionist “virus” goes everywhere, spread by people who probably never heard the term Jacobin, never heard of Descartes, and can’t get the American founding in the right century.
Somehow I have a hard time imagining those drawn to Antifa and Black Lives Matter reading books at all, much less works of history and philosophy.
That’s not the case, of course, with World Economic Forum attendees.
The vulnerability of the U.S. to revolutionism is very bad news, as we approach an election likely to be disputed, and which could easily result in violence no matter who wins.
Not simply because the form of Jacobinism known as identity politics or “wokism” is out of control (although it is).
Not simply because Americans can no longer talk to one another (although they can’t).
But because most have forgotten much of their heritage, and what hasn’t been forgotten is being “canceled” (statues pulled to the ground in perfect Jacobin fashion).
How many other societies are ripe for revolutionism?
Chile certainly is! I’ve lived here for eight years now, and last year I saw leftist Jacobin violence first-hand. To be sure, the “reconstruction” of Chile’s economy along neoliberal lines during the Pinochet years was Jacobin, just as had been the upheaval of the short Allende period. As I said, Jacobinism in one form or another is literally everywhere.
Other South American nations are vulnerable to Jacobin revolutionism. Brazil is. Venezuela eventually, if Russia ever lets down its guard. (What would happen would be the ouster of an anti-corporatist Jacobinism and its replacement by a pro-corporatist Jacobinism.)
Several European nations might be ripe for revolutionism as the EU slowly unravels.
Anyplace rife with corruption to the point where a critical mass of public anger can be channeled and exploited by a strongman or political party or agenda adhering to a Theory (“Reason”), be it Marxism or neoliberal Hyper-Capitalism that sees persons solely as laboring / consuming ciphers, is vulnerable to Jacobin revolutionism.
Russia, at the moment, appears not to be. Its Jacobin epoch appears to be in its past. Maybe this is why Jacobin-influenced pseudo-pundits of Western media and academia hate the country so much.
The forces behind the planned Great Reset, scheduled to be the main topic of next January’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, are Jacobin to the core.
Bill Gates (who has no scientific, medical, or public health credentials), Dr. Anthony Fauci (far more a federal bureaucrat than a real doctor), and every other technocrat, are Jacobins in my sense. Technocracy is Jacobin because, as much as any ideology, it looks at human beings and organizations as abstractions, or as means to its ends: organic machines to be incentivized and manipulated. Jacobinism’s metaphysics (theory of reality), it goes without saying, is materialist. It has no room for a Creator or a transcendently grounded morality. It doesn’t so much reject them explicitly, it just dismisses such matters as irrelevant.
To the technocrat, every human problem has a scientific / technical solution. Depressed? Take a drug.
The “virus” of revolutionism currently spreading across the world is using supposed coronavirus / Covid-19 numbers to raze as much economic activity to the ground as it can through lockdowns and associated police-state measures.
These, interestingly, are far more draconian in places like Australia and New Zealand which disarmed their citizens years ago. When guns are outlawed, only criminals and governments will have guns. The two will be as indistinguishable as the animals at the end of Animal Farm.
All to raze to the ground our present order based on ideals such as freedom and virtue, and build up the New World Order: cashless society, all transactions digitized for monitoring purposes, education mostly if not entirely by remote, much work done by remote, church services the same way: total surveillance and control.
The crowning achievement: a Covid-19 vaccine likely to become a condition for schooling, employment, shopping, and travel, if not made legally mandatory.
The ruling tyranny to follow will be the ultimate in Jacobinism: a centralized world government answering to the corporations profiting from all this (e.g., Big Pharma). It may not have to do that much, given the ground-level tyranny of fear-based social sanction, as brainwashed sheeple who identify with authority (the folks screaming at you in stores or on planes to “Put on your mask!”) control others through the tried-and-true method of bullying.
Steven Yates’s next book, What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory, will be published early next year by Wipf and Stock Publishers.
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