Thursday, 19 July 2012

For the last two centuries, Europe has been the battlefield in a war of ideas. Our colonised cities, our raped children, our no-go areas filled with the smoking ruins of burnt cars, our bankrupt treasuries, our vanished freedoms and the grinning, aggressive aliens in our midst can all be numbered among the consequences of this war. Within the Counterjihad/nationalist movements, it is common to hear these changes attributed to Marxism. But the movement to transform our societies has deeper roots than that. It achieved its first fatefully coherent expression in the French revolution. Rather than Marxism, I would call it Jacobinism. Marxism is no more than a sub-movement within this larger transformational project. If you look for the first place where the motifs commonly associated with Marxism (claims that imperialist Europe had plundered the noble savages of the third world, that men oppressed women, that religion held the masses in thrall, etc.) you find them not in the works of Karl Marx but in the texts of the radical French Enlightenment. In particular, the book Histoire Philosophique des Deux Indes, the best-selling of all the Enlightenment texts even though it’s now mostly forgotten, instilled these themes into the minds of a generation almost 50 years before Marx was even born.

These radicals were able to impose their ideas on French society because they had carefully prepared them over the preceding decades. Of course, the ordinary French people who rose up against a society run on the principle of inherited privilege were not deep-thinking intellectuals. They were acting on an instinctive sense of right and wrong. But the radicals had worked out their ideas and were waiting to seize their chance when the moment of convulsive change arrived. Reading Benjamin Israel’s books about the intellectual ferment preceding the French revolution, I am struck by the parallels with the Counterjihad movement of our own time. There we see the same division between those who tried to play by the Establishment’s rules (like Voltaire), emphasising their respect for church and monarchy, trying not to rock the boat too much, thinking they could be more effective that way; and those who disdained to do so, preferring a course of open confrontation. In the Counterjihad/nationalist movements, we see similar tendencies with many of the most public actors emphasising their anti-racism, support for human rights and insistence that the problem is not Islam per se, but radical Islam. They think that by trying to play nice they will eventually win some pat on the head from the powers that be. This is a parallel that troubles me in part because while the French radicals had their ideas properly worked out when the moment of convulsion came, it strikes me that we do not. Most of us are stumbling blindly forward with little more than a sense that Islam isn’t very nice and no real understanding of how we got to be where we are. This is troubling because, thanks to the economic crisis, the moment of convulsive change may arrive sooner than we expect. Before we are ready for it.

Reflecting on the French revolution, and the reactions to it, is a good way to better understand how we got to be in this mess. After the revolutionaries had seized power in France, and articulated their transnational utopian vision, with its accompanying doctrine of the Rights of Man, the Anglo-Irish politician Edmund Burke published his response to it in the book Reflections on the Revolution in France. This became one of the classical texts of conservative political thought, emphasising the dichotomy between what is now called Left and Right (these terms themselves come from the French revolution with the most radical of the revolutionaries sitting on the left side of the National Assembly).

It is no coincidence that Christopher Caldwell’s book about the islamisation of Europe in modern times consciously alluded to Edmund Burke’s work in its title: Reflections on the Revolution in Europe. The islamisation of Europe is the ultimate consequence of the utopian transformational impulse unleashed by the French revolution. Communism is just one expression of this movement. And Fascism is just one reaction to it.

What are the key distinctions between Jacobinism and conservatism?

Jacobinism seeks to remake the institutions of society. Conservatism has an inherent bias in favour of retaining them. This, ultimately, is an expression of humility. It says both the world and human nature are overwhelming in their complexity and our understanding of that complexity is limited. Trying to remake the world from first principles according to your imperfect (“rational”) image of its workings is a project likely to end in disaster. There will be some factor you don’t understand that yields an outcome you didn’t expect. The best evidence that an idea will work is the fact that it already has worked in the past.
We know that we have made no discoveries, and we think that no discoveries are to be made, in morality,—nor many in the great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were understood long before we were born altogether as well as they will be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity. In England we have not yet been completely embowelled of our natural entrails: we still feel within us, and we cherish and cultivate, those inbred sentiments which are the faithful guardians, the active monitors of our duty, the true supporters of all liberal and manly morals. We have not been drawn and trussed, in order that we may be filled, like stuffed birds in a museum, with chaff and rags, and paltry, blurred shreds of paper about the rights of man. We preserve the whole of our feelings still native and entire, unsophisticated by pedantry and infidelity. We have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms.

Although his book was published in the early years of the revolution, before its bloody excesses had become apparent, Burke predicted that the whole thing would end badly. He was right. It ended with the terror of the guillotine, Europe-wide war and the dictatorship of Napoleon.

Justifying perfidy and murder for public benefit, public benefit would soon become the pretext, and perfidy and murder the end,—until rapacity, malice, revenge, and fear more dreadful than revenge, could satiate their insatiable appetites. Such must be the consequences of losing, in the splendor of these triumphs of the rights of men, all natural sense of wrong and right.
In our own time, we have seen our elites, enthralled with the intellectual conviction that people are all the same, invite the hordes of the third world to colonise our homes, in the foolish belief that their only significant difference from us would be in their physical appearance. Science has now established that the emotions of empathy (crucial to a healthy society) are, in part, regulated by genetic similarity between people. Indeed, through the principle of inclusive fitness, the favouritism shown to those who share more of our genes than others is now recognised as the principal driving force of evolution, laying the basis for altruism, cooperative behaviour and social organisation. None of this was known to the French revolutionaries or even the utopian ideologues of a few decades ago. But “rationality” told them that people were all the same. And now we are paying the price for their intellectual conceit.

Jacobinism is trans-national and universalist. Conservatism is rooted in the specificity of particular peoples, their historic homelands and the distinctive traditions of the societies they have built there. It emphasises pragmatism and disdains universalism, acknowledging that differences in the history and character of particular peoples may make a solution appropriate for one but not another. Comparing the English revolution to the French revolution, Edmund Burke affirmed that the freedoms he enjoyed as an Englishman were the result of a distinctive national tradition, not the fruits of some putative “Rights of Man”.

We wished at the period of the Revolution, and do now wish, to derive all we possess as an inheritance from our forefathers. Upon that body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to inoculate any scion alien to the nature of the original plant. All the reformations we have hitherto made have proceeded upon the principle of reference to antiquity; and I hope, nay, I am persuaded, that all those which possibly may be made hereafter will be carefully formed upon analogical precedent, authority, and example.

Our oldest reformation is that of Magna Charta. You will see that Sir Edward Coke, that great oracle of our law, and indeed all the great men who follow him, to Blackstone, are industrious to prove the pedigree of our liberties. They endeavor to prove that the ancient charter, the Magna Charta of King John, was connected with another positive charter from Henry the First, and that both the one and the other were nothing more than a reaffirmance of the still more ancient standing law of the kingdom. In the matter of fact, for the greater part, these authors appear to be in the right; perhaps not always: but if the lawyers mistake in some particulars, it proves my position still the more strongly; because it demonstrates the powerful prepossession towards antiquity with which the minds of all our lawyers and legislators, and of all the people whom they wish to influence, have been always filled, and the stationary policy of this kingdom in considering their most sacred rights and franchises as an inheritance.

In the famous law of the 3rd of Charles the First, called the Petition of Right, the Parliament says to the king, "Your subjects have inherited this freedom": claiming their franchises, not on abstract principles, "as the rights of men," but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony derived from their forefathers. Selden, and the other profoundly learned men who drew this Petition of Right, were as well acquainted, at least, with all the general theories concerning the "rights of men" as any of the discoursers in our pulpits or on your tribune: full as well as Dr. Price, or as the Abbé Sièyes. But, for reasons worthy of that practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary title to all which can be dear to the man and the citizen to that vague, speculative right which exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild, litigious spirit.

The same policy pervades all the laws which have since been made for the preservation of our liberties. In the 1st of William and Mary, in the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two Houses utter not a syllable of "a right to frame a government for themselves." You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed, and had been lately endangered. "Taking into their most serious consideration the best means for making such an establishment that their religion, laws, and liberties might not be in danger of being again subverted," they auspicate all their proceedings by stating as some of those best means, "in the first place," to do "as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare";—and then they pray the king and queen "that it may be declared and enacted that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom."

Conservatism accepts human nature as it is, with all its imperfections. Jacobinism believes human nature can be remade. In order for it to be remade society must be regimented by the government. Perceptions must be sculpted through the selective presentation or denial of information. Education must become indoctrination. Dissident thought must be punished through an ongoing and never-ending inquisition.

It was the French revolution that first vigorously promoted the idea of citizenship in the modern sense. There is something inherently sinister in the concept of citizenship, perhaps because it hints at an overarching governmental power. Before that people had simply been members of organic communities rooted in particular places. Although in most places monarchs had nominally ruled over them, for the most part the impact of governmental power on their lives was minimal. After the revolution, people became wards of a bureaucracy that would allocate citizenship status to them. Government intruded into the lives of everyone. And once organic peoplehood had been transformed into citizenship, governments were free to redefine this administrative status and allocate it to whomever they pleased on whatever criteria they chose. This is the breach in the wall through which, in modern times, the alien hordes have come pouring into Europe.

Reviewing the list of characteristics and distinctions, two things should be clear. First, the islamisation of Europe is the consequence of Jacobin ideas. Second, trans-nationalism, universalism and the tangible embodiment of these ideas, the modern doctrine of human rights, all belong on the Jacobin side of the spectrum. Why, then, are those who are reacting politically to the consequences of Jacobinism embracing some of its key tenets?

Jacobinism                                             Conservatism

Reason                                                    Instinct, common sense
Bias in favour of change                         Bias against change
Citizenship                                              Peoplehood
Universalism                                           Particularity
Trans-nationalism                                   Patriotism
Regimentation of thought and speech     Freedom of thought and speech
Rule-following                                        Use of Judgement
Utopianism                                             Pragmatism
Revolution                                              Tradition

Muslims flee the poverty and misery of their own countries without any comprehension that this poverty and misery has been caused by Islam. Because they fail to make this connection, they continue to subscribe to the ideas that are the prime cause of their predicament. They even delude themselves into believing that the solution is more Islam, not less. Similarly, Counterjihadists flee in spirit from the consequences of the Muslim presence in their countries without any comprehension that this presence is the consequence of Jacobinism. Because they fail to make this connection, they continue to subscribe to the ideas that are the prime cause of their predicament. They even delude themselves into believing that the solution is more Jacobinism, not less.

It’s said that when Nixon and Kissinger visited China in the 1970s, they asked the Chinese premier what impact he thought the French revolution had had on western civilisation. “It’s too early to tell,” was the reply. Well, we’re a bit further along now, so perhaps it’s time to hazard a preliminary judgement. One of the consequences of the French revolution is the islamisation of Europe. It’s no coincidence that France is the part of Europe where the Muslim infestation is at its most intense. Those of us resisting the islamisation of Europe should be challenging the ideas of the French revolution, not re-affirming them. What we need is a counter-revolution to the French revolution, 200 years on.


Anonymous said...

On the Telegraph blogs I have often made the point, ignored by most, that the real origin of the malaise which has beset Europe isn't from socialism or marxism, it's from the Jacobins, from the poisoned pens of Rousseau and Marat et all.

No wonder the French Revolution is taught so poorly in schools; we are all led to believe it was a great time where the ancien regime that had been leeching off of hard workers had been overthrown, and a new age of Reason had been ushered in. Utter tosh, of course.

Great post, but I should have split it up into two segments if I were you given the ADHD most of humanity seems afflicted with these days.

Perhaps you can make a "tl;dr" (too long; didn't read) version for our younger counter jihadists.

Anonymous said...

I agree that France is the cancer of Europe.

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...

What name do you use on the Telegraph blogs?

Anonymous said...

DP111 said..


I have been thinking along the similar lines.

When I visit the historic sites of France, the ones that were central to European civilisation, I'm struck that they have been denuded of all content, just the shell is all that is left. A rape of civilisation by French revolutionaries.

Now its strange that Ann Barhardt wrote this yesterday of the French revolution.

This presentation covers the almost unknown war and genocide against the people of the Vendee region of France during the proto-Marxist French Revolution. This genocide by the atheist, godless, totalitarian French Revolutionaries against the Church killed 450,000 people, and has served as a the tactical template for Marxist governments who have fomented statist schisms and then entered into open war against the Church over the last century, including the Soviets and Mexicans in the early 20th century, and the Red Chinese and Vietnamese, and Marxist Latin American regimes.

As France incubated the disease, let us hope they come up with antitoxin.

Anonymous said...

DP111 said..

To the "progressives" everything is about the future utopia they are in the process of creating, and never mind the hundreds of millions of dead bodies.

To the conservative traditionalist, it is about holding fast to what is true, and advancing the cause of what is true, good and beautiful.

Counter-revolution yes. But if it is purely defensive, as the very name of Counter-Jihad suggests that it is, it will get nowhere. People need to feel that they are going to be uplifted. That is the secret of the Marxist-progressives - always moving to the sunny uplands of tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Wherever the French are they seem to invite Muslims. Its almost a conscious attempt to destroy anything European.

French part of Switzerland is full of Muslims.

Quebec in Canada, the same.


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