Sunday, June 18, 2017
Après moi, le délug -Louis XV
Old King Louis XV knew things were going to fall apart after his reign. Fifteen years later, the French Revolution took place. That made such a mess of things that this little known Corsican by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte had his opportunity. Interesting times.
So I've been thinking of revolutions and changing times. The French Revolution appears to follow a general pattern. The old fossilized and corrupt system is overthrown. There's celebration in the streets. Lofty ideals are proclaimed. The revolutionaries have difficulties putting ideals into practice. A strong man, taking advantage of the chaos of the times, comes into power.
History doesn't exactly repeat itself, but it does tend to follow certain patterns. Just look to the recent history of Egypt. The Arab Spring overthrew a dictator. A period of high ideals followed. Politics got messy. Now it's basically a dictatorship again.
So I'm a bit leery of revolution. No doubt old and no longer functional systems have to change. The problem is that the high ideals behind the revolution rarely translate into a long term functional government.
The American Revolution turned out better than most. Partly due to the fact that George Washington did not want to become king. There was some amazing restraint, good planning, and no small measure of luck involved. It was a near miracle that a good governmental system was formed.
Even so, tens of thousands of Loyalists were uncomfortable enough that they left the country. Canada took in a lot of them. Even a fairly successful revolution took its toll in human suffering.
It troubles me that so many people today are willing to throw out over two hundred years of successful government. Our system is far from perfect. Parts of it are definitely broken. However, shooting those you politically disagree with never ends well. Those in government right now have a responsibility to fight out their differences in the political arena. Gaming the system for short term political gain will turn out badly in the long run.
Let history be your guide.