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  1. Um..

    .. history has some unkind words for those first leftists… specifically, because those first leftists–granted they were fighting most of Europe–were getting their ASSES handed to them on the battlefields of France, had various parts of the country in FULL SCALE REVOLT against them, could not pay their own troops, nor carry out enough governmental functions to keep the state from collapsing against the Parisian mob, and generally presided over an immense security collapse.

    Thus, those leftists, led to a crumbling state that paved the way for the dictatorship of the TERROR, which solved the security crisis in 2 years time–along with being horrifically evil in many ways to much of the populace–by creating the central state apparatus to a great extent that still underlies much of the French State. Once the Terror had put things in order again–they were quickly deposed and a military dictatorship (under the growing control of Napoleon) then proceeded to rule France for the next 20 years–building up state institutions across Europe and blowing apart the old decentralized particularistic feudal structures and culture that kept people in pre-modern times.

    If the first leftists were libertarians–these first libertarians are examples of how not to run a government on pragmatic terms, even if the aims were quite idealistic and praiseworthy.

    Sorry.. I like those first French Revolutionaries overthrowing the Monarchy a lot–but they really did FUCK things up in the first years of the French Revolution. Modernity actually seems to require the creation of a strong enough central state apparatus to act against the older power structures of the Aristocracy and Organized Religion. Just how big this central state becomes is a matter of culture and circumstance–in England it was less strong–mainly because the Aristocracy and Merchant classes were much more integrated and religious life was pluralistic==no one superpowerful church–whereas in France, it became stronger because the strong anti-modern aristocracy and vast church power.

    Finally–one should note that these leftists only became revolutionaries because the King–Louis XVI–was such a wuss, that he didn’t stand up to the Aristocracy enough. In France, for about 200 years before the revolution–these future “leftists” were usually allied with the King because only he could help them resist the depredations of the Aristocracy that didn’t like the growing power (based on that newfangled concept of MONEY rather than BEING BORN INTO SOME FAMILY) of the merchants. Only when these merchants found out that the King was becoming too close with the Aristocracy and ditching them, did they become all “Well, fuck that king then..”

    So these were not anything all that similar to libertarians today in their mindset. The link is misleading to imply that they are based on a VERY, VERY shallow reading of history from a presentist perspective..

    And now I’ll shut the fuck up.

    1. Re: Um..

      Uh, did you read the article? The author seems to agree with you about the leftists fucking things up royally at their first opportunity.

      Sometimes I think you interpret my microblogging of interesting links as if I’m laying down some sort of gauntlet.

      1. sorry.. but.

        1. First–sorry if that came off as angry.. it was not anger at you.. It was a reaction to reading some really bad history… history that is not careful with how it uses terms and that makes implications based on current understandings that completely changes the meaning and perception of events that happened back then.

        However, I realize that I came across bad. I wasn’t trying to throw any gauntlet down towards you either.. but it is just one of those subjects that provokes my ire–namely bad history–that is made me act with less care in choosing words and tone than I should have.
        I apologize for that. I find your links quite interesting usually.. and they give me things to think about.. so please never stop.. I’ll try to be more careful next time..

        2. In my defense.. I did read the article.. but I find the conclusions it makes unconvincing and based on bad interpretations of a small subset of the historical evidence that was there… The relationship between the “leftists”–not a word they called themselves at the time all that much–and the radical groups that organized around Robespierre were far more complex. In fact, Robespierre’s support came from very different groups and his ability to gain power had a lot more to do with circumstance and fortune (or misfortune depending on how you look at it) than any inherent power or trend of the existence of “centralizing government”–which is what the article seems to imply.

        Also.. I had a problem with the general claims because it does gloss over so much practical matter–such as the fact that even at the height of the terror–when they were butchering 1,000 people a month–the central government was 1/100 the size of our government with regard to population/industry/etc.. (in relative senses..) and we are not beheading citizens at that rate today in our country.. Thus–the overall claim of the piece that restricting government is the main way to protect liberty–which is right there in the last paragraph–always strikes me as so false. Americans today–or even the Dutch with more government–have more liberties, rights, etc, than say, Malaysians, and they have more expansive governments than the Malaysians (pick various other countries also..)

        Does this mean I believe that all centralized or big gov’t is good–obviously not–See horribly long history of Soviet Union!–but it is not big government that destroys liberty–but rather unchecked, non-transparent, unitary governments that do so–whether they are big or small.. local or national..

        And now–I’ll shut up again.. I’m starting to rant, I can see–and it’s not my intention–I apologize in advance again. Part of it’s probably a history/philosophy issue.. whereby I get cranky when more philosophical arguments do bad history as evidence.. It’s my fault for this–I chose to become a historian. 🙂

        1. Re: sorry.. but.

          For the record, I always enjoy reading your historically-grounded point of view. In fact that’s one of the reasons I post links – to draw opinions/extra data/etc. I can certainly understand your ire at bad history – I know I get the same way about certain subjects. And I don’t want to discourage you from laying the smack down on shoddy history – quite the contrary. Your comments – particularly this last one – are illuminating.

    2. P.S.

      If you didn’t read the article, it was about the interesting origins of a word and how quickly people change their tune when they get their hands on the power that they despised on others.

  2. unrelated..

    This presentation (which I’m using in the context of teaching engineers how to give better presentaitons) has just swayed me to switch my positions on copyright law..

    I remember this being a source of disagreement between us way back when. Obviously, this piece is from 2002 and some things have changed–youtube, for example, has basically become a major thorn in copyright and shown that the populace will fight for its commons and its creativity.. but I think I’ve seen the light here..

    Just thought you might find it interesting..


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