“Reason” is Not Enough: Ask French Mobs

“Reason” is Not Enough: Ask French Mobs December 16, 2018

Every so often the mobs in Paris go mad and impose the madness on the rest of France. They will butcher a hapless monarch like Louis XVI to go through bloodlust and end in global tyrant Napoleon. This is the wisdom of the French mob: trading mild government for tyranny in search of decadence.

The reign of terror is the best known example of licentiousness being confused with liberty in France, but not the only one. The Paris Commune murdered thousands by confusing enforced poverty with equality. A certain kind of mush headed person has a soft spot for the Commune, because if you kill people in the name of helping people long term, mush headed people feel hopeful about your plans.

Mobs have simple slogans and usually they are fine enough: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. What could go wrong? Liberty is warped to libertine excess, equality is for numbers not people, and fraternity imposed by a state is bullying with public relations spin.

The mob is maddened and cannot reason and after the first spasm looks around for a project. Always there are ideologues waiting in the shadows of society to sell solutions that seem sensible in the season of revolution. The French model is dangerous, because it is revolutionary. Danger might be necessary to dislodge bad governments, but dangerous actions require an internal restraint more powerful than slogans about science and reason.

Some men can be cool in a revolutionary situation and they lead the mob, yet most of us cannot. We are driven by passion and this emotion cannot be checked by mere mental activity. The most forceful argument that can be made is meaningless noise when the mob roars. The leaders, the head, must have the support of hearts that even when the mind is powerless retrains the body.

The heart can say “no” when the mind cannot. A trained heart will stop at the edge: a Washington will not become a tyrant, because he has Christianity drilled into his core by culture. George Washington was not the great intellectual of the American Revolution, but the man of a virtuous heart. When mobs began to form, Washington kept his head, but most importantly displayed his heart. As his officers prepared to rebel, wanting pay, and knowing they could control an empire in North American, Washington stopped the rebellion with the reaonable use of passion!

He stood before his men and made his case, but then paused. He could not read his manuscript and so reached for glasses. He had “grown blind” in the service of the Republic and his men seeing the great, good man suddenly grown older were transformed. Washington elevated them from a hungry mob to a band of brothers with his heart.

The French did not just lack a Washington. They were missing masses in Paris who still believed the message of the Christian mass. They had ideology, they had leaders (even Lafayette) with promise, but the masses of Paris lacked the restraint only religion can provide. Just as bad religion or the lack of religion makes the worst men, so good religion can stop anyone, even a fairly bad man from doing very bad things.

Robespierre had no religious restraint. Where is the moral training of today’s Paris mobs? Instead of burning and looting, the mob should head to Montemarte to pray for a sacred heart. The sacred heart will stop with the death of a tyrant.

France should look to Saint Joan: she loved lawful liberty and she made the nation free.  


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