Thursday, 21 March 2019

"Pity is Treason"

The Jacobins and Their Influence Upon the West

The term Jacobin refers to an extreme political radical.  The Jacobins were part of a political club in Paris, established in 1789.  They were both ruthless and radical.  They took over the French Revolution and were responsible for the Reign of Terror where hundreds of thousands of people were killed, many via execution.

The Jacobins have been imitated by many  in following centuries.  Philosopher John Gray provides a brief description and summary:
The Jacobins form the clearest link between medieval millenarians and twentieth-century revolutionary movements.  The French reign of terror was more than an 'aristocide' of the privileged classes.  As would be the case later in Bolshevik Russia, the largest numbers of casualties by far were common people. . . . Around a third of the population perished in the region, where the methods of repression used by the revolutionary forces included burning crops, razing villages and mass drowning. 

The human cost of the French Revolution runs into hundreds of thousands of lives.  Producing leaders such as Maximilien Robespierre, who as a member of the Committee for Public Safety orchestrated the execution of around 20,000 enemies of the Revolution in Paris and was himself guillotined in 1794, the Jacobins acted on the maxim--formulated by Robespierre himself in a speech to the National Assembly--"Pity is treason."  [John Gray, Seven Types of Atheism (London: Penguin/Random House UK, 2018),  p.78.]
Alexis de Tocqueville points out that the Jacobins and the French Revolution became a new kind of religion.  Like Islamism, "it inundated the earth with soldiers, apostles and martyrs".  Gray adds that the Jacobins adopted their own secular forms of worship; they offered a glorious future life in an imaginary earthly paradise. 

In the twentieth century they were followed and imitated by Fascism and Communism. 

The modernist world sowed to the wind.  It inherited the whirlwind.  We are still living with the consequences.  It is not too far a stretch to see the Christchurch mass-murderer as a latter day Jacobin in action.  Robespierre's curse is still  bearing its poisoned fruit: "pity is treason". 

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