The Unique Evil of the Left

07/18/2016Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
Is it too much to say that since the French Revolution, the left has been the source of virtually all political evils, and continues to be so in our day?

There can be no doubt that great cruelty and violence can be and have been inflicted in the name of preserving the existing order.

But when we compare even the worst enormities of the more distant past with the leftist totalitarian revolutions and total wars of the twentieth centuries, they are in general a mere blip. The entire history of the Inquisition, said Joe Sobran, barely rises to the level of what the communists accomplished on a good afternoon.

The French Revolution, and particularly its radical phase, was the classic manifestation of modern leftism and served as the model for still more radical revolutions around the world more than a century later.

As that revolution proceeded its aims grew more ambitious, with its most fervent partisans demanding nothing less than the total transformation of society.

In place of the various customs and settled ways of a France with well over a millennium of history behind it, the radical revolutionaries introduced a “rational” alternative cooked up in their heads, and with all the warmth of an insane asylum.

Streets named after saints were given new names, and statues of saints were actually guillotined. (These people guillotining statues were the rational ones, you understand.) The calendar itself, rich with religious feasts, was replaced by a more “rational” calendar with 30 days per month, divided into three ten-day weeks, thereby doing away with Sunday. The remaining five days of the year were devoted to secular observances: celebrations of labor, opinion, genius, virtue, and rewards.

Punishments for deviations from the new dispensation were as severe as we have come to expect from leftism. People were sentenced to death for owning a Rosary, giving shelter to a priest, or indeed refusing to abjure the priesthood.

We are plenty familiar with the guillotine, but the revolutionaries concocted still other forms of execution as well, like the Drownings at Nantes, designed to humiliate and terrorize their victims.

Mises Institute