Today's Politicos vs The Words and Deeds of The Founders
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Jacobins In The Streets

Jacobin: in the context of the French Revolution, a Jacobin was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary far-left political movement.  Wikipedia

Reign of Terror: The Committee of Public Safety came under the control of Maximilien Robespierre, a lawyer, and the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror (1793–1794). According to archival records, at least 16,594 people died under the guillotine or otherwise after accusations of counter-revolutionary activities. A number of historians note that as many as 40,000 accused prisoners may have been summarily executed without trial or died awaiting trial. Wikipedia

Founding Father, Fisher Ames made some interesting observations in his time, which are quite relevant to today.   Wherever you read “Jacobin” in Ames’ remarks, substitute “Marxist” or “Socialist.”

… whether it is envy that sickens at the fame of superiors, cupidity that seeks political power for the sake of plunder, or ambition that considers plunder as the instrument to get power; whether their characters are formed by the weak facility of their faith or their faith, determined by the sour, malignant, and suspicious cast of their temperament, yet all agree in this one point, all are moved by some fixed prejudice or strong passion, some powerful spring of action so blended with self-interest, or self love, and so exalted into fanaticism, that the ordinary powers of the man and the extraordinary powers conferred on the enthusiast, are equally devoted to their cause of anarchy.

Ames was referring to the Jacobins in France, but his observations ring startlingly true for today’s OWS crowd and the politicians who seek to make use of them.  Ames feared the anarchy of a mobocracy,

A mobocracy, however, is always usurped by the worst men in the most corrupt times; in a period of violence by the most violent. It is a Briareus with a thousand hands, each bearing a dagger; a Cerberus gaping with ten thousand throats, all parched and thirsting for fresh blood. It is a genuine tyranny, but of all the least durable, yet the most destructive while it lasts. The power of a despot, like the ardor of a summer’s sun, dries up the grass but the roots remain fresh in the soil.  A mob government, like a West India hurricane, instantly strews the fruitful earth with promiscuous ruins, and turns the sky yellow with pestilence. Men inhale a vapor like the sirocco, and die in the open air for want of respiration. It is a winged curse, that envelops the obscure as well as the distinguished, and is wafted into the lurking places of the fugitives. It is not doing justice to licentiousness to compare it to a wind which ravages the surface of the earth; it is an earthquake that loosens its foundations, burying in an hour the accumulated wealth and wisdom of ages. Those who, after the calamity, would reconstruct the edifice of the public liberty, will be scarcely able to find the model of the artificers, or even the ruins. Mountains have split and filled the fertile valleys, covering them with rocks and gravel; rivers have changed their beds; populous towns have sunk, leaving only frightful chasms, out of which are creeping the remnant of living wretches, the monuments and the victims of despair. This is no exaggerated description. Behold France, that open hell, still ringing with agonies and blasphemies, still smoking with sufferings and crimes, in which we see their state of torment, and perhaps our future state. There we see the wretchedness and degradation of a people, who once had the offer of liberty, but have trifled it away; and there we have seen crimes so monstrous, that, even after we know they have been perpetrated, they still seem incredible.

Little more than 100 years later, the Bolsheviks would triumph in Russia, ushering in a regime that would result in the deaths of millions through collectivization and artificial famines.  Countless more would die under the communists in China.

Instead of these analogous movements, some apologists for the OWS crowd try to make comparisons with the Tea Party.  They say that both are clamoring for change, and some even criticize the Tea Party for not joining the ranks of the unwashed in Zuccotti Park.  But there is no comparison.  The Tea Party would change and limit government, not destroy it.  The Tea Party would revert to the rule of law and the Constitution, the nation’s supreme law.  The OWS protestors would destroy it and replace it with Socialism.  Too harsh?

A score of absurd cant opinions must be scouted, all which tend to make us like the jacobin designs a little more, and to dread and abhor their agents a little less.  Take a specimen of the proselyting logic; the Jacobins, they tell us, are many of them honest men, but misled. Whether they will long remain honest, yet the associates of knaves and their fellow workers of iniquity, may be doubted.  If the invectives against those who insist on being called honest, among the jacobins, are “too harsh and acrimonious” today, they will by tomorrow, or the next day, be sufficiently assimilated to the company they keep, and the designs they pursue, to merit them; they get a character for life only one day too soon. 

And what is this company they are keeping?  It’s a diverse crowd of really terrific groups like the Neo-Nazis in Phoenix, and CAIR,  a front for the terrorist group, Hamas.   These groups are not necessarily running the show, but they are undoubtedly comfortable with this crowd.  Like it or not, one is judged by the company one keeps.

The press and many of the municipalities hosting Occupy protestors are doing all they can to manipulate public opinion in favor of the OWS movement.  A Virginia-based Tea Party organization is suing the city of Richmond for a refund of the fees it payed (over $10,000) to legally assemble in plaza on three separate occasions.  They haven’t charged the Occupy crowd anything and seem content to let them camp indefinitely.  The press is very selective in its coverage of OWS.  How much has the average person heard about stats like these?

Occupy Wall Street Stats

Here is what Ames has to say about public opinion and political correctness,

It must be remembered, too, that public opinion is the great auxiliary of good government. Where can its weight fall so properly as on the conspirators who disturb its tranquillity and plot its subversion? The man who, from passion or folly, or bad company, happens to believe, that liberty will rise when government sinks, may be less criminal, but little less contemptible, for his sincerity.  If a madman should poison a spring, because he fancies that all who drink and die will goto heaven and be happy, is he to be soothed and indulged? Will you let him have his way? Are you not to tell those who are thirsty, and about to drink the poisonous water, that it is death? Will it be against “candor and decency” to tell them that the man is mad? The gentle critics on the style of federal writers would have that scorn withheld, which is almost the only thing that actually restrains the jacobins from mischief; that scorn, which makes those who might be misled ashamed to join them.

The time for “gentle criticism” is over.  These people should be derided and chided for the fools they are.  Ames prescribes the remedy, but warns that it will not be easy,

If, however, the real people will wake, when their own government is in danger; if like a body of minute men they will rally in its defense, we may long preserve our excellent system unimpaired in the degree of its liberty; we may preserve every thing but our tranquillity.

It is time to wake up.


1 Michael E. Newton { 11.02.11 at 5:27 am }

Every time I read Fisher Ames, I become more impressed by his knowledge, foresight, and eloquence. Have you read any good bios on the man?


Martin Reply:

Michael, he does write amazingly well. I haven’t read a biography, per se. But I am reading a collection of his writings produced shortly after his death. In it, there is an introductory biography. What a fantastic intellect.


Michael E. Newton Reply:

I’m sure you’ll review the book for us when you are done. I ran across his writings in my research and was mesmerized.

“A democracy is a volcano, which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption, and carry desolation in their way.” ~ Fisher Ames at the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention in 1788


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