By mid 1793–4, the radical Jacobins had successfully completed their hijacking of the French Revolution.
They openly enacted agendas that might have seemed impossible in the heady days of 1787. Long gone were the pretenses of the original idealism when the revolution abolished feudalism, issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and wrestled with turning the Ancien Régime of Louis XVI into some sort of constitutional or parliamentary monarchy analogous to what had emerged in Great Britain.
Soon executing the clerisy en masse was logically followed by Jacobins guillotining thousands of surviving aristocrats and fellow revolutionaries for supposed counterrevolutionary sympathies.
Most of the leaders of the Jacobins were themselves finally guillotined, largely because their ascendant revolutionary zeal could end only in a sort of cannibalism — given that no revolutionary could possibly meet their accelerating purist demands. Mao’s Cultural Revolution was similar, though he slaughtered millions, not thousands.
In less melodramatic terms, we are watching a rare revolutionary phase in American politics as leftists have devoured Democrats. Progressives ate liberals. And progressives are now being devoured by socialists, and soon no doubt socialists will be eaten by hard leftists, Communists, anarchists, and nihilists. In such revolutionary logic, perhaps only Antifa will emerge as pure.
The result is that the 2020 election will offer the starkest choices in the past 50 years, far eclipsing the radical contrasts of 1972. The current parade of would-be Democratic presidential hopefuls is already apologizing for their past sins of Democratic centrism, in fear of being politically guillotined.
Senator Kamala Harris has pledged to follow the “New Green Deal” currently championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In other words, if enacted, the Democrats, within ten years of passing the bill, would favor ending all “nonrenewable” sources of electrical generation (natural gas, oil, coal, and nuclear) — or 83 percent of all the current ways that we produce electrical energy. Would the government go after classic Corvettes, confiscate Priuses, and electrify NASCAR? Outlaw gas lawn mowers and chain saws? Confiscate leaf blowers? Would Nancy Pelosi board a private solar- or battery-powered jet? Would Silicon Valley yachts rely on wind and sail?
We get almost no information about the real costs, much less the effect on the now booming U.S. energy sector. America is currently the largest producer of gas and oil in the world. Energy production is a vital source of national wealth, central to millions of American workers, and perhaps the greatest subsidy of middle-class lifestyles, through inexpensive fuel. Would fracking and horizontal drilling become like corn-mash stills during Prohibition?
The New Green Deal would wipe out the economies of a broad swath of states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Such legislation would make Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign blunder—“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”—seem in comparison not a major gaffe, but timid and counterrevolutionary.
The United States of Everyone
Open borders and the elimination of ICE will also be the stuff of 2019–20 Democratic debates. But they will be “debated” only in the sense that all contenders will either agree or go well beyond both positions in order to support blanket amnesty. In other words, the problem of illegal immigration would not be 20 million or so illegal aliens who have entered and resided in the country unlawfully, but no problem at all.
Millions more could arrive as they pleased. Caravans would become not the stuff of dramatic news accounts, but rather dreary daily events as thousands of the “other” exercised their global “rights” and “migrated” to the U.S. Or as Univision’s Jorge Ramos put it, the border is “nothing more than an invention.”
The subtext would be radical demographic change designed to finish flipping the southwestern United States to blue in the Electoral College. It would also fuel the growing narrative that America requires far more recalibration of constitutional “issues” if it is ever to achieve parity for the arriving impoverished and oppressed underprivileged, who have supposedly legitimate historical racial and class grievances against neocolonialist Yanqui culture.
What is unspoken about the current illegal-immigration issue is the assumption that open-borders activists and their supporters do not just believe that Spanish speakers have a right to enter the U.S. as they please, but also that they have a far greater right than anyone else from Asia, Africa, or Europe. This is the chauvinistic and ethnically exclusive position, not the inclusive, liberal, and pro-diversity stance.
Health Care — for the Healthy
Medicare for all will likewise become a 2020 rallying point. But aside from its multi-trillion-dollar costs, it would destroy the 55-year compact of Medicare and indeed the 85-year-old history of Social Security itself.
Namely, these programs were sold on a number of premises, but two especially. One: Younger and healthier Americans would subsidize the financial, career, and health challenges of an older generation that was no longer fully hale. Two (whether still valid or not): Americans from their preteen years “pay” into a system that keeps track of their chits, calibrated by both years and dollar amounts, to adjudicate their own eventual retirement benefits, the so-called grand bargain that one now pays for others so that still others to come will one day pay for him.
While the system is nearing insolvency, the tradition that Americans individually have already “paid” into their retirement benefits would be destroyed, once benefits were shared by millions who had not yet contributed much at all. The generational psychological bond would end, and the very logic of Social Security as a war between old and young would arise.
The elderly are not historically illiterate. They grasp that all universal “free” health-care scams eventually hinge on culling out the costly and bad investments, i.e., themselves. They know that “Medicare for all” translates into “Medicare for no one,” especially in an age of open borders. So they will not be paranoid to also assume that in an era of euthanasia and “managed” and “rationed” care, it makes more progressive social sense to “invest” in our youthful future than in “prolonging” already-spent lives — especially when we will be adding more ethnic and racial fuel to the generational inferno.
A society that approves of killing an infant shortly after it emerges from the birth canal might similarly have little compunction about pulling the plug on a 90-year-old who was deemed “unproductive” or suffering from “severe deformities” — albeit of course after a “conversation” with family and their “doctor.” To the Margaret Sanger mind, abortion and euthanasia are twins, and both are cost-effective means to free up dollars for more “moral” purposes.
The Criminal Rich
Another likely plank of the new Democratic party will be a “you didn’t build that” “wealth tax.” Many Democrats are talking seriously about an additional 2 percent or 3 percent tax on the accumulated wealth of particular large private fortunes, wealth that has already been taxed as income or capital gains.
Income over $10 million (or lower) would be taxed at 70 percent — or 90 percent as Democrats’ race to Venezuela accelerates. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and her adherents point to prior high rates of American taxation, without noting that they were accompanied by an array of tax loopholes and deductions, many of them eliminated in the 1980s Reagan tax revolution.
In our Balzac world of “behind every great fortune is an equally great crime,” assets of $10 million and up are proof enough of illegality. Talk of new wealth taxes, higher income-tax rates, and soaring estate taxes will make good on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s taunt that “there’s plenty of money in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands.”
The Cult of Reason
One hallmark of the radical French revolutionaries was a poorly disguised but predictable dislike of religion. Today it’s an aversion in particular to Catholicism and Judaism — at least if one collates the various statements of Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kamala Harris, and Mazie Hirono, and Representatives Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Hank Johnson, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The mainstreaming of anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, television commentary by the likes of Marc Lamont Hill, and the growing anti-Israeli foreign policy of the Democratic party only add to the anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hostility.
Revolutionary “scientific” socialism is historically agnostic if not atheist. Anywhere it has taken root in its multifarious forms — China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela — it seeks to destroy or corrupt religion. We have already seen attacks on Israel supporters within the Democratic party, attacks that are only thinly disguised anti-Semitic rants from the likes of Omar, Tlaib, and Linda Sarsour. One wonders how the anti-Catholicism of the Democratic Jacobins will connect with millions of new first- and second-generation Hispanic Catholic voters. Perhaps one of our young Robespierres can slightly modify the new atheist religion to “The Cult of the Supreme Being” and enjoin us all to worship an anthropomorphic Logos.
Once revolutionary movements accelerate, they must devour their own to ensure revolutionary purity, whether in fifth-century Greece, Republican Rome, revolutionary France, 1919 Russia, or Mao’s China.
We already are seeing some of this cannibalism, as the new socialists start consuming their aging progenitors. Liberal Tom Brokaw is under assault for suggesting the value of assimilation and that English should be reemphasized by the Latino immigrant community. During the Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings, Corey Booker and Kamala Harris upstaged old-guard Democratic liberals with their televised histrionics and their revolutionary creed that if one in theory can do a crime, then he is equally guilty of in fact committing it. Male feminists are learning that “inappropriate” jokes, staring, or attitudes are grounds for #MeToo ostracism.
In truth, there are far more revolutionary agendas to come. The Jacobins will have to explain how they plan on abolishing $1.5 trillion in aggregate student debt, at a time of a likely $22 trillion national debt, and how from here on out they will make college “free for all” in the manner of health care. Will adults who have driven a semi-truck since they were18 pay for the debts of hipster Pajama Boys who dabbled in six-unit semesters ad infinitum?
Will Maxine Waters’s idea of racial “reparations” become a mandatory position for Democratic candidates? If so, will Jay-Z, Oprah, Eric Holder, Louis Farrakhan, or LeBron James qualify?
Abortion is already being reconceptualized as a new Jacobin issue, but new only in the sense of pushing back the limit when babies can be “terminated” — oddly (or not so oddly) at a time when science is itself lowering the age of fetal viability ever closer to the moment of conception. Will Dr. Gosnell be given post factum amnesty?
Gun control will likewise be de rigueur, but not just in the sense of more registration, book work, and petty annoyances for the gun owner. In truth, confiscation is the only way to “control” millions of guns hidden away, handed down generation to generation, and sold and traded in private transactions — or at least we’ll have to mandate gun registration as a method of eventual collection.
Finally, just as the 18th-century Jacobins transferred the wealth and power of the church to the state, so the new Jacobins will demand more transfers of riches and influence to the federal government.
We have already seen the weaponization — or rather liberation? — of the IRS, the NSC, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSC.
Leftists believe that Lois Lerner — retired with full multimillion-dollar benefits and no threat of a trial let alone jail time — got a raw deal. They like the idea of surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of the names of “right-wing” Americans. For left-wingers, James Comey went from villain to hero once we learned that he had used the FBI to attempt to emasculate the Trump presidency. Ditto for the left-wing pundits James Clapper and John Brennan. Just as Jacobins worship billion-dollar Silicon Valley fortunes, so too they revere rogue bureaucrats who have warped their enormous powers of surveillance and prosecutorial abuse for correct leftist agendas.
By the time November 2020 arrives, the Clintons will be seen as reactionaries and the Obamas as old fogeys.
Something to Consider
If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content on the site including the digital magazine and archives, no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (through conference calls, social media groups, and more). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going.