Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Consider that the aforementioned term -- "counter-revolutionary" -- was invented by the terrorists of the French Revolution to stigmatize their opponents as the latter were being led to the guillotine. The first "counter-revolutionaries" were in fact the very people in whose name the revolution had triumphed, the Catholic peasants of the Vendee. A quarter of a million such enemies of the radical future were slaughtered in the Jacobin Terror of the revolutionary Year II. The peasants of the Vendee were not opposed to the changes of 1789 -- the constitutional reforms of the Monarchy, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the enfranchisement of the Third Estate - but to the revolutionary dictatorship that followed.’

‘The radical ethos of the French Revolution became the wellspring of a socialist revolt against bourgeois order that culminated in the establishment of the Soviet empire. On the other hand, the libertarian ethos of the American Revolution inspired the conservative opponents of the Soviet tyranny, a counter-revolution based on individual rights, free markets and democratic constitutions. The revolutionary societies that followed this latter path formed an alliance of free nations that would eventually confront the Soviet empire. The Cold War is often presented as a power struggle with no particular historical dimension. But it is more accurately seen as the climactic phase of the conflict between these contending traditions.

‘When these two traditions confront each other in their historic conflict, progressivism and conservatism (left and right) become inverse images. Within the Soviet bloc, progressive or "left" signifies counter revolution -- capitalism, liberalism, democracy; "right" means the defense of the conservative status quo (the Marxist dictatorship, communism, socialism). In the West, it is just the opposite: To be conservative within a revolutionary tradition simply means to conserve the paradigm peculiar to that revolution. To be conservative, or on the "right," in the context of the democratic West means to preserve the liberal, individualist and free-market framework that is its historic achievement and to act on the non-utopian premises that are its philosophical foundation. Among the highest values of the contemporary right in America are: individual freedom, the rule of law, private property, and limited government. The progressive left, by contrast, favors group identification and group rights; separate standards of behavior and performance for different groups; public or governmental control over private property; and generally greater governmental involvement in -- and oversight of -- the affairs of the populace.’ (emphasis mine)

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