Then and Now: It's a Conspiracy!
In 1793 and in 2022, when things start going south
I’ve “always known” about the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. And I’ve seen the iconic waxwork of Marat murdered in his bath at Madame Tussauds.
But now I am reading Simon Schama’s Citizens: a Chronicle of the French Revolution. The book is a blow-by-blow account. And now we are in March 1793, and there is a bit a a cock-up on the revolution front.
There’s the Vendée rebellion in the west, of traditional farmers and priests. And there are military defeats on the eastern frontier against the Prussians and the Austrians.
Within the came week, the Convention hears of the defeat at Neerwinden, a further military collapse near Louvain, Custine’s abrupt retreat in the Rhineland and the Vendéan uprising.
And there is rampant “inflation” because of money printing of assignats to make up for the shortfall in gubmint revenue. Of course, the word “inflation” hadn’t been invented yet. That didn’t come until the 1830s.
Not surprisingly, the revolutionaries in Paris were beside themselves. It looked like the whole sacred project was going to collapse. What could be the problem?
To many deputies, and not just those of the Mountain [Jacobins], there could be only one explanation for this sorry trail of disasters: conspiracy.
Do you see why it is perfectly natural that our good Democratic friends from President Biden on down are convinced of a concerted attack on “Our Democracy?”
That’s what all of us humans do when everything is collapsing about us. It’s a conspiracy! It’s election denialists! It’s racist-sexist-homophobes! It’s far-right conspiracists! In the olden time it was the Robber Barons! The Commies!
The question is, of course, what happens next? First of all, there is the uncertainty.
You see, if our Democratic friends knew they were going to lose the midterms, big time, they might be tempted to declar Russian collusion right up front and cancel the elections. But, of course, there is a bit of a problem here, because elections are run by the states. And a lot of the states are run by Republicans. And, of course, after the shenanigans of 2020 Republicans from Donald Trump on down are looking for fraud at all levels of voting, from weird pauses in counting the votes to the harvesting of mail-in votes. And, I assume, the Zuckerbergs aren’t throwing their money around this time to “help.”
So, nobody really knows what will happen until the day after the election and then, if there is a “red wave” or a “red tsunami,” it will be too late to sicc the FBI on every Republican from senator to dogcatcher. No, really, Attorney General Garland and Director Wray: Too Late.
Seriously, it is amazing what a blowout election does to the defeated party. If you have a close election, like in 2016 and 2020, then everyone starts up with their favorite conspiracy theory. But if you have a move of 5 seats in the Senate and 50 seats in the House, well, anyone can see that there’s a change in the political weather.
Of couse, it was perfectly OK to kick Richard Nixon out of the White House after his 1972 landslide with Watergate and try the same gig on Ronald Reagan after his 1984 landslide with Iran Contra.
Wait! Suppose the Republians try to Watergate/Iran Contra our dear friend President Biden with “Hunter’s Laptop.” OMG! Like, they wouldn’t dare. Would they? Anyway , they don’t have the votes in the Senate. Not yet.
Seriously though. I wonder what the Narrative will be after November 8. The dearly departed Rush Limbaugh used to do a tape of six or seven journalists all parroting the exact same phrase-of-the-day. We will soon know.
But I think that the Democrats are more likely to do something stupid than dangerous. That’s the way things go when a ruling class is past its sell-by date.