Happy Bastille Day

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Before the day really ends, I'd like to souhaite a Bonne F?te Nationale to all the Jacobins, Royalists, Girondins, Marquis de Sades, and Reason's own Scaramouche Jean Bart (truly a man "born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad"), as we mark the ultraviolent, wantonly destructive, absolutist, socialist, fascinating, failed revolution that in the long run may or may not (the jury's still out) have helped, in mostly indirect ways, the cause of universal freedom and justice.

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  1. Ah, Proust!

  2. Is JB still posting these days? I don’t think I have seen a comment from him since the French Revolution!

  3. He is, as Gary Gunnels. 🙂

  4. I think Jean Bart has taken the summer off to tan his bum.

  5. Two DC references by Julian in one day. I will infer that Julian is one of those hipsters living in downtown DC. Cool.

  6. Jesse,

    Absolutely, for example, check out the chapter “The Real Jewish Peril” in her Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, where she leaves history and makes really insipid and unfavorable to Jews in general, social commentary. I think that she probably has not received all the credit that she deserves for her history because of her stupid comments about Jews.

    However, not in The French Revolution, where she does not mention the word “Jews” once, and also she always maintained that there were no Jews among those who had a significant role in the conspiracy she perceived behind the revolution.

    BTW, back in her day, she was not considered to be an anti-Semite. My first exposure to Nesta Webster was for the evidence she presented against the Protocols forgery. She pointed out that Sergye Nilus, the first person to publish the Protocols, ?was a pronounced anti-Semite?. And also, she advanced the theory that; ?it would not be difficult for Nilus to reconstruct the program of world revolution (from existing documents) weaving into them at the same time the idea of a Jewish conspiracy? pg. 296 in World Revolution 1994 edition.

    I thought her The French Revolution was good piece of detective work and it seems like contemporary historians have seen some of the same conspiratorial forces at work behind revolutionary movements that she did.. I gave this link earlier: http://www.premier1.net/~barkonwd/nwebster.htm Also Fire in the Minds of Men by James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, makes a similar thesis.

    Of course, Webster probably got some history wrong but isn?t ?a notoriously sloppy historian?, a little rough ?

  7. The French Revolution by Nesta Webster considers the conspiratorial nature of the Jacobins. Check out this from an Interview with the historian Carroll Quigley:
    http://www.premier1.net/~barkonwd/nwebster.htm

    Whoa! I just found a wild inaccuracy. When you search google for Nesta Webster, the first link that comes up is: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SSwebsterN.htm
    Concerning her The French Revolution, this web page says that:
    “In the book she claimed that the Jews had prepared and carried out the French Revolution.
    In fact, she makes no such claim and the word “Jew” does not even appear in the book!

  8. Andrew,

    Bum watcher! Cheeky monkey!

  9. Well, they had a extra-good day, as Richard Virenque won the day’s stage of the Tour de France.

  10. Rick: If anything, I wasn’t rough enough — I should have said “kooky” rather than “sloppy.” I’ve read a few pieces (can’t remember the citations, but if they’re online Google will find ’em) that just tore apart Webster’s evidence and the way she uses it. She let her obsessions (especially her anti-Semitism) guide her, and they led her in some truly weird directions.

    Secret societies did play a role in the French revolution — not in a The Illuminati Run Everything way but because they sometimes served as a useful cover for surreptitious organizing. But I wouldn’t turn to Webster to learn about them.

  11. Bonjourrrr, ye cheese-eating surrender monkeys! (Well, someone was bound to say it.)

  12. To celebrate, can we send Jacques Chirac to the guillotine?

    You know, just for old times sake? 🙂

  13. Jesse,

    Well, you’ve got me curious now. Years ago I looked into mainstream critique of The French Revolution and I thought that it held up pretty well. I think I’ll try to Google up the pieces you cited.

    That is the only book of hers that I read all the way thru although, I also own and have read parts of,World Revolution, Surrender of an Empire and Secret Societies and Subversive Movements.

    Webster was certainly no libertarian and in fact at one time pined for “a man like Mussolini for England” Also, besides Jews, she also harbored stupid prejudices against Germans. I try to overlook everything and still be open to appreciating some of her history.

    As I said, my first encounter with her was in an anti-anti-Semitic context. My second was when The French Revolution was on an “alternative approaches” reading list for a French History course that I took.

    If you think that her anti-Semitism and her other obsessions guided her in all her historical studies I can understand you being very skeptical of everything she wrote. But, I don’t see any of those obsessions at play in The French Revolution.

    Do you remember if any of those pieces that tore apart Webster’s evidence and the way she uses it were concerning her writings on the French Revolution?

    Also, you said that you should have used “kooky”. Well, from the back cover of World Revolution, there is this: “…a strong literary obsession overcame her that she had lived in eighteenth-century France, and like the “Ladies of Versailles”, the more she read about the French Revolution, the more she remembered!”

  14. I don’t know if she mentioned Jews in that particular book, Rick, but Nesta Webster was definitely an anti-Semite. And a notoriously sloppy historian.

  15. Ah yes, the French Revolution. Exhibit 1 of “How The French Screw Up Every Great Idea”.

  16. of course, the neocon ascendancy is exhibit 1 of “how americans haughtily refuse to learn from the french screwing up”.

    do we really need or want a jacobin revival? because it seems we have one.

  17. Liberty
    Equality
    Brotherhood

  18. I guess now I know why there was a huge line outside Bistro du Coin on Connecticut Weds. evening…

  19. I wrote that in her day, she was not considered an anti-Semite. Now circa 1921 when she was winning gratitude of Jewish groups for her skepticism of the “Protocols” forgery, this was probably true.

    However, by 1938 when she was writing stuff like this: http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/wars/germanyandengland/8.shtml her anti-Semitism was manifest and her anti- German feelings seem to have given way to Nazi apologetics.

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