Within a particularly brilliant Saturday evening essay on GBNews, British historian Neil Oliver recently warned, “In times such as these, there is often an appetite for, and calls for, revolution. I would advise against such means. Revolutions are for the birds—always a disaster in the end. Revolutions devour our children, as a wise man said.”
I must take exception with that last part of an otherwise terrific assessment. He was likely quoting Georg Büchner from Danton’s Death, “Revolution is like Saturn, it devours its own children.” But this same sentiment was later reiterated by Ernst Röhm, the Nazi who helped Hitler organize the German Workers’ Party, when he said, “All revolutions devour their own children,” as he sat in his cell waiting to be executed by his own, and perfectly illustrates a key European prejudice. Büchner was speaking of the French Revolution. That was the example. There was, however, one unique revolution—the American Revolution.
But I agree that Oliver’s worry is well-founded in these times so rife and riven with French nihilism, German socialism, and Russian fatalism.
Oliver goes on to say, “A preferable solution is to maintain all that is good. All that has served us well. Maintain the foundations of the old house and as much of the structure above as is still sound. Root out the rot and treat the wood worms. Repair and replace what is broken but keep as much as possible of what has stood the test of time, what has worked.”
This is, in fact, the only practical solution in a world of lurking viral and nuclear disaster. That is, if we are considering the fate of our children.
But it is then that Oliver delivers his sharpest point:
The bitter irony is that it appears that a revolution is indeed being planned. In fact, has been long in the planning and is now being rolled out. In the past, it was kings and nation-states that feared revolution by the common people, the slaves. Now it’s the state itself that is fomenting revolution from within. The rot is at the core, at the heart. By contrast, it’s the people, we the people who want the country and the culture and the heritage saved and must therefore resist the state-sponsored revolution with all the strength we have.
This, then, is the conundrum. How do we stand against those in power without resorting to revolution, and the bloody hell that would bring on?
My own answer, like Oliver’s, is perhaps not dramatic enough for some. It is to return to first principles, and repair those; as Oliver says, to root out the rot and worms, one at a time if necessary, and replace those structures with new wood. It is something we can each do, depending on our talents.
Should I say it? . . . Write your congressman, and your senators, and your town councilmen, and your school committee. Do not parrot others. Speak your own mind. Do not threaten. Cajole.
Write a fan letter to those who do the right thing. Give them some moral support.
Buy American-made products wherever you can. You may not be rich but there are none so poor as a slave in some Chinese factory.
Establish your own independence. Build a business—parttime, and, if it works, full-time. Leave the corporate rat race. Start a machine shop in your basement. Raise chickens. Sell eggs. Grow carrots. I am personally a believer in used books, not for the money (ha!), but for the soul food, and you will be preserving the literary heritage that is now being expurgated by the libraries and schools.
Teach a child to read. Then to read well . . . I think you get the idea.
The actions of the authorities are an effort to overthrow 200 years of self-government to install a permanent dictatorship. It is a rise of exactly the sort of fascism that our fathers and grandfathers defeated in World War II—or so we thought. Socialism may be the sharpest tool for the takeover, but the technical term for this sort of governance is fascism. It is the rule of the many by the few. It is the coordination of corporations and special interest groups, each with their own specific objectives but all in the interest of a single authority.
Of course, Oliver’s observation is not new nor unique to him. But it is the context that brings the point into focus—that the old double-edged saw, “The peasants are revolting,” has been turned on its head.