A Tale of Two Revolutions
The debate about guns is stuck at a tactical level: should there be guns or should they be banned? I will not participate in the debate as I am aware both sides are sticking to their positions. There is no debate, just a deaf discussion. Instead I propose to review the issue from a deeper perspective, a strategic level. An examination of a tiny difference between the American and the French Republics, born but a few years apart, and almost on the same model.
Revolution can mean different things
The American Revolution
According to the history books, the American Revolution started in 1774 and ended with the treaty of 1783. The United States Constitution came into effect in 1789. The all important Bill of Rights became effective in 1791. A system of checks and balances insured individual freedoms and limited the government powers. From Boston to Savannah it was the best of times.
The French Revolution
The French Revolution started the same year the US Constitution was adopted. Lafayette and others who participated in both, probably intended to establish a very similar model. That was not to be. Instead the revolution descended into horror. For two years the first republic decided to, officially, govern by terror. Snitching was endemic. You could lose your head in “trial by gossip”. The mob, with all its renowned wisdom, was in charge. Only those with the lowest possible profile survived. Those in charge of the terror, inevitably also lost their heads. The carnage of the first republic left the country with only a handful of natural leaders. In 1804, to the people’s relief the republic gave birth to an empire, the ultimate evidence of the failure of this social experiment.
The fateful differences
The origin of each revolution is startlingly different. Reason lead to the American Revolution, anger led to the French Revolution. The American Revolution started with a demand for representation. The French Revolution was the result of centuries of untold abuses by the ruling nobility and clergy.
Strategically France was surrounded by countries, governed by kings, fully committed to drown any revolution in the blood of the revolutionaries. There was no opposition to the Bill of Rights from the outside as America was an isolated continent.
Tactically the American Revolution was fought against enemy troops. Foreign British troops sent from England and Hessen contractors. The battle lines were clear making the war somewhat less personal. America’s natural leaders remained in leading positions. It was easier to establish a new nation as all had fought together knowing each other’s merits and respective positions.
The tactical situation in France was very different. It was total war. There were violent insurrections within the borders and committed, powerful enemies outside the borders. The war outside was bad, but the civil war was worse. After the nobility and others in opposition to those currently leading the revolution had either run abroad or been beheaded, the revolutionaries fought anyone who even hinted they were not as radical as fashion dictated, or simply looked too smart. It was extremely personal and very heated. With an insinuation, your land lady could sentence you to death. The French people had their first injection of learned helplessness.
Due to these differences, the French revolution gave birth to a very different document than the Bill of Rights. It is called, hypocritically, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. It should have been called the Declaration of the Rights of the Government. There were some major and significant advances on basic rights compared to the “Ancient Regime”. But, there was nothing comparable to the Second and Third Amendments of the American Bill of Rights.
The Third Article of the Declaration of the Rights of Man reads:
“The principle of any sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation. No group, no individual can exert authority which does not emanate expressly from it.”
Subsequent governments interpreted “Nation” as the State. The French revolution replaced the tyranny of the kings by the tyranny of the state. There are no checks and balances and above all there would never be, god forbid, any right to keep and bear arms – unless sanctioned by the almighty State.
The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to limit the power of government. The Declaration of Rights of Man instead fully ascertained the absolute power of the state.
Different bearings lead to different places
American “can do” attitude
Americans have great individual powers. Many great things and sometimes terrible things are the result. In the endthe terrible things are very regrettable but the great things are innumerable and remarkable.
America’s “can do” attitude is unique in the world.
The latest example of American can-do attitude is demonstrated in the Space X launch of the Falcon Heavy. Here we have a recent (2002) American citizen who could never have done what he did in any other country. Elon Musk started a software company, from there he established a successful online financial service company, then started a space company while also developing a very successful, and disrupting electric car company, not to mention a “boring” company. Where else but America can a man park his own car in orbit around Mars using the most powerful rocket from Earth, while the radio plays David Bowie and the screen honors Douglas Adams.This kind of panache has not been heard of since Edmond Rostand created Cyrano de Bergerac.
In an early success of Space X, the launch of a rocket, all the young men and women in the control room cheered, as expected. Interestingly the cheers quickly turned to USA! USA! USA! All these young men and women clearly were aware this was only possible in the country they cheered.
French “learned helplessness”
Learned helplessness is the default attitude of victims who have given up the hope to escape offensive actions. Many recent victims of the current Hollywood scandals mentioned this state of helplessness. Still in a free society, while many careers were ruined, and many lost their meaning and purpose, they were able find some respite outside Hollywood. I am not minimizing the plight of these victims. Just imagine if there was no escape from Weinstein who would have parental custody over his victims. This utter helplessness is the French norm. Whatever group controlled the state controlled the French people. These elites have repeatedly betrayed the French. As a result, France was invaded in 1815, 1870, and, of course in 1940.
One can only wonder if the Nazis would have paraded as comfortably on the Champs Elysees if, in France there was “a rifle behind every blade of grass”. What could the French people have achieved if they had America’s Bill of Rights? We certainly will never know. I believe, if every French man had a rifle, Dunkirk would have ended very differently. I believe this because the same French men in 1914, rose to the occasion when in taxis and cars they moved an army north to the river Marne to save France from yet another major blunder by the incompetent elites. With only their cars they turned the tide of the war; imagine the possibilities if they had guns.
Luckily for the helpless French,in 1944, American boys, raised with guns, did not hesitate to take the Normandy beaches. America has never run from a justified fight. In a way the French owe much to the Bill of Rights. If not for the American Bill of Rights, the French would be speaking German.
Contemporary evidence of the difference
The Train attack
The terrorist on the train to Paris did not expect to meet Americans on August 21, 2015. There were many French men and women on the train. One Frenchman, (on the left on the picture) actually participated in neutralizing the terrorist armed with AK 47 and a lot of ammunition. We cannot be sure of the percentage of Frenchmen who attacked versus the number of those who froze. The percentage of the US men who were there is easy to calculate. All of them charged, at once. They were not armed like their opponent, yet they charged anyway. The underlying reason for this is that these young men grew up uninhibited in a country where people are expected to fight for what is right, where courage is rewarded. They were born and raised in the home of the brave and the land of the free. The second amendment has indeed far reaching benefits in the American psyche. The other French people in the train can hardly be blamed, they have been conditioned to never, ever stand for what is right and instead wait for the state to send its police or, these days, its army.
French official policy is a far cry from the America’s “Run–Hide– Fight”. The French State recommends “Escape–Hide– Alert.” Fighting is not part of the vocabulary. The difference between Run and Escape is also telling. One usually runs to call for reinforcement; escape or flight reminds, again, helplessness. The one thing the French cannot escape is their government.
Another difference is the attitude toward entrepreneurship. In the US being successful means having a business. The business can be large, it can be tiny, but every citizen strives to have their own business. Even a young employee thinks about running their own business, hence the incredible dynamism of the US economy. An American strives to gain a sense of accomplishment.
The French man instead is content the moment he is able to take care of himself and his family.
In France, one is successful if one finds a good position in a renowned company. Plan B is to be a government employee. There are so many government positions to feed the all-powerful State.
One is never safe from the rule of the mob. In a country where there are no firearms the mob, every bad guy and his brother, know they are invincible until the police arrive. They know the police are always several minutes away and they need only seconds to strike. Business negotiations between unions and a corporation as powerful as Air France can quickly devolve into a melee where one is happy to lose only his shirt. You have to be a masochist to start your his own business, or keep it going. According to the World Bank, the USA is the 8th country in which setting up business is the easiest. The top country is New Zealand, while France is 29th.
Adieu l’ Entrepreneur! It is rumored a US president told a British Prime Minister: “The trouble with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” This is not true; there is a word, but only in the dictionary, not in the life plans of the French people.
State of war
By the end of 2017, and 10 years of deployment in Afghanistan, the French lost 70 soldiers. From 2015 to 2017 the French lost 130 citizens’ lives in Paris and over 400 wounded to which one must add 86 dead and 450 wounded in Nice. It is significantly safer to be a soldier in a war zone than a citizen in his own country.
The French Army is often deployed, in France! A necessity because the citizenry is constitutionally prohibited to keep and bear arms, and judicially sanctioned in most self defense cases.
France does not have a Third Amendment, only Article 3 of the Declaration of Man. What checks and balances are possible, or even imaginable, when the army is routinely deployed in the street? The first words of the French Constitution are not: “We the People”. For now the French accept living in a Police state for, you guessed it, their own security. Well at least this this army of occupation speaks French. It certainly makes communicating easier.
How did the French arrive in this fractal FUBAR? They have had plenty of warnings; the writing was on the wall for a long time. In fact in case they were blind, but not deaf, one of their presidents stated loudly the State would find constraining methods toward miscegenation if the population was not going to discipline itself in this direction. To their own elites the French people are no more than a herd of cows, Holstein maybe? No US President would ever dare speak to his people this way. In France the president can as the people’s “learned helplessness” is endemic. My point is not against love stories across racial or ethnic lines; there has been enough Romeo and Juliet suffering the stupidity of their respective families. But the State considering constraining miscegenation methods? In another time the French would have rallied: Aux Armes Citoyens! But since it did not go so well the last time they have just given up. By now it is a way of life.
One can only wonder what would have happened if the French Revolution had simply adopted the Bill of Rights? Would the Republic, instead of being repeatedly crushed and invaded, have exported its model to the other EU countries? It would not have been so easy for the kings to muster their people against the French when the word spread the French republic had in fact guaranteed individual freedoms and the right to keep and bear arms? Would we have today instead some United States of Europe on the US model long before the Brussels unelected bureaucrats twisted the concept to give birth to an abomination that only adds to the already heavy control of the state?
Lest we forget to what we owe the American Spirit
We live in the most peaceful time in human history. Due to recent tragedies involving firearms, a shallow observer, missing the underlying long term consequences of the Second Amendment, may believe it is time to abandon the rights guaranteed in the Amendment. This shallow observer fails to recognize all the great things and benefits which were only possible because of the freedom granted by the Amendment. The shallow observer should look long and hard at the comparison between the French “helplessness” and the American “can-do” attitude. Remove the Second Amendment and the “can-do” will survive, for a while. When the attitude is gone, America will be in a situation comparable to France. With no limitations on the power of the State and an army in the streets, the American Dream will very much look like the French nightmare.
Since the Titanic, there have been very few cruise ships sinking for reasons other than war. Ships and yachts have become safer. Still no one would step on a modern cruise ship without lifeboats. No one is fooled when it comes to safety, but security is an elusive concept.
The French do not lack bravery. There are many in France like those who landed in Normandy and those who were part of the resistance. What is missing is the spine of the elites who have repeatedly betrayed their own people. In the absence of a Bill of Rights the elites have de facto full immunity and face no consequences. The French population has been systematically conditioned into “learned helplessness”.
On the other hand a typical American is unafraid. There is nothing to fear when one is armed. This attitude is also endemic. Many people who never carried a firearm are just as unafraid. Many of the most successful businessmen never bothered with guns. Still their businesses thrive because of the daring atmosphere created by the Bill of Rights. They never hesitated to start a business in a garage or in a basement because the American Spirit encourages everyone to do so. Try to create a private space company in France, or anywhere else for that matter.
The second amendment is the tipping point
The Bill of Rights was established as a dam to contain the government powers, yet, since it was written, it has been attacked and weakened. The Bill of Rights remains the only bulwark defending American individual freedoms and therefore the very heart of the American experiment. The keystone of the Bill of Rights is the Second Amendment. Let’s not open the flood gates.
We all agree with “Never Again” and we must find an effective solution to protect students’ lives in order give them a chance to get their piece of the American Dream. But, if “learned helplessness” is the cost of safety, we will have protected their lives and killed their American Spirit.
Hopefully this “World Government” will do much better than the UN but, it could also be much worse. This World Government will either be the United States of the World, or the People Republics of the World. Already on a Libertarian-Utilitarian axis, we are leaning toward the utilitarian side. We need to fight in order to keep our individual freedoms. It is impossible to fight without our right to bear arms, as guaranteed in the Second Amendment. The globalists, the tech companies and the bureaucrats want the Chinese model. Those who wish to provide our grand children the freedoms we enjoyed better get busy. Or these grand children will be herded like cattle.
Unlike the many British celebrities who have immigrated to the USA to tell Americans how they should conduct themselves, I came to this country, because I am convinced, like Neil Gorsuch; “the US constitution is the greatest charter of human liberties the world has ever known.”