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On Madness And Revolution

30 May 2015 @ 19:21

How could it be anything but hard! It was more than the human heart could bear: to fall beneath the beloved ax — then to have to justify its wisdom.

But that is the price a man pays for entrusting his God-given soul to human dogma.

—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Volume II

I came across an interesting book review by Michael Jay in The London Review Of Books [tip of the fedora to Arts & Letters Daily] that inspired some reflections on the Madness in Revolutions.

[I should tell you that I do not think Mr. Jay would agree with my ruminations, nor probably would the author of the book being reviewed, although I think it would be a thought-provoking read.]

In mentioning Doctor Philippe Pinel, who was practicing before, during, and after the French Revolution, Mr. Jay writes:

…by 1793 he was physician at the Bicêtre hospital, an asylum-cum-prison on the southern outskirts of Paris long notorious for filth and neglect. He began his reforms by drawing up a list of the causes of insanity among its inmates. In striking contrast to his optimistic assessment of three years before [‘The national mind was flooded with vigour, “as though by some electric virtue, the system of nerves and muscles of a new life”. Everywhere in the newly energised city he heard people saying: “I feel better since the revolution.”‘], the longest column was headed ‘Events Connected with the Revolution’.

It was a confused and disparate category. Some of the Revolution’s casualties were enthusiasts whose initial joy had tipped into delirium. A typical case was the man who had ‘presented himself to the National Assembly as the representative of the Eternal Father, in order to relieve that assembly of its functions and to give new laws to France’. Others were its victims: men who had suffered ‘reversals of fortune’ and become deranged through fear of requisitions, state persecution and the guillotine. Many, women particularly, were no more than bystanders who had been stressed beyond endurance by events and become ‘pusillanimous and often self-tormenting’, lapsing into ‘a dark despondency of the soul alternating with terror or rage’.

That such fears arise after a violent and quickened Revolution is of no surprise — they are very real, as any person caught up in one will tell you.

That such fears can quickly morph into Madness is of no surprise, as well, because of the Nature of Man — stripped of all that he knows and loves, Chaos easily can make a home in his Soul.

As Mr. Jay writes [emphasis mine]:

Pinel, the first in the emerging profession of psychiatry to speculate on the effect of revolution on a nation’s mental health, was confronted with a paradox between revolution’s means and its ends. The national mind might have been reinvigorated, but many individuals had never recovered from ‘the profound seizures that are generally produced by various bloody and atrocious scenes’. Many more had been driven to mental collapse by the unbearable randomness with which anyone could lose livelihood, family or property. Emergency state powers, simultaneously vague and absolute, fed paranoia and fantasies of persecution. Food, fuel and medicine ran short, epidemic disease and mass starvation loomed; armies raped and pillaged, asylums were requisitioned and the mad and the sick spilled onto the streets.

The signature delusion of Pinel’s patients in his early days at the Bicêtre was the fear of losing one’s head. Pinel himself had been drafted, much against his will, into the cortège that escorted Louis XVI’s tumbril on 21 January 1793 from the Temple prison to the guillotine in what is now the place de la Concorde, and had witnessed the regicide ‘in a stupor of profound consternation’. In the following months he encountered many prisoners and lunatics whose terror of the guillotine had become chronic: a ‘habitual consternation that led to wasting away and death’.

It’s enough to drive even the most stable of minds Mad, if one’s guard is let down in a moment of Deep Despair over the overthrow of the Existing Order, if Stability is replaced by abject Fear.

As the years passed, a great number of French doctors and thinkers developed a modified version of this initial theory of why Madness rose during Revolutions:

…Bénédict-Augustin Morel, chief physician at the huge Maréville asylum in the 1850s, argued in his influential Traité des maladies mentales that ‘many neuropathies have been healed by major social agitation’, and revolution had overall ‘passed sentence on more nervous diseases than it has caused’. Political mass movements drew the melancholic and isolated out of their private suffering and into a public space that offered ‘a more vigorous direction, a more useful goal of activity, to the unhealthy, sick, indifferent constitution’.

Even if insanity increased during revolutions, it might be understood as an inevitable side-effect of progress…. [BOB: Where have we heard that before, eggheads?]

What we see hear, despite the huge accumulation of evidence [and bodies of the murdered in the name of Revolution] over several French Revolutions and the reign of the Totalitarian [and, never forget, Revolutionary] Napoleon, is the refusal by the French to accept that Revolutions are always Evil in their effect on the Society experiencing them.  They are a curse on the Souls of those who work to bring them about and implement them and maintain them, and they are the cause of the widespread martyrdom of an ever-growing number of Innocents.

But here is the most important point regarding Madness and Revolutions: One of the results of the increase in Madness due to Revolutionary movements is that the Mentally Ill and Deranged find a welcoming home in said movements.  And they find this welcoming place because to be a Revolutionary one must first let Madness rule your Soul:

For those unsympathetic to its ends the conclusion was plain: revolution was madness on a national scale. Edmund Burke, also writing in 1790, argued that the fear engendered by violent mass upheaval ‘robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning’, and had surrendered the French people to an ‘incomprehensible spirit of delirium and delusion’. [BOB: Dead solid perfect.] In 1805 Pinel’s protégé and successor at Bicêtre, Jean-Etienne Esquirol, agreed: ‘By bringing all the passions into play, by giving greater flight to feigned passions and exaggerating hateful passions … political agitation increases the number of madmen.’ Over the course of the 19th century the equation became commonplace. In 1834 Chateaubriand described the Terror of 1793-94 as ‘quite simply a mental illness’. De Tocqueville’s experience in suppressing the revolution of 1848 persuaded him that ‘in revolutions, especially democratic revolutions, madmen, not those so called by courtesy, but genuine madmen, have played a very considerable political part.’…

Indeed.  Does anyone of sound mind believe Hitler and Stalin were not Mad?  That Beria and Goebbels and Himmler were not Mentally Ill?

As Jean Raspail wrote in The Camp Of The Saints [Chapter 40]:

…When everything in society suddenly stops functioning rationally, that’s when the misfits crawl out of the woodwork. And with them their resentments, their utopian visions, their neuroses and psychoses. Mad dogs on the loose. A merry-go-round of feeble minds, free at last of all social fetters….

As so many have come to realize: Leftism is a form of Mental Illness, basing it’s philosophy [such as it is] on Utopian ideas that have no basis in Reality, rejecting completely Human Nature.

We must also remember that the label ‘Insane’ is one of tools used by Totalitarians in their quest to remove ‘Enemies Of The State’ from New Society and to strike fear in the Souls of those who are starting to question their Despotic Regime:

…By 1793 public hospitals, and often private nursing homes, were being requisitioned as prisons, and doctors becoming de facto jailers. The separate categories of political prisoner and lunatic established by the abolition of lettres de cachet were blurred by the demands of revolutionary justice. Enemies of the state were confined as lunatics; equally, those awaiting the guillotine for political crimes could be saved by pleading insanity.

Pinel later claimed that he had saved several obviously fake lunatics from execution. But he was also expanding the definition of madness. He classified the persistently devout as melancholics suffering from ‘delirium or holy intoxication’, a diagnosis that supported the closure of monasteries and the abolition of religious vows in 1790….

The Soviets and Maoists and others of their ilk would make great use of such tactics over the coming centuries.  And it must be said that the Left In America is trying in their softer, more subtle, way to do the same to conservatives, their use of this tactic being applied to gun owners at this time.

The Despots and their minions in our midst long ago decided to effect their Revolution in a stealth way, from within all of our institutions, but, most importantly, from within our hearts and minds.

For a hundred years, at least, the Left has been very successful in making us all think in the same twisted and deranged way they do.  In even the smallest of matters, we all tend to think and reason within the Leftist Narrative, accepting it as ‘a given’.

What once was seen as Normal and True is now deemed Abnormal and Perverse, while what is in Reality, in Truth, Abnormal and Perverse is believed and seen to be Normal and True.

No political victory over Leftism will long last if we do not also restore our Souls to health and crush the Revolution and Madnesses that are raging within each of our Souls.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.

Socrates taught us: Know thyself!

—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Volume I

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