On Sunday March 10, 1793, in the village of Pin-en-Mauges in western France, a prominent local textile vendor named Jacques Cathelineau was peacefully enjoying his Sunday afternoon, when five men suddenly appeared to deliver urgent news.
Cathelineau could probably read their faces and knew what happened before anyone said a word.
By the spring of 1793, the French Revolution had been in full swing for nearly four years, and the entire nation was in chaos.
King Louis XVI and his family were executed two months prior, and the country was now being run by a faction of left-wing radicals under Maximilien Robespierre.
Robespierre spent money like a drunken sailor, and his extreme spending binge resulted in massive government budget deficits. So, he and his allies concocted an absurd paper money scheme… which predictably resulted in skyrocketing prices. Full-blown hyperinflation would strangle France soon after.
Robespierre’s pitiful leadership also managed to spark a war against Prussia, Britain, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire.
And with so much pressure from rising prices, war, and political instability, the French economy crashed. Industrial and agricultural output plummeted. And there were shortages of key resources, including food.
In short, France was a complete disaster.
Yet despite such horrendous conditions, there was an even worse problem lurking: French society was deeply divided– between those who ardently supported the revolution, and others those supported the church and return to monarchy.
This ideological polarization was so extreme that violence became a foregone conclusion.
And that’s what the men had come to tell Jacques Cathelineau on March 10, 1793: the social uprising had begun.
Hours before, violence had broken out between revolutionary forces and a local group of royalist teenagers… and it was time for people to pick sides once and for all.
Jacques Cathelineau knew exactly where he stood: he was loyal to Church and King, just like most people in the region. So, he comforted his terrified wife, promised that God would protect them, and departed to assemble the villagers.
Cathelineau started with just 26 men from his tiny hamlet. But by the time he reached Jallais Castle some 7 kilometers away, his ranks had swollen to over 3,000.
This event marked the start of what’s known as the Vendée War– a civil war within the French Revolution. It was an ideological conflict pitting pro-monarchy, pro-Catholic peasants against the forces of Robespierre… as well as against ordinary French citizens who supported the revolution.
The violence was brutal. The following day, for example, on March 11th, 1793, hundreds of pro-revolution Frenchmen were massacred in the town of Machecoul. And the pro-revolution faction carried out its share of massacres as well.
It was French-on-French violence, and no one was spared. Men, women, and children participated in the killings, and they were victims as well.
This is an obviously extreme, nightmare scenario. But it’s a cautionary tale worth examining given the number of warning signs we can see in our own time.
France in the 1790s was a major superpower in decline. In fact, it had fallen so much from its peak that it was hardly recognizable.
The people in charge were incompetent fanatics who believed that they (and they alone) were enlightened enough and had the properly aligned moral compass to tell everyone else how to live their lives.
In fairness, some of their ideas were good. Others were highly destructive.
But the Vendée War did not arise because of policy ideas. People erupted because they were tired of an all-knowing group of elitists force-feeding their belief system onto everyone else.
Those same leaders in government fanned the flames of societal polarization. They persecuted their political opponents. They censored ideological and intellectual dissent. And they claimed that any opposition to their ideas constituted a threat to the Republic.
These conditions are similar to our own time. Fanatical elitists lead a major superpower, and the West in general. Both are in decline. They attack ideological dissent and insist that democracy is under attack. Opponents are labeled “Right Wing Extremists”.
The polarization is so strong that publications from the New York Times to Politico seem to think that a “New Civil War” is already upon us.
Now, ‘war’ is a very strong word… typically used by people who have never experienced it in person. Twitter feuds do not constitute war. Even violent protests do not constitute war.
But it’s clear there is an extreme divide upon Western Civilization that may very well be the greatest threat that we face.
External war, whether against China, Russia, Iran, or all three, would be horrendous. But winnable. And at the moment, despite all the woke histrionics from the US Defense Department, there is not a nation in the world that wants to test the resolve of the United States Marine Corps.
Deeply rooted internal conflicts, on the other hand, are hardly ever winnable.
At the moment it’s too dramatic to suggest that there’s a New Civil War upon us, or even coming. But we are already at the point of “Civil Divide”, capital C capital D.
And we can see it all over the West, from all sides of the political spectrum, in all shapes and sizes. The BLM Summer of Love in 2020. January 6. The absurd “Queers for Palestine” marches.
Then there’s Ireland… which on Friday was shocked by the brutal stabbing of several children.
All it took to send people into an absolute frenzy was the rumor that the attacker was a Muslim foreigner, and rioters took to the streets.
The fires, the looting, etc. were clearly stupid. And illegal. But that doesn’t invalidate the anger that people feel, even if their reaction was immoral and based on unsubstantiated rumor.
Migration in Europe is an obvious crisis, and people are justifiably angry.
Europe’s delusional elitist leaders threw open the doors, allowed people in by the shipload, showered them with outrageous taxpayer-funded benefits, then force-fed “multi-culturalism” down everyone’s throat whether they wanted it or not.
Two decades of this ridiculous policy has resulted in marches of tens of thousands of Muslims in the streets shrieking “Allahu Akhbar” and “White Trash” while they waive Hamas, Taliban, and al-Qaida flags.
People are fed up with it. They’re fed up with rising crime, violence, and rape. They’re fed up with being told to respect others’ culture while no one respects them or their own culture.
Arson and looting are obviously wrong on so many levels, and the rioters in Dublin should be prosecuted just like any other criminal.
But the government response has been very telling.
Rather than talk about the underlying problems in their society, the Irish parliament has immediately taken action to update hate crime and hate speech legislation; Senator Pauline O’Reilly said today that if Irish people’s anger over migration policy causes foreigners “such discomfort that they cannot live in peace,” then it is “our job, as legislators, to restrict freedom for the common good.”
No one seems to care about the discomfort of Irish people fed up with the government’s multiculturalism fantasy.
The Irish rioters’ looting, violence, and arson was totally wrong on so many levels. But the anger over failed policy and bad ideas is understandable: multiculturalism has been a disaster. In fact, nearly everything these delusional elitists have come up with has been a disaster.
It’s not just in Europe, either. Lockdowns, mask mandates, decriminalized shoplifting, cashless bail, non-prosecution of crime, the southern border crisis, etc. came from the same types of delusional elitists in the US.
New York City probably embodies this delusional elitism the best. It’s a ‘sanctuary city’ which ignores federal immigration law. And soon-to-be Mayor Eric Adams said proudly (on June 3, 2021) that “people from every nation seek refuge” in New York.
The city practically rolled out the red carpet for illegal migrants… and now it’s a full-blown crisis. Mayor Adams now whines to the federal government to bail out his poor judgment and has asked New Yorkers to open their homes to migrants.
Naturally, there are very few people who do so. It’s easy to support a policy idea when you don’t have to bear the cost.
(When I was in New York City two months ago, city officials had just evicted a 95-year-old Korean War veteran from public housing… to make room for migrants.)
Naturally, immigration only scratches the surface of the tip of the iceberg. Cities across the country are seeing the destructive results of their idiotic policies about homelessness, business regulation, woke prosecution, etc.
Yet despite the mountain of evidence that their ideas don’t work, the delusional elitists still want to plow ahead with their ideas… and label the opposition as right-wing extremism.
Even more astonishing is the millions of passionate ignoramuses who believe them… who still buy into this progressive nonsense.
But Friday’s violence in Ireland is another clear example that there are plenty of people who have had enough.
The Civil Divide is very real. And the temperature is rising.
This is not a problem that can be easily solved, if at all. And without a solution, it will be virtually impossible to fix all the other problems– economic, geopolitical, etc.
It took France nearly three decades to finally settle down, during which period they went through the Reign of Terror, Napoleon’s dictatorship, and more.
One can hope that cooler heads will prevail. But in the meantime, it makes sense for rational heads to strongly consider a Plan B.