Keith Preston: Who Am I? 7

This is the transcript of an interview I recently did with a Swiss journal.

1-In your book “Attack the System” you describe the current ideology of the West as a “totalitarian humanism,” yet you claim to be to the left of Marx (I am referring to a statement you made on the Tom Woods Show). You describe yourself as an anarchist, yet you hold speeches at Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute. Please tell us: Who is Keith Preston?

I am to the left of Marx in the sense that anarchism was always the left-wing opposition to Marxism. This was true even in the period before the First International when anarchists such as Pierre Joseph Proudhon and Max Stirner would voice their opposition to state-socialism of the kind championed by Marx and his predecessors like Louis Blanc. Marx was so incensed by these attacks from anarchists that he devoted considerable effort to his own counterattacks. For example, much of Marx’s The German Ideology is an attack on Stirner, and Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy is an attack on Proudhon. It was anarchists such as Mikhail Bakunin that led the opposition to the influence of Marxism in the First International, for which the Bakuninists were expelled. Bakunin was a prophetic opponent of state-socialism and predicted that if the Russian socialist revolutionaries ever gained state power they would become as tyrannical as the czars ever were. Bakunin essentially predicted much of the course of the twentieth century when state-socialist regimes ruled one third of the world’s nations. The anarchists were not only critics of the state, including state-socialism, but were also early critics of imperialism and colonialism during the heyday of these in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Marx and Engels, on the other hand, were champions of imperialism and colonialism, believing these to be historically progressive forces. All of these questions are examples of why I, as an anarchist, am to the left of Karl Marx.

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An Interview with Keith Preston Reply

This is an interview I recently gave to a journalist who is writing a book on political undercurrents in the U.S.

Can you tell me a little bit about the American Revolutionary Vanguard and what it stands for?

American Revolutionary Vanguard was founded in the late 1990s by a coalition of anarchists in the North American anarchist movement who wished to pursue a different direction from what was the norm among anarchists in North America at the time. The rest of the anarchist movement was usually oriented towards promoting one of three perspectives: countercultural lifestyle concerns (ranging from veganism to alternative sexuality to squatting to punk music and bicycling), or a kind of clichéd ultra-leftism of the kind that had been developed by Marxist-Leninist and Maoist tendencies within the New Left (such as an emphasis on “white skin privilege” and radical feminism), or old-guard anarcho-syndicalism that had been influenced by early twentieth century syndicalist tendencies such as the Industrial Workers of the World.

We wished to pursue an entirely new direction which would be oriented towards uniting all forms of anarchist, decentralist, libertarian, anti-state, and anti-authoritarian thought around the common purpose of abolishing the state and decentralizing power towards the level of the natural community, and forging a society-wide consensus for this purpose. Much of what we did at the time was a bit tongue in cheek as well. For example, our original name, American Revolutionary Vanguard, doesn’t really mean anything. The word “vanguard” is something of a taboo in anarchist circles because of its association with the Marxist-Leninist idea of the “vanguard party.” So we always claimed we were trying to reclaim the good name of the word “vanguard.” Ironically, back then many in the anarchist milieu were suspicious of us and thought we were Communists, but now we’re more likely to be mislabeled as fascists. But the original purpose of American Revolutionary Vanguard was the same as it is now: the formation of an anti-state front.

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Antifascism and the Left’s Fear of Power 1

This speech might have just as well been delivered by a member of the Bloods and titled, “Anti-Cripism and the Bloods’ Fear of Power.” Although it’s probably more appropriate to compare this stuff to “Ghostbusters” than to street gangs. Increasingly, I am leaning toward the view that the key to developing a new kind of radicalism is cultivating the ability to break out of these cultic paradigms.

Neither West nor East. Against all imperialisms. Neither Left nor Right. Against all states. Neither Red nor Blue. Peace between all tribes. Neither State nor Corporation. Against the power elite in all its manifestations. Neither Alt-Right nor Antifa. Against all authoritarians.

By Maximillian Alvarez

The Baffler

This article has been adapted from a talk delivered at Purdue University on April 18, 2018, hosted by the Purdue chapter of the Campus Antifascist Network.

In the United States today people tend to squirm with profound discomfort, if not sneer with outright revulsion, when they hear talk of “antifascism.” It is, by most accounts, a dirty word. That alone should be proof enough that we desperately need it.

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The Empire Strikes Back? Reply

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It is fascinating to observe the kind of paranoia that is now being disseminated by the Western elites in the face of the rising though very modest challenges that are now being presented by the BRICS-Shia-Global South alliance in international relations, and by left/right populist tendencies within Western nations. It seems the neoliberal ruling classes are working to invent a New Cold War. They tried once before with the “War on Terrorism.” But nobody outside the realm of FOX News junkies was buying that. So they came up with an enemy that wine and cheese liberals and “progressive activists” could hate as well, with Russia as the supposed headquarters of “world fascism,” allegedly sponsoring insurgent fascist regimes, parties, and movements all over the world. Joe McCarthy would be proud.

Exclusive: Leaks show how Boston ‘free speech’ group acts as a front for far-right organizing 2

The Left has Refuse Fascism. The Right has Resist Marxism. Fair enough.

By Luke Barnes

Think Progress

Resist Marxism markets itself as a harmless conservative and libertarian group. But they have plenty of connections to the far-right.

Over the past few months, the so-called “alt-right” has found itself in a state of disarray.

Prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer has been booted from social media and is facing a funding crisis. The Traditionalist Workers Party has fallen apart after its leader, Matthew Heimbach, was arrested for assault and, now, been sent to jail for 38 days on the separate charge of violating his parole. In Charlottesville, Virginia, the groups that helped organize last year’s violent “Unite the Right” rally are being sued. Online infighting has prompted some far-right leaders to dox each other.

But while the far-right may be losing influence, the so-called “alt-lite” isn’t. This loosely connected movement of groups and individuals doesn’t outwardly emphasize racism and bigotry in the same way the far-right does. Instead, they focus on the “dangers” posed to free speech, and how political correctness, feminism, and identity politics are destroying the West.

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Iranians respond to the regime: ‘Leave Syria alone! Reply

Caveat: Al-Jazeera is owned by the state of Qatar, which is one of the Gulf States backing the jihadi war in Syria, along with Saudi Arabia.

By Ali Fathollah-Nejad

Al Jazeera

This is the second part of the article. Click here to read the first part focusing on the Islamic Republic’s efforts to control the official narrative on Syria.

While the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a staunch supporter of Bashar al-Assad‘s regime in Syria, little attention has been paid on public attitudes within the country.

While Tehran has tried to maintain complete control over information regarding the war in Syria and the narrative about its military involvement, it has not fully succeeded. The “war on terror” and “axis of resistance” rhetoric have not been enough to mollify the Iranian public and its demand for accountability.

Despite the Iranian state media’s blackout on issues related to the Syrian war, Iranians’ propensity to consult a myriad of Persian-language media sources abroad has kept them well informed.

Rising societal awareness about Tehran’s Syria military intervention has undermined the regime’s monopoly of interpretation, and Iranian officials have increasingly had to face questions from the public about its moral and economic dimensions.

Recent protests and public encounters have shown that Iranians are increasingly unhappy about their country’s involvement in Syria. The war is having an aggravating effect on already growing political and socioeconomic grievances at home.

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Italy Illustrates the Way to Liberal Democracy’s Demise Reply

Some hysterical hand-wringing from the ruling class press over Italy. Maybe some of these Antifa guys can start writing for the Financial Times.

By Wolfgang Muchau

Financial Times

Comparing today’s populists and nationalists to the Nazis and fascists of 80 or 90 years ago is pointless. But I see much clearer parallels between the fall of Germany’s Weimar Republic and the vulnerability of Europe’s liberal elites. Some of the current defenders of the liberal order are making the same mistake as, for example, the German Centre party of the early 1930s, by underestimating the scale of the threat that they face. Harold James, a professor of history at Princeton University, has recently given us 10 reasons why our political systems today share some of the self-destructive characteristics of the Weimar Republic. One is the strength of the economic shock. Another is an excessive optimism about the power of constitutions to protect the system. I would like to offer some additional thoughts on the role of complacent narratives — the stories we tell each other that make us feel better. As a commentator on eurozone affairs, for example, I keep hearing that an Italian exit from the euro cannot happen because it is not allowed. Italy’s constitution, for example, makes it impossible for a government to rescind international treaties by referendum. This argument not only overestimates the power of constitutional law to protect us from illegal acts by governments, as Prof James pointed out. It also ignores the circumstances under which a country would leave the eurozone. All its government would need to do is engineer a financial crisis, declare force majeure, and introduce a parallel currency over a long bank holiday weekend. There is nothing in the Italian constitution to prevent a financial crisis or to stop a government from giving people the means to buy food.

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Italy Sets Course for Left-Right Populist Surge Reply

Back in the early 2000s, I was writing about how a resurgent Russia might eventually being to lead an alliance of resistance to the Western axis, and how the emergence of populism from both the left and right might challenge the neoliberal Western ruling classes. It seems to be happening, though in a way that is a long way from presenting an real threat to the hegemony of neoliberalism.

By Robert W. Merry

The American Conservative

Italy is wrapped up these days in the efforts of its two strongest political parties to forge a coalition government. Presumably they will succeed, though whether the resulting civic structure will have any staying power remains an open question. But in terms of the broad political trends in Italy, Europe, and the entire West (including the United States), it doesn’t really matter much. Whatever happens with the emerging Italian government, Italy has set itself upon a new course. It’s the path of populism, fueled by many things but primarily by the West’s immigration crisis.

William Galston offered an interesting insight into all this the other day in a piece in The New Republic. Galston, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, wasn’t writing about Italian politics but rather about the turn towards populism in Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban. But he had a broader point. “The global democratic tide,” he wrote, “which began in 1974 with the end of Portugal’s authoritarian regime, crested in 2006, making way for anti-democratic populists. Many Western leaders have yet to come to terms with this new reality, hoping that anti-immigrant sentiment is just a passing phenomenon.”

Galston derided the tendency of Barack Obama, when he was president, to dismiss ideas and movements he opposed as being “on the wrong side of history.” No, said Galston, history “has no ‘side,’ no ‘end,’ and no immanent tendency to move in a particular direction.”

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Stop Throwing Around the ‘Socialist’ Label Reply

By Paul Gottfried

The American Conservative

Several years ago I wrote an essay for TAC on what fascism is not. In that broadside I spared neither right nor left for their misappropriations of the F-word.

It may now be time to raise similar questions about the overuse of the “socialist” label by Republicans and Conservative Inc.

This task seemed particularly timely after I was paired last night on a podcast with Riva Enteen, the co-editor of the anthology Follow the Money: Radio Voices for Peace and Justice. Although Riva described herself as a Marxist and a “historical materialist,” just about everything she seemed passionate about was a contemporary cultural issue. She advocated for women’s “reproductive rights,” endorsed Black Lives Matter, and stressed the uphill battle still being waged by gays. And, oh yes, she was against war because she thought it was inhumane. Whatever her intent, Riva gave the impression that Marxism, and more generally socialism, is about being culturally progressive.

Yet I don’t think I heard much orthodox Marxism in what she had to say.

Unlike feminism and the LGBT lobby, Marxist regimes have historically been socially reactionary, with Russian, Cuban, and Chinese communists throwing homosexuals and drug addicts in labor camp, or worse. As I write in my book The Strange Death of Marxism, what our progressive culture now celebrates as new forms of liberation profoundly offended real communists when they were in power. In fact, communists treated groups that the contemporary left holds up as historical victims with contempt.

There is a long established practice of confusing what is misleadingly called “Cultural Marxism” with socialism and Marxist economics. The two are most definitely not the same. Those who invented what the Frankfurt School in interwar Germany called Critical Theory, and that was called by its friends and later adversaries “Cultural Marxism,” were intent on a cultural revolution. Critical Theory was only secondarily about changing the economic system, which is the primary interest of socialists and which real Marxists maintained could only come about through violence. Although the Frankfurt School and its descendants favored state ownership of productive forces, they took this stand only as a means towards a cultural end. They viewed socialism as instrumental for overcoming sexism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. These things, which they equated with “fascism,” were their primary targets.

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Neoconservatism: Where Trotsky Meets Stalin and Hitler Reply

One of the best articles on the neocons I have seen to date.

By Srdja Trifkovic

Chronicles

Eleven years ago I wrote a column for the print edition of Chronicles under this title. Tom Piatak’s grim reminder of the continued destructive presence of this cabal in what passes for the commentariat in today’s America has prompted me to dig into my old files and recap for our readers the historical and ideological roots of neoconservatism. The 2004 diagnosis, reproduced here in an abbreviated form, still stands.

The neoconservatives are often depicted as former Trotskyites who have morphed into a new, closely related life form. It is pointed out that many early neocons—including The Public Interest founder Irving Kristol and coeditor Nathan Glazer, Sidney Hook, and Albert Wohlstetter—belonged to the anti-Stalinist far left in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and that their successors, including Joshua Muravchik and Carl Gershman, came to neoconservatism through the Socialist Party at a time when it was Trotskyite in outlook and politics. As early as 1963 Richard Hofstadter commented on the progression of many ex-Communists from the paranoid left to the paranoid right, clinging all the while to the fundamentally Manichean psychology that underlies both. [Half a century] later the dominant strain of neoconservatism is declared to be a mixture of geopolitical militarism and “inverted socialist internationalism.”

Blanket depictions of neoconservatives as redesigned Trotskyites need to be corrected in favor of a more nuanced analysis. In several important respects the neoconservative world outlook has diverged from the Trotskyite one and acquired some striking similarities with Stalinism and German National Socialism. Today’s neoconservatives share with Stalin and Hitler an ideology of nationalist socialism and internationalist imperialism. The similarities deserve closer scrutiny and may contribute to a better understanding of the most influential group in the U.S. foreign policy-making community.

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Cultural Marxism and the Frankfurt School 1

Paul Gottfried is interviewed by Tom Woods. Listen here. For those who are unfamiliar with Paul Gottfried’s work, he is well worth checking out. Probably the best right-wing critic of the Left out there. You don’t have to be a right-winger to get something out of his work.

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Is there such a thing as “cultural Marxism”? If so, what is it? And what was the Frankfurt School, and what was it trying to accomplish? Paul Gottfried, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale and has written extensively on these subjects, joins me to get to the bottom of it all.

About the Guest

Paul Gottfried is professor emeritus of humanities at Elizabethtown College and a Guggenheim recipient.

Selected Books by the Guest

The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium
Fascism: The Career of a Concept

Previous Appearances

Ep. 977 Left, Right, and Charlottesville, with Paul Gottfried
Ep. 947 Divided Republicans, Unified Democrats, and Our Future
Ep. 889 The Biases of Historians, Beneath a Magnifying Glass
Ep. 862 The Alt Right
Ep. 650 Fascism: The Career of a Concept
Ep. 574 Neocon Says Word Neoconservative Is Outdated Now; I Remain Unmoved
Ep. 496 Wilsonianism: The Legacy That Won’t Die
Ep. 386 What Fascism Is, and Why It Isn’t Just a Name for Everything People May Oppose
Ep. 87 World War I: Sleepwalk to Suicide

Antifa or Antiwar: Leftist Exclusionism Against the Quest for Peace 1

By Diana Johnstone

Unz.Com

CounterPunch has astonished many of its old fans by its current fundraising ad portraying the site as a prime target of Russia hostility. Under the slogan, “We have all the right enemies”, CP portrays itself as a brave little crew being blown off the water by an evil Russian warship out to eliminate “lefty scum.”

Ha Ha Ha, it’s all a joke of course. But it’s a joke that plays into the dangerous, current Russophobia promoted by Clintonite media, the deep state and the War Party. This is a reminder that Russophobia finds a variant in the writing of several prominent CounterPunch contributors.

Yes, CounterPunch continues to publish many good articles, but appears also to be paying its tribute to the establishment narrative.

Put on the defensive by the “fake news” assault against independent media, CP senior editor Jeffrey St Clair seemed to be shaken by Washington Post allegations that he had published articles by a “Russian troll” named Alice Donovan. St Clair never publicly questioned the FBI claim that the ephemeral plagiarist worked for the Kremlin, when she could as well have been planted by the FBI itself or some other agency, precisely in order to embarrass and intimidate the independent website.

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Truth! Reply

By Vince Rinehart

What legitimizes a ruler or ruling class hasn’t changed a whole lot over time. In antiquity the emperor was supposed to be God on earth. And he was supported by true believers and those that he could bribe into following him in a mutually beneficial relationship. Any internal dissent was murdered or politically repressed and any external threats were fought off or eliminated.

Image result for roman state cult

Under feudalism the King was God’s representative on earth. He was supported by true believers and those he could bribe into following him in a mutually beneficial relationship. Any internal dissent was murdered or politically repressed into submission and any external threats were fought off or eliminated.

Image result for divine right of kings

Under modern nation states there are variations on the same theme. The state claims to represent “the people” whether it’s the revolutionary parties of communist states or the elected figure heads of capitalist democracies. This rule is supported by true believers and those that are bribed into following the system in a mutually beneficial relationship. Any internal dissenters are murdered or politically repressed and external threats are fought off or eliminated. Put a conservative-approved Trump as the figurehead, or a liberal-approved Obama. Whichever maintains power the most effectively will be chosen.

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Keith Preston: Trump does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

US President Donald Trump does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize because his foreign policy is creating tensions in the Middle East, an American journalist says.

According to a new poll a majority of Americans believe Trump does not deserve receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Just 24 percent of registered voters said that Trump deserves the award, compared to 61 percent who said he does not, a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday found.

“Trump has been in office for almost a year and a half; already during the time he has been in office he has launched two major attacks on Syria – about a year apart – under dubious circumstances. He’s also made an enormous arms deal with Saudi Arabia even if Saudi Arabia continues to engage in genocide in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s own eastern province,” said Keith Preston, chief editor and director of AttacktheSystem.com.

“Donald Trump has also been more supportive of Israel than probably just about any president of the United Sates has been.”

Preston said US support of the aggressions of Israel and the actions of Saudi Arabia, and also Trump’s termination of the nuclear agreement with Iran has nothing to do with promoting global peace and stability.

“The idea that the Trump administration is somehow advancing world peace is nonsense.”

Preston cautioned about overvaluing the Nobel Prize arguing that in the 70s “Henry Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize even as the United Sates was waging a genocidal war in Southeast Asia.”

“[Former President] Barack Obama was given a Nobel Peace Prize only a few months after assuming office when he really had done nothing that merited any kind of recognition of that type.”

Keith Preston on the State of U.S. Education Reply

This is a recent television interview I did on the condition of American education. Watch here.

It’s been 35 years since President Ronald Reagan lamented that the US education system was plagued by “low standards, lack of purpose and ineffective use of resources.”

Reagan weighed into the debate as a powerful bipartisan study had stoked widespread concerns about the quality of American schools. A Nation At Risk depicted a gloomy future for America because of its declining education system. Does that fear still ring true today?

funny, quote, school, text

The Elites and Inequality: The Rise and Fall of the Managerial Class Reply

By Neeva Parvini

Quillette

In analysing the political upheavals across Europe and America in the past several years, it has become customary to talk about ‘the elites’ and about ‘inequality’. This article will explore both concepts in political and socio-economic analysis, and posits that certain elites in the West need narratives of inequality to maintain their stranglehold on power. It concludes by suggesting that we are witnessing the passing of an old and increasingly irrelevant class of elites, whose wild attempts to cling onto the old order will see them lash out in unpredictable directions.

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What’s the Point of this Pan-Anarchist Revolution Thing, Anyway? 12

A reader on Facebook offers the following comments, and asks the following questions.

I’m not so sure how realistic sustained statelessness is without severe technological regression and economic collapse, but the obvious answer is that the vast majority of people would rather bask in the lazy comforts of delegated responsibility than take on the burdens and risks of freedom. The mantle of anarchism is often taken up as an immature pose that is rationalized after the fact, usually quite badly, before being discarded with age for whatever underlying tribal affiliation existed in the first place. It’s a knee-jerk rebellion against constraints on the self, for good or ill, and a justification for engaging in unreasonable or criminal behaviors whose motives are ultimately more personal than political.

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Where is the Anarchist Vanguard Standing for “Anarchy First”? Reply

It has been interesting to see how many predictions I made years ago have come into being.

I predicted that the Eastern powers and “rogue states” would eventually rise to form an axis of resistance to the hegemony of the American empire.

I predicted that populist-nationalist movements would continue to grow in Europe in opposition to the hegemony of neoliberalism.

I predicted that as the right-wing in the United States continued to lose ground politically, culturally, and demographically, it would adopt a more militant stance than what has previously been observed among “normal” conservatives. This has also happened in the form of the rise of Trumpism in the mainstream, the Alt-Right on the far fringes, and the Alt-Lite as a middle of the road position between the two.

I predicted that the right-wing would fail in its efforts to counteract the hegemony of neoliberalism and the cultural Left. This has happened by means of the cooptation of Trumpism by the Republican Party establishment, the cooptation of the Alt-Lite by Trumpism, and the internal implosion and marginalization of the Alt-Right.

I predicted that as totalitarian humanism continues to be a rising force in Western societies that opposition would emerge in response, not only from the right-wing, but also from centrist liberals, dissenters on the Left, minorities, and those on the Left mostly concerned about anti-imperialist, antiwar, economic, or civil libertarian issues as opposed to identity politics. Visible opposition to totalitarian humanism is now emerging in all of these corners.

I predicted that as class divisions continued to widen that class-based politics would make a return.

I predicted that as traditional minorities became increasingly integrated, and as class divisions continues to widen among minority communities, that minority conservatives would grow in number.

I predicted that individual cities and states might engage in resistance to the federal government’s policies in numerous areas.

Many other examples could be identified. See here and here. Some of these things have happened more rapidly than I thought they would.

However, one thing that I not so much predicted as much as called for was the formation of an “anarchist vanguard” that would be the foundation of anti-state front oriented towards the principles of “Anarchy First.”

As I wrote in the mid-2000s:

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What Shall Libertarians Think of the French Revolution? 1

By Anand Venigalla

Medium.Com

The Revolution of 1789, while flawed and imperfect, was ultimately great.

The French Revolution, if anything, was the most momentous event of the 18th century, even grander than the American Revolution. Its design, the causes, the results, and the ideology are so hard to perfectly pin down, so much so that there are many, many different schools of thought on it. There is classic historiography (Aulard, Lefebrves, Mathiez, etc.). There are the liberal historians (Guizot, Tocqueville, Acton, etc.). Then there are the iconoclasts and revisionists (Furet, Schama, Cobban, etc.). And still there are the anti-revolutionaries and reactionaries (Molinari, Burke, Kuehnelt-Leddihn, etc.) who oppose the Revolution with all their heart and soul. Even so, there are great historians of the Revolution like the late Robert R. Palmer (a Rothbard favorite, BTW) and the British historian Jonathan Israel, who defend the French Revolution without succumbing to the typical excesses of some pro-revolutionary historians who go beyond defending it and instead endorse the worst aspects uncritically in an attempt to piss off conservatives and look cool and hip for the sake of looking cool and hip.

On the one hand, many would commend such things as the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which in many ways takes its inspiration from the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. It was also part and parcel of the great Liberal Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and its libertarian legacy has survived, even as governments all over the world seek to restrict and inhibit liberty; the effect of this Revolution (including the French Revolution) was very great, and it was such that no one can ever really envision a feudal-monarchist society ever again. However, there is also the infamous Reign of Terror, the rise of the imperialist proto-neocon Napoleon, compulsory education, conscription, the continuation of state centralization that developed under Louis XIV, and state-mandated paper money which is part of the Revolution’s worst and statist legacy, which reared its ugly head in the Bolshevik Revolution and all other communist revolutions, as Furet and many others have argued. Surely, considering the statism of the later period of the Revolution, some will say, the Revolution was a bad thing and thus must be discarded.

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