To appreciate that there is nothing new under the Sun in politics, one only has to read Demosthenes or Tacitus or Cicero. The antics of politicians today are no different. Throughout history, revolutionary movements have proclaimed the Utopia and, after orgies of destruction, usually fathered tyrannies more ghastly than those they usurped.
Today, the screeching mobs of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, any unhinged student tribe from a pseudo-university, the Fake News Media with their incessant lying, personify the seditious and the irrational mob, present in any society, but now rampant in the service of the Deep State.
The nature of the revolutionary mind, and the attraction of its many delusions, has been the subject of analysis of many great writers.
In modern times, books that have presented brilliant insights into how revolutionary politics is conducted and the results it produces, such as Orwell’s 1984 and Zamyatin’s We, require continual re-reading: one can always acquire new thoughts from them because they were so accurate in their predictions.
One writer who deserves far more credit than he receives is the Frenchman Gustave le Bon (1841–1931), a polymath, physician, anthropologist, physicist (he predicted the equivalence of mass and energy decades before Einstein), is best known for his work, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895). In The Psychology of Revolution (1913), his analysis of the revolutionary mind could describe perfectly any of the various movements of destruction that abound today. For example:
In all ages societies have contained a certain number of restless
spirits, unstable and discontented, ready to rebel against any
established order of affairs. They are actuated by the mere love
of revolt, and if some magic power could realise all their
desires they would simply revolt again.
What could better describe the pimpled adolescent terrorizing college campuses today?
These perpetual rebels are generally highly suggestible beings,
whose mystic mentality is obsessed by fixed ideas. Despite the
apparent energy indicated by their actions they are really weak
characters, and are incapable of mastering themselves
sufficiently to resist the impulses that rule them. The mystic
spirit which animates them furnishes pretexts for their violence,
and enables them to regard themselves as great reformers.
In normal times the rebels which every society contains are
restrained by the laws, by their environment–in short, by all
the usual social constraints, and therefore remain undetected.
But as soon as a time of disturbance begins these constraints
grow weaker, and the rebel can give a free reign to his
instincts. He then becomes the accredited leader of a movement.
The motive of the revolution matters little to him; he will give
his life indifferently for the red flag or the white, or for the
liberation of a country which he has heard vaguely mentioned.
Sound familiar? Of course, it is the description of many a soi-disant reformer, activist and general social pest.
Speaking of the Crowds that are the raw meat of the instigators of revolution…
…Among the other characteristics of crowds, we must note their
infinite credulity and exaggerated sensibility, their shortsightedness,
and their incapacity to respond to the influences of
reason. Affirmation, contagion, repetition, and prestige
constitute almost the only means of persuading them. Reality and
experience have no effect upon them. The multitude will admit
anything; nothing is impossible in the eyes of the crowd.
Does this not afford a description of the Fake News Media, credulously driveling over every absurd accusation against President Trump, the middle class, all white men, and any other group targeted for vilification?
As for believing the most outlandish things, he recounts events from the French revolutionary period…
…By reason of the extreme sensibility of crowds, their sentiments,
good or bad, are always exaggerated. This exaggeration increases
still further in times of revolution. The least excitement will
then lead the multitude to act with the utmost fury. Their
credulity, so great even in the normal state, is still further
increased; the most improbable statements are accepted. Arthur
Young relates that when he visited the springs near Clermont, at
the time of the French Revolution, his guide was stopped by the
people, who were persuaded that he had come by order of the Queen
to mine and blow up the town. The most horrible tales concerning
the Royal Family were circulated, depicting it as a nest of
ghouls and vampires.
Pretty much what you can hear on NBC, CNN or read in the New York Times, the paper of the Inner Party, when the White House is being vilified.
It’s very difficult to summarize le Bon because there is no wasted sentence or paragraph in his writings. His prose is concise, illuminating, his clarity of thought present throughout.
Having been an eye-witness to the barbarities of proto-communism in the Paris Commune in 1871, he became a vociferous critic and opponent of socialism in all its forms. His book The Psychology of Socialism (1899) is almost a prophecy of the tyrannies and murders of socialism in the 20th century.
Read them all; you will be amazed about how much he understood of the political left over one hundred years ago. We ignore his warnings at our peril.