Thursday, July 15, 2004
July 14 is Bastille Day, a national holiday in France that commemorates 215 years from the day a Parisian mob stormed the "infamous" prison and commenced the upheaval of the French Revolution. The collapse of Soviet communism should not deter the invocation of the dreadful legacy of the French Revolution, the same revolution that a century later inspired the even bloodier Russian Revolution and its communist aftermath.
The French Revolution began not with the clamor of the common people but with the theoretical conjectures of the blue-blooded aristocracy and the high clergy of the ancien régime, who had fallen for and become enamored with the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the views of the enlightenment.
This was convincingly demonstrated in the Assembly of Notables in February 1787, a gathering of wise men that King Louis XVI (photo, right) called for and convened to help him solve economic problems afflicting France, particularly the lack of solvency. This Assembly of Notables, in turn, advised the King to call the Estates General, the body which traditionally had the authority to raise taxes but which had not been summoned since 1614 during the reign of...
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
This list is admittedly a compilation of sundry and disparate political historic characters, ranging from do-gooder reformers with possibly good intentions to militant revolutionists who desired to overthrow the existing order of government, ostensibly to create a better world.
Deviousness and demagoguery are salient features in this list, which has come to include what I consider the top 10 shadiest and most devious politicians, statesmen, or revolutionaries to affect the course of history, up to the eve of the Russian Revolution. Regardless of the political category they fall in as politicians or revolutionaries, these political scoundrels, unorthodox statesmen, or misguided revolutionaries altered, or came close to altering, the course of history. These remarkable men were not established rulers or dictators for they did not reach supreme power for long. They were certainly charismatic or resourceful individuals, and because of one of those two characteristics, for a time they appealed to the masses via demagoguery, or gained temporary power via revolution, or attracted the support of the power elite because of their manifest talents and abilities. This list curiously...