Should the Left Tell You What to Do?

As I’ve said before, it’s not useful to talk Left and Right unless you’re willing to talk about the French revolution.

During those exciting years, peasants overthrew the power of the chateaux, ordinary people of Paris demolished the Bastille, women compelled the king to leave Versailles, and common soldiers defended the borders from treacherous officers and foreign monarchs.

The rich men from the towns demanded their share of power from the king, nobility, and clergy, and became the first Leftists. It’s not clear in which parliamentary assembly the new men were first maligned as belonging to the gauche, but the old reactionaries shouldn’t have worried. When the Left came to power it was a strong defender of order, property, and capital punishment. Eventually dictatorship and bloody empire were established by Napoleon, a Jacobin and leftist of the early days.

The Left did not cover itself in glory in Russia either. Just two months after seizing power Lenin’s government established the Extraordinary Committee, known as the Cheka, an extra-legal armed force with the right to dispense summary justice. The Cheka later became the NKVD, which became the KGB, which is today the FSB, where President Putin learned his trade.

The million crimes of the Left government were justified as means to the end of establishing a new society. But the Soviet Union collapsed. It was all for nothing.

In France and Russia, “Left” politicians were only too happy to use coercion and force to defend their projects.

Today, we read it so often in the papers it’s practically a cliché, “The Left must…” “The Left should…” “The Left needs to…”

And almost always with the object of seizing government power. Is this a good look for freedom-loving people? How will this ever appeal to anyone?