A World of Speculation

A moving account of genocide during the Reign of Terror appears at Godspy:

Once, there was a rich and beautiful and remote land, a land of secrets and songs and story; a land of ocean and forest and river; of quiet marsh and deep paths. Its people lived as they had always lived, in their land and with it, in the depths of their culture which they had not named but which they knew in every fibre of their beings. When the new ways came, at first the people did nothing. They were curious, they reserved judgment. But very soon, they realised what the coming of the new men and the new ideas meant. A violation of their land, their beliefs, their culture, their very soul. They would not stand by and see that happen. They would resist, forever if need be. The intruders, for their part, thought they were bringing progress, enlightenment, improvement, release from superstition, liberty, for heavens sake. Equality, fraternity. They would drag these benighted savages into modern times, even if it cost them some battles. But it would be easy; these savages, these half-humans, would soon be a dying race.

The writer, a descendant of the survivors, says that the people of western coastal France have not forgotten, though Paris finds them whiney and tiresome:

Right wing, left wing, centre in France have never been able to deal with the legacy of Vendée. The left wing has problems with the impugning of the Revolution; the right wing because civil war put France in peril of foreign armies; the centre because, hey, it’s not exactly pretty stuff. Thirty or so years ago a then-unknown but now infamous Jean-Marie le Pen championed the cause of Vendée and Brittany, applauding regionalism and independence, and produced a recording of Chouan songs; now, as the leader of the extreme right Front National, he studiously ignores it all, speaking grandly and opportunistically of the marvellous republic and the great destiny of a centralised France—for Vendée costs votes. Vendée is embarrassing, for it shows what the French are capable of doing to the French without any help from immigrant bogeys. The extreme left, the communists, of course never had any warm feelings for ‘priest-ridden peasants’. Besides, they understood Robespierre’s ‘despotism of liberty’ only too well.

Beautifully written, it’s a story that has been repeated many times during the past century. Once again, the French are ahead of the curve.

SOURCE: Endlessly Rocking