Trump’s Bastille Day-Like Military Parade Ignores Its Intent and French Revolution
By Dallas Darling
Submitted by Author
Friday, Feb 9, 2018
|Not everyone’s euphoric over President Donald Trump’s marching orders to start preparing for a grand and costly national military parade like the one France has on Bastille Day. From veterans and activists to those who still identify with the true meaning of Bastille Day, to be sure, they’re more than displeased. They’re also concerned over the president‘s true intentions of hosting an authoritarian-styled show of force and militarism, specifically as the nation faces a constitutional crisis and international disaster.
Original Bastille Day Far From a Military Parade
Since he thought of the idea during his trip to France last July after observing Bastille Day, the president may want to know the event was the shocking entry of ordinary Parisians into the existing political turmoil of France on July 14, 1789. They not only stormed the infamous Bastille, a castle and dungeon symbolic of the Old Regime, but they dismantled it brick by brick. A new order emerged based on representation with dreams of economic freedom, legal equality, toleration, and the idea of property as theft.
The long-range causes of the French Revolution are actually found in the conditions of 18th century French society-which is looking more like the U.S. Along with natural disasters causing food shortages, the First and Second Estates consisted of only seven percent of the population but controlled most of the decision-making powers. They also owned much of the wealth and land. Adding to this mixture of abuse of power and income inequality was a series of military adventures that left France utterly bankrupt.
When Property and Wealth Undermines Fundamental Rights
Consequently, Parisians drafted the French Declaration of the Rights of Man that went much deeper and further than the U.S.’s Declaration of Independence. Not only was feudalism and its aristocracy-including royal absolutism-repudiated in favor of universal equality and the indivisibility of rights, but the Second Article proclaimed the rights of “Liberty, Property, Safety, Conscience. “Resistance to Oppression” were moreover to be preserved as the aim of every political association and movement.
Since many Parisians had endured the crushing burden of land and wealth inequality, they moreover saw the result of the political struggles of liberty and equality as having to do with corruption and rising inequality. In other words, the collapse of France’s society was due to the abusive power of accumulation possessed by the wealthy and property classes. Property, then, was inherently anti-social since it was used to buy political and power. It was also used to control-and profit from-the poor through debt and imprisonment.
Militarization and Then Integration of Bastille Day
Napoleon Bonaparte, who declared himself Dictator and Emperor of Europe, militarized the Storming of the Bastille. With the Bastille Day Military Parade made official in 1880, Bastille Day has all but lost it’s original meaning. Still, it’s a time of historical significance that not only recognizes ordinary Parisians and a new declaration, but past wars, such as the French Revolution and World War I and World War II. Most recently, it’s also been symbolic of European integration and reconciliation-including UN troops.
The last time a national military parade was held in Washington DC was June 1991 to celebrate the U.S. victory in the first Gulf War. Considering it cost $8 million dollars, veterans say the one President Trump wants is sure to triple. Nor is it a surprise that many think the money could be better spent on America’s 21.8 million veterans, or the 40,000 who are homeless on any given night. Considering 12-13 percent of veterans suffer from PTSD, and 22 die by suicide each day, they also question the president’s priorities.
How Do You Spell Military Coup? T-R-U-M-P
Priorities that is which may be directed at current opponents. Indeed, military parades and military preparation are always the cornerstone for war. Whereas tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue would certainly fit the president’s narcissistic and authoritarian style, could it be used to promote fear and anxiety, even a sense of imminent takeover, towards Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI, and Democrats? It would also bolster his image as an aspiring wartime president among North Korea and Iran-just to name two.
(Recall that not so long ago, he said bombing North Korea might help in the Midterm Elections. In fact, numerous news outlets maintained that: “White House National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs Matthew Pottinger was reported as saying in a recent closed-door meeting with US experts on Korean Peninsula issues that a limited strike on the North might help in the midterm elections.”)
President Trump said that plans for his grand military parade are still in its infancy. It may be an omen of what happened to France’s King Louis XVI, who once remarked that he too was to young-in intellect and experience-to rule. In fact, when news reached him that the Bastille had been stormed, he asked if it was a revolt. The well-know reply was instead: “No sire. It is a revolution.” Consequently, the French Revolution did more than just get rid of the Old Regime and its vestiges.
How Do You Spell Revolution? A-N-T-I T-R-U-M-P
On the heels of a series of embarrassing defeats by the Republican Party and President Trump, Democratic candidate Mike Revis just flipped what had been a deep-red State House seat in Missouri by a 108-vote margin over his Republican opponent. What makes this election so surprising is that the president won the heavily Republican district by a 61-33 margin in the 2016 election. Since this marks the 35th legislative seat nationwide that has flipped since Trump’s inauguration, is the Old Regime’s days numbered?
To be sure, the Bastille, symbol of tyranny, was swiftly demolished. The Revolution had begun, and even grand military parades take a back seat to revolutions.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.WN.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and www.WN.com//dallasdarling.
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