One of the most important founding philosophies of the United States is that it is the role of Government to protect life, liberty, and property. These ideas are essential to the American Revolution and modern American political thought. At least that used to be the case, however, many on the left have begun to embrace the ideas of the French Revolution of liberty, equality, and fraternity. This is very bad for the political atmosphere of the US.
The French Revolution has a very romanticized history of brave revolutionaries storming the Bastille against corruption and tyranny. However, what many people forget is that it was not just the King of France that was corrupt, it was every government of France until the republic was dissolved under Napoleon. In fact, King Louis XVI was not even corrupt, he was just the wrong man at the wrong time.
The reason that all governments of the French Republic failed, in a broad sense, is because of their ideas. The ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity failed the French Republic and will fail the American Republic if the left gets their way. The reason these ideas fail is that liberty and equality cannot simultaneously exist, especially fraternity. This is not to say that they can never exist together, but that they cannot exist as equals, or in the case of the left, equality over liberty.
Baking Cakes for the Government
For the government to effectively force equality within a society, it must take away individual choice (liberty) to do so.
An example of this is the Supreme Court case about the baker who has refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The baker has cited his religious liberty as a Christian and freedom of association to not bake the cake. However, the gay couple says that they are being treated in a discriminatory fashion and the government must take action on this. The truth is that the baker is discriminating against the gay couple; however, the price of liberty is that people have the right to discriminate against whom they please. The only way to stop this is for the government to enforce equality. Although, even forcing equality creates inequality.
If the government forces the baker to bake a cake for the gay couple, then they are admitting that the couple has a right to the labor of the baker because of their minority status. This is a legal form of enforced servitude or as many on the left would call it; slavery. Furthermore, equality is also diminished because if the government forces the baker to bake the wedding cake, then the government is also admitting that the equal treatment of homosexuals is more important then the religious liberty of Christians. That has created an effect where those who identify with a religion, is of less value to the state than those who identify as gay, thus inequality has been created.
By putting a focus on liberty, inequality will be stomped out naturally. For example, if that same couple would have gone to a different bakery to get their wedding cake, they would have added to the business of a bakery that supports them and hurt the business that discriminated against them. As time goes on, people would stop using the bakery that is seen as discriminatory and it would go out of business. The inequality would be gone.
Liberty is having Equal Opportunity, not Equal Outcomes
The French Republic failed to see this and thought it was their duty to get rid of anyone who was seen as a threat to equality. To meet this end, they eradicated the nobility and confiscated all lands of the church. They went so far, that they even executed the Duke of Orleans who was one of the biggest supports of the revolution, personal friend to Robespierre, and allowed his estate to become a bastion of liberal thought and writing that was exempt from censorship laws. The drive for equality became so important to the French, that they took away all liberty from people who were seen as even a potential threat during the reign of terror. The revolution also betrayed the ideas of the fraternity while doing all of this.
Most of the nobility had been cast out of France or emigrated to Prussia or Austria. They were known as the emigres. They were hated so much, that the republic declared them non-citizens and if they ever wanted to return to France, they had to apply as a foreigner. This was of course after their death warrants had been erased by new governments. There was no fraternity in France, just them-vs-us mentality with the right and the left. The American left, however, has taken the concept of fraternity and changed it into identity politics. The idea that you belong to a specific group and therefore, you must have all qualities that are deemed to go with those groups.
If you are a black man, because of this fact alone, you are supposed to only vote for the democratic party and hate all conservative views. Otherwise, you are not a real black man. This ideology has caused the left to believe that people are not individuals, but extensions of a government defined class of people, a voting block. Based on the past hardship and societal discrimination of your group, your opinion has a certain amount of moral authority in comparison to other groups. If you are a black woman, the left believes that your opinion is more valid then a white man because you are part of two marginalized groups in history; blacks and women. Therefore, even if what you have to say is wrong, it is of more value than anything a white man has to say even if he is correct.
When Governments Grant Validity Based on Graded Marginalization
This approach to governing by the classification of people actually creates inequality it claims to solve. In such an environment, the value of one’s ideas will be measured by the degree of marginalization a group has received. Therefore, if a group has been more marginalized in history, then their ideas and perspectives are valued above other groups. This creates a caste system of oppression in which people seek out to be more oppressed in order to have a higher place on the caste system. While this isn’t the same as French fraternity, it is an outgrowth of the concept of a favoring fraternity of groups over individuals. This is classical inequality disguised as progressivism.
If the left keeps moving towards the ideas of the French Revolution, they will keep diving the US and creating us-vs-them mentality. People will begin to not see each other as neighbors or fellow Americans, but as morally evil people who want to do harm to their group. This is already happening in regards to the way that people on the left always criticize those on the right as Nazis and racist. And the right is not free of that kind of behavior either.
Though this is a movement that has begun with the left, it has been spreading to all elements of society such as the alt-right. If the left can move back to the ideas of life, liberty, and property, they will have the equality they seek to create. However, as long as the left keeps moving towards the ideas of the French Revolution, they will further divide our nation and make the political atmosphere more polarizing.