Michael Lind: How American Progressives Became French Jacobins

Michael Lind doesn’t come out and say it, but clearly what he is getting at here with this analogy is that the reign of Robespierre and the Jacobins and the Reign of Terror was short lived.


“In the early 20th century, Progressive reformers—based, like today’s progressives, in the white, Northeastern upper middle class—hoped to insulate government from ignorant voters and corrupt machine politicians and lobbies by creating a powerful national civil service like those of continental Europe. Congress, however, repeatedly killed proposals for executive branch reorganization that would have created an American mandarinate of Ivy League graduates comparable to the powerful enarques of France (graduates of prestigious schools of public administration). …


With its roots in the royal absolutism of the Ancien Regime, reinforced by revolutionary and Napoleonic consolidation, the degree of centralization in government that is considered legitimate in France has tended to be viewed as excessive if not tyrannical by liberals and conservatives alike in the English-speaking nations. Not anymore.

Executive authority.

Under the present constitution of the Gaullist Fifth Republic, the president of France has authority that could only be dreamed of by a power-mad U.S. president. Under Obama and Biden, that difference has been diminishing.

Deference to experts.

In Britain and its cultural offshoots, including the populist U.S., professors and bureaucrats tend to be figures of fun. Anglo-American lack of deference to the titled and credentialed has been a source of frustration to American progressive intellectuals and civil servants, who have longed for the respect and authority granted their grave and dignified German and French counterparts. In the case of COVID-19 and climate change, many progressives have gone beyond arguing that elected politicians should be informed by scientific advice when weighing the costs and benefits of public policies to supporting the delegation of public policymaking in these and other areas to unelected experts: “Follow the science.”


American advocates of separation of church and state have seldom shared the uncompromising hostility of the French left to any public expression of religious identity or accommodation of religious believers by government. In fact, the history of the American left is inconceivable without the participation of the devoutly religious—whether evangelical Populists, Catholic trade unionists, Social Gospel reformers, Jewish clergy in the civil rights era, or Black preachers like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

The exception to the rule has been a paranoid hostility to Catholicism that has warped American politics for centuries. Fear that the pope and his Jesuits and Catholic American voters will subvert American democracy explains the numerous state constitutions with “Blaine amendments” prohibiting the use of state funding for religious schools. (Every other English-speaking democracy—the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—provides public funding for religious as well as secular schools, with no harmful effects.)

For most of American history, the alternative to Catholicism was not French-style radical anticlericalism, but a kind of generic Protestantism in the public realm. In the last generation, however, the formerly dominant mainline Protestant churches have rapidly lost membership, while the number of nonaffiliated, more or less secular “Nones” in the U.S. has risen rapidly. The Nones—overwhelmingly progressive and Democratic—have transformed the traditional hostility of their mainline Protestant ancestors to the Catholic church into something like rigid French anticlericalism.

A major line was crossed in December 2019, when a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke—now a candidate for governor of Texas—declared that if he were elected president he would push for revocation of tax-exempt status for any religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage on theological grounds: “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so as president, we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

With O’Rourke’s proposal, we have a Gallic twofer: official anticlericalism and Bonapartism combined. First, the Internal Revenue Service will systematically inflict financial damage on the Catholic church, many Protestant denominations, Conservative and Orthodox Jews, and mainstream Muslim congregations which teach that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman. Second, this anticlerical revolution from above to reward “good theology” and punish “bad theology” will be led somehow by Bonapartist presidents like the would-be President O’Rourke, perhaps on the basis of constitutionally dubious executive orders like those of Obama and Biden.

Radical Iconoclasm.

The radical left in the French Revolution, although it was not collectivist in economics, foreshadowed 20th-century totalitarianism by attempting to abolish most national traditions and substitute new, ideologically useful replacements. Maximilian Robespierre, the leader of the Jacobins when they were in power, tried to replace both Christianity and the Cult of Reason with a fabricated, state-sponsored version of deism called the Cult of the Supreme Being. In 1793 the Jacobin-controlled National Convention adopted a revolutionary calendar, which renamed all of the months and dated the modern epoch, the Republican Era, only back to 1792 with the abolition of the French monarchy.

While many have argued that the Great Awokening that has swept the American corporate-bureaucratic-nonprofit-media-academic oligarchy, though not the population as a whole, is driven by a kind of sublimated Protestantism, the iconoclastic gestures of the woke left—toppling statues, vandalizing churches and public buildings, censoring books and movies, “canceling” people (who are allowed to keep their heads)—more directly evoke the excesses of the French Revolution. The attempt of The New York Times to push, through the culture and the public schools, the idea that “1619,” the date of the arrival of the first Black slaves in British North American colonies, is the true “founding” of the United States of America, is an example of elite-sponsored ideological iconoclasm and brainwashing comparable to the French revolutionary calendar. Robespierre might have admired the pseudo-religious ritual in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “took a knee” to protest the history of American white supremacy while wearing kente cloth, which along with the daishiki is part of the kitsch culture of the old Black Power movement that fell out of fashion in the 1970s.

Analogies can be pushed too far, and my thesis about the Jacobinization of American progressivism has its limits. For one thing, the contemporary American center left is too crazy for France. With few exceptions, French intellectuals and politicians of left, right, and center have rejected American progressive ideological fads like grammar-wrecking, gender-neutral language, gender fluidity, and racial essentialism.

So my thesis should be qualified. It might be said that American progressives are becoming more like those in the French Jacobin tradition, except that would be an insult to the French.”

What do you think?

What about our times is the most reminiscent of the French Revolution? The George Floyd riots which were cheered on by the establishment? Systematic racism? “Trans”? Demonizing the police? Emptying criminals from prison? Toppling monuments of the Founding Fathers? BIPOC and “Latinx”? Rewriting the calendar with things like Pride Month and Indigenous Peoples Day?

George Floyd’s death would be the beginning of the revolution. Trump’s departure from the White House would be the equivalent of the execution of Louis XVI. The Biden administration would be the equivalent of the authoritarian government controlled by the radicals like the First French Republic. The present would be like the Jacobins in power with the near future being our own Thermidorian Reaction.

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  1. It all makes me think Shlomo was behind the French Revolution also despite not much surviving evidence to support this.

    • The French people’s control of money would have destroyed their private banking system. Despite the emancipation of Jews by the new Republic, the international financiers supported the White Terror that overthrew the Republic, and also Bonapartism and the restoration of monarchy.

      • It’s the Jews. It’s ALWAYS the Jews. Look at this insane comment:

        “….the devoutly religious—whether evangelical Populists, Catholic trade unionists, Social Gospel reformers, Jewish clergy in the civil rights era, or Black preachers like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.”

        Matching ‘devoutly religious’ with the likes of Evan-jelly-goo Xtians, Marxist Trade unionists, Niggers, Kikes, and the whore class of ‘Black Impastors’- not a single one of them are, in any way, shape, or form, RELIGIOUS at all!

        They are all USING religion, for the goal of Jewish destruction OF Religion, since overt Marxism only affected the discontents of Greenwich Village, the Frankfurt School acolytes, and Robert Zimmerman’s (or, as he is also known: Shabtai Zisl ben Avraham) asinine NE MN socialist fringe… you know the aforementioned jew as “Bob Dylan.” Jew, Jew, Jew.

        “Growing up in Hibbing, Minnesota, Dylan and his family were part of the area’s small, close-knit Jewish community and in May 1954 Dylan had his Bar Mitzvah.”

        As has been written of the pure white America, prior to WWII:

        “Though the gospel has been announced to all nations, to pretend that it has been, or can be, embraced by all ethnicities equally is supported neither in Scripture, history, nor common experience. The mandated genocides of the Cainites and Canaanites, the divorce and collective reprobation of Israel, and apostolic missionary emphasis on the Levant and Europe, all militate against it. Alienists may delude themselves to the contrary, but the Westminster fathers, in their very Calvinist doctrines of nations and providence, and whose lives were defined by opposition to Rome and Spain, did not believe every ethnicity had an equal relationship to the Kingdom of God.

        They, like the continental Reformers and all Christians of their day, used the ethnic terms “Turk” and “Jew” as synonyms for reprobate.”


        Even granting a “brotherhood of men” under Christ, “the brotherhood of men does not imply their equality.” He continues: “Neither does men’s equality before God imply their equality as among themselves.” Even if God, from his divine and lofty standpoint, views us all as equals, any putative inter-human equality “is entirely irrelevant…”. – https://www.unz.com/article/america-must-die-so-that-the-people-can-live/

        St. Philaret of Moscow stated: “Love your personal enemies, hate the enemies of Christ, destroy the enemies of the fatherland.”

        ????????? ? ???????

  2. Well, it’s about the Democratic Party Conquest of America. And this conquest is a direct consequence of the passage of 1965 Immigration Reform Act and post-1965 Immigration Policy. The Democratic Party was allowed to import its highly racialized nonwhite Democratic Party Voting Bloc-who had a highly racialized nonwhite geneline on US soil that votes Democratic. Lind won’t discuss this because he is very happy about the post-1965 racial transformation of America…The Democratic Party Voting Bloc can now nullify the Native White Working Class vote every Nov 3 POTUS Election Time….All this talk about the Dems rigging a close election is completely beside the point which is why was the POTUS Election a coin flip close in the first place.

    So what I am claiming is what Lind is writing about should be viewed as a physics question:‘the nonwhite Democratic Party Voting Bloc Mass imported legally is how America evolved to the political state described by Lind…I mean how did the Latina twerp AOC ever get elected? Answer:‘the passage of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act…

  3. This is full of bad takes. Opposition to papists can’t really be called “paranoid” when all of the predictions about them ended up being true. Papists did subvert American politics, teaming up with Jews to destroy American racial demographics.

  4. I think we’ve observing centrifugal and not centripetal forces.

    The left has weakened the state — flab is not muscle, and obesity is not strength.

    Many progressives correctly consider themselves anarchists. Anarchism is just neoliberalism by another name — a borderless, cosmopolitan, illiterate, techno-feudal world of international corporations and extreme wealth disparities where credentialed experts are the new clerisy, allowed to run institutional machinery for the nobility as long as everyone repeats dogmas that are deliberately incoherent as a test of our faith.

    Even being outlawed is a medieval concept — your sovereign lords withdraw the protection of the law, as what happened at Charlottesville, and let criminals do their thing unpunished. Lind is right that they want to do this nationally, but I wouldn’t call it centralization. Centralization implies we’re all being integrated into something, like an organism or a machine. In contrast, elites are just untethering themselves from what they see as local speed bumps.

    Just think of postmodern architecture. Often it looks like an alien spaceship landed on a city, or a kid carelessly dropped a few giant building blocks. It is out of place on purpose. It is basically a corporation saying, you people do not matter. Time and space and history are irrelevant. Only we matter. You do not. Deal with it.

    Freedom isn’t the answer since it just funnels wealth to these people.

    It would be nice if we embraced “retard statism” (as joeldavisx pejoratively described it) and enforced personal borders, local borders, state borders, and national borders. Too many people think they’re in an Orwell novel, when the problem is precisely the opposite — a weak state that can’t rein in the supervillain pretensions of megalomaniacal wealth and chop it down to size.

    • To add to the above thought, the best analogy is the Reformation.

      Instead of books and the printing press reshuffling politics, we have the internet, rightly or wrongly, undermining institutional authorities.

      Instead of opportunistic secular authorities taking advantage of changes in information technology to untether themselves from religious authority (as in the 1500s), we have international corporate and financial authorities using technological change to untether themselves from weak national states. Law devolves into lawfare; market economies devolve into vulture capitalism.

      It is going to be more like the wars of religion in the 1500s with weird tribalisms and creeds emerging as politics is scrambled. Peter Turchin probably diagnosed the near American future correctly as having classic civil war tendencies (neighbors fighting neighbors) rather than as having revolutionary potential. Are the libs really going to react calmly if Dumpster wins in 2024?

  5. I’m not seeing a lot of parallels between the Revolutionary France of 1789-1799 and the current situation here in ZOG USA. But it is an interesting topic worthy of consideration/discussion. It would be great if an American Bonaparte emerged from all this chaos.

    • Yes I am expecting the same thing: an American Bonaparte, a militant right-populist reactionary, who is no more White than Bonaparte was French – to emerge to restore the system. The U.S.’s grand finale is coming. Only Bonapartism didn’t have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons sufficient to destroy the entire world. A true left, Jacobin-like revolutionary leadership cannot emerge in the U.S. because the population is too disinformed about socialism and too morally corrupted with capitalist greed. See my comment below.

      • “Didn’t Bonerparte give the Jews free reign”:

        Emperor Napoleon declared France to be “the homeland of the Jews.” He also restored the authority of the Pope in France by the Concordat of 1801. In the short term, many of the gains of the revolution for the common people appeared to be secured, even rural peasants were prospering, industries were thriving, a central bank and stock exchange and a bureau of universal “equitable” taxation were established, and the country was being militarized while war against Russia was being prepared. The brief French Revolution was long over, Jacobin leadership was liquidated or in hiding, and France was falling back under the full boot of Plutocracy. Following the Russian military defeat of the Grand Army of Emperor Napoleon the First, the Bourbon monarchy was restored. King Louis the Eighteenth was on the throne by 1814, complete reversal of the Revolution in just twenty years!

        Yes I expect a Bonaparte or Hitler type leader to emerge in the U.S. to “save the republic” (empire). Jacobins take cover now.

  6. Most of the French masses weren’t prepared for a socialist, democratic, egalitarian revolution, which soon became divided, confused, side-tracked and slid down into Bonapartism, which was followed by the return of another Monarchy but in a more subdued, constitutional style, and of Catholicism with full authority.

    Reactionaries Napoleon and Hitler actually killed many more people (especially Russians, in both cases) than the French revolutionaries, and German revolutionaries, did. The Catholic, monarchist, bourgeois, and foreign-government-supported WHITE TERROR that ended the French revolution was much more bloody than the revolution, just as the terror of the Catholic and other anti-revolutionary German militias killed many more than the socialists during the German revolution that shook the Weimar Republic.

    Robespierre personally signed over 500 arrest papers and did not oppose the excess of mass executions, but he may be given some credit for opposing the declaration of war against Prussia and Austria that was pursued so eagerly by Napoleon to its disastrous conclusion in Russia.

  7. This is not 1789 France. This is more like 1937 Soviet Union.

    Unlike 1789 France or 1917 Soviet Union, Jews and liberals are not coming to power. Similar to 1937 Soviet Union, they already are in power. Why people in power need revolution ? People in power need peace and stability, not revolution and chaos. No one tyrant will never ever arrange revolution to take down his own regime.

    The current clash is between Old Bolsheviks and new young radicals. Like in 1937 Soviet Union. And like in Soviet Union, current clash is also too beautiful to be just coincidence. Similar to 1937 , there might be possible that some wise men orchestrated the show to get rid from all enemies, both old and new ones.

    “”…Thermidorian …””

    Too long and difficult word. Hard to remember. Thermi…thermal, thermostate .what ?

    Let’s say just Q 😀

    • In 1937 Stalin had been Soviet dictator for 13 years and was ordering mass arrests and executions to consolidate his grip on power, no?

      • No. He was actually not aware of many of the arrests nor the full extent of the mass arrests and executions that were being carried out by internal enemies (many Trotskyist or Talmudic) who he should not have trusted, who intended to create division and chaos to blame him and unseat him, which they finally did, but much later.

      • Before 1937 Stalin was like Trump, surrounded by enemies.

        Army was commanded by Tukhachevsky, Trotsky man and Stalin hater. NKVD was controlled by Yagoda, also friend on Trotsky and Stalin hater. Less important positions too.

        Before 1937 Stalin had as little power in office as Trump. Formal power yes, real power no. Deep State or The Swamp is very old Jewish invention and they used this stunt for centuries. Put someone formally in charge but fill all invisible but important positions with your supporters so official ruler or Government is without any real power.

        “I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, …The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.”
        ~ Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild

    • “Jews and liberals are not coming to power. Similar to 1937 Soviet Union, they already are in power. Why people in power need revolution ? People in power need peace and stability, not revolution and chaos. No one tyrant will never ever arrange revolution to take down his own regime.”

      But they don’t see it that way, just watch a Woody Allen movie to see their neuroticism. They are still quite fearful and resentful of the white majority that they grew up in their mostly jewish upper class suburban enclaves holding the most bigoted views there of. They say the most terrible king is one who is afraid of his own people. Well, our ruling ethnic elites are often quite fearful of the American People whom they view as little different from Cossacks sacking their great grandpa’s village. They don’t see themselves in power, they see a monster they need to put the knife in so they can sleep at night and stop feeling the need to see their Woody Allen style therapist.

    • “”…Thermidorian …”” — I’m thinking along the lines of overheated pressure cooker about to blow.

  8. The relevance of the crushing of the French and German revolutions to the U.S. today is, I think, that we can expect to see developing, very soon, a hard (violent) right reaction to remove even a hint of genuine Left from surfacing in the U.S. homeland. As the Fake left fails and “left” is fully discredited, the only solution remaining (the only one that is allowed to appear) is for government to swing right. This pessmistic prediction is based on the dark side of human nature (greed, selfishness, envy, violence) being generally dominant over the better side, but with God all things are possible.

    • Is that what you really see or do you live in a bubble? Yes older people are very much souring on this, but I work with a bunch of 29-30 year olds and none of them seem to get what is going on. White boys too, one of them mentioned all the fundraising letters he gets from Chuck Shumer and Barry so obviously he got on the list by donating money to Obama’s campaign. Both of them were contemptuous of Trump and neither seem to have anything bad to say about Biden so far, it’s still just “America” that sucks. So I am still not convinced the kids born in the 90s have been mugged by reality yet.

  9. I would say that comparisons between one place and time (American 2022 and beyond) to another (the French Revolution of the 1790s) has limited utility. The Woke Revolution is not tied specifically and uniquely to the USA. You see the same “revolution” among Turchin’s overproduced pseudo elites all over the world, and in all advanced economies, whatever the locale or nominal political/cultural system.
    The trigger mechanism in all of these countries is the rise of the surplus economy to heights that allow everyone, not just the 1%, to have the potential to become wealthy beyond the wildest imaginations of medieval kings. Once that happens, the material interests of citizens becomes predominant, and the non-material values recede into nothingness. As a result, it is easy for the 9% who do the actual work making the Oligarchs’ production machine hum to fancy themselves heirs to the throne, and to tempt a percentage of the remaining 90%, the peons, to join them in throwing off all shackles of behavior and prudential limits, and to act as the reserve army of the interlopers, in the revolutionary destruction.
    Most people work hard and play by the rules, as Bill Clinton characterized the normie clan, because they are risk averse, and do not want to put what they now possess in jeopardy when the result is not preordained. That is your conserver/preservationist/traditionalist group, referred to as “conservative” in American dialect. Another portion of the population are genetically willing to give the unknown future a chance, deriving pleasure in chaos and excitement, with little to lose materially, or so they believe. They are the contrarians, always opposing what is. They are today called “liberal” because they are temperamentally liberated from the hopes and dreams of the earlier mass culture.
    The Woke revolutionaries have identified a non-rational hook for legitimating their power into authority to act, racism, to validate a system where they would always win because they deserve to win, because what they want is righteous. Communists do the same, as to capitalists, feudalists, and anyone else who want their subjects to subjugate themselves. The tools of the trade change, from the non-material (the mandate from heaven) to the material (the division of labor, the American Dream), from one source of communication (paper and wire) to another (computer to computer). The net result is the same: someone claims entitlement to the coin of the realm, whether currency, control of wealth generating assets, positions to which tribute is paid, literally (politicians, professors, consultants). The game never changes, only the players, and their chips.

  10. I tend to see these things in terms of people with money, power and what they think is great education wanting to shove around the rest of us. If they were doers and creators like Thomas Edison , or Andrew Carnegie, it might be different, but they’re not. I see them as being a bunch of out of touch blowhards who couldn’t smell the coffee if they were sitting in a bath tub of it. In only several generations they’ve taken a pretty good country, the best demand production economy in the world and run it down the toilet.

    The rest of us are supposed to look up them as though they’re superior, they’re superior only in their pompous arrogance.

  11. American leftists/wokies are just nihilistic, post-modernist scum. They seek to invert reality and worship the ugly and weird. You see this with their praise of negros, transsexuals, pedophiles, obese tattooed women, etc. They are okay with anarchy, trashy streets, public defecation, homeless camps in cities, etc., and to be against those things makes you a fascist bigot. Leftists, especially jewish leftists, are coprophile queers.

  12. France is a Roman Catholic country. The French Protestants had been killed off or driven out of France over 200 years before the French Revolution. Many of the French Protestants becoming early settlers in the British American colonies via Holland and England.

    Our Protestant ancestors hated the Catholics, and the American colonies provided an escape from the Catholics, and the possibility of a new life insulated from the Catholics.

    The French Revolution was Catholic vs. Catholic as the Protestants were long gone.

    LOL. Btw, Beto O’Asshole O’Rourke is a life long Irish Roman Catholic by his own words.

      • So the Catholics claim. But, then the Catholics claim the Pope is infallible and Confession to a Priest is a sacrament.

        Others claim that Maryland was named after Mary of William and Mary.

        • And France hasn’t been ‘catholic’ since the Normans illegally invaded England, at the behest of the Demagogic Pope. But that’s just me…. not!

  13. Analogy only holds in one sense. The French State was in decline and being eclipsed by the British at sea and Germans on land. The US is being eclipsed by China on both land and sea. No one really knows what to do. The US sells itself as a revolution to itself. Careful what you wish for. I’d be crushing leftwing organizations if I were serious about maintaining US power for as long as possible so that the soldier class keep the faith in the nation. Fatally the Monarchs in France financially backed the liberalizing fledgling USA and created hyperinflation just as the British were about to sink the French fleets and control international trade.

  14. Today’s Church of Woke is closer to Mao’s Cultural revolution of the 1960s, though there are some parallels with Jacobinism. Of course Schlomo was involved in the French revolution – the royals borrowed their filthy lucre and didn’t pay back enough interest – so they were guillotined and assets ended up being sold (Louisiana to the Masonic USA, etc.) in order to pay Schlomo for investments in the unending series of wars fought with the English. Masonics were in on the deal too, as many were Schlomo’s good clients the English. Schlomo leads the Church of Woke (left wing) and the Church of Judeo-Christ (right wing) of the Devil’s dialectical dragon. Vote R or D – either way the ballot flaps you will serve Schlomo. Stupid goyim never learn.

    • The French monarchy behaved like morons bankrolling Washington. Whatever their humiliation at the hands of the Hanoverians were, sponsoring a Republic in the New World instead of crushing it, like good monarchists, has to count as the biggest dynastic blunder in Western History.

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