It has been six years since I last came to Europe. I was expecting more immigrants on the streets of Paris. Surprisingly, I didnâ€™t see too many headscarved women. But I did notice that lots of souvenirs peddlers were African immigrants. Gui asked me who were peddling these trinkets on the streets before? I thought for a while, nobody. I donâ€™t remember peddlers on the streets of Paris before.
While we were in Paris, we were constantly comparing the French to the Chinese, Paris to Beijing, Paris to Shanghai, Parisians to Shanghainess.
One thing that puzzled me was why communism never flourished in France?
The French revolution is every bit as bloody and maddening as any Communist Country’s revolution. But why didn’t it go anywhere? Why did it just fizzle?
As we walked the maze-like alleys of the Latin Quarter, as we climbed the steps of Montmartre, as we wondered the quietness of cemeteries, as we pondered the such familiar rudeness of Paris service staffs, we tried to figure out.
The French’s forever suspicion attitude toward anyone or anything the resembles previlege could have been a sure sign of its inclination toward communism. But there maybe a couple of other factors prevented it from becoming red. Its free spirit and easy-living attitude. Deep down, maybe, just maybe, French is too bourgeoisie to care about maximize efficiency or productivity. They care, rightly so if you ask me, more about having a good cup of coffee, a delicious piece of pastry, a nice dinner, and a good conversation than about having a revolution.
Or it maybe because the French revolution happened too early, there is no The Maoist or Marxist to guide them? There is no theory to help them keep the fruit of their revolution? Without the shinny beacon of Communist Manifesto, with nothing better to model after, they settled for the dictatorship of Napoleon?
Then I came upon this: The French Revolution and Socialist Tradition, and I realized how upside down my thinking has been.
To say all of this is not the same thing as saying that the revolution died or that the revolutionary faith, for it is a faith, had simply run its course. The French Revolution did not directly produce the 19th century ideologies known as socialism or communism. But the Revolution did provide an intellectual and social environment in which these ideologies, and their spokesmen, could flourish. In other words, the history of the socialist tradition is something more than the words of Marx and Engels (the subject of Lecture 24). We must remember that Marx and Engels, major prophets of this tradition that they were, were educated in the peculiar circumstances of late 18th and early 19th century revolutionary activity. What, after all, would Marx and Engels have been had it not been for the French Revolution?
That settled it. 🙂