Jay Hoffmann

Books, movies, and code

Paranoia ahead of revolution

I find the French Revolution particularly fascinating (it’s my Roman Empire, I suppose). Recently, I’ve been listening to the Revolutions podcast—which I seriously cannot recommend enough—and the host, Mike Duncan, spends a lot of time in the years and month leading up to the armed uprisings and tyrannical hold that would cast France into its brutal revolutionary era. During that time, the leaders of the revolution on every which side devised some rather crazy conspirancy theories.

If anything went wrong—if a battle was lost, or a revolt broke out or a mob of people stormed the convention (and this type of thing happened quite a lot)—it was always the fault of some dark, shadowy movement lurking just beneath the surface.

If you were a Jacobin or a radical, then it was the royalists behind everything. If you were a royalist or moderate, then those crazy radicals were brainwashing the masses against you. No one acknowledged the intricate and subtle dynamics or the shifting opinions that were truly driving events. Instead, everyone held their ideology as sacred and infallible, unable to fathom that opposition could exist without some hidden manipulation at play.

Anyway, recently Nancy Pelosi told a bunch of pro-Palestinian protestors to “go back to China” where their “headquarters are.” . And Vivek Ramaswamy has openly suggested (or at the very least, strongly implied) that he believes Taylor Swif and Travis Kelce may be at the enter of some sort of Biden led psyop.

Now I believe that they believe that at least part of what they’re saying is actually true. Their own beliefs are far too sacred and beloved to be subject to any real scrutiny, of course. As political discourse becomes more entrenched, this will be true more often than not. And though it will surely lack the fervor and terror of late 18th century France, we may be on the verge of revolution ourselves.