Revolution Explained by Jean-Joseph Gaume


Jean-Joseph Gaume was a French Roman Catholic author and theologian who lived from 5 May, 1802 to 19 November, 1879. One of the great counterrevolutionary minds of the 19th century, Gaume has been, like so many of his intellectual peers, consigned to obscurity in an age openly hostile to his ideas. In his work, La Révolution, we find one of the clearest, most penetrating explanations of the roots of the revolutionary spirit, and perhaps even the most perfect (and poetic) definition of Revolution itself. 

If, snatching away the mask of Revolution, you asked her, “Who are you?”, she would say to you: “I am not what they believe I am. Many speak of me, and very few know me. I am not Carbonarism conspiring in secret, nor riots roaring in the streets, nor the change from monarchy to a republic, nor the substitution of one royal dynast for another, nor a temporary disturbance in public order. I am not the howls of the Jacobins, nor the furies of the Mountain, nor the fighting on the barricades, nor the pillaging, nor the arson, nor the agrarian law, nor the guillotine, nor the drownings. I am not Marat, nor Robespierre, nor Babeuf, nor Mazzini, nor Kossuth. These men are my sons — they are not me. These things are my work — they are not me. These men and these things are transitory things, and I am a permanent condition.

I am the hatred of every religious and social order which Man has not established and in which he is not king and God together; I am the proclamation of the rights of Man against the rights of God; I am the philosophy of rebellion, the politics of rebellion, the religion of rebellion; I am armed nihilism; I am the founding of the religious and social state on the will of Man in place of the will of God! In a word, I am anarchy, for I am God dethroned and Man put in his place. This is why I am called Revolution: it means reversal, because I put on high that which should be low according to the eternal laws, and I put low what should be on high.

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