The legacy of Revolution
22 June 2022
by Liam Gibson
Although celebrated on 14 July, the French Revolution began in June — the month of the Sacred Heart — when the delegates of the Third Estate proclaimed themselves to be the National Assembly and the representatives of the French people. Exactly one hundred years before, on Friday 17 June 1689, St Margaret Mary Alacoque received a vision of Our Lord in which He asked Louis XIV, the self-described “Sun King”, to consecrate France to His Sacred Heart. In return for this, Our Lord promised that He would make Louis victorious over his enemies and “bring low these proud and stubborn heads”.1 Louis’ failure to comply with Our Lord’s request resulted in the toppling of the French crown; an event that, according to Warren Carroll, “more than any other political occurrence has shaped the history of the West for the past two centuries”.2
By March 1791, the Sun King’s great-great-great-grandson, Louis XVI had been reduced to a constitutional monarch but, in reality, he was little more than a prisoner of the Revolution. He watched in horror as France sank deeper and deeper into destruction. Civil war had broken out and the prospects of foreign assistance reaching the royal family seemed hopeless, he was gravely ill and had been for months, coughing and spitting blood. The worst torment of all, however, was the regret that he had given into his advisors and signed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy the previous July. All church property had already been seized but the Constitution set out to reorganise the church completely; establishing new dioceses and new ways of appointing bishops and priests without reference to Rome. Resistance to the changes was met with a requirement for priests to swear allegiance to the state. The great majority of priests refused the oath as did all but six of the country’s 134 bishops. Nevertheless, the Constitution had split the church. A schismatic “official” church had been created while faithful clergy were left even more vulnerable to persecution.
Louis’ regular confessor, Abbé Poupard, had been taken from him in February. Now that Easter was approaching, could he bring himself to receive Communion from a schismatic priest? From his sickbed, he called upon the Sacred Heart for help, vowing to revoke as soon as possible all laws “contrary to the purity and integrity of the faith, to the discipline and the spiritual justification of the Holy Roman and Catholic faith, and particularly to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy”. Louis placed himself and his kingdom under the protection of the Sacred Heart and promised to establish a church and a solemn feast in its honour as soon as he was in a position to do so, writing:
“I solemnly promise to go myself, in person, within three months after the day of my deliverance, to the church of Notre Dame in Paris or to any other principal church in the place where I may be, on a Sunday or feast-day, after the Offertory and delivering my oath to the celebrant and utter an act of dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, promising to give all my subjects an example of the worship and devotion due to that Heart which we should all adore.”3
Louis recovered from his illness but his life was not to be spared. On 21 January 1793, he was led to the guillotine. When he spoke to the massive crowd gathered there, he forgave the “authors” of his death but officials hastily ordered the beating of drums to drown out his words. When the blade fell, a great cry went up and people rushed forward to dip handkerchiefs and cloths into his blood. In the words of Bernard Fay, “Since then, the whole history of France has born its stain.”4
Other outrages also left their mark as the revolution spread its errors abroad. The political turmoil allowed the “philosophy” espoused by the Marquis de Sade to turn “blasphemy, theft, homicide and every type of sexual perversion, incest, rape [and] sodomy”5 into revolutionary acts. This too was to become a feature of subsequent revolutions. Even before the end of the Russian civil war, the Bolshevik revolution decriminalised homosexual acts, encouraged promiscuity and promoted abortion.
In 1926, the July edition of The Atlantic magazine in the USA reproduced an anonymous article written by “a woman resident in Russia”.6 Its title was “The Russian effort to abolish marriage” and described the chaos resulting from the disintegration of the family — polygamy, impoverished single mothers, rampant abortion, the murder-suicide of rival lovers as well as the roaming gangs of abandoned children who had turned to crime to survive. While it made no mention of homosexuality, it referenced “‘down-with-shame’ or ‘down-with-innocence’ circles” organised by the Komsomol, the League of Communist Youth. Members of this movement would proclaim their message through public displays of nudity.
“Evenings of the denuded body were held in Moscow in 1922. Later, there were marches and processions in Moscow and Kharkov and the occupation of trolley cars by the nudists who wore nothing but scarlet sashes bearing their device — to the amazement of onlookers…”7
Memories of the revolution may partly explain Russian hostility to “pride” parades today.
So-called “sexual liberation” was also a feature of the German revolution of 1919 which overthrew the Kaiser. Although the majority of German revolutionaries were fearful of the chaos caused by the Bolshevik regime, the Weimar Republic quickly descended into sexual depravity. Despite maintaining laws that criminalised homosexual acts, Germany in the 1920s became a place of pilgrimage for homosexuals from across Europe.8
In 1919, Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (the Institute for Sexology) was founded in Berlin by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, a leading advocate for the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In January 1921, Hirschfeld was made an honorary member of the British Society for Sexual Psychology and was the force behind the “First International Conference for Sexual Reform based on Sexual Science”, which took place in Berlin from 15 to 20 September that year. This helped Hirschfeld cement links between Berlin and similar institutes in Europe and the US.
While Hirschfeld’s activities brought a veneer of respectability to homosexual subculture, the brash public displays of the Nazi movement were causing a growing scandal. From the earliest days of the movement, both open and latent homosexuals occupied positions of leadership. Ernst Röhm, the head of the 2,500,000-strong Sturmabteilung (SA) was the most notorious of these, but he was far from alone. An American reporter based in Berlin during the 1920s and 30s, later wrote that Röhm’s chiefs in the SA were, almost without exception, homosexuals. Former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher referred to the SA and the early Nazis as “filthy boy-streetwalkers”.9
According to historian, Frank Rector, before being appointed leader of the Hitler Youth, Baldur von Schirach, who had been arrested for perverse sexual practices, was only released following Hitler’s direct intervention.10 And predatory tendencies seem to have been endemic among the organisation’s leaders. In 1934, a Gestapo report on just one troop of the Hitler Youth recorded over 40 cases of pederasty.11
Despite Hirschfeld’s advocacy for legal reform and his own homosexual proclivities, he became a figure of hate for the Nazi Party, who saw him as a degenerate Jew and a threat to German society. The first incident of book-burning perpetrated by the Nazis occurred on 10 May 1933, just four days after the SA had raided the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. As the courts had routinely sent anyone convicted of a sexual offence for treatment at the Institute, it possessed thousands of books and files within its records. According to Ludwig Lenz, who worked there, the Institute had too many “intimate secrets regarding members of the Nazi Party and other documentary material — we possessed about forty thousand confessions and biographical letters”.12
In Salvation is from the Jews, Roy Schoeman argues that the sexual depravity of Weimar — together with its practice of eugenics and a widespread fascination with the occult — created a fertile environment in which Nazi ideology could take over a formerly Christian country.13 The influence of these trends on our own time should perhaps cause us more concern than they do. And there is another way in which modern society parallels the ascent of Nazi ideology, which is most clearly seen in June. Each year, “pride” month demands a greater level of support for the public celebration of sexual depravity, while more corporations and businesses prostrate themselves before the “LGBTQ…” agenda. In most cities in Western Europe and North America, only the display of swastikas at a Nuremberg rally would surpass the proliferation of rainbow flags and banners. The Nazis called this process Gleichschaltung, meaning “synchronisation”. To consolidate its power, the party sought to take over every aspect of German life and suppressed everything it could not control. While it would be an exaggeration to suggest that we are experiencing anything comparable to Nazi rule, the homosexual lobby has brought an alarming level of social control to every area of modern life.
On 21 June, the UK Government announced that there were 214,256 abortions for women resident in England and Wales in 2021, the highest number since the Abortion Act was introduced. This too is a legacy of the revolution. Rebellion against God did not bring liberty, equality and fraternity but war, terror and chaos along with an immeasurable loss of souls.
- Diane Moczar, Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know, (Sophia Inst Press, 2005) p. 133.
- Warren H Carroll, The Guillotine and the Cross, (Christendom Press, 1991) p. 25.
- Bernard Fay, (Patrick O’Brian, trans) Louis XVI, (Henry Regnery Co, 1968) p. 345.
- Ibid p. 406.
- Anon, The Atlantic, July 1926, pp. 108–114.
- Richard Stites, Revolution Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution, (OUP, 1989) p. 133.
- British writers, W H Auden and Christopher Isherwood both made their way to Berlin. Isherwood recounted the experience in Goodbye to Berlin, first published in 1938.
- Roy H Schoeman, Salvation is from the Jews, (Ignatius, 2003) p. 237.
- Frank Rector, The Nazi Extermination of Homosexuals (Stein and Day, 1981) p. 56, cited in Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party (Founders Publ Co, 1995) p. 37.
- Schoeman p. 236.
- Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, p. 21.
- Schoeman, pp. 179-253.