Happy Bastille Day. For Freedom, Equality and Fraternity
July 14 is the official birthday of the other great nation that has spawned Canada, and should be celebrated by all people that cherish freedom, equality and fraternity between human beings.
On July 14, 1789 the peasants and merchants of France captured the prison fort of Bastille, a symbolic act that started the French Revolution and gave birth to nation states governed by equal citizens, not aristocrats that claimed a birthright to supremacy over their people.
Few are aware of how the French Revolution has changed and shaped the course of history, and of the future, and made possible even the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.
The Revolution terrorised the tyrants of Europe and forced monarchs and the ruling classes to make enough concessions to their subjects to avert armed rebellion. Those that failed to learn from it, like the Romanow Dynasty of Russia, perished in an even more violent uprising.
The French Revolution was driven by the working people and the merchants, the “bourgeoisie”, or what would be called the lower and middle class and small business today. The king and queen were executed for treason since their loyalties lay elsewhere, not with the people they governed.
Today we seem to be drifting back to the Middle Ages as the new aristocrats erect walls and fortresses to protect the ruling elite against the commoners. The modern-day tyranny, sometimes called globalisation, is manifesting as an alliance between greedy multinational interests and rulers whose loyalties lie not with the people they represent. Those that are trying to subvert democracy and thumbing their noses at their citizens should take heed, since history always repeats itself for those that have not learned from it.
Although the French failed to create a commonwealth of nations and races like the British and Americans, and their republic reverted to selfish nationalism, imperialism, and colonialism, the universal concepts introduced by the French Revolution are as valid today as they were two centuries ago.
Revolutionaries were inspired by a group of militia that marched from the city of Marseille to Paris. The song they sang during the march, the "Marseillaise" was composed into the French national anthem.
The video I've uploaded, La Marseillaise, was for some reason mistitled. It's sung not by Edith Piaf, but Mireille Mathieu, one of the most extraordinary singers France has raised. In my opinion this is probably the most beautiful rendition of the Marseillaise, against a backdrop of images of Joan of Arc.