Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Billington's Fire In the Minds of Men examines the three ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity that originated in the French Revolution, which was a revolt against the tyranny of kings and clergy. It is a fairly interesting, straight-ahead analysis of revolutionary movements up until the communist revolution in Russia. Billington favors recording and analyzing events and people more than telling stories, in my estimation. While not engrossing reading, it wasn't a hard chore to read either, although a long one.
The first secular revolution was in France and Billington shows the many things it had in common with the recent leftwing Proudhonian revolt during the 1960's. People would talk politics and dream of the perfect world in the cafes and then literally go underground to indulge themselves with sex and drugs afterwards. The dreams often did not go beyond the minds of the dreamer, once he considered the difficulties of creating such reveries in the real political world. There was a lot of violence and insurrections, one could be ruling one day and be dead the next. It was an exciting, but dangerous time to be alive.
The idea of equality developed into the social revolutionary movement. It valued equality over liberty. Adherents hoped for a fraternity of workers worldwide beyond the boundaries of race and nationality. The intellectuals, often journalists, who developed these movements for the people claimed that they knew what the people wanted. It was their job to educate the people about what they wanted, which was a dictatorship of the proletariat, as advocated by Marx and Lenin, in which the intelligencia would lead the people to the promised land whether they liked it or not. But all would be equal and everyone would own everything.Read more ›
Billington explores the starting places of the Western revolutionary philosophy in this book. One of the most interesting things about reading the book was being able to see the great importance of the Masons and other secret societies. The whole three men and five men cell groups that even the Al Qaeda now use started then. Taking us through that horrible French revolution, Billington bombards the reader with so much information that all seems so tremendously important, that you feel bad that you can't remember all of it. And, of course, the Marxists take center-stage in recent history of revolutionary philosophy. Unfortunately, Billington only has enough space to take us to the Russian communist revolution. One gets the impresion that the whole idea of global, organized terrorism started with the Marxists. I think this book will really change the way you see history, and present day secret-societies, terrorist groups, and Marxists.
Was this review helpful to you?
This book deals with the development of revolutionary theories and practices from the French Revolution, through Marx and Engels, and into the 20th Century. Billington traces how revolutionaries came to think of their actions as eventually creating a utopia, even if they would not live to see it. This quasi-religious viewpoint can be seen in the radical religious movements currently active in the world.
Was this review helpful to you?