Me Myself and Ty, Politics

Political Commentary: The American Revolution?

Editor’s Note: I’m no political scientist and I’m hardly a historian. I don’t pretend to have any answers. What I present here is simply something to consider as you scan the headlines of today’s news-aggregating media…or newspapers for a few of my friends out there. It is an embarrassingly brief synopsis of the French Revolution juxtaposed with today’s governmental crises. I only argue that the connections are clear from a historical perspective and seem to present a nice literary narrative.
Read this for starters: There Will Be Blood

Mmm…more academic talk.

So in my nine semesters at N.C. State, I’ve been in and out of a lot of history courses.

Some of them I passed with no problems, while others (like the one on modern Russia) have been struggles leaving me wondering whether or not I’ve even learned anything.

Generally I come away with a broader understanding of a culture and historical perspective for the sake of understanding other history topics that I’m already well-versed in. For instance, I didn’t glean much of an understanding about all of the revolutions that befell the Russian state in my class on the U.S.S.R., but I did gather a new perspective on World War II.

There we go. Now that you understand that I learn without really learning, I can move to a juicy little nugget that came up in my France in the Ancient Regime class over the past few weeks.

(For my less-than-avid followers, the following will look a lot like a history lecture/analysis. Please skip down to my conclusion, marked roughly with an *).

France had no representative government in the centuries before the French Revolution, and instead held what was known as an Estates General in which the three Estates (the classes of the population) gathered to discuss taxes and such.

The first estate was the clergy, the second was the knights/nobles and the third was, well everyone else.

It worked out okay (according to the top two estates) because each estate only got one vote, meaning when the nobles and clergy wanted tax exemptions for the nobles and clergy, they steamrolled the third estate’s vote 2 to 1 every time.

The Estates General was something the king called…if he wanted to. Because of this, France went from 1614 to 1788 without ever calling one – that’s 174* years. (Not 114 as originally reported. Thanks Farrell). Imagine two generations of third estaters living and dying without ever having a voice in the government that was taxing them.

Now take into account the numerous wars France underwent in that time (Yeah, the American Revolution as well, if you can call it that…which I’ll get to in a minute) and you find yourself with quite a government deficit.

You’re taxing the poor and fighting wars on more than one continent…then comes a famine and you’re looking down the barrel of a revolution the likes of which the world had never seen.

So because of all the negatives, King Louis XVI calls another Estates General to be run the same way as before, i.e. with a powerless third estate. They get pissed and ask for more power, but by the time XVI gives it to them, they’re irate.

The rest you probably know from history classes (assuming you didn’t go to Rosewood):

The "Tennis Court Oath" in France, 1789

Finally, something almost as badass as me on a tennis court.

National Assembly, Tennis Court Oath, Revolution, Reigh of Terror, First Republic, First Empire, Second Republic, Second Empire, Third, Fourth and Fifth Republics.

*I understand summing up the history of modern France in two lines of Wikipedia liks is a foolish way to make this point, but that Revolution in which French citizens beheaded their own king left a power vacuum that led to more terror, Napoleon and several more revolutions before stability was ever reached. (Arguably at the end of the 19th century or beginning of 20th century, though we all remember what happened to France in the 1940s…)

The wisdom from this revolution dictates that if the rulers of a country ignore the governed, revolution can come, and I’m not talking about a glorious “kick out the British” revolution…I mean a French-style revolution where the entire nation implodes and chaos reigns for decades…Think like a long-term Argentinean economy with some dictatorship thrown in for good measure.

Our political compass in the U.S. is so skewed…we think we’re a superpower and we always will be, but guess what? That’s how people felt in France and England and Germany in the early part of the 20th century and a war nearly bankrupt them all, leaving an upstart power (the U.S.) and a country that ignored human rights (U.S.S.R) to emerge as the powers in the world. Where is the U.S.S.R now?

The connections between our country’s current state and France’s are many, and I won’t make them all for you, but the tax cuts one just drives me up the wall.

The Bush tax cuts are exactly the type of tax agenda the clergy and nobles had for themselves in the 18th century and with people like Former Senator Alan Simpson running things, it seems like we’re bound for a scary revolution just like France.

Now, to clarify my thoughts on the matter: France’s revolution is today heralded as one of the greatest moments in Western civilization. It typically marks the beginning of the modern era for history and it’s one of the most badass moments in history as far as I’m concerned. Any country that would rather rip itself to shreds than be ruled by an oblivious monarch is truly a martyr nation that should be commended.

What I’m saying is, 221 years from now, someone may look back at whatever is transpiring within the United States as a milestone, but I’m just not sure if the American populace knows what could await on the other side of this “revolution.”


My view on the ticketing fiasco

UPDATE Sept. 27 12:40 p.m. A few posts on the SG website to clear some things up, plus information about the additional opportunity for tickets we’ve sorta known about since Sept. 24: The story (not the letter from Johnson) was lifted from Technician.

So if you’re an N.C. State student who requested a ticket for this Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech, that means you’re fuming because you didn’t get one and you don’t know why.

I say this because I only have heard of one friend of a friend who did not get shafted this go-round, and Facebook has blown up with people angry over this thing.

Because I no longer have editorial freedom or feel welcome writing for Technician, I decided to do my conspiracy theorizing here on my blog, so enjoy:

Did anyone receive the “Howl” from SBP Kelly Hook last week (Sept. 24)? If not, here’s the excerpt that concerned ticketing for the VaTech game:

“SG student ticketing UPDATE for the Virginia Tech game.
•  Student ticket demand is expected to be at an all time high with Parents & Families weekend.
•  Be sure to check out, the Technician, and our SG website on Monday/Tuesday for other opportunities to receive tickets for the VT game.”

So, if I’m reading this right, there is expected to be an all-time high amount of demand for tickets to this game, but Student Government is still predicting there will be other avenues through which students can receive tickets?

Anyone reading the writing on the wall? When has there ever been a forecast for there to be EXTRA tickets for any game? The tickets that aren’t claimed by students are generally reinserted into the lottery with remaining tickets being released to students in a first come, first serve ON DEMAND basis.

So how is it that the SBP knows, on the day that ticket requests begin, that there will be both a high demand for tickets and some excess that SG can give away at a later time?

Consider all of the other issues that have happened this season concerning tickets. At one point I heard grumblings that group leaders that received tickets had members in their groups that didn’t receive tickets, plus the all-around confusion that’s associated with freshman and ignorant upperclassmen not understanding the ticket process.

I understand that people bellyache every year over tickets (because Technician reports on it every time) but I’ve never seen an uproar like this over tickets. That, coupled with the suspiciously forecasting Howl e-mail from Kelly Hook makes me feel like something is up with the ticketing system that was glitching during games earlier this year (the group leader/member ticketing divide before the Cincinnati game) and hasn’t been fixed yet.

I hope everyone that wants/deserves a ticket gets one, and if SG does miraculously discover an excess of tickets or acquires some from visitor vacancies like they did during the Cincy game (not likely since VaTech generally travels to Raleigh well), then that is one problem solved. No worries for the student body and Go Wolfpack, ya know.

But I really feel like some investigation should be done into that Hook e-mail and whether or not SG knew about these ticketing problems ahead of time.

The way I see it, there are either enough tickets, or there aren’t. If SG or the ticketing office is holding something back from students, be it tickets or information, then we’ve got a problem on our hands