Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.
In the spring of 1794 Robespierre stormed into the Convention and denounced Cloots for his links to the Vandenyver banking family, who were accused of distributing British gold in France. ‘Can we regard a German baron as a patriot?…’ Cloots’s origins had caught up with him and he was guillotined before a large and spiteful crowd. What happened to Cloots exemplifies some of the elements of revolutionary politics: the capacity for social reinvention, as well as its dangers; the quicksilver mutation of policies into their opposites; and the ineluctable gobbling-up of radicals by insatiable Mother Revolution.BACK TO TOP