In classic 18thC style, this post now has two
prefaces. This was my second-most-popular tumblr post, inspired by the following set of posts to which I responded in the tags:
I remain less than completely comfortable with the current Guillotine Discourse, and my own contribution to it. (It's hilarious! but if you joke about wanting to do something often enough, sometimes you then go do it, as the French Revolution itself tells us
I got two separate requests for this after my tags on this reblog, and if I’ve learned anything from vaguely gossiping about the revolution with 18thC scholars, it’s to Give The People What They Want! Therefore, I am pleased and alarmed to present to you now:~ * DOs and DON’Ts of GUILLOTINING the RICH * ~by Monsieur Laurence Racine-de-la-LibertéDO place blame on the people who directly benefit from your exploitation.
It’s not hard to find them. They will try to convince you that it is hard to find them, but you can literally just look at how much money they have (way too much). A really quick method of wealth redistribution is to move in to a rich person’s house.DON’T leave the rich with no “out”.
Your goal is a better world, not a gigantic pile of heads. When cornered, the rich get volatile and dangerous. There needs to be a level of reform which is sufficient for a formerly-rich person to be accepted back into society, and NOT as a second-class citizen. Like, if they stop being rich and start doing chores, you don’t have to also give them the shittiest chores.DO take meaningful action against those with the power to create change.
Sassy tweets accomplish basically nothing. Well-organized voting accomplishes some things. Credible threats to your opponents’ power base (whether that’s throwing roof tiles at them or claiming their houses as your own) accomplish… mostly a shift in the Overton window which makes your opponents suddenly eager to concede to the demands of the “nice” activists, but that’s not nothing.DON’T guillotine too many people at once.
Just because you guillotined five people yesterday, that doesn’t mean guillotining ten today will make you twice as successful. Meaningful action can only be targeted against individuals or systems, not against nebulous social groups; avoid mass guillotining at all costs! Periodically consider whether you may have reached the limit of the number of people who need to be guillotined. Again, your goal is a better society, not an infinite supply of heads.DO get excited making up cool new names.
This is a new world! There’s a lot to be excited about! Rename yourself “Strive with a Will for the Republic” or “Radish”! Be the rad moniker you want to see in the world! Invent new holidays while you’re at it! A new calendar! Declare today Day One Of Year One! A society becomes real through people living its values: embrace your vision enthusiastically.DON’T get excited about cool new conspiracies.
The real causes of the world’s problems are not going to be one lady’s diamond necklace. They’re going to be way weirder and more complicated than something you can rant about at a party. This very list of advice, for example, is full of pithy quips which are too brief and simplistic to be remotely useful. Spend five minutes fact-checking any headline that gives you a strong burst of feeling before you tell someone else about it.DO acknowledge the validity of your complaints.
This rule operates on two levels: first, the aristocrats’ shit is bad. They’re going to pretend it’s not, but don’t buy it. Second, sometimes your shit might be bad. If you’ve been trying out something new for a while, but people still can’t afford to wear pants, you have to be able to say that the new system isn’t working either, and leave room to change your mind about what to do. (See also: leave the rich with an “out”; don’t guillotine too many people at once.) If honesty is not the best policy, only liars and scoundrels will have heads.
And the number one rule from the French Revolution:DON’T make decisions while hangry!
I know, I know: there’s no fucking bread and air conditioning hasn’t been invented yet, and you’ve been drinking a lot of coffee at the revolutionary clubs. But it is totally impossible to judge whether your response in a conflict is “proportional” or “helpful” when you’re hot, caffeinated, and hangry. Have some ice cream. Take a cool shower. (Remind the rich that it is in their best interest to provide you with ice cream and a cool shower, in the short and long term, since you are the one with the guillotine.) Maybe try describing your course of action out loud to a neutral party before you do it. If someone starts asking logistical questions about mass graves, take a step back and have a snickers.#I am kind of serious here #and also kind of no #please do not get me arrested for inciting murder-via-guillotine #but good luck with the revolution #also #the contemporary interest in the guillotine #as a shorthand symbol for political fed-upped-ness #is genuinely fascinating to me #so please do send me any guillotine tidbits you might encounter on the wilds of this internet #I would be interested in compiling them #the french revolution #the guillotine #dos and donts of guillotining the rich
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