ror and the birth of human rights innbrutal violence; the legitimation of democracy,na delicate topic since in it arenlinked the doctrine of popular sovereigntynand the “theology of history”n(Kant); and the bases of Robespierre’snbut also Napoleon’s dictatorships,nwhich, according to young historiansnundeterred by reigning taboos, were farnmore totalist than the rule of Louis atnany time.nIt is understandable that such topicsngo deeper than the usual textbooknpraise heaped upon the “virtuous”nheroes like the corrupt demagoguenDanton, the hateful accuser Marat,nand the killer Hebert. No wonder thatnin a new book critical of the bicentennialncelebrations Pierre Chaunu callsnthis “an apology for crime.” It is not anmatter of dismissing the entire revolution,nbut of finding a suitable andnbalanced place for it in the unravelingnof history. Frangois Furet admits thatnthe ideas of freedom and participationnwere in 1789 new and persuasive, butnhe insists that the sequels must bencondemned as dangerous precisely fornfreedom and participation. AlreadynItalian historian Guglielmo Ferreronspeaks of “two revolutions,” one thatnwas to reform the kingdom along constitutionalnlines, the other that unleashednviolence in the very halls of thenNational Assembly.nI cannot say that the more than 300nbooks published so far about 1789ncontain sensational revelations. Thennovelty is not in the new light shed onnthe well-known events; it is the gradualnreevaluation of known documents afternthe rereading that, it seems, everyngeneration or so must undertake. Innthis respect two works stand out: lawyernJean-Denis Bredin’s Sieyes, and AndrenTosel’s Kant revolutionnaire.nThe revolutionary Abbe’s reputationnneeds no special introduction; thisnpriest without a vocation wrote thenpamphlet “What is the Third Estate?”nand then, after a period of hidingnduring Robespierre’s Terror, went onnto be one of the triumvirs of Napoleon’snconsulate. His pamphlet may benseen in a different light today, whennthe state is treated as nothing but anlegal structure based on a bare “socialncontract.” What for Sieyes’s contemporariesnwas a brilliant new formulation,nhas become for us s cause ofnfragility in democracies that are nonlonger supported by divine reference,ntradition, and the common good. Innplace of these ancient props, the Abbenset up a fictitious social contract, thenndelegated to the contractors’ representativesnunlimited powers of decisionmaking.n”They possess the leisure, thenintelligence, and the education to debatenmatters, they know better thingsnthan the busy working men whom theynrepresent.” So much for popular government.nAndre Tosel’s selections from Kant’snrevolutionary texts — some of themnhalf-hidden during the philosopher’snlife, others posthumous — present anneven more terrifying picture, sincenKant is the philosopher who has hadnthe greatest influence on the past twoncenturies. Kant believed that the goalnof mankind is to overcome nature,nestablish the strict rule of law, and thusnput an end to both history and philosophyn(the Hegelian/Marxist view, avantnla lettre). The Reign of Terror (1792-n94) was therefore justified; uprisingsnagainst it, for example by CatholicnVendee, were not. The republic, wrotenKant, is the highest form mankind cannachieve (Marx said the classless society,nChurchill said democracy), and it mustnbe guided by “morally upright publicnphilosophers,” obviously like himself,nwho counter through public opinionnthe influence of “conservatives” andnother agents of despotism.nJacques Julliard, in an interviewnpublished by the review Catholica,nargues against Sieyes and the revolutionarynthesis, that the representativesnmust indeed “keep their fingers on thenpulse of civil society,” but that goingnMUSIC AND THEnSAVAGE BEASTSnIn Barrow, Greenpeace wasted no timenfetching Jim Nollman of InterspeciesnCommunication, who, like Dr.nDoolittle, talks to the animals—turkeys,nwolves, monkeys, deer, orcas, whatever.nWith the orcas, he told me, “it’s anmusical interface.” He tries to invitenother musicians. “We have Tibetannlamas come up and do Buddhist ceremoniesninto the water.” Through annLIBERAL ARTSnnnbeyond this would be a “deviation.”nPolitical parties that easily degenerateninto quasi-secret groups are in thisnsense negators of the social contractnitself. Let us have either a total democracynwithout representation (Rousseau’snideal), or recognized structuresnthat articulate power (a reactionarynposition?)nThus Sieyes’s propositions — and henis recognized in France today as thencentral figure of 1789 — are now seennas leading to unfreedom rather thannthe foundation stone of a constitution.nIn fact, in La Republique du Centre,nwhere authors F. Furet, J. Julliard, andnPierre Rosanvallon write the revolution’snepitaph, an arbitrating positionnemerges as if a long crisis is to bensolved: “Let’s not play on words: thenbicentennial seems to us the shroud ofnthe revolutionary tradition.” It does notnappear so to everybody. Regis Debray,nonce Che Guevara’s comrade (and,nlike the guerrilla leader, arrested innBolivia), now an advisor to Mitterrand,nwrites with nostalgia that the newnthinking on the revolution destroys thenhistorical interpretation on which thenFrench republic’s foundation mythnrests. For Debray, as for Vovelle, thenrepublic is not a political regime likenany other, .it is “a struggle and annideal.”nLet us bear in mind that in thenever-overheated ideological climate ofnFrance a demythicized revolution maynlead to a fatal loss of prestige for thenrepublic — whose official symbol is anwoman wearing the revolutionarynPhrygian red bonnet; and the weakeningnof the republican myth may lead innunderwater stereo system, Nollman serenadednthe trapped gray whales with hisnelectric guitar. (Brower told me it soundednto him like hard rock and that thenwhales, “who didn’t have any choice butnto listen,” hated it.) Next, he put on antape of Zulu songs by the native SouthnAfrican group Ladysmith BlacknMambazo. That’s when Bone died andnsank.n—from “Circus Whales” by Ted Williams,nin the March 1989 issue ofnAudobonnJUNE 1989/49n