Otto J. Scott, in Robespierre, The Voice of Virtue, calls attention to all important phenomenon of the French Revolution, The Great Fear.
At a certain point, as corrosion began to destroy all forms of social order, wild rumors circulated through all of France. Fears of invasion, of disintegration, and chaos "destroyed the sense of stability and security essential to civilized patterns and orderly ways." Evil seemed to have become incarnate and dominant over history. "There was a general, unexpressed sense that a true diabolism had appeared, an evil that sent a shudder through the land. Men who had long forgotten God began to believe the Devil was real" (p. 69f.).
The Bastille fell on July 14, 1789; for the rest of that summer, the French people also fell, in their case into The Great Fear, La Grande Peur. None of the fears were true, but their content, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy pointed out, was not the significant fact: "it was this complete paralysis of will and reason, the deep insight that one was no longer safe on land" (Out of Revolution, p. 131; Argo Boots). It was the sign of disintegration: evil and madness took over, because there was despair concerning any good. France went into the Reign of Terror subsequently, but the terror first began in men's minds with the Great Fear.
According to Rosenstock-Huessy, every revolution begins with a Great Fear; it appeared before the Peasants' Revolt of Luther's day, and it again appeared in Germany in the year 1930, preceding Hitler. Frederick II in 1227 described the Great Fear in his day; so intense was it that he said, "the power of love itself, by which heaven and earth are governed, seems now to be troubled, not in its later flowing, but at the very source."
The Great Fear marks first the break-up of man's inner being. His way of life is shattered. Man in such eras and now live on borrowed capital, on the inheritance of the past. They assume old religious standards and values without really believing in them. The old faith of society declines from a religious imperative to a convention and an accepted custom. Then the surface begins to crack, and men are suddenly without the religious resources for crisis.
They become fearful and guilt-ridden, and they start at shadows.
The inner break-up precedes the outer break-up. The collapse begins in man's soul and rapidly extends into his society, which begins to disintegrate and go up in flames. Indeed, the flames of destruction become then the only active and potent social force.In Britain's 1981 summer riots, the rock music groups had a major part in preparing the youth for the enactment of destruction and break-up. Significantly, Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols has summed up the "hard rock" view on life: "We are the future: no future" (Christopher Makos: White Trash, 1977). Modern youth culture, with its love of rock music and drugs, is determined that there be no future.
The older generation sees this with horror and without faith. The war against the Establishment is more than that: it is a war against yesterday, today, and tomorrow, against past, present, and future. Youth sings of belonging "to the blank generation," to a world without meaning or direction.
The Bible also speaks of the end and of the results of the Great Fear: it is death (Prov. 8:36). Our Lord declares that the times shall come when men shall say to the mountains, "Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us," (Luke 23:30), as they seek vainly to escape God's judgment.
In Revelation 6:16, we are again given the cry of men in the grips of the Great Fear; they say to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Again, in Revelation 9:6, we read, "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
The Great Fear begins, as Rosenstock-Huessy saw, in the conscience of man. It is a religious fact, and it is a manifestation of man's spiritual state. As our Lord said, "Men's hearts shall fail them for fear" (Luke 2l:26). MORE>> The Great Fear and the Great Faith - Research - Chalcedon