When the noble ideal of egalit'e among men leads to state-enforced egalitarianism it degenerates to tyranny. This historical truth is seen in the bitter collateral damage of the French revolution and the Russian revolution.
The proper function of government in regard to equality is to protect equal opportunity, not to impose an institutional egalitarianism. Where Marxism went wrong, and degenerated utimately to Stalinism, was in force-feeding societal equality to all citizens. Likewise, among the Chinese, the reign of Maoism following their 1949 revolution degenerated to oppressive governmental structures from which the people are still striving to free themselves. The Russians too.
The earlier revolution, the one that happened here in America, presented equality as a God-given attribute of the human race. That has made quite a difference in the playing-out of it. Jefferson, Franklin, and the many leaders who followed them were breaking new ground on an undeveloped contintent. That has also made quite a difference in the flowering of American equal opportunity among men and women.
The French revolutionary model, established soon after the American one, was encumbered from its inception with the weight of millenia of societal baggage, heaped upon the people mostly by the Church in Rome. When French republicans succeeded in freeing themselves from the bondage of the ancien regime, their progress was quite different from the wild and wooly American experience.
About a century later, Marx took a remnant of that French egalite principle and ran with it; it later developed as historical Marxism. Under the brutally communist hands of Josef Stalin, it enslaved and murdered millions of Russians and east Europeans.
Thus the revolutionary ideal in old Europe developed quite differently than the American experiment. Our working out of it emphasized equal opportunity instead of enforced equality. That had a lot to do with our continent-wide abundance of undeveloped land. This is the heart of American exceptionalism; Such swift and wide incubation of democratic conditions will never happen again in the history of this world.
But these days, the old Western debate of democratic republicanism vs. authoritarianism is being rendered irrelevant due to the forceful power of Islam.
What was previously a philosphical debate, then a multi-faceted political division and military wars, has now retrograded to a more fundamental debate among homo sapiens: a religious struggle.
The Protestan Reformation, and the humanistic Enlightenment that accompanied it, eclipsed a millenial Roman Catholic domination of European culture and its institutions. One result was a vast power vacuum. The revolutionary ideals that bloomed as political movements thereaftere drifted further and further from their religious moorings, and back toward archival Greek philosophic underpinnings.
Now western revolutionary zeal, having wrested itself from authoritarian Catholicism, has bankrupted itself of spiritual stamina. Its wantonly amoral end now renders us culturally weak as compared to the heavy legalistic hand of Islamic fundamentalism.
So we in the post-European world will be playing catch-up ball to recover a principled spiritual heritage. This is a situation analagous to that in which Churchill and the British were struggling to prepare their defense against the onslaught of Nazism and Fascism in the late 1930s.
Oh what a dear price the people of Britain and their Allies paid. Never had so few sacrificed so much for so many, said Mr. Churchill, about the hardly-won defeat over authoritarian tyrrany in Europe.
Our generations probably face similar upheavals in the years ahead.
I know not what course others may take. I take my refuge, and my inspiration in the One who, having decided not to participate in the prolonged skirmish, chose instead to spread his arms and allow the powers of this world to crucify his body so that spiritual rebirth could begin for all mankind.
Resurrection is better than insurrection.