For leftists, Le musee du Carnavalet, a free museum tucked away in the Parisian Marais, is a treasure trove. The museum presents the history of the city of Paris, depositing artifacts, paintings, and relics of the tortured history of this tortured city. Paris has long captivated the leftist imagination, not simply for its prominence in literature nor only for its demonstrated and longstanding left resistance, but precisely because of its history. Paris, the city of 100,000 novels as Balzac once called it, is singular in its revolutionary history — the site of the decapitation of the king, the streets barricaded during the commune, the vibrancy of the resistance movement during the Nazi occupation, the bravery of Algerian resistance fighters during the struggle for decolonization.
Those interested in the Carnavalet's Revolution collection usually come to marvel at Couthon's chair, displayed in the middle of the room, or to look at Saint Just's pistol, to have their hearts palpitate at Robespierre's membership card to the Cordelier club. These artifacts of history, these possessions of great men, they are no doubt inspiring. And standing in front of it, my partner and I even joked that one day, we could use the lock of Robespierre's hair to do a Jurassic Park style resurrection. There is a kind of awe and grandeur imbued in these objects that the revolutionary heart of mine aches for in longing. One feels inaugurated into the gravity and the force of Revolutionary history, with all its contentions, struggles, vanities, sacrifices, and torrid demises by standing before it.Read More