Medicating Omicron and the Continuing Relevance of the French Revolution

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

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What Happens Next is a podcast where an expert is given just SIX minutes to present his argument. This is followed by a Q&A period for deeper engagement.

Today’s topics are Anti-Virals for Omicron and Writing a Blockbuster First Novel.

Our speakers are Ari Ciment and Tim Tackett.

The audio will be available shortly.


Welcome to What Happens Next.

My name is Larry Bernstein.

Today’s discussion is on Medications for Omicron and the Continuing Relevance of the French Revolution.

Our first speaker today is Dr. Ari Ciment who is a pulmonologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. Ari has treated thousands of COVID patients since the March 2020 outbreak.
Ari spoke on my three programs, and he is now officially a regular on the show by popular demand

Ari thinks Omicron is about to peak and we are going to return to normal life!

This means we are heading towards herd immunity. It also suggests it is highly likely that you will get infected with Omicron in the next few weeks!

Today’s discussion will focus on what medications should you take, how long should you quarantine, what symptoms will you get and how to treat them, if at all.

Our second speaker is one of the world’s leading academics specializing in the French Revolution.

Tim Tackett is a Professor Emeritus in History at the University of California at Irvine. I have read several of his books on the French Revolution which I loved, which is why I asked him to speak on today’s program. I particularly enjoyed his books When the King Took Flight, The Coming of the Terror in the French Revolution, and his latest work entitled The Glory and the Sorrow.

I want to hear from Tim about the continuing relevance of the French Revolution and what lessons can we learn as it relates to our current polarized politics.

Let’s get started.


Ari Ciment

Topic: What Meds should you take after getting infected with Omicron
Bio: Pulmonologist and Critical Care at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach

Ari Ciment Q&A:

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Tim Tackett

Topic: Lessons Learned from the French Revolution
Bio: Professor Emeritus in History at University of California at Irvine
Reading: Glory and the Sorrow is here

The French Revolution is without a doubt, one of the turning points in the history of the Western world. Telescoped within that brief period from 1789 to the early 1800s, there emerged many of the major political and social ideologies that would subsequently come to fruition in Europe and the world from the 19th to the 21st centuries. From liberalism, democracy and republicanism to nationalism, socialism, feminism, abolitionism, and de-Christianization. The wars that ensued between France and the rest of Europe, first under the Republican government and thereafter under Napoleon Bonaparte carried many of the ideals of the revolution throughout Europe and eventually over much of the world.

These are some of the reasons why historians, political scientists and others have continued to debate the revolution, how it originated, how it evolved over time, why it became violent, why and how it came to an end. But in examining the history of the French Revolution, one of the most difficult problems to resolve in my opinion is the origins of a terrible factionalization that beset the French during this period. To some extent, such divisions involved major ideological differences between those promoting on the one hand, the new value system of democracy, Republicanism, and a renewal of the church and religion, and on the other, those demanding the return to the monarchy of the old regime and to Orthodox Catholicism.

But far more difficult to comprehend are the terrible factional divisions that arose among men and women who ultimately supported the same basic values of the revolution and why the revolutionaries became not only killing their opponents but also killing one another. I believe there are five tightly interrelated, causative factors.

First, the fear and suspicion of real or potential enemies among the various elements in society groups.

Second, the spread of a rumor supported notably by the mistrust, uncertainty and confusion over various interpretations and misinterpretations in the media, essentially the early revolutionary press, which differed wildly in political positions and accuracy. And the perceived need by a great many people to develop what sociologists refer to as improvised news to explain their situation.

Third, a growing obsession with conspiracy sometimes real but far more commonly imagined and strongly supported by rumor.
Fourth, an ever-increasing demonization of the other, a tendency to see the perceived opposition as not only wrong, but evil.

And fifth, the political mobilization by a small number of politicians to help promote their own ambitions. Over time, the fears and suspicions supported by rumor seemed to metastasize into the obsession of a monolithic grand conspiracy in which all of one’s perceived enemies were thought to be working together.

It was this atmosphere of suspicion, fear and conspiracy, obsession, which explains the terrible factional struggles in the national assemblies of the period between Feuillaunts and Jacobins and subsequently between Girodins and Montagnards factional struggles that often led both sides to seek physically to eliminate their rivals, usually by means of the guillotine.

Nevertheless, the dark side of the revolution based on the emotions of fear and hatred was at least partly counterbalanced by the emotions and enthusiasm and love, love in its collective form of fraternity. And we should not underestimate the importance among the bulk of society, first of numerous great oaths taking ceremonies of allegiance to the revolution.

Second, of the popular revolutionary festivals, and third of the fraternal banquets in the streets of Paris and the other large cities of France. It was only the strong sense of fraternity and nationalism that enabled the majority of the population to come together, to fight a series of wars that saw France threatened across every frontier and ultimately under Napoleon to conquer much of Europe.

What might all this mean for the situation in Contemporary America? I am absolutely not a specialist in American history, but I cannot avoid seeing certain parallels between late 18th century France and the 21st century United States. Metastasis of fear, the obsession with conspiracies, the suspicion and demonization of one’s opponents, the widespread rumors now based, especially on the echo chamber effects of the internet and of the power of improvised news or in present parlance of the accusation of fake news.

I would only hope that Americans might somehow come to realize as many revolutionaries ultimately did, that in terms of essential values, there is still more that binds us together than that separates us. That the great majority of citizens can learn to debate and discuss their differences and not perceive their opponents as essentially evil. And that negotiation and compromise can be seen as the essence of a democratic regime are such hopes, wildly, optimistic, perhaps, but I can only hope that they are not.

Tim Tackett:

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