Monday, March 14, 2005

Robespierre's Justification of Terror, 1794

Robespierre was the greatest demagogue of his day, and he ended up beheaded by the same guillotine he cause do be used so freely against others.
Now, what is the fundamental principle of the democratic or popular government-that is, the essential spring which makes it move? It is virtue; I am speaking of the public virtue which effected so many prodigies in Greece and Rome and which ought to produce much more surprising ones in republican France; of that virtue which is nothing other than the love of country and of its laws.

But as the essence of the republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that the love of country necessarily includes the love of equality.

It is also true that this sublime sentiment assumes a preference for the public interest over every particular interest; hence the love of country presupposes or produces all the virtues: for what are they other than that spiritual strength which renders one capable of those sacrifices? And how could the slave of avarice or ambition, for example, sacrifice his idol to his country?
Note how the thrust of Robespierre's argument is that the public interest trumps individual interest in all circumstances. This is the tyrrany of the majority. The triumph of mediocrity. And it is exactly the problem with Islamofascist theories. By implementing this system of subjugation of all to the ideals of the public interest, people become slaves of the government. By implementing the sharia, the system of legal subjugation of all to the ideals of Islam, all people become slaves of the government. Except those who are not. In Robespierre's case, he was one of the free men. Then he was killed. In Iran's case, the mullahs are now free. Perhaps they will be called to account for their actions sooner rather than later.

Let Robespierre's fate be a lesson.


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