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L'infamous Robespierre

Benderino

Loyal American Democrat
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Ah, Maximilien Robespierre. He's such a controversial character in European (French) history. Although the guy was very virtuous, calculating, and has often been called "incorruptable" for remaining free from bribery and graft. Some think of Robespierre as an idealist, a visionary, and an ardent French patriot who had a great love for democracy.

Yet others claim that he was a bloodthirsty fanatic, a dictator, and a demagogue. He influenced and executed the "Reign of Terror" from 1793-1794 which lead directly to the deaths of some 40,000 French citizens, with many others temporarily imprisoned.

What are your opinions of the man and (subquestion: *thanks Jack Black ;)) do you think he was admirable and lead a noble cause, and were the immediate negative consequences of his regime worth the later French republican ideology and government?
 
From what I understand of him, he was a paranoid freak with good intentions that went overboard in his ideals. (For example, he wanted there to be no monarchy--a great thing by any means--but decided to therefore arrest people [and possibly kill them] just for displaying the royal symbol.) Not to mention that his communistic ideal of there being no class distinctions was quite naive, as the 20th century would later point out.

Edit: And I don't see how he can be considered to contribute to "the later French republican idealogy and government," considering that was well underway before he came along.
 
He was a bit of a fanatic, though i still dont understand much of him. He executed because of threats to his power, so he might have also been a ruthless fanatical dictator.
 
Originally posted by WillJ

Edit: And I don't see how he can be considered to contribute to "the later French republican idealogy and government," considering that was well underway before he came along.

Just because it was well under way, as you say, doesn't mean he didn't further its cause or its position.
 
Robespierre was a despot that originally had good intentions, like so many others. He took Rosseaus's philoshophy to the extreme, trying to shape society accordingnly to his beliefs. However(when will people lear this?) society cannot be shappen, any attempt to do so will inevitably lead to tyranny.

In his favour, I would say that he didn't lack vision. He knew that if Danton was beheaded his head would soon follow, and that was exactly what happened and is why he tried to avoid the killing of his political enemy. He was one of the responsibles for the Terror, and yet he knew that it had gone way out of hand.
 
It's a little odd to call him a communist...that term wasn't used until much, much later. If you want to do that you might as well call...erm...Darius I a communist! He tried to reorganise ancient Persia in a way that could be called communist, with some imagination.

But anyway, back to Robbespiere. I guess he's just your average idealist who lost himself in his own ideas. I don't think his intentions were bad to begin with, but the endresult was devastating. Although, if you want to try some extrapolation, who knows what would've happened if he hadn't so succesfully rooted out anyone opposing the revolution. Maybe some counter-revolutionist would've risen to power.
 
I wouldn't call him "communist", but he certainly was a "radical revolutionary", and many modern-era communists fit just that same mold.

Originally posted by luiz
However(when will people lear this?) society cannot be shappen, any attempt to do so will inevitably lead to tyranny.

I agree. In fact, it can also be added that, for all the rational and intellectual argumentations that may initially exist behind such attempts, most degenerate into basically the "support us or die" brand of blind fanatism.
 
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