Thursday, May 11, 2006

When do we want it? Now!

I stole these quotes from an article on Robespierre by John Kekes in City Journal. He argues that Robepierre is the prototype of the ideologue in power, the revolutionary with a state in which to realise his vision. His descendents include Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot.

The following are all from his speeches. Note the lietmotifs that are to be repeated from then down to our day

The task of the Revolution was “to establish the felicity of perhaps the entire human race.”
This is the future.
“The French people seems to have out-distanced the rest of the human race by two thousand years.”
Call it good and evil; call it class war; call it Darul Harb (land of war) and Darul Islam (land of Islam); call it virtue and vice.
“Two opposing spirits . . . [are] contending for domination . . . [and] are fighting it out in this great epoch of human history, to determine for ever the destinies of the world. France is the theater of this terrible combat [which is] merely the struggle between private interests and the general interest, between cupidity and ambition on the one hand and justice and humanity on the other.”
What cannot be justified if it brings about the society of Virtue?
Commenting on an execution, he said: “Even if he had been innocent he had to be condemned if his death could be useful.”
Burning conviction.
“There do exist pure and sensitive souls. There does exist a tender, but imperious and irresistible passion . . . a profound horror of tyranny, a compassionate zeal for the oppressed, a sacred love of one’s country, and a love of humanity still more holy and sublime, without which a great revolution is no more than the destruction of a lesser by a greater crime. There does exist a generous ambition to found on earth the first republic in the world. . . . You can feel it, at this moment, burning in your hearts; I can feel it in my own.”
These are some of the principles for the achievement of which the Terror came into being.
Article 1. The object of every political association is to safeguard the natural and imprescriptible rights of men.
Article 3. . . . rights belong equally to all men, whatever their physical and moral differences. Article 4. Freedom is the right of every man to exercise all his faculties at will. Its rule is justice, its limits are the rights of others, its source is nature, its guarantee is the law.
Article 6. Any law which violates the imprescriptible rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical.
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