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Lecture 8

GOVT2112 Lecture 8: WK 8 RobespierreExam


Department
Government and International Relations
Course Code
GOVT2112
Professor
All
Lecture
8

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Robespierre, M., Virtue and Terror,
ed. S. Zizek (London: Verso 2007), 98−125
(ii) Robespierre
What made revolutionary government distinctive?
-function of gov is to “direct the moral and physical forces of the nation towards the goal of its
appointing”
-the role of constitutional gov is to preserve the republic
-revolutionary gov is to found constitutional gov. It is a war. Concerned with public liberty (public
power itself is obliged to defend itself against all the factions attacking it). It has rules drawn
from justice and public order with a purpose to suppress anarchy and disorder and consolidate .
it should be guided by individual passions but public interests
Constitutional gov is concerned with civil liberty (protect individuals against abuse of public
power)
-nothing represents federalism better then univeral republic
-aims: french nation may be respected in all countries, plotters will be judged, peaceful
enjoyment of liberty and equality in the hearts of all men-only can be achieved by a democratic
or republican gov
How does Robespierre describe patriotism?
-gov has be careful of exaggeration-look out for those enemies of liberty who want to revive
moderantism and aristocracy.- what can be done? Hunt down the ringleaders, protect patriotism
-protect patriotism
- national convention: the french placing all power in gov expects gov be to patriots and
formidable to enemies- enlightenment, benevolence of all the peoples representatives. “We
raise our souls to the height of republican vitues.” the authority of the national convention needs
to be respected by all of europe.
How did Robespierre regard ancient democracy?
What role do external powers play in Robespierre’s argument?
How does Robespierre represent the French army?
--”we will therefore ask your legal system to include some arrangements in favor of the soldiers
who are fightening and suffering for liberty
What will the post-revolutionary order be like?
How does Robespierre describe democracy? What are the main threats to it? Why did
Robespierre make virtue so important?
-a democracy is not a state in which the people, continually assembled, manages all public
business for itself, still less one in which a hundred thousand fractions of the people, through
isolated, precipitate and contradictory measure, would deside the fate of the whole society
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