How does Robespierre justify the use of terror? Would some people still agree with his ideas?
What began as a march to Versailles to acquire King Louis XVI’s attention to end the grievances of the general population in 1789, soon spiraled into what became known as The French Revolution. With the execution of Louis XVI in 1973, this new “regime” still had many problems to overcome including the continuing war that constantly needed men and money. The National Convention (which was created in 1792 as part of a campaign to convert France into a constitutional monarchy) amid high pressures, decided to set in place a centralized government which provided everyone with food, support and direct the war effort, and punish counterrevolutionaries (611). Headed by Maxmilien Robespierre, this new government was based on the principles of virtue, in which the government sought to educate and/or force the citizens to become virtuous. Inspired by enlightenment thinkers Montesquieu and Rousseau, he believed in the importance of a government by terror. Robespierre justified his beliefs by saying stuff like: “To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity.” So began what is now known as the Reign of terror. Robespierre strictly believed that “terror” would set the citizens in place; with this terror, the public along with the upper class could be controlled. This so called terror was blanketed with the idea of nationalist pride- pride in their nation, backed by songs, posters, books, engravings, paintings, sculptures, and slogans (615). Robespierre justified his regime by constantly exclaiming that virtue was born from terror. Robespierre said, “The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny. “ Although this quote seems confusing at first, further studied despotism is another word for tyranny or dictatorship, which basically means that a government in revolution is the tyranny of liberty against tyranny- the...
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