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Thread: The Real French Revolution

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    The Real French Revolution

    Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite Communism, Insanity, and Slaughter

    From Chapter 6 of "The French Revolution: A Study in Democracy" by Nesta Webster

    (any typos are my own, as this was copied/pasted from a PDF, creating many errors which then had to be manually corrected)

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    Until now the atrocities committed have been traceable to perfectly tangible causes—to Orleaniste intrigue; to the personal ambitions of the leaders ; to excitement, delusion, or drink on the part of the populace ; but from the autumn of 1793 all political aims seem to be swallowed up in a wild rage for destruction ; the scenes of horror taking place everywhere appear to serve no definite purpose, but, like the convulsions of a madman, to spring from a mind in delirium.

    Yet if we examine the movement closely we shall find that there was nevertheless a method in the madness ; that through this frightful period of the Terror there ran a system founded on the same political doctrines that had produced the massacres of September. This is what Collot d'Herbois meant when he said : " The 2nd of September is the Credo of our liberty " ; in other words, the massacres in the prisons formed simply the prelude to a general scheme of destruction. At this earlier date, as we have seen, the idea of the leaders was to amputate the gangrened limb formed by the aristocracy and clergy ; now that these two categories had been practically destroyed, the same operation must be carried out on those other portions of the body to which the gangrene had spread.


    First on the list came, then, the prosperous bourgeoisie, the peculiar object of Marat's hatred—a hatred he had communicated to Robespierre and Hebert, who, after the death of Marat, were left to carry on the campaign against this obnoxious class. Thus we find Robespierre writing : " Internal dangers come from the bourgeois ; in order to conquer the bourgeois we must rouse the people, we must procure arms for them and make them angry." ^ Hebert went further : " The virtue of the holy guillotine," he wrote, " will gradually deliver the Republic from the rich, the bourgeois, the spies, the fat tanners, and the worthy tradesmen as from the priests and aristocrats. They are all devourers of men."

    ...In August the revolutionary troops surrounded Lyon, where the authorities, exasperated by the sanguinary propaganda of Chalier, had ended by condemning this disciple of Marat to death. The siege lasted until the 9th of October 1793, when, reduced by famine, Lyon was obliged to surrender, and it was then decided that the magnificent city, once the pride of France, must be demolished. " The name of Lyon," cried Barere at the Convention, " must no longer exist, you will call it Ville- Affranchie." On the ruins he proposed to erect a monument bearing the words, " Lyon made war on liberty ; Lyon is no more." Thereupon the Convention passed the decree : " The town of Lyon shall be destroyed ; every part of it inhabited by the rich shall be demolished, only the dwellings of the poor shall remain."

    Emissaries were then sent to carry out the task ; the paralytic Couthon, borne on a litter about the city, struck with a silver hammer the buildings destined to destruction, saying as he did so, In the name of the law I demolish you," and instantly masons set to work upon the task. Meanwhile orators incited

    the working-classes to violence : " What are you doing, pusillanimous workmen, in these industrial occupations by which opulence degrades you ? Come out of this servitude and confront the rich man who oppresses you . . . overthrow his fortune, overthrow these edifices, the wreckage belongs to you. It is thus that you will rise to that sublime equality, the basis of true liberty, the vigorous principle of a warrior people to whom commerce and arts should he unnecessary."

    It will be seen, therefore, that there was no question of readjusting relations between employers and employed; the whole industrial system was simply to be destroyed whilst the workers were left to starve upon the ruins. Yet even when commerce had gone the way of aristocracy, " and pride of wealth no longer violated the principles of ' sublime equality,' " yet another centre of gangrene still remained – the educated classes. It was here that Robespierre displayed particular energy. Men of talent had always been abhorrent to him—hence his inveterate animosity towards the Girondins. Unable himself to rise out of the crowd of little lawyers amongst whom he had made his debut in Paris, he could not forgive success achieved by eloquence or litterary ability. To the Incorruptible wealth offered little or no temptation ; but superiority of talent roused in him an envy that bordered on insanity, and it was mainly owing to his influence that a campaign against intellect, art, and education was now inaugurated. " All highly educated men were persecuted," said Fourcroy later to the Convention ; "it was enough to have some knowledge, to be a man of letters, in order to be arrested as an aristocrat. . . . Robespierre . . . with atrocious skill, rent, calumniated ... all those who had given themselves up to great studies, all those who possessed wide knowledge ... he felt that no educated man would ever bend the knee to him."

    This war on education was even carried out against the treasures of science, art, and literature. Manuel proposed to demolish the Porte Saint-Denis ; Chaumette wanted to kill all the rare animals in the Museum of Natural History ; Hanriot proposed to bum the Bibliotheque Nationale, and his suggestion was repeated at Marseilles ; the other decemvirs, taking up the cry, added, " Yes, we will burn all the libraries, for only the history of the Revolution and the laws will be needed." And although the great National Library of Paris survived, thousands of books and valuable pictures all over France were destroyed or sold for next to nothing.

    Not only education but politeness in all forms was to be destroyed. By a decree of the Commune on the list of August 1792 the titles of " Monsieur " and " Madame " had been formally abolished, and the words " Citoyen " or "Citoyenne" substituted, and in order to satisfy the exponents of equality it had now become necessary to assume a rough and boorish manner, to present an uncultivated appearance. A refined countenance, hands that bore no marks of manual labour, well-brushed hair, clean and decent garments, were regarded with suspicion—to make sure of keeping one's head on one's shoulders it was advisable that it should be unkempt. Thus, says Beaulieu, those who had been born with a gentle exterior . . . were obliged to distort their faces, to quicken their movements, so as to look as if they formed a part of those ferocious bands that had been loosed against them. Our dandies had allowed their moustaches to grow long : they had ruffled their hair, soiled their hands, and put on repulsive clothes. Our philosophers, our men of letters, wore large bristling caps from which hung long fox-tails that floated on their shoulders ; some dragged great wheeled sabres along the pavement ; they were taken for Tartars. Paris was no longer recognizable ; one would have said that all the bandits of Europe had replaced its brilliant population."

    In a word, it was now not merely war on nobility, on wealth, on industry, on art, and on intellect ; it was war on civilization. France was to return to a state of savagery. Insane as the project may seem, we must recognize it nevertheless to be the logical outcome of the desire for absolute equality. But unfortunately, when the equalizing process reached this stage, an unexpected difficulty occurred. The aristocracy of birth had long since been humbled to the dust ; the aristocracy of wealth was reduced to beggary ; the aristocracy of intellect concealed itself beneath a rude exterior; yet, after all, aristocracy still survived triumphantly, for lo ! it had taken refuge amongst the people. " Nowhere," says Taine, " are there so many suspects as amongst the people ; the shop, the farm, and the workshops contain more aristocrats than the presbytery or the chateau. In fact, according to the Jacobins, the cultivators are nearly all aristocrats ; all the tradesmen are essentially counter-revolutionary . . . the butchers and bakers . . . are of an insufferable aristocracy." " The women of the market," writes a government spy, " except a few who are bribed, or whose husbands are Jacobins, curse, swear, rave, and fume ; but they dare not speak too loud, because they are all afraid of the revolutionary committee and the guillotine." " This morning," said a shopkeeper, I had four or five of them here. They do not wish to be called ' citizenesses ' any longer. They say they spit on the Republic."

    In the provinces matters were still worse ; not only had reverence for religion and the King survived, but everywhere respect for superiority and successful enterprise prevailed—the good bourgeois whose business had prospered, the worthy mayor renowned for his benevolence, the working-man who had " got on in the world," all these in the eyes of country-folk seemed more deserving of esteem than the drunkard or the wastrel. How was perfect equality to be achieved if the people themselves persisted in raising one man above another?

    It is easy to imagine the despair that seized on the surgeons who had embarked on the great scheme of eliminating gangrene when they discovered its existence in this most vital point of the body. Yet, nothing daunted, they grasped their instruments and set to work once more; if " the people " themselves were gangrened, then the people too must come under the knife – the blade of the guillotine must fall alike on the neck of noble, priest, or peasant.

    So on the 5th of September the word went forth from the Commune of Paris : " Let us make Terror the order of the day !" In order to carry out this system it was necessary to reconstruct the government. Already the first Constitution framed on the cahiers had been swept away and replaced by the anarchic code known as the " Constitution de I'An II." without further reference to the desires of the people. But now the Anarchists had recourse to a still more arbitrary measure, and on the loth of October the Convention, entirely dominated by the Mountain, acceded to the proposal of St. Just that a " provisional revolutionary government " should be proclaimed, in which every department of the State was to be placed under the control of the Comite de Salut Public. The members of this committee—which included Robespierre, Couthon, St. Just, Bar^re, Billaud-Varenne, Collot d'Herbois, Jean Bon St. Andre, Camot, Prieur de la Mame, and Lindet—were thus to be made the absolute rulers of France ; to their authority the " executive power, the ministers, the generals, and the constituted bodies " were to be subjugated ; ^ and since it was by the Incorruptible that they themselves were controlled, the reign of Robespierre may be said to have begun from this moment.

    The Terror in the provinces was thus entirely the work of the Comite de Salut Public. Emissaries were now sent out by the committee to the towns and provinces that had risen against the Mountain, with instructions to show no mercy to the " counterrevolutionaries." The better to ensure a rigorous application of the new regime these men were usually chosen to act in couples, " one to check the other "—in reality to goad each other on to violence. Thus when at Bordeaux, Talien, under the influence of the beautiful Teresia Cabarrus, showed signs of relenting, Ysabeau performed the office of denunciator; at Lyon, Collot d'Herbois urged on Fouch^; at Toulon, Freron incited Barras, and so each emissary, terrorized by his colleague, attempted to outdo, him in ferocity.

    The atrocities that took place all over France from October 1793 onwards require volumes to be realized in their full horror, and can only be briefly summarized here. At Bordeaux, then, owing to the intervention of Teresia, only 301 people fell victims to the guillotine, which took " patriotic journeys " to that city ; starvation and terror were, therefore, the means by which it was finally reduced to submission. But at Lyon the population was literally mowed down in hundreds; carts filled with women, old and young, plied daily to the scaffold. But the guillotine proved too slow a method of extermination, and the method of " fusillades " was then adopted ; young citizens tied together in couples were driven to the "Brotteaux" and blown into fragments by rifle and cannon fire. The Rhone, that received at least 2000 corpses, ran so red with blood that Ronsin, the general of the revolutionary armies, informed the Cordeliers in Paris of its utility in conveying a message of warning to the counter-revolutionaries all over the South.^ The South, however, needed no warning. Toulon, crushed and starved by the regime of Freron and Barras, had opened its gates in desperation to the English on the 29th of August – a " treachery " never to be forgiven it. Yet there were certainly “extenuating circumstances. " It was necessary," wrote Isnard, who was then at Toulon, " to yield either to the Mountain or to Admiral Hood. The former brought us scaffolds, the latter promised to shatter them ; the former gave us famine, the latter offered us provisions ; Freron brought us the Constitution of 1793, written by the executioner at the dictation of Robespierre, Hood promised to put us under the laws promulgated by the Constituent Assembly. A few intriguers profited by these circumstances to tempt the multitude led astray by hunger and despair; it had the weakness to prefer bread to death, the Constitution of 1791 to the anarchic code of 1793."

    Toulon paid heavily for its frailty when, on the 17th of December, the town was recaptured by the army of the Republic. Freron, mounted on a horse, " surrounded by cannons, troops, and a hundred maniacs, adorers of the god Marat," ordered citizens selected at random to be lined up against the walls and shot. " Freron gives the signal, the charge rings out from every side, the murder is accomplished. The ground is drenched in blood, the air resounds with cries of despair, the dying roll back upon the corpses. Suddenly, by order of the tyrant, a voice cries, ' Let those who are not dead arise.' The wounded raise themselves in the hope that help will be brought to them, a fresh discharge is made, and steel gathers those that fire has spared." After this Freron complacently announced that 800 Toulonnais had perished in the fusillade, whilst at the same time 200 heads fell by the guillotine. These methods, repeated until the spring of 1794, resulted, according to Prudhomme, in the death of no less than 14,325 men, women, and children ; and whether this figure is excessive or not the fact remains that by the 9th of Thermidor the population of Toulon was reduced from 29,000 to 7000 inhabitants.

    All over Provence men were hunted down like wild beasts; the prophecy of the Scriptures seemed now to be fulfilled – “for those that were in the cities fled into the mountains, crying to the rocks to cover them, and hiding in dens and caves of the earth." At Marseilles the death-roll was comparatively light ; only about 240 victims had mounted the scaffold by January of 1794, and the Comite de Salut Public in Paris found it necessary to issue a reprimand to the Public Accuser of that city : "In Paris . . . the art of guillotining has attained perfection. Sanson and his pupils guillotine with so much rapidity . . . they expedited twelve in thirteen minutes. Send, then, the executioner of Marseilles to Paris in order to take a course of guillotining with his colleague Sanson, or we shall never get through. You must know that we shall never let you want for game for the guillotine ; and a great number must be dispatched."

    In the small town of Orange, however, 318 victims were disposed of in a very short space of time, whilst in the north at Arras and Cambrai, under the reign of the apostate priest, Joseph Lebon, between 1500 and 2000 perished. In the province of Anjou alone the number of people killed without a trial has been estimated at 10,000.* La Vendee as the stronghold of Royalism, when finally vanquished in October, could not of course hope for mercy, and the plan of the Convention, " to transform this country into a desert," was adopted. " We are able to say to-day," wrote the Republican envoys, that La Vendee no longer exists. A profound silence reigns at present in the land occupied by the rebels. One could travel far in these parts without encountering a man or a cottage, for we have left nothing behind us but ashes and piles of corpses."


    But of all the towns of France it was at Nantes in Brittany that the worst atrocities were committed, in spite of the fact that here the bourgeoisie had welcomed the Revolution with the greatest enthusiasm, " and, indeed, had actually taken up arms against La Vendee." Unhappily, in the organizer of the campaign against Nantes the Comite de Salut Public had found a man after its own heart. Like " his divinity Marat," Jean Baptiste Carrier embodied in his person the whole principle of the Terror ; like Marat, physically abnormal with his lean misshapen figure, his long cadaverous face and bloodshot eyes. Carrier exhibited perpetually the same convulsive fury that had characterized the People's Friend—indeed it is probable that he too was the victim of homicidal mania. Carrier thought, spoke, dreamt incessantly of killing ; "I have seen him," a contemporary declared, " cutting candles in two with his sabre as if they were the heads of aristocrats." Even his colleagues trembled to approach him for fear of his " sudden angers, his bellowings like those of a famished wild beast." In order to carry out the vengeance of this maniac upon the unfortunate city, three companies of bandits, selected for their ferocity, had been recruited. The first of these, which Carrier had named after his idol, " the company of Marat," consisted of sixty members who had sworn on enrollment to carry out the doctrines of the People's Friend ; the second, known as the ' American Hussars," was composed of negroes and mulattos ; the third, which was called the " Germanic Legion," had been formed with German mercenaries and deserters. Thus, as Taine observes, " it was necessary, in order to find men for the work, to descend not only to the lowest ruffians of France, but to brutes of foreign race and speech. . . ." The services of the two last companies were utilized principally for brutality towards women and children ; an eye-witness related that on one occasion he saw the corpses of no less than seventy-five girls aged from 16 to 18 who had been shot down by the German legion. Carrier entertained a peculiar hatred for children—"they are whelps," he said, "they must be destroyed," and he gave orders that they should be butchered without mercy.

    The details of these massacres far surpass in horror anything that took place in Paris during the height of the Terror ; there young children at least were spared, but at Nantes they perished miserably in hundreds. The annals of savagery can show nothing more revolting—poor little peasant boys and girls thrust beneath the blade of the guillotine, mutilated because they were too small to fit the fatal plank ; 500 driven all at once into a field outside the city and shot down, clubbed and sabred by the assassins round whose knees they clung, weeping and crying out for mercy. Finally the executioner grew weary of the slaughter and declared he could go on no longer ; even the fusillades proved too slow a method of extermination, and it was then that Carrier embarked on the scheme which for all time has rendered his name infamous—the noyades, or wholesale drownings in the Loire. The first experiment was made on about ninety old priests, who were placed on board a galliot in charge of several Marats – as the members of the Marat company were known – and when in mid-stream those men, obedient to orders, burst open the ports and sank the barge to the bottom of the river. This delighted Carrier—" I have never laughed so much," he declared, " as when I saw the faces those made as they died/' The incident, when reported to the Convention, met with no remonstrance ; Hainrault de Sechelles, in fact, wrote to Carrier congratulating him on " his energy and talent in the art of revolution," whilst Robespierre, we know, heartily approved. Carrier, thus encouraged, set to work on a larger scale. The cargo-load of gangrene in the form of clergy had proved but the prelude ; now " the people " were to provide the victims.

    So through those bitter December nights crowds of poor women, armed with the little bundles of possessions that peasants in flight are wont to carry with them, some clasping babies to their breasts, some leading little children by the hand, were driven out into the cold and darkness, they knew not whither ; only when they found themselves on the bank of the river where the great barges waited the hideous truth dawned on them. Then all at once they burst into tears and lamentations, crying out, " They are going to drown us, and they will not bring us to trial ! " Many holding their babies closer refused to give them up to strangers, and bore them with them in their arms down beneath the dark waters of the Loire. These perhaps were wisest, for many of those poor children, whom stronger-minded mothers had placed in sympathetic arms held out to them, were seized by Carrier's agents and herded into the ghastly Entrepot, or prison of the city, to die of cold and pestilence.

    The noyades, which Carrier playfully described as " bathing-parties," offered a fresh field to his inventive genius, and by way of variety he now devised the plan of stripping men and women to the skin, tying them together in couples and throwing them thus bound into the Loire. Carrier called this "Republican marriages." Such was the Reign of Terror at Nantes, during which the number of victims that perished by drowning was estimated by one member of Carrier's committee at 6000, by another at 9000, whilst Prudhomme estimates the number of people killed by drownings, fusillades, the guillotine and pestilence, at the appalling figure of 32,000.

    What must have been the death-roll for all France during the Terror ? Prudhomme places it at no less than 1,025,711 (including losses through civil war), Taine at nearly half a million in the eleven provinces of the West alone. But on this point it is impossible to speak with any certainty. We only know that the massacres were wholesale and, what is more important, indiscriminate. For not only were the victims of the fusillades and noyades almost exclusively taken from amongst the people —" creatures of no account," said Goullin, one of Carrier's aides—but no attempt was made to discover their political opinions. Some were Royalists, others Republicans ; the greater number probably held no views on politics at all, but lived like simple country folk, without a thought beyond their daily needs. The necessity for destroying gangrene cannot, therefore, have applied to them, and we must seek a further development in the scheme of the revolutionary leaders to explain this amazing paradox — the massacring of the people in the name of democracy.

    What, then, was the system that produced this later stage of the Terror ? Historians, weary of striving to solve the problem, have declared that there was none, that the Terror happened inevitably, or that the Terrorists were mad, or that they killed for fear of being killed, or that, as Thiers expressed it, they went on killing because of " the deplorable habit they had contracted." Such answers, however, are all unconvincing in view of the evident organization of the Terror and the character of the men by whom it was carried out. The members of the Triumvirate— Robespierre, Couthon, and St. Just—which had now become all-powerful, were men not of impulse but of cold calculation, and it is impossible to believe that they struck out aimlessly with no ultimate object in view. What, then, was the motive that inspired them?

    ...We have only to study the writings of contemporaries who were behind the scenes in the Terror to discover a theory which, whether we accept it or not, provides the only clue to the mystery. According to these authorities a very definite system was at work in the Comite de Salut Public, which organized the Terror ; moreover, this system was the direct outcome of the political creed of its leading members....Not only had France become a Republic, but, as we have seen, the further plan was evolved by Robespierre of transforming her into a Socialist State throughout which absolute equality and universal contentment should prevail. Under the influence of St. Just this plan had assumed definite proportions. The colony of workmen's dwellings, which might be said figuratively to represent Robespierre's conception of an ideal State, was literally adopted by St. Just in the "Institutions" he drew up for the government of France...Now in the opinion of St. Just nothing tended so much both to happiness and morality as the profession of agriculture —" a cottage, a field, and a plough " —these were to represent the summit of every man's ambitions. Accordingly France was to be turned into a vast agrarian settlement, in which there were to be no rich and no poor, no large properties and no cramped dwellings ; nothing but endless model cottages and small allotments tended by hard-working and virtuous cultivators. An admirable arrangement, no doubt, only unfortunately, in order to ensure its success, there was to be no personal liberty either. It is doubtful, indeed, whether liberty and equality can exist together, for whilst liberty consists in allowing every man to live as he likes best, and to do as he will with his own, equality necessitates a perpetual system of repression in order to maintain things at the same dead level. For this purpose, according to St. Just, every department of life must be placed under State control—perhaps the most inexorable form of tyranny it is possible to conceive.

    ...But could a nation of 25,000,000 be thus transformed? To the regenerators of France it seemed extremely doubtful; already the country was rent with dissensions, and any scheme for universal contentment seemed impossible of attainment. Moreover, the plan of dividing things up into equal shares presented an insuperable difficulty, for it became evident that amongst a population of this size there was not enough money, not enough property, not enough employment, not even at this moment enough bread to go round; no one would be satisfied with his share, and instead of universal contentment, universal dissatisfaction would result. What was to be done? The population was too large for the scheme of the leaders to be carried out successfully, therefore either the scheme must be abandoned or the population must he diminished.

    To this conclusion the surgeons operating on the State had at last been brought. In vain they had amputated the gangrened limb of the nobility and the clergy, had paralysed the brain by attacking the intellectual classes, had turned (as in Aesop's fable) upon the stomach, that is to say, the industrial system, by which the whole body of the State was fed, and denied it sustenance--all these means to restore health to the State had failed, and they were now reduced to a last and desperate expedient: the size of the whole body must be reduced. In other words, a plan of systematic depopulation must be carried out all over France.


    That this idea, worthy of a mad Procrustes, really existed it is impossible to doubt, since it has been revealed to us by innumerable revolutionaries who were behind the scenes during the Terror. Thus Courtois, in his report on the papers seized at Robespierre's house after Thermidor, wrote: "These men, in order to bring us to the happiness of Sparta, wished to annihilate twelve or fifteen millions of the French people, and hoped after this revolutionary transfiguration to distribute to each one a plough and some land to clear, so as to save us from the dangers of the happiness of Persepolis."

    Another intime of Robespierre, the Marquis d'Antonelle, a member of the Revolutionary Tribunal, actually explained the whole scheme in print whilst the Terror was at its height. Beaulieu, who met him in prison, where he was incarcerated by Robespierre for giving away the secret of the leaders, thus describes the system as revealed to him by D'Antonelle: "He thought, like the greater number of the revolutionary clubs, that, in order to institute the Republic on the ruins of the monarchy, it was necessary to exterminate all those who preferred the latter form of government, and that the former could only become democratic by the destruction of luxury and riches, which form the support of royalty; that equality would never be anything but a chimera as long as men did not all enjoy approximately equal properties; and finally, that such an order of things could never be established until a third of the population had been suppressed; this was the general idea of the fanatics of the Revolution."


    About two years later, that is to say in 1795, the Socialist, Gracchus Babeuf, employed at the Commune, gave a more detailed account of the scheme in his brochure, "Sur le Systme de la Depopulation, ou La Vie et les Crimes de Carrier." Of this system Babeuf declares that Robespierre was the principal author: "Maximilien and his council had calculated that a real regeneration of France could only be operated by means of a new distribution of territory and of the men who occupied it"; and he goes on to show the remorseless logic by which Robespierre reached his final conclusion: "He thought that, firstly, in the present state of things property had fallen into a few hands, and that the great majority of the French possessed nothing ; secondly, that in allowing this state of things to continue, equality of rights would only be a vain word in spite of which the aristocracy of owners of property would always be real, the smaller number would always tyrannize over the great mass, the majority would always be the slave of the minority . . . ; thirdly, that in order to destroy this power of the owners of property, and to take the mass of citizens out of their dependence, there was no way but to place all property in the hands of the government ; fourthly, that one could succeed without doubt only by immolating the great proprietors . . . ; fifthly, that, besides this, depopulation was indispensable, because the calculation had been made that the French population was in excess of the resources of the soil and of the requirements of useful industry, that is to say, that, with us, men jostled each other too much for each to be able to live at ease ; that hands were too numerous for the execution of all works of essential utility . . . ; sixthly, finally--and this is the horrible conclusion--that since the superabundant population could only amount to so much ... a portion of sans-culottes must be sacrificed, that this rubbish could be cleared away up to a certain quantity, and that means must be found for doing it."


    To this necessity Babeuf attributes not only the guillotinades, fusillades, and noyades in the provinces, but also the engineered famine to which he had drawn attention earlier, whilst the war, far from providing a reason for the Terror, was in reality part of the scheme of extermination. "What," he asks, "is this plan of eternal crusades, of repulsing peace, of universal conquest, of the conversion or subjugation of all kings and all peoples, if it is not the hidden intention to prevent any one coming back from amongst that important portion of the nation that armed itself so generously in order to chase the enemy from French territory?"


    The evidence of Babeuf is the more valuable since he declares himself to be heartily in agreement with the Socialistic schemes of Robespierre; it is only the means employed to realize them that he disapproves. "On the subject of extermination," he naively concludes, "I am a man of prejudices; it is not given to every one to rise to the heights of Maximilien Robespierre." But later on he came to see that Robespierre's plan alone could ensure success, and that if absolute equality was to be achieved the Terror must be revived. It was for the attempt to reinstate the regime of Robespierre that Babeuf finally met his end. However preposterous the exposé of Babeuf may seem, we must admit that it is the only one that explains the Terror. Moreover, that this was indeed the system on which it was founded does not rest on the authority of Courtois, Babeuf, and D'Antonelle alone, the very words "plan of depopulation" occur repeatedly in the writings and speeches of other contemporaries. Thus Prudhomme, in describing the massacres of September, explains the enormous proportion of "the people" amongst the victims as the first evidence of this scheme: "The plan of butchery did not end with the destruction of priests and nobles . . . but from that date there existed a plan of depopulation conceived by Marat, Robespierre . . ., etc., and this is what the method of the Terror has proved."


    Later on, at the trials of Fouquier Tinville and Carrier, several witnesses referred to the same scheme: Grandpre of the police declared that the most powerful means employed by Robespierre was "a vast system of depopulation"; Ardenne, Deputy Public Accuser, said the plan was "to clear out the prisons in order to depopulate France," and in his summing up to the president and judges of the Revolutionary Tribunal stated that "Robespierre, St. Just, Couthon, and others, had expected to depopulate France, and above all to make genius, talents, honour, and industry to disappear"; Trinchard, member of the Revolutionary Tribunal, ended his evidence with the words: "Such was the system of depopulation organized by the last tyrants, and in order to make sure of its execution they employed the most immoral men" indeed. Carrier himself admitted that " this plan of destruction existed." Carrier, Fouquier, Freron, Lebon, and the other monsters were therefore only acting on orders from headquarters when they set out to decimate Paris and the provinces, and the terrible phrase of Carrier, "Let us make a cemetery of France rather than not regenerate her after our manner," simply epitomized the philosophy of Robespierre on which the system of the Comité de Salut Public was founded. . . .


    The precise proportion of the population it would be necessary to suppress formed the subject of can mathematical calculation amongst the leaders. According to Larevelliere Lepeaux, it was Jean Bon St. Andre who first openly admitted the existence of the scheme, and at the time that the Revolutionary Tribunal was instituted--that is to say, in the spring of 1793--declared in the tribune of the Convention that "in order to establish the Republic securely in France, the population must be reduced by more than half." Beside this estimate D'Antonelle's proposal to reduce by one-third only seems comparatively moderate.


    Other leading revolutionaries considered, however, that far more drastic measures were necessary; thus Collot d'Herbois held that twelve to fifteen millions of the French must be destroyed, Carrier declared that the nation must be reduced to six millions, Guffroy in his journal expressed the opinion that only five million people should be allowed to survive, whilst Robespierre was reported to have said that a population of two millions would be more than enough. Pagès and Fantin Desodoards assert, however, that eight millions was the figure generally agreed on by the leaders.'

    The plan of the Terrorists was not, therefore, as is popularly supposed, to sacrifice a small minority for the happiness of the great majority, but to annihilate an immense proportion of the nation in order to ensure a contented residuum.
    Last edited by r3volution 3.0; 08-07-2016 at 03:52 PM.



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  3. #2
    bump, +rep, and thanks for the transcription effort


    Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850)

    • "When law and morality are in contradiction to each other, the citizen finds himself in the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense, or of losing his respect for the law." - The Law (p. 54)
    • "Government is that great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Government (p. 99)
    • "[W]ar is always begun in the interest of the few, and at the expense of the many."
      - Economic Sophisms - Second Series (p. 312)
    • "There are two principles that can never be reconciled - Liberty and Constraint."
      - Harmonies of Political Economy - Book One (p. 447)

    · tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito ·
    MOFA (Make Orwell Fiction Again)

  4. #3
    Incredible how they so violently abused language. To wit:

    " Lyon made war on liberty ; Lyon is no more."
    Noble words, were they to reflect the reality. But they are a lie, at least in part. Lyon perhaps made war on liberty in the same way all institutions of the state do so. But the implication that "liberty" reduced Lyon to a state of "no more" is a filthy lie. One den of criminals had been supplanted with another, and nothing more.

    Humans are amazing. Utterly amazing.

    Good post.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.




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