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Old 12-11-2015, 05:50 PM
Location: Southeast Michigan
2,852 posts, read 1,849,359 times
Reputation: 4532


Originally Posted by bcgr View Post
To the first, yes, though I am not uncritical of parts, I will not condemn the mass of it. But the second is more of an environment than anything defendable. So is there anything of it you wish me to defend?
I do enjoy how at the one hand you condemn the Montagnards as extremists and then say things like this. Is that not an extreme position?
Firstly, one could argue that revolution is evolution. Secondly, your English example does not justify that revolution is not required, but just the opposite. How do you think their modern monarchy came about? Their monarchs did not just decide one day that they need to live within some set of laws or whatever. They struggled. Have you ever heard of the English Civil War? I admit I am not too familiar with it, but the Parliamentarians did chop off Charles I's head and declared a Commonwealth. Was that not revolutionary? The monarchy came back, weakened, some years later; that was the main event of how the English monarchy became "constitutional." Even then there was no easy peace in England. Thirdly, they deposed and executed Louis because he could not live with a "constitutional" monarchy, he and his scoundrels constantly tried to sabotage the governments in France to restore his prior position. Lastly, then could you not say the American Revolution was uncalled for, after all Canada and Australia became peaceably semi-independent from Britain? Yet you do not condemn that.
Do you really think that is what the Terror was? The guillotine became the method of execution of the tribunals because it was considered the most humane way to kill someone, instead of all those medieval tortures and hangings. The tribunals were set up to try to discriminate threats to the republic and those not. Were they fair trials? No, and I will admit some innocents died and will grant individual mistakes. However, could the tribunals endure tens of thousands of cases drawn out for years or such? No, their republic faced an emergency and this was about the best possible solution to protect it from the counterrevolutionaries. Some of the rebellions were quelled with plenty of violence, but what mercy were the republicans ever shown? The Brunswick Manifesto (before the republic even) warned that the Austrian and Prussian Armies would completely demolish Paris if they even touched Louis or his family, and that if anyone interfered with their march on Paris they would be punished and have their property burned, National Guardsmen with arms would be treated as rebels (probably meant a hanging). The Vendeeans started their rebellion by torturing and shooting any republicans they could get their hands on. The Americans had their own acts of terror in the American Revolution too, they just get whitewashed out of the books or justified. Anyways I will reiterate my point from before, that Jefferson's views would have given a justification of the Terror; he quite clearly says essentially that violence is required to maintain liberty, yet he may have taken a dim view of Robespierre. His sentence you mention to me reads more that he does embrace the revolution, but marks Robespierre's role negatively, and ultimately counterproductive. It is actually a view I hold of him after the Robespierrists suppressed the Hebertists & Communards and introduced the 22 Prairial Law, but I will defend the whole of the Terror despite this and applaud Robespierre up to that point; I believe their actions were the correct course. But condemning Robespierre to some bloodthirsty maniac I do not believe is the correct analysis.
So as long as no weapons were involved it was peaceful? Isn't every event relatively peaceful then, outside of people dying? The American patriots were sometimes just as brutal in their revolution as the French were in theirs.
By and large, there was remarkably little violent action against a whole class of people or political opponents, unlike in French or Russian revolution. Jefferson never advocated open violence against those who did not openly fight the American Revolution. He was talking about the ability of the new country to defend itself. There was no secret tribunals, large scale purges, widespread lynching mobs. The loyalists were indeed often attacked and beat up, but there was no mass terror similar to what these other Revolutions saw.

I think the biggest difference here is that in France and Russia, the revolutions were primarily the result of a long and bloody oppression of peasant classes by the absolute monarchy and the old feudal ruling classes, exacerbated by a prolonged strife and weakening of the regime just before the lid blew off. The French and Russian masses were extremely poor, starving, overtaxed, dying in the wars they didn't understand and didn't support, being exploited and taken advantage of by the small number of nobility and clergy. They wanted revenge, and they had a very well defined idea of who was responsible for their suffering.

The American Revolution, on the other hand, was a separatist movement with some political system change thrown in. The British Monarchy at the end of XVIII century was neither bloody nor absolute. There was rule of law, the commoners had certain guaranteed rights, there was representative government, the taxation was subject to Parlamentary approval. The last two rights did not apply to Colonies, a big part of why they decided to create their own country with blackjack and hookers.. eh, Congress and Senate . But the whole American Constitution and the system of government is based on Magna Carta and the British system of parliamentary democracy (XVIII century style, which was pretty advanced for it's time). It's different in some crucial ways, of course, but it's an evolutionary difference. A British aristocrat who decided to move to US after the revolution would not be seen as a class enemy just by the virtue of his birth.
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