Tag Archives: French Revolution

Enemies of the People, Past and Present

‘The revolutionary government owes to the good citizen all the protection of the nation; it owes nothing to the Enemies of the People but death.’ So declared Maximilien Robespierre in a speech delivered to the French National Convention on Christmas Day, 1793. Continue reading

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The Paine Burnings

Today in Britain, there are some practices which we view with a kind of gentle paternalism; they’re customs which we think beneath us, or too antiquated to be of use. One of them is the practice of burning people in effigy, something which is now only practiced by oddballs, people whose ideas of vengeance and often humour are remarkably primitive. Continue reading

Sympathy for the Devil

History is not meant to be an emotional tutorial. It is not, I think, supposed to instruct us exactly how to live. The past may not be a foreign country, but it is certainly remote, distant from us in our current age. The lessons of history are over-rated, and in any case, if not for teaching us the nature of life, what are novels and poetry for? Continue reading