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Recently, I was revisiting a couple of political works that are relevant to libertarianism (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, it's basically a political ideology that emphasizes maximum personal freedom and minimal government), and I came across this political criticism of the French Revolution revolutionaries from Frederic Bastiat, one of the most influential figures in modern libertarianism and Austrian economics. I personally thought it was quite refreshing compared to the usual kind of criticism of the French Revolution we often hear from Marie Antoinette fangirls.


On Saint-Just:
"You see, men are nothing but raw materials. It is not for them to will the good; they are incapable of it; it is for the lawgiver, according to Saint-Just. Men are only what he (the lawgiver) wills them to be."
 
(Bastiat was referring to this quote apparently made by Saint-Just: "The legislator commands the future. It is for him to will the good of mankind. It is for him to make men what he wills them to be.")

On Robespierre:
"According to Robespierre, who copies Rousseau literally, the lawgiver begins by determining the national goal. Then, the government has only to direct all physical and moral forces towards this end. The nation itself always remains passive in all this, and Billaud-Varenne teaches us that it should have only those prejudices, customs, inclinations, and wants that the lawgiver authorizes it to have. He goes so far as to say that the inflexible austerity of one man is the foundation of the republic. 
 
As we have seen, where evil is so great that ordinary magistrates cannot remedy it, Mably advises dictatorship to promote virtue. "Have recourse,"says he, "to an extraordinary magistracy, whose term will be short and whose power will be considerable. The imagination of the citizens needs to be stirred."
 

 

The principle of republican government is virtue, and the means needed to establish it is terror. We wish to substitute in our country morality for selfishness, honesty for honor, principles for customs, duties for proprieties, the rule of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, greatness of soul for vanity, love of glory for love of money, good people for good society, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for ostentation, the charm of happiness for the tedium of sensuality, the greatness of man for the pettiness of the great, a magnanimous, powerful, happy people for an amiable, frivolous, wretched people; that is, all the virtues and all the miracles of a republic for all the vices and all the follies of a monarchy.

 


 At what a height above the rest of mankind Robespierre here places himself! And note the arrogance with which he speaks. He does not confine himself to expressing the wish for a great renovation of the human heart; he does not even expect such a result from a regular government. No, he wants to bring it to pass himself, and by means of terror. The purpose of the speech from which this childish mass of labored antitheses is taken was to set forth the moral principles that should guide a revolutionary government. Note that when Robespierre demands a dictatorship, it is not only to repel a foreign invader or to crush internal factions; it is, rather, to make his own moral principles prevail by means of terror and prior to action under the Constitution. His demand comes to nothing less than the authority to extirpate from the country, by means of terror, selfishness, honor, customs, propriety, fashion, vanity, the love of money, good society, intrigue, wit, sensuality, and poverty. It is only after he, Robespierre, will have accomplished these miracles—as he rightly calls them—that he will permit the laws to regain their sway. Oh, you wretches! You who believe yourselves so great! You who regard mankind as so inconsiderable! You want to reform everything! Reform yourselves first! This will be enough of a task for you." 
-

He pretty much bashes everyone from Montesquieu to Adolphe Thiers. If you need to read the entire book in English: http://mises.org/books/thelaw.pdf
 
In case you're wondering, I am a libertarian, but as a proponent of freedom of speech, I wouldn't mind a bit if you bashed him or libertarianism. So flame away :)
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