Quotes about Maximilien Robespierre
19 Sourced Quotes
No Scientific Christian ever considers hatred or execration to be "justifiable" in any circumstances, but whatever your opinion about that might be, there is no question about its practical consequences to you. You might as well swallow a dose of prussic acid in two gulps, and think to protect yourself by saying, "This one is for Robespierre; and this one for the Bristol murderer." You will hardly have any doubt as to who will receive the benefit of the poison.
Most significant of all was the success of Robespierre and the central Montagnard leadership to turn the revered memory of their fallen comrade to a potent weapon in the Jacobin triumph over the Gironde, who thereafter could convincingly be portrayed as destabilizers or fomenters of civil war for their role in the assassination of a great patriot.
The greatness of a popular character is less according to the ratio of his genius than the sympathy he shows with the prejudices and even the absurdities of his time. Fanatics do not select the cleverest but the most fanatical leaders as was evidenced in the choice of Robespierre by the French Jacobins, and in that of Cromwell by the English Puritans.
The reign of terror to which France submitted has been more justly termed "the reign of cowardice." One knows not which most to execrate,--the nation that could submit to suffer such atrocities, or that low and bloodthirsty demagogue that could inflict them. France, in succumbing to such a wretch as Robespierre, exhibited, not her patience, but her pusillanimity.
Every false philosophy is an imagination of a world propitious to irrational demands and unregulated desires. The false philosopher's dream infects someone in closer touch than himself with everyday experience, this agent of his desire seeks to translate the dream into reality, and disaster follows. It is the Cinderella story in actual life. Rousseau was Robespierre's fairy godmother, Karl Marx was Lenin's, Nietzsche was Hitler's.
The same reign of terror that occurred under Robespierre and Hitler occurred back then in the fifties, as it occurs now. You must realize that there is very little actual courage in this world. It's pretty easy to bend people around. It doesn't take much to shut people up, it really doesn't. In the fifties all I had to do was call a guy up on the telephone and say, "Well, I think your wife would like to know about your mistress."
I do not see any sense in continuing to skirmish on a battlefield where I can never hope to win. The Cambridge system is effectively designed to prevent one ever establishing a directed policy — key decisions can be upset by ill-informed and politically motivated committees. To be effective in this system one must for ever be watching one's colleagues, almost like a Robespierre spy system. If one does so, then of course little time is left for any real science.
Robespierre listened to me with terror. He grew pale and silent for some time. This interview confirmed me in the opinion that I always had of him, that he unites the knowledge of a wise senator with the integrity of a thoroughly good man and the zeal of a true patriot but that he is lacking as a statesman in clearness of vision and determination.
If Peter Mandelson has an historical parallel, it is Robespierre, the architect of the Terror. Without his zeal and cool passion for the right of the French people, the ancien regime would almost certainly have reasserted itself in some way. His defence of the ideals of the revolution was absolute and unmoving. It won him no friends, and eventually swallowed him. It would be a tragedy for Labour if it were to do the same to the architect of its own revolution.
Mossadeq, the orator, is difficult to judge as a politician because of the perpetual contradictions between his words and his acts, and because of his sudden changes of mood from elation to depression before one's very eyes. His absolute certainty, violently expressed in hysterical speeches, would turn to tears and sobbing. He had frequent "diplomatic" illensses and he played out macabre comedies in which he would exclaim: "I am a-dying..." and so forth. He has been compared to Robespierre, to Renzi and even to characters from the Commedia dell' Arte.