What is the definition of political sovereignty? Robespierre, “On Political Morality” of the French Revolution 1789 – 1799.

Political sovereignty refers to the highest level of absolute power through which independent states are controlled by a designated political authority.


In the speech “On Political Morality” delivered to the Convention on 5 February 1794, Robespierre offered a justification of the Terror. By this date, the Federalist revolt and Vendée uprisings had been by and large pacified and the threat of invasion by the Austrians, British, and Prussians had receded, yet Robespierre emphasized that only a combination of virtue (a commitment to republican ideals) and terror (coercion against those who failed to demonstrate such a commitment) could ensure the long–term salvation of the Republic, since it would always be faced with a crisis of secret enemies subverting it from within, even when its overt enemies had been subdued.






The rights of man and the French revolution’s liberte or liberty. 1789 AD.


The rights of man are held to be universal: valid at all times and in every place, pertaining to human nature itself. It became the basis for a nation of free individuals protected equally by law.’  he who oppresses one nation declares himself the enemy of all.”
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 defined liberty in Article 4 as follows:  Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights.  Active and passive citizenship.   Initially, French Revolutionaries provided rights to a larger portion of the population, but there remained a distinction between those who obtained the political rights in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and those who did not. Those who were deemed to hold these political rights were called active citizens. Women, slaves and foreigners,  passive citizens.


Terrorism and moral calling, from Robespierre and The Terror to Bin Laden and Jihad.

the terrorJihadThe Law of Terror

During the French Revolution that the first terrorists were inspired by Roman Republican sacrifices to decapitate enemy compatriots in order to legitimate a modern republic.  Since, (the authors) are drawing what (they) think is an important connection between violent terrorism of jihadis and Jacobins, (we) shall not say that this is not the first time that the Terrorists and Robespierre in particular have been likened to a threat from the Muslim world. One source, speaking of Robespierre asserts that, “Coveting both the sceptre and the censer, he was consumed with the ambition of the fiend Mohammed–without having his genius or, above all, his courage. Pontiff and despot at the same time, he gathered a great number of followers for himself, pretending to believe, so that all believe that the French people had forgotten the existence of a superior intelligence. It was because he appeared to be restoring the cult of the Supreme Being, as if the French nation had ever renounced it…The mask has fallen. Catiline is no more, He and his infamous accomplices have paid with their heads for their horrible patricide, and the pen of the patriotic writer will no longer be restrained by fear.  The Moral Psychology of Terrorism: Implications for Security, edited by Jalil Roshandel, Nathan Lean.

Is there a moral response to terror?

Today in this country, when we call something “terrorism” we are making a moral judgment about the odious wrongness of the perpetrator but also about the right of the targeted group to feel that they are under threat and thus to be protected. http://www.vox.com/2015/6/18/8807433/charleston-shooting-terrorism.

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, How the Jews of France gained property through Robespierre’s actions. The French Revolution circa 18th Century.

rightsofmanThe Era of Revolution

In the era of the Revolution the Jews did not receive their equality

French and Jewish authority.

Assembly of French and Jewish authorities in the Palais Nationale 18the century French Revolution.

automatically. The Declaration of the Rights of Man which was voted into law by the National Assembly on Aug. 27, 1789, was interpreted as not including the Jews in the new equality. The issue of Jewish rights was first debated in three sessions, Dec. 21–24, 1789, and even the Comte de *Mirabeau, one of their chief proponents, had to move to table the question, because he saw that there were not enough votes with which to pass a decree of emancipation. A month later, in a very difficult session on Jan. 28, 1790, the “Portuguese,” “Spanish,” and “Avignonese” Jews were given their equality. The main argument, made by Talleyrand, was that these Jews were culturally and socially already not alien.

The issue of the Ashkenazim remained unresolved. It was debated repeatedly in the next two years but a direct vote could never be mustered for their emancipation. It was only in the closing days of the National Assembly, on Sept. 27, 1791, that a decree of complete emancipation was finally passed, on the ground that the Jews had to be given equality in order to complete the Revolution, for it was impossible to have a society in which all men of whatever condition were given equal rights and status, except a relative handful of Jews. Even so, the parliament on the very next day passed a decree of exception under which the debts owed the Jews in eastern France were to be put under special and governmental supervision. This was a sop to anti-Jewish opinion, which had kept complaining of the rapacity of the Jews. The Jews refused to comply with this act, for they said that it was contrary to the logic of a decree of equality. Opinion thus had remained divided even in the last days, when Jews were being given their liberty.


Butchers go free: Gandhi and the French Revolt of 18th Century. Not.


MK Gandhi

MK Gandhi v. the French Revolution.

Robespierre’s directorship is a locus classicus of governmental use of terror ostensibly in the public interest. Gandhi doubted the benefit; he said, in 1909: “There is a forceful book by Carlyle on the French Revolution. I realized after reading it that it is not from the white nations that India can learn the way out of her present degradation. It is my belief that the French people have gained nothing of value through the Revolution.” —And, in 1920 (in a passage just after another allusion to the French Revolution):“[O]rder established by a tyrant in order to get hold of the tyrannical reigns of Government… is no order for me but it is disorder. I want to evolve justice out of this injustice.” —And, in 1942:“I believe that in the history of the world there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours in colonial India. I read Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that in as much as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal.  In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today.”  Here the phrase “everybody… his own master” is a call to self-discipline among the citizens of free India. Only such inner moral strength, so widespread as to be culturally predominant, could compensate adequately for the absence of tyrannical or quasi-tyrannical authority imposed by Government.  When Gandhi felt outraged (which was often the case) he normally did not express it directly as outspoken rage, but instead took up certain forms of vigorous dialogue, political activism and constructive work. It seems to me that Mao’s concept of political common sense:“We cannot love our enemies. We cannot love the ugly things in society; our goal is to wipe out such things;  that is human common sense” is gradually being superseded in some quarters by Gandhi’s common-sense view that win-win solutions to social conflicts are better than win-lose. I don’t mean that a nonviolent approach to socially pathological people willing to devour other people (in one way and another) is so problem-free as to be a simple panacea. It was, in Gandhi’s opinion, a necessary but insufficient precept of effective liberation. This can be a mere platitude but I would suggest that it is better than a likewise simple precept of “beating dogs in the water.”


A discussion with Micah Alpaugh author of Non-Violent Protest and the French Revolution. Arbiters of popular sovereignty. From an audio broadcast of Against the Grain, moderated by CS Song.


Key Elements Explained

1. Popular sovereignty and democracy to the parisienne masses to discover new forms of popular sovereignty leading to elections. The French revolution obtained popular sovereignty from the established order for all mankind.

2. The French Revolution was run primarily through petitions. Signatures were used in the republican campaign of 1791 to remove the monarchy.  However, the parisienne masses met with resistance and violence ensued.

3. The mass protests influenced national politics and women’s peaceful protests succeeded in bringing the King back.

4.  The infamous September massacre involved the storming of the Bastille.  The Reveillon riots of April brought down Reveillon’s mansion which violated the community.   In 1792 practice dethroned the French Monarch.

5. However, the removal of the Girondins the radical aspect in 1793, took place with almost no protest and involved no violence where all will united for the best course to take.

6. The revolt adopted a conciliatory tone with authority believing it to be the best voice.  For the first time in the modern history the general will by Rousseau wanted no violence and routinely fraternized.  This general will proved in the long term to become part of non-violence of Gandhi which is Satyagraha or adherence to truth. Truth became the symbol of popular sovereignty in the fight to depose the British Empire. The revolt succeeded though not entirely.

7.  These non-violent processes established voting blocks which subsequently and successfully wrote the French Constitution within which the Rights of Man is symbolic of resistance to oppression.

8. Edmund Burke, founder of modern conservatism in the United States disapproved of the French revolution for not including tradition. In its stead, it opened up new forms of sovereignty such as direct democracy.

9. Non-violent protest has become a tradition that passed the torch from Gandhi to King and then to Nelson Mandela.  Non-violence was held to be their ideal and preferred method.

10. Nelson Mandela adopted a conciliatory attitude to the harsh Apartheid.  He began by mandating democracy as the right to combat scourges. His was a fight against evil not to be mistaken for political power and ambition. He did occasionally advocate violence but as with the French masses practiced restraint.  In this Mandela has no rival having spent 27 years in a solitary jail cell.

11. Direct or representative democracy?  The French revolution brought about the only example of direct democracy. It successfully advocated civilization as an antidote to tyranny.  To be followed by the famous Gandhi, who said that such a civilization would be a very good idea.


The Terror of the Jacobins. The French Revolution symbolized dependence, rebellion and opinion as hallmarks of all revolutions violent and otherwise.

Robespierre was a leader of the Jacobin movement popularly known as the reign of Terror where popular violence was given extensive political rights.

Jacobin during the French Revolution (1789 to 1799), was used to describe members of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary political movement that had been the most famous political club of the French Revolution.The club was so called from the Dominican convent where they originally met, in the Rue Saint-Jacques(Latin: Jacobus) in Paris.

Today, Jacobin and Jacobinism are used in a variety of senses. “Jacobin” is sometimes used in Britain as a pejorative for radical, left-wing revolutionary politics, especially when it exhibits dogmatism and violent repression. In France, “Jacobin” now generally indicates a supporter of a centralized republican state and strong central government powers and/or supporters of extensive government intervention to transform society. It is also used in other related senses, indicating proponents of a state education system which strongly promotes and inculcates civic values, and proponents of a strong nation-state capable of resisting any undesirable foreign influences.

Jacobins in the French Revolution

The Jacobin Club was one of several organizations that grew out of the French Revolution, and it was distinguished for its left-wing, revolutionary politics. Because of this, the Jacobins, unlike other sects like the Girondins, were closely allied to the sans-culottes, who were a popular force of working-class Parisians that played a pivotal role in the development of the revolution. The Jacobins had a significant presence in the National Convention, and were dubbed ‘the Mountain’ for their seats in the uppermost part of the chamber. Eventually, the Revolution coalesced around the Mountain’s power, with the help of the insurrections of the sans-culottes, and, led by Robespierre, the Jacobins established a revolutionary dictatorship, or the joint domination of the Committee of Public Safety and Committee of General Security. The Jacobin dictatorship was known for enacting the Reign of Terror, which targeted speculators, monarchists, left-wing agitators, Hébertists, and traitors, and led to many beheadings

The Jacobins were known for creating a strong government that could deal with the needs of war, economic chaos, and internal rebellion (such as the War in the Vendée). The Jacobins supported the rights of property, but represented a much more middle-class position than the government which succeeded them in Thermidor. Their economic policy established the General maximum, in order to control prices and create stability both for the workers and poor and the revolution. They favored free trade and a liberal economy much like the Girondists, but their relationship to the people made them more willing to adapt interventionist economic policies.

United Kingdom

In England, the word was also popularized in George Canning‘s paper, The Anti-Jacobin, which criticized the English Radicals, of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The English who supported the French Revolution during its early stages (or even throughout) were early known as Jacobins. These included the young Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and others prior to their disillusionment with the outbreak of the Reign of Terror. Others, such as William Hazlitt and Thomas Paine, remained idealistic about the Revolution.


In the correspondence of Metternich and other leaders of the repressive policies that followed the second fall of Napoleon in 1815, Jacobin is the term commonly applied to anyone with liberal tendencies, such as the emperor Alexander I of Russia.

United States

Early Federalist-leaning American newspapers during the French Revolution referred to the Democratic-Republican party as the “Jacobin Party”. The most notable examples are the Gazette of the United States, published in Philadelphia, and the Delaware and Eastern Shore Advertiser, published in Wilmington, during the elections of 1798.

In modern American politics, the term Jacobin is often used to describe extremists of any party who demand ideological purity. For instance, in the lead-up to the1964 Republican National Convention, the press referred to supporters of the insurgent Arizona conservative Barry Goldwater as “Cactus Jacobins” in their effort to unseat the moderate East Coast branch of the party (see Rockefeller Republican).   L. Brent Bozell, Jr. has written in Goldwater’s seminal The Conscience of a Conservative (1960) that “Throughout history, true Conservatism has been at war equally with autocrats and with ‘democratic’ Jacobins.” In 2010 a progressive American publication, Jacobin, was founded.

From A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens, English novelist (1812 – 1870.) The French Revolution.

talesIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

The Reign of Terror. French Revolution, circa 1800 AD.

French Revolution   Aristocrats’ heads on spikes, (pikes.)

The Reign of Terror (5 September 1793 – 28 July 1794),[1] also known as The Terror (French: la Terreur), was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of “enemies of the revolution”. The death toll ranged in the tens of thousands, with 16,594 executed by guillotine (2,639 in Paris),[2] and another 25,000 in summary executions across France.[3]  The guillotine (called the “National Razor”) became the symbol of the revolutionary cause, strengthened by a string of executions: King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, the Girondins, Philippe Égalité (Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans), and Madame Roland, and others such as pioneering chemist Antoine Lavoisier, lost their lives under its blade. During 1794, revolutionary France was beset with conspiracies by internal and foreign enemies. Within France, the revolution was opposed by the French nobility, which had lost its inherited privileges. The Roman Catholic Church opposed the revolution, which had turned the clergy into employees of the state and required they take an oath of loyalty to the nation (through the Civil Constitution of the Clergy). In addition, the First French Republic was engaged in a series of wars with neighboring powers intent on crushing the revolution to prevent its spread.

MK Gandhi: There is no greater God than Truth. Thus, no greater nobility than truth.