Friday, November 09, 2007

Again I return

What hath befallen me: Hark! Hath time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen—hark! into the well of eternity?

What happeneth to me? Hush! It stingeth me—alas—to the heart? To the heart! Oh, break up, break up, my heart, after such happiness, after such a sting!

What? Hath not the world just now become perfect? Round and ripe? Oh, for the golden round ring—whither doth it fly? Let me run after it! Quick!

Hush—" (and here Zarathustra stretched himself, and felt that he was asleep.)

"Up!" said he to himself, "thou sleeper! Thou noontide sleeper! Well then, up, ye old legs! It is time and more than time; many a good stretch of road is still awaiting you—

Now have ye slept your fill; for how long a time? A half-eternity! Well then, up now, mine old heart! For how long after such a sleep mayest thou—remain awake?"


Have I slept long? So it would appear. Yet I wonder at what cost is this to me? Must there be a tragic fate to those who fall silent, even if only for a while? I certainly have friends who think I have managed to fall off the end of the world and perhaps I have. Time will tell if I have any lessons left to share.

I have certainly been busy studying and reading, reading and studying. I have gone back to school. The calling to educate has gotten the best of me. I therefore am pursuing an education degree.

But enough of this small talk. I wish to return to the business or Jean-Jacques Rousseau. I will grant that it has been a very long time since this topic was broached here, but then, it has been a long time since any topic was broached here. I will return to the previous sidebar in time but the business of Rousseau is at hand.

Way back when...July 07, 2005 to be precise my former interlocutor who referred to himself as Mannning posted the following to in response to an argument the two of us were having. His entire response is posted in the comments under the posting Book One. Specifically though I would like to point out this comment:

"These ideas sparked the Reign of Terror in France headed by Robespierre, and the imprisonment of 300,000 nobles, priests and political dissidents, and the deaths of 17,000 citizens in a year."

I feel it is time to address this assertion in the here and now. Sadly, we cannot always address every important detail when it is best to do so. In life we are bombarded with a constant barrage of information and misinformation, accusations and lamentations. But Robespierre and Rousseau....

Mannning is more than a bit deceiving with this misstatement here and it is high time to set the record straight. One cannot simply boil the French Revolution down into a thin broth for easy human consumption. To do so is to belittle the cause and the effect of the revolutionary process and the effects the French Revolution had on European and even world history. The question here is not whether or not Maximilien Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a devoted follower of Rousseau's political philosophy. He was and took the ideology of this peculiar man to extremes during the short period of his dictatorship over France. The real questions are as follows:

What role did the dictatorship of Robespierre have on the entire revolutionary cycle in France?

What was the overall role of Rousseau's political philosophy have on the other elements of the revolution and which parts of Rousseau's philosophy would Mannning be implicating in his accusations?

What are the general causes behind all the violence of the Revolution?

What were the specific events that triggered the initial revolt and how did it get so far out of hand to tip the scales to revolution?

What specifically are we speaking of when referring to the Reign of Terror, and what were the underlying assumptions that made such policy decisions by those at the forefront of the political movement that accompanied the change in the French power structure?

What are the most accurate tallies of the casualties inflicted by the Terror and those responsible? Are Mannning's figures correct?

Who were the victims? Who were the victors? And what exactly were the historic implications of the outcome of the French Revolution?

These are the questions I will attempt to answer in the next several posts.