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By Jean Moulin

Destroyers d’Escorte en France 1944-1972

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20 Robespierre's incessant depiction of a dangerous and deadly universe, ®lled with enemies who could not be seen because they appeared to be friends, was the Incorruptible's authentic rhetorical violence. The revolutionary world itself was violent: death was the order of the day. He was obsessed with discovering counter-revolutionaries: the laws would do the rest. 21 The punishment for those who travestied the Revolution, camou¯aged themselves and their designs, did not need to be spelled out.

Even his Manichaean cast of mind proved useful. The Revolution was a dangerous time: suspicion was prudent, patriotic, and made him appear prophetic. Marat, even more suspicious, was also a bene®ciary of universal distrust and a readiness to believe in plots. But these characteristics did not, necessarily, make Robespierre a terrorist, nor did they provide all the ingredients for the politics of virtue. Robespierre's personality proved a fertile soil for the growth of the politics of virtue; but it was the course of the Revolution itself, working on his special nature, that slowly, and even insensibly, moved virtue from the foreground of his many political concerns ± where it served as a kind of ready metaphor for all that he valued ± to the absolute centre of his politics ± where it became a murderous and blinding principle.

Vol. X, p. 394. , vol. X, p. 352. , vol. X, p. 357. The entire passage is: `Si le ressort du gouvernement populaire dans la paix est la vertu, le ressort du gouvernement populaire en reÂvolution est aÁ la fois la vertu et la terreur: la vertu, sans laquelle la terreur est funeste; la terreur, sans laquelle la vertu est impuissante. ' Ibid. 30 David P. Jordan goal and the government resorting to terror. SieÂyeÁs's seminal idea that the Third Estate alone constituted the nation and the privileged orders had to be cast out is here tacitly invoked, given a moral dimension and made to ®t the circumstances of Year II.

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Destroyers d’Escorte en France, 1944-1972 by Jean Moulin


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