Ok, this is a really really goos article amd everything written in here about the great terror is true, the death of the republic was at the hands of Robespierre and Saint Just. It's also VERY right about retribution
However, I will argue there is a difference between The Terror and terror, and the dark necessity of terror.
Socialists are bathed in the aesthetic of 'the great revolution', all of which goes back to the French revolution, and more generally 1792. However, this is not the only ever grand class changing revolution.
In 1791 another revolution happened, on the French colony of Saint Domingue, or as we now call it Haiti. In the Haitian revolution terror was key to securing and snowballing the uprising against slave owners. The rising against the masters was a bloody one of machetes, and burning down as much as possible to drive the whites away in any ways they could, not just for retribution but because the terror was so key in keeping what they had won
And so, what happens what we cast aside the terror? First, lets look at 1871, the Paris Commune. Here it's highly relivant to point out, they lost. The Paris commune was destroyed, and a major part of that destruction was at it's own hands of revolutionary idealism. The communards refused to march on Versailles when they had the chance, they could have destroyed Thiers republic before it had gotten off the ground, but they refused until it was too late because they didn't want to provoke some large revolutionary conflict. They didn't want a general over turning of class in the world, but to self govern Paris under socialism, and part of this is that reluctance of terror, to not step on feet and just let be. Once the bloody week started, the Communards burned Paris in defiance, as an act of terror
There was another anti terror reaction to the disgusting genocide by Robespierre, the liberals of 1848 in France and Germany.
Paris came alight with republicanism in 1848, but it was one that decryed the terror of Robespierre was the excess of revolutionary which had ended the revolution. So they went the complete opposite direction, and had little to no terror against the institutions they had just revolted against.
Orleansists, Bonapartists and Bourbonists ran in the elections in the new republic, the reactionary clergy joined with them to push them in rural elections. Eventually, Louis Napoleon overthrew the republic in a coup trying to parody his uncle.
Across the Rhine the Germans tried to form their own republic through the ideals of liberal nationalism. Once the German princes realised that there would be no terror, they came in with the armies and destroyed their whole constitutional project, because their idealism of playing nice didn't work
There is a necessary terror. Powerful people become symbols, the bourgeoisie have their 'legitimate' leaders who will become rallying points for counter revolutionary action. To leave these people around to just become symbols is to leave open a means of destruction of the revolutionary project, especially in it's infancy as the Communards discovered.
Did the CNT-FAI not fight the church, did the Haitian slaves not destroy the plantations, did the first Paris Commune not execute the king, did the Bolsheviks not shoot the Rominovs, did the Parliamentarians not behead the king ect. There is a necessary terror, one which secures the revolution. Retribution is bloody and pointless to this end, and here is the real failure of the Haitian revolution in that their total destruction of Haiti in campaigns of terror devastated the single richest colony into a smoldering ruin, not entirely their fault granted but terror burned Le Cap to the ground
So, I shall come back around to say the terror is necessary, The Great Terror was a genocide in places and barbaric
I'd say that you are correct in your analysis that the founding myth and actions inherently shapes the later society. In fact, I would add the revolutionary terror shapes the conditions materially in which a new society is founded, if we look at the excess of the Haitian revolution we see terror left Haiti a mess from which it's never truly recovered.
I would say however that the questions you pose show I didn't clarify enough. First of all, terror ought to be if the moment and grass roots, not a top down planned list of whom to kill, there should be no institutions of terror but mere small actions within a larger upheaval of all there is.
The terror is not a classicide of the middle class, of the foot soldier of capitalism in the bank and not for even the MP. The terror is for the true executive of power, those who weild the state against the revolution or would attempt to reconstruct it using their own previous ruling as a legitimacy
Whether I'm right or not about what I'm about to say, this option is *significantly* less shit than openly state-sponsored genocide. Who knew? :p
I still feel this sets dangerous precedents i guess we could call it vigilante justice or mob justice or something. I also feel like it can easily slip into classicides (something like the red terror in Catelonia, if my memory serves me correctly), and that a centralised organisation could easily steer something like that in line with their interests. Manufacturing consent etc etc.
If people are riled up enough to just openly kill people (even if it's not the way I thought, people are still gonna be susceptible to this shite).
Moreover if it *is* that targeted and precise then there's gotta be planning involved there, and with the sort of organisation required for that there's still huge danger there imo.
Oh I highly highly agree. All I can say is constant internal critique is all there can be, you cannot just say "but it just won't go bad", that's just pure idealism. The terror is bad, but it's the least bad required means to an end. No matter the edgy shitposting about guillotines you may see online, I doubt many if any could truly partake in the spectacle blood sport of mass executions, even the Parisians demanded the guillotine be moved due to the smell of it and how constant it was
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