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To: Polybius
It must be remembered, however, that Napoleon's foremost ideal was the advancement of his own personal interests.

Then I am no longer dedicating my symphony to him! /musician's joke
17 posted on 04/17/2006 6:57:07 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges; Publius
Then I am no longer dedicating my symphony to him! /musician's joke

LOL! Beethoven's, to be precise, and he wasn't joking. The Eroica is still one heckuva symphony.

Publius, thanks for the ping. Robespierre is such a fascinating study, an example of the "great man" interpretation of history that is a case where the historical role was far, far greater than the individual fate decided to place in it. I do not honestly respect the man, and I do respect such excrescences as Stalin and Hitler, such as they were.

The real "hero" of the Revolution was probably equally distasteful to modern sensibilities, and that was a fellow named Marat. Charlotte Corday did him and I must say that was the best thing that ever happened in a bathtub. But it was this that left the field open to Robespierre, and what he did with that is better detailed by the likes of Carlyle and Schama - not an unclean pen but one more robust to atrocity than my own. Which is not, incidentally entirely unclean of itself - I can relate one historical trivium that may relate the mood of the Parisian mob - Marie Antoinette was presented with a portion of the poor Princesse de Lamballe stuck on a pike - her genitalia. There was a bestial nature to this that is difficult even for those of us inured to the atrocities of the 20th century to contemplate with equanimity.

A detailed study of this is beyond the limitations of this post, but briefly I submit that Robespierre happened on the power of class warfare in a place where class was precisely defined enough to make it practicable. There is a dehumanizing aspect to this that Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot understood full well - the politically besotted will treat other human beings with astonishing brutality as long as they may be presented as representatives of a hated class, as symbols rather than people. The cutting of the hair of the victims of the guillotine is a case in point - not only does it enhance the accuracy of the blade, it reduces the victim to a creature less likely to evoke empathy from the onlookers. The keepers of the Spanish Inquisition learned that lesson long before this.

This is more than symbolic, it is what the proponents of class warfare would do to all of their opponents. Their greatest fear is that these opponents will appear as individuals to be pitied. It is one thing to butcher a symbol, quite another to butcher a political opponent who is a person. Beware the people who treat other people as symbols. They are the executioners, the bombers, the terrorists, the ones who can justify to themselves the unjustifiable. They are less than human because they make themselves that way.

32 posted on 04/17/2006 10:40:44 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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