Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Thiers on why the Convention wasn't able to crush Jacobin gangsterism

This, published in 1823, could easily be read as a justification of Thiers' approach to dealing with the Paris Commune in 1871:
"Barbaroux immediately proposed four formidable and judiciously conceived decrees:
By the first, the capital was to lose the right of being the seat of the national representation, when it could no longer find means to protect it from insult or violence.
By the second, the federalists and the national gendarmes were, conjointly with the armed sections of Paris, to guard the national representation and the public establishments.
By the third, the Convention was to constitute itself a court of justice for the purpose of trying the conspirators.
By the fourth and last, the Convention was to cashier the municipality of Paris.
These four decrees were perfectly adapted to circumstances, and suitable to the real dangers of the moment, but it would have required all the power that could only be given by the decrees themselves in order to pass them. To create energetic means, energy is requisite; and every moderate party which strives to check a violent party is in a vicious circle, which it can never get out of. No doubt the majority, inclining to the Girondins, might have been able to carry the decrees; but it was its moderation that made it incline to them, and this very moderation counselled it to wait, to temporize, to trust to the future, and to avoid all measures that were prematurely energetic. The Assembly even rejected a much less rigorous decree, the first of those which the commission of nine had been charged to draw up. It was proposed by Buzot, and related to the instigators of murder and conflagration. All direct instigation was to be punished with death, and indirect instigation with ten years' imprisonment. The Assembly considered the penalty for direct instigation too severe, and indirect instigation too vaguely defined and too difficult to reach. To no purpose did Buzot insist that revolutionary and consequendy arbitrary measures were required against the adversaries who were to be combated. 'He was not listened to, neither could he be, when addressing a majority which condemned revolutionary measures in the violent party itself, and was therefore very unlikely to employ them against it. The law was consequently adjourned; and the commission of nine appointed to devise means of maintaining good order, became, in a manner, useless."
(from p431, "The History of the French Revolution" by Adolphe Thiers")