According to Robespierre, what were the goals of the war and the French Revolution?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Maximilien Robespierre advocated for the absolute commitment to republican concepts and the coercion of those against such commitments in order to secure a stable and sustainable republic. According to Robespierre, the road towards liberating the country would face internal subversion, forcing the need to firmly deal with any conspiracy.

Robespierre justified the war and revolution by stating that the engagements were unavoidable since they were aimed at instituting liberty and equality. According to Robespierre, during the absolute monarchy, it was impossible for the citizens to directly enjoy the benefits of national prosperity, which was a preserve of the elite few.

The war came as a result of the Revolution, and it played an important role in ensuring democracy was protected. The war was essential in the fight against corruption, which Robespierre saw as counterrevolutionary. He justified the need for terror in entrenching the virtues needed in sustaining democracy. Thus, the war was just a means to an end, which was to ensure the republic survived.

If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue, amid revolution it is at the same time [both] virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice; it is therefore an emanation of virtue. It is less a special principle than a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most pressing needs. (Robespierre "On Political Morality")

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Robespierre, the goals of the war and the French Revolution were to bring democratic principles to France and to bring all the benefits associated with a democratic or republican form of government to France. He believed that the war and the French Revolution should bring equality and the peaceful enjoyment of liberty to the people of France. He believed everybody should have the opportunity share in the country's prosperity instead of just a handful of people.

In his speech to the Convention on February 5, 1794, he stated that the people should strive to serve France, and France should be a country where laws apply to all people. He stated that the French people wanted “to fulfill natures’s desires, accomplish the destiny of humanity, keep the promises of philosophy, absolve providence from the long reign of crime and tyranny.” Robespierre believed these goals could only be accomplished by a republican government. In a democracy or republican government, the laws that the people or their representatives have made should guide the people. He believed that virtue sustains a republican government. He believed that the republican government of France could be even greater than the governments of Greece and Rome. Robespierre believed that France would have to fight against people, either domestic or foreign, that wanted to deny the creation or existence of a republican government in France and the principles for which it would stand.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his 1794 speech to the National Convention, Robespierre made it clear that the aim of the Revolution was a democracy. He said that the revolutionaries wanted to establish a government based on virtue and reason, one which did not allow for "monstrous opulence" and the "vices and snobbishness of the monarchy." It would be a government free of privileges for aristocrats, and one which located power in its rightful source, the people. To establish such a government, Robespierre argued, it was necessary to "stifle" the "domestic and foreign enemies of the Republic," and to do this, terror was needed. This would involve the dispensation of "swift, indomitable justice," which, while bloody, would be necessary to preserve the ideal state that Robespierre and the other radicals envisioned. The end, which was democratic government, would justify the means, which was the use of violence and fear, which Robespierre argued, flowed from revolutionary virtue. 

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