The French Revolution

In one of the most influential revolutions in history, the French people tore down the aristocracy that had dominated their lives for centuries.

A Brief History of Revolution

Moments before Robespierre’s death, the executioner noticed that his head would not fit into the guillotine with the bandages applied to his jaw wounds, so he brutally ripped them off; from Robespierre’s ruined throat emerged a ghastly piercing scream, only cut short as the blade fell upon his neck. The status of this last scream is legendary: It gave rise to a whole panoply of interpretations, mostly along the lines of the terrifying inhuman screech of the parasitic evil spirit that signals its important protest when it is losing possession of its host human body – as if, at this final moment, Robespierre humanized himself, discarding the persona of Revolutionary Virtue embodied, emerging as a miserable, scared human being.

In his last speech the day before his arrest and execution, Robespierre said, “But there do exist, I can assure you, souls that are feeling and pure; it exists, that tender, imperious and irrestistible passion, the torment and delight of magnanimous hearts; that deep horror of tyranny, that compassionate zeal for the oppressed, that sacred love for the homeland, that even more sublime and holy love for humanity, without which a great revolution is just a noisy crime that destroys another crime; it does exist, that generous ambition to establish here on earth the world’s first Republic.”

From Robespierre or the "Divine Violence” of Terror, Slavoj Žižek

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