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05/31/2006 Entry: "The ascent of the mass-murdering nerd"

"The man to emerge was Maximilien Robespierre, who led the drive to decapitate the King, and became the chief magistrate of the Terror. ...because of what Robespierre represents: the ascent of the mass-murdering nerd -- a man who, having read a book, resolves to kill all the people who donít like it as much as he does. There is a case to be made that the real singularity of the Terror was the first appearance on the stage of history of this particular psychological type: not the tight-lipped inquisitor, alight with religious rage, but the small, fastidious intellectual, the man with an idea, the prototype of Lenin listening to his Beethoven as the Cheka begins its purges. In normal times, such men become college professors, or book reviewers or bloggers. It takes special historical circumstances for them to become killers: the removal of a ruling class without its replacement by a credible new one. In the confusion, their ethereal certainties look like the only solid thing to build on."
Headless Horseman. The Reign of Terror revisited, by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, Issue of 2006-06-05, Posted 2006-05-29

I think I'll stick to blogging. In July of 1794, Robespierre went to the guillotine, too.

Posted by GM

 

 

 

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