Slavoj Zizek Presents Robspierre: Virtue and Terror
Robespierre’s defense of the French Revolution remains one of the most powerful and unnerving justifications for political violence ever written, and has extraordinary resonance in a world obsessed with terrorism and appalled by the language of its proponents. Yet today, the French Revolution is celebrated as the event which gave birth to a nation built on the Toussprinciples of enlightenment ... So how should a contemporary audience approach Robespierre’s vindication of revolutionary terror? Zizek takes a helter-skelter route through these contradictions, marshalling all the breadth of analogy for which he is famous.
“If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless.” — Robespierre
Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian sociologist, philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is also visiting professor at several US universities (Columbia, Princeton, New School for Social Research, New York, and the University of Michigan).