What can be more "totalitarian" than this closed loop of "your very fear of being guilty makes you guilty" - a weird superego-twisted version of the well-known motto "the only thing to fear is fear itself"? One should nonetheless move beyond the quick dismissal of Robespierre's rhetorical strategy as the strategy of "terrorist culpabilization," and to discern its moment of truth: there are no innocent bystanders in the crucial moments of revolutionary decision, because, in such moments, innocence itself - exempting oneself from the decision, going on as if the struggle I am witnessing doesn't really concern me - IS the highest treason. That is to say, the fear of being accused of treason IS my treason, because, even if I "did not do anything against the revolution," this fear itself, the fact that it emerged in me, demonstrates that my subjective position is external to the revolution, that I experience "revolution" as an external force threatening me.
But what goes on in this unique speech is even more revealing: Robespierre directly addresses the touchy question that has to arise in the mind of his public - how can he himself be sure that he will not be the next in line to be accused? He is not the master exempted from the collective, the "I" outside "we" - after all, he was once very close to Danton, a powerful figure now under arrest, so what if, tomorrow, his proximity to Danton will be used against him? In short, how can Robespierre be sure that the process he unleashed will not swallow him? It is here that his position assumes the sublime greatness - he fully assumes the danger that the danger that now threatens Danton will tomorrow threaten him. The reason that he is so serene, that he is not afraid of this fate, is not that Danton was a traitor, while he, Robespierre, is pure, a direct embodiment of the people's Will; it is that he, Robespierre, IS NOT AFRAID TO DIE - his eventual death will be a mere accident which counts for nothing:
There is another feature of the American Whig Revolutionary ideology on display in Hamilton’s writing which, I suspect, explains the manifest differences between the Hamilton of and the Hamilton of the next two decades. Hamilton’s argument is suffused with the conviction that the North American trade is indispensable to the well-being of Britain, and indeed, of the whole empire—that a boycott will produce redress, he announced, is a “near certainty.” British power was largely illusory, he assured his readers: while luxury was at a high pitch, the people were impoverished, and the country was loaded with taxes, with a staggering load of debt that would take 112 years to pay. The British would never be so foolish as to attempt to wage a war which would only ruin the colony it sought to hold; but if it did, America could field an army thirty times bigger than any the British might send. Moreover, Hamilton shrewdly predicted, Spain and France would both come to America’s aid, guided only by national self-interest.
Revolution and Counter-Revolution - The American TFP
By 1792 the divisions had hardened to the point that a newspaper duel of polemics occurred between essays appearing in the Hamilton-backed and the Jefferson and Madison–created The French Revolution, and the outbreak of war in Europe, inflamed partisan divisions in America to a fever pitch, with Federalists seeing their Republican adversaries as incipient Jacobins, and Republicans viewing the Federalist administration as toadies of the British. Hamilton stepped into the fray with gusto, writing tracts defending abrogation of the treaty with France, calling for the suppression of whiskey tax rebels, and arguing that the deeply unpopular treaty with Britain negotiated by John Jay was in fact the best deal which prudence allowed. Hamilton retired from office at the start of 1795, but continued to be at the center of the polemical warfare that grew increasingly shrill in the last years of the eighteenth century. He was by far the most prolific pamphleteer of all the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately for his political career, he employed his pen in the last years of Adams’s presidency in splenetic attacks on the leader of his party. The Republicans won victory in the presidential election of 1800, but produced a tie between Jefferson and Burr which threw the election into the House of Representatives. Hamilton now turned his venom on Burr, whom he reviled in a letter-writing campaign to House members as an unscrupulous, dangerous Catiline. Jefferson won. It was Hamilton’s last service to the republic. In 1804, the bad blood between the two stirred mysteriously again, and Burr shot him dead in a duel in New Jersey.