In deciding to end with a discussion of the Terror, I will be leaving the reader with the impression that this work has been building up to a political parti pris whose relevance, though rarely made explicit, extends far beyond the events of 1789–94. And in part this was my intention. It would, I believe, be rather premature, and possibly Utopian, to declare with François Furet that ‘the Revolution has ended’, and that, consequently, its struggles, and the issues around which theses struggles revolved, could be treated as mere historical curiosities, without relevance to present concerns.1 At another level, however, because the Revolution is so deeply engrained within the present, because it lies half-submerged at the roots of our political modernity, all discussion at a ‘narrowly political’ level cannot but remain superficial. We are all heirs to the Revolution — to the opportunities it created, as well as the problems it raised; and to argue either for or against the Revolution — and particularly against — strikes me as ultimately rather comical.
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