By Hannah Arendt
Tracing the slow evolution of revolutions because the American and French examples, Arendt predicts the altering courting among conflict and revolution and the the most important position such combustive pursuits will play sooner or later of diplomacy.
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Additional resources for On Revolution
From this he concluded that freedom and poverty were incompatible. His most explosive and indeed most original contribution to the cause of revolution was that he interpreted the compelling needs of mass poverty in political terms as an uprising, not for the sake of bread or wealth, but for the sake of freedom as well. What he learned from the French Revolution was that poverty can b~ a political force of the first order. The ideological elements in his teachings, his belief in 'scientific' socialism, in historical necessity, in superstructures, in 'materialism',· et cetera, are secondary and derivative in comparison; he shared them with the entire modern age and we find them today not only in the various brands of socialism and communism but in the whole body of the social sciences.
Virtue meant to have the welfare of the people in mind, to identify one's own will with the will of the people - il faut une volonte UNE - and this effort was directed primarily toward the happiness of the many. After the downfall of· the Gironde, it was no longer freedom but happiness that became the 'new idea in Europe' (Saint-Just). The words l~ p~uple are the key words for every understanding of the French Revolution, and their connotations were determined by those who were exposed to the spectacle of the people's sufferings, which they themselves did not share.
2S One has often been struck by the peculiar selflessness of the revolutionists, which should not be confused with 'idealism' or heroism. against his_QW-D wgl. 79 Whatever theoretically the explanations and consequences of Rousseau's teachings might be, the point of the matter is that the actual experiences underlying Rousseau's selflessness and Robespierre's 'terror of virtue' cannot be understood without taking into account the crucial role compassion had come to play in the minds and hearts of those who prepared and of those who acted in the course of the French Revolution.