The Jacobinism and patriotism of Ernest Belfort Bax

History of European Ideas 30 (4):463-484 (2004)

This article examines Ernest Belfort Bax's interpretation of the French Revolution and traces the impact that his idea of the Revolution had on his philosophy and his political thought. The first section considers Bax's understanding of the Revolution in the context of his theory of history and analyses his conception of the Revolution's legacy, drawing particularly on his portraits of Robespierre, Marat and Babeuf. The second section shows how the lessons Bax drew from this history shaped his socialist republicanism and discusses his support for Jacobin methods of revolutionary change. The third section of the article looks at the ways in which Bax's reading of revolutionary history affected his internationalism and shows how his ‘anti-patriotism’ led him to support the Anglo-French campaign in 1914. I argue that the Bax's understanding of the French Revolution gave body to his philosophy and greatly influenced his understanding of the socialist struggle. Bax believed that socialists had history on their side, but was so emboldened by the idea of the Revolution that he was led to advance a view of socialist change that undermined the historic values that socialism was supposed to enshrine
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DOI 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2003.11.020
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