Bastille Day and its offspring

With Francophiles throughout the world observing Bastille Day on Saturday, July 14th, some may feel it is poor taste to bring up Maximilien Robespierre. Maybe it is, but there can be no question that Robespierre’s story, embarrassing or no, is one of the foundation stones upon which modern France has been built. Nor can there be much doubt that an honest examination of democratic modernity’s problems entails a confrontation with Robespierre’s legacy.