Friday, January 17, 2020 - 9:30am to 11:00am
About the presentation: The French Revolution is often taken to exemplify the disastrous effects of the unrestrained love of equality over freedom. I challenge this view and show how republican revolutionaries as different as Robespierre, and Condorcet and Sophie de Grouchy thought about equality not as a trade-off with freedom, but rather as its condition of possibility. Both the Jacobin and the moderate reflections on the question led them to theorize the role of popular sovereignty, the political inclusion of women and the minoritized as well as the economic and educational policies required for political freedom to be effective. While both proposals failed for different reasons, they started the transformation of the old ideal of republicanism in France into a democratic theory polarized between radical and liberal camps. I conclude that the Revolution shows how, far from becoming its own independent goal, the love of equality becomes a device to consolidate freedom in both the radical and liberal theories of republican democracy.
About the presenter: Geneviève Rousselière is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University.