Panel: Revolution

Organized by the Academy of Finland research project The Intellectual Heritage of Radical Cultural Conservatism (2013-2017).


2015 Symposium – Precious Moments and Extreme Events

August 11-13, 2015, Sibelius Museum, Turku, Finland

Panel: Revolution, Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Invited speaker:

  • Professor Peter Hallward (Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University, London): Continuing the Revolution: Jacobin Principles of Democracy


  • Janne Porttikivi (University of Jyväskylä)
  • Timo Pankakoski (University of Jyväskylä)

The Will of the People

Professor Hallward’s lecture focuses on the notion of the “will of the people”, generally identified during the French Revolution by the radical Jacobin faction of Maximilien Robespierre as the central locus of political sovereignty. This implied, for good or ill, a readiness to do everything necessary to overcome any resistance to such a will and to the principles of equality and freedom that its affirmation presumes. Arguments regarding this contested, shifting yet distinctive conception of democracy remain central to many of the most far-reaching debates about the legacy of the French Revolution. Drawing on the thought of Antonio Gramsci, Maximilien Robespierre and the great Robespierrist historian Albert Mathiez, along with some more recent thinkers, Professor Hallward assesses the main features of a broadly “Jacobin” conception of collective emancipation and popular empowerment – characterized by an emphasis on disciplined determination and perseverance – through a brief consideration of its characteristic approach to questions of legal principle, social conflict, political organisation, collective institutions, insurgent practice and revolutionary temporality.