Robespierre, Hansen and Denialism

Once upon a time there was an organisation called “The Committee of Public Safety”. It was a bit like Orwell's later inventions of “The Ministry of Truth” and the “Ministry of Peace”. They were all the antithesis of what their name suggested.

The leader of the “The Committee of Public Safety” was a guy called Maximilien Robespierre. Robespierre rose to power during the French Revolution. During one year from 1793 though to 1794, the “Committee For Public Safety” executed/murdered somewhere between 40,000 and 200,000 people. (History Today Article Here)

Today the victims of the “Committee for Public Safety” are usually superficially presented as Toffs or Aristocrats. In fact the vast majority were just common folk who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Appalling as that is, it is very important to understand that Robespierre was not corrupt.

Robespierre neither sought money or privilege. Though he was driven by his revolutionary zeal to seek power he was to all affects and purposes, an honest man. (just like Hitler)

Robespierre was dedicated to his cause. In a bizarre way he was dedicated to the “Public Good”.

Nobody can challenge Robespierre's good intentions. Though we may all well remember what paves the Road to Hell.

Robespierre's good intentions did not prevent him from denouncing honest citizens or even his fellow revolutionaries when it suited his ends. 

During a period know as “The Terror” Robespierre sent close friends and political allies to the guillotine as well as thousands upon thousands of hapless citizens who were really only guilty of bad timing and political unfashionability. (Wikipedia on "The Terror" Here)

Today in France, Robespierre is a synonym for a disgusting, bigoted, paranoid spasm in French history. As well as a blinkered paranoid and failed doctrine.

In modern France, no statues exist to Robespierre. Nor should they.

So how does this relate to Jim Hansen or Global Warming or even Denialism?

I expect you know that Dr J. Hansen is a Scientist of major repute. I won't bother going into his achievements here (just Google the Guy) but I suppose I should 'fess up that generally speaking (with a few caveats) I adhere to his analysis and listen carefully to what he has to say.

Today in a Robspierre-like tirade in the Guardian, Hansen, along with 3 other heavy duty scientists are preposterously accused of being Deniers. (See Guardian Article Here)

Of course the term “Denier” is remisciscent of other labels pumped out by bigots. "Witch", "Heretic", “Jew”, “Sympathiser”, “Collaborator” all come to mind. In Robespierre-speak the de-rigeur term was “Anti-Revolutionary Traitor “.

Today we have not one Robspierre but many. Each one using their spiteful categorizations to inhibit discussion and debate. The latest tirade in the Guardian is but one of many.  "The Terror" of Robspierre's time is today mirrored in the intellectual terrorism of political correctness that seeks to deny a voice to our finest scientists.

Today highly experienced and world leading scientists (like Hansen, Wigley,Emanuel and Caldeira) suggest we should pragmatically pursue Nuclear Power to fight Global Warming and Atmospheric Pollution. In the eyes of the Guardian, that is their crime.

To label this illustrious group (or anyone) as “Deniers” because they support a viable way of avoiding a potential calamity is just a descent into the modern day version of “The Terror”.

Today in the likes of WWF or Greenpeace and especially the Guardian newspaper, Citizen Robespierre would be quite at home.

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