Not-so-clandestine Conspirators: Jacobin Ideas of Secrecy and Property and their Legacies
By the French Revolution, the drive for transparency was a defining feature of the political culture. Conspiracies and the fear of conspiracies were common and widespread during and after the Revolution. This project examines one such conspiracy in the later years of the French Revolution and explores the political thought of its would-be conspirators. I focus on the writings of French revolutionaries Babeuf, Buonarroti, and those of their circle during and after what is known as the Babeuf Conspiracy, or the Conspiracy of the Equals in 1797. Though they had resorted to conspiracy to overthrow the government of the Directory, they nevertheless articulated an ideology that saw transparency and equality as the end goals. In my research thus far, I have found strong ties between the writings of the Babeuvistes and those of nineteenth-century utopian socialists. The Gustave Gimon Collection has a substantial number of sources by Blanqui and Proudhon, both of whom are intellectual descendants of those Jacobin conspirators. It is essential for my project to look deeper into their writings to better understand how they may have connected ideas about property with the new attitudes towards government transparency after the French Revolution, given the legacy of thinkers like Buonarroti.