Some Remarks on the Origins of Absolute Leaders: The Jacobine Politician and his Role in the Political History

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Журнал: Social Evolution & History. Volume 5, Number 1 / March 2006 - подписаться на статьи журнала


Ideology is a comprehensive element for the idealist politician. It has been a field of claims and disputes that characterizes Modern European History of Thought. The theories of Francis Bacon (Barth 1961) and Rousseau gave birth to the basic points of ideologization of the political thought of the European History and that was an effect of the broader European philosophy that operated with the creation of integral and prefabricated forms. Since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) (Guerevich 1996), the world has shifted from a metaphysical to a cosmic frame and the creation of the political ideology in the European area was formed.

The ideologization of political life in modern societies starts from the actions of the Jacobin politician. This kind of ideologization has its historical origins in the European History of the 10th century. Consequently, we could take the Arcadia movement, the theories of Fr. Bacon and Rousseau and the political club, which created Homo Ideologicus as important points in the history of the origin of ideology, before Destutt de Tracy invented ideology as a term. The ideologist politician was characterized by messianic spirit and Manichaeism. On the contrary, the modern politician of globalizations has changed and he becomes an image-maker and a ‘manager-politician’, rejecting the salutary-rational way of thinking. He ideologizes words and he easily changes his opinion. The consecration from the West Civilization of subjectivity as an interpretative factor of the world, demands a critical explanation of the options of the European subject. This kind of interpretation explains the tendency of the European subject to invent utopist targets.


Because of this, the idealist politician emerges and has directed the steps of the European political societies from the 17th century onwards. These steps are propelled towards the purpose of salutary character. The idealist politician was self-defined as people's proper representative and as a leader in the match of historic integration. Finally he has become an idealist politician and a genuine son of ‘homo ideologicus1 and his perpetual continuer. He is the one who suggests the way to it. The sketch of the idealist politician brings in the face of the later politicians in Rousseau's ideas on politics. Roves pier himself accepted that Rousseau was able to lead humanity. Thus, political deontology is born, with a radical opposite meaning to the political deontology of the ancient Greek thought. The political economy cedes its place to the political sketch of a group of enlightened people who adjudicate on the causes and the genetic improvement of social justice. For a spiritual historic registration, the enlightened ‘general will’ is the same, as the other view of the same European coin, as the Crusades in Jerusalem. Jerusalem of Rousseau organically carries the ideotypes of Arcadia that continued until our century and constituted the base of his thought. The European continent then was the geographical origin of spiritual exportation to all continents, beyond sickness and germ (i.e. smallpox).

It did not take long for the theories of general will to take form. They were present in all political thought of that day by giving emphasis to their aversion to absolute methods and by affecting the masses.

The main advocate of this political joint is the Jacobin politician. Rousseau and the Jacobins had already expressed a strong polemic against British public life and its division, by identifying the basic cause with the parliamentary struggle of the parties ‘that harm the general good, divide the nation and express the interests on concrete groups’ (Kennedy 1982, 1988, 2000).


By means of the Jacobin politician the Machiavellic reality and the empiric attitude towards the general good and the idealizing messianic wish for the popular will are transformed. The thought of progress and evolution of the society in the enlightened elaborations contribute to the Jacobin's and Manichean discernments. The British empiric parliamentarianism also participates in the integral stream of political salvation, something that is indicated in the foundation of the clubs of Jacobins. With the Jacobins the authorized representatives, who are the base of the silent contract, are preferred for the sake of the unlimited authority of the people, and this indicates the utopist hallucination of the original unity of popular will.

The Jacobins formed a club, as long as it operated since the 16th century in England as a spiritual and recreational center. That was the result of the free time available in the industrial city. These types of incorporations, as a consequence of the broader problematization, turned to various places of social self-expression and self-purpose, something necessary for the consciences of transitive periods. An inclination of these incorporations will turn to the study of social balance and will form the first steps towards these utopist and social streams. The club of Jacobins, following the operational model of ‘clubs of the revolution of London’ accepted, as its subscriber, every person who paid in cash, from the first years of its moderate political direction. Its radical change succeeds with the split-up of some of its members and the creation of the ‘club of Fyllianoi’. Then the club of Jacobins becomes a ‘company of friends of democracy’ at the time of the Manager's Office and as a ‘company of the friends of freedom and equality’ later until its closing in 1799.

Its purpose was a discussion and insuring of the voting of motions for the national Assembly. The strangest thing was that their enormous power was not their effect on the masses of Paris, but a well-organized network in the provinces. In 1794 about 2000 organizations were joined with the Jacobins, although their organized members represented only 8,3 % of the active voters. From its texts sent to the organizations in the provinces Robespierre emerged.

So, the field of the development of ideas was fertile. The club of Jacobins expressed the basic ideological policy that starts from the acceptance of the possibility of causes of revolutionary changes, embracing as the way and method of thought this Homo Ideologicus insured. Saint Just claimed that ‘you can't feel pity for the enemies of the revolution. Moderation is harmful’ (Just 1999). The theoretical armory of the Jacobins is mainly circumcised in the collective will of Rousseau, in the frame of the tradition from the 16th century in England, originally for the diminution of central authority with the base of a strategic messianism. In the Jacobin's vocabulary this messianism is considered as a mediation and takes the sense of substitution. Thesubstitution is translated and is an equivalent to the existence of the ‘real’ popular will. So, since it is impossible practical for the sovereign and unlimited popular body to rule, the Jacobin politician becomes the agent of this rule.

Indivisible from the idealists ‘mentalists’ with his prosche-matic program of theoretical pressing he proposes as his will the highest of the popular sovereignty. Indeed, concentration excludes popular control in the group of self-believed (αυτοθεωρούμενων) ideal high-commissioner of the popular interest. Jacobin defines the real needs of the popular body and its will. In its complex aghast for the ideal schedule the rationalist of this schedule determination it traps him in the intellectual frame of an inflexible Manichean form. It directs his actions and his thought, while objective quantitative restoration of the popular sovereignty releases him from the consequences. So, relieved from possible remorse and responsibilities of actions of the moment and of the reality of the present he does not find difficulties to import the terms of the ‘last treason’ of the ‘enemy of the people’ the ‘internal enemy’ surrounding them with a mythical content. His persistence, not simply to interpret the world, but to remake it, first in his imagination and then in action, brings him to the participation in acting in radical sections in the European world: Declaration of the Human Rights and the Citizens, radical constitution of 1793, dynamic activity of the national army, immediate state, de-Christianization etc. Their historic duty does not forbid him, in the base of topical committees, to send to execution or exile about 35 in the first case and 300 people in the other, so that the tangible plums of the people to be enforced. The idealist politician is animated of the vision for the creation of a new civitas, a new civilization, of the creation finally of a new type of mankind. As an enlightened botisatva he makes his mission mythical and consolidates the integral tradition to the European political life.

Finally he incorporates the form of the violent adolescent of Homo Ideologicus. The causes of the genetic process of the manifestation of the ideology are successful and active. Ideology helps as a medium for the expression of the social conscience, with the help of the Jacobin politician. His subjective purpose is based on the strained acceptance (on behalf) of the social (subject-persons) of the successful total-creative fabrications. The possible failure of his theoretical model is not based on his mistaken ideas, but on mistaken applications of his offered plan. The integral failure is not due to the political designers. The failure of the Jacobin model does not mean, therefore, for a great part of the social conscience, the rejection of those creations and of the total way of its thinking and its existence.


The persona of the Homo Ideologicus is not unfixed from the horizon of politics. Nobody can unsling the horizon of theoretical visions that give an overall sociopolitical theory. The political super ego is not a chimera in the European political thought. It is a replacement of the form. However, this was a change in European thought in the standards of the dynamic of relations in each time, according to the absolute powers of the Holy Alliance. The experience in politics was identified in the political thought of Europe as a part of conservation. So the character/mentality of European identity is encaged in the dialectic of revolution and regime (status quo), in which they both complement each other in a determinist way.

In this trial from the end of the 10th century, ideology has the highest percentage of the conscience, putting aside other mechanisms of operation of the latter. The progress of ideology as such was ascendant in the dissension of the conscience. The Jacobin station delivered the sponge to blot out the political board of the empiric perception. The empiric politics operated, though in the long hallucinated frames of the formatted ideological work. The Jacobin politician molds ideology and produces ways for its application. He is the organic continuation of the Calvinist by de-Christianizing him. He also consolidates the idealist politician and paves the way for the word ideology to flourish.

The embranglement with the Jacobins, and the others who acted in a non-ideological way as to inter-ideological mechanism, did not weaken even though there was a fair reaction and ideology ended in an expostulatory ideal. So the elaboration of Condillac and Desttut de Tracy were derived from Napoleon's realism – temporarily, though. Ideology, the ‘black metaphysics’ for Napoleon, was compared to the ‘knowledge of the heart and the lessons of history’. Ideology always unrolled, mostly in the starting complexities of praxiology. The idea acceded irrevocably in the area of perception. The separation of these two, as was accented by Spinoza(Spinoza 1977), and as a result he faced eternity as a necessity. The critique of the ideological reality in a Manichean way, regarding the ideological mechanisms, come to a new ideology.

This base-ideologization was written tangibly in the theories for the highest degree and purity of the nation expressions of the conservative ideology properly until the middle of the 20th century, as it was called, and also in existingunordered applications, expressions of radicalism, as they were called. The following criticism suggested models of true knowledge and so it was re-encircled in the inter-ideological reconstruction. The bearer of the ideologization was the idealist politician who, suppressed by the open community, wants to rest assured and to secure his immobility. The idealist politician of the 20th century, the incorruptible Robespierre, hesitates between firm moral character and rigid dogmatism. His incompatible character does not become moderate not even in front of ‘seasickness of the guillotine’. His persistence inspires at the same time admiration and fear of the idealist man. This dual division and the disappointment from the vanity of his attempts lead him to abnormal psychic conditions. From the end of the 10th century until the Jacobin politician, we shall follow the genetic movements for the establishment of ideology as such. There is no citizen, in the 20th century, without his own ideology.


The stream of criticism of ideology, as it was engraved from Napoleon, took concrete directions. Kant's theory for the Idea as a picture of the world entered a priori a critical point of view. Ideology was approached by Marx as a ‘false conscience’ and so paved the way for criticism as logic of the prejudice (Logic des Vorurteils). Mannheim observed that ‘the study of ideologies, as its duty to take away the mask from the more or less conscious cheats and disguises of the groups of people's interests’ (Mannheim 1972). The modern investigations and analysis concerning ideology have stamped its serious meaning in the relation of formation of the scientific truth and social reality. The relations between knowledge and society suggest a multiform dynamic that can be examined from a historic point of view.

From the social point of view, ideology seems a way of regularization of sovereign groups in the level of symbolic systems, of production of dignities and ecumenical perceptions. It is not easy for the social observer to escape from it, since the same selections are elected. For Weber ideology continues to be a blind adherence to a theory in spite of the experimental data-facts, and thus it is a cosmic form of theology. Adorno noticed the necessity of criticism of the ideology, because it is a way to check the ideological distortion. For him, the criticism of ethical ideas goes beyond epistemology, but becomes indispensable, because then the ‘ideological suspicion’ and the ‘ideological revelation’ that are necessary forms of political-social comparisons are succeeded. Althusser, in interpreting Marx, claimed that every scientific reproduction of the reality adds to its de-ideologization. The combination of the thought of Nietzsche and the psychology of Freud in the starting point of post-modern relativism formed the thought that the idea of meaning as such suggests a positivist self-deceit. Thus the epistemological separation of truth –and falsity is removed and there emerges the idea of the historic ‘end of ideology’ by the American sociologist Daniel Bell, in the decade of 1960. He and R. Aron formulated the firm belief that the grand ideologies of the second half of the 20th century, liberalism and socialism, will converge in the base of the solution of the problems that were placed by the modern societies. English empirism in political science and the premature post-modern relativism of the newly philology of the ‘endism’ (telos) predicted probably the strong de-ideologization of the 20th century. Under the influence of both realistic tendencies and analytic methods, T. S. Kuhn, in investigating the basis of the scientific revolutions, pointed out the great significance of ideology in the formation of even scientific theories. According to Hayek, the human situation characterizes the ignorance and not the knowledge and therefore people are the objects of action and not the subjects and for Popper the dream of people for paradise can not be realized for the earth, and thus ‘endism’ develops dynamically. The ‘tyranny of the majority of votes’ of A. Bloom suggests the indenting to a part of the thought, ideology and religion (Furedy 1992). Ricoeur (and J. B. Thomson, who adopts his ideas and attempts to associate his own hermeneutical theory with the critical theory of Habermas, in order to form a ‘philosophy of social sciences’ [Thomson 1988]) recognizes in ideology a positive and a negative nature, positive regarding the connecting web that it gives to society, since it makes a collective identity and has as its purpose the reproduction of the group. It is negative regarding the inability of every potential reorientation of the group, by means of the perpetuation of the present system of sovereignty, when it leads to a formed and cupboard interpretation of reality. This point of view is clearly placed in the Manichean model of development of the western thought, since the desirable de-ideologization, which is desirable for all the interpreters of ideology, does not mean at the same time and necessarily an inability to construct a collective identity.

The realpolitik and its spirit are mainly placed in the spirit of the critical attitude. This attitude was soon to be adopted by specific streams of elastic and flexible politics that covered the so-called conservative place. In this contributed the logic of inter-ideological comparison, from the Jacobinian standard onwards, of the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ wing. In 1926 M. Oakseshoot, in the British empiric spirit, follows Napoleon's shades when saying that ideology (politics) tends to be an abstract beginning that helps in the propulsion of the activity for the accession in the social order of a schematic purpose that must be pursued (Oakseshoot 1926). The consequences (from cubism and the theory of relativity, until it was disputed in 1968) from demythologization of the Enlightenment strengthened ideological criticism.They turned towards discussions on the end of ideology but this ideology was not characterized by a clear critical spirit. With the break-through in the system of ‘actually existing socialism’, as well as the crisis of oil, the criticism of ideology was boosted. The concomitant ‘end of the ideo-logy’, as mentioned above (E. Shills, D. Bell, M. Lipset, M. Grinberg), coexisted with renewed attitudes for the end of history, which, from Hegel's philosophic integration, reaches the thought of Fykuyama(Anderson 1992). The attitudes towards the ontology of ideology remain so open as societies and the discussions about it. Attitudes for ‘closed’ and ‘open’ ideologies allow for the instrumental character of permanent revision of ideologies. So they prefix the politics as the rational pursuit of interest and private property, according to the tradition of Hobbes and Locke. Elsewhere they are looking for alterations of visions for the creation of a new type of man. New ideologists, new Tracy, new Cabanis, Varnai, Gara and Donou, stand in the first rank. Elsewhere ideology, as a limited kind of distortion, without exhausting the whole horizon of mistakes, is a falsified and false kind of human knowledge.


If the end of the 20th century can be a station and if we ask to see the position of ideology from its seminal roots until its highest moment (at about the middle of the 20th century) and its descending points (at the end of the same century) we could ask ourselves if it is fair to talk about the after-ideological man. It is said that while the schema of the nation-state characterized the 19th century, ideology deplores the man of the 20th century. Ideology, a section of determinate ideology-types, claims its peculiarity in the increasing section of social conscience and knowledge in relation to the political administration. Political reformation reasonably re-investigates the way of its existence. As a system of realistic and regulative convictions, it is expressed in other spheres of simplification of the social – politician choices of persons. Following in corporation, during chronological periods and geographic places, the way of changing beliefs and their correlating we can assume the relation of ideology with other relative manifestations. It forms an empirical method waiting for its march. National divisions in north Balkan and the separationist movements in East Europe, as well as some slow opposite movements of federalization of the rest of Europe, constitute, along with the American universality of the market and the multiplex pursuit from the rest of the world of the liberal jump to freedom (Sprung in der Freiheit), the contemporary scenic. This picture is completed by an immigration stream and the increase of the population, as well as the increasing of the differences of the so-called first world from the third one or the economic differences among the people. Many people demand that the after-ideological man be an equivalent to the social man.

The apparently mass democracy (television-democracy), free of the economical distribution, wanders for a surrounding revolution, following the industrial and after-industrial ones, beginning probably from the re-formation of genetic material. The multi-selectionism of modernity, especially with the after-Ford models of flexible specialization in production, includes its ideology in the remainder archaic and developing form. In these alternations, ideology, which is in general unable to adjust completely to the perception of the unwilling consequences and the dynamic occasionality of the ‘open’ action, seems to retreat in front of the primacy of Homo Ideologicus. It is hanging over the national fold and is going with, maybe, the discussions for the future of the nation. Nevertheless the revolutionary combinations of topical and universal, national and multinational, their various ways of their interpretations recompose, but clearly limit, the phenomenon of ideology. From the macro-historic point of view, in the spiral inclination of history, new ideological schemas with common ideotypical characteristics appear and always alter. Their form and their intensity depend on the truth that every social totality attains for itself. And each social totality succeeds potentially in its self-regulation to the degree of readiness for the apperceptions of the new. Ideology operates for the European formation of conscience as a consolation and consequently as a purpose of life. The deficiency in social justice, especially during the times of transition from tranquillity to intensity and inversely of political freedom or everyday safety, exalts the necessity of the existence of social justice. If the difference in income among the rich and the poor in the 19th century was in the ratio 3 to 1 and in 2000 – it was 60 to 1, in these frames, ideo-logy as a mythical form creates fancy pictures and is reproduced as a solution to these sufferings. And if there are more telephone sets in Manhattan than in Africa, ideologies of social overthrow and fear of social disorder skulk unceasingly.

Ideology, as a kind of intellectual relation, contains variables, because it is experienced in the space of the immediate contact and in the feelings of superiority and deficiency of its participants. Its mechanisms, safely formulated, will fail to be realized. In connecting its image of progress (as in Condorcet) with that of its circular optic of history in their equivalence, we could place ideology in broader ideotypical mechanisms. In the first part of the treatise we followed the unfolding of the ideotypical mechanisms and their inclination towards the liberal origin of ideology. We attempted to restore, under the veil of a critical approach that in general its weaknesses and thus to argue that it is only justified to pursue emancipation from ideological authorities.


Is the after-ideological man of the new millennium searching for his new ideology? Will this be the ‘clash of civilizations’ (Hantington), the end of history (Fukuyama)? Or does globalization emerge as a new ‘password’ and is the opposite camp of the theories of Hantington and Fukuyama?

The ideologist ‘incorrupt’ politician who ‘took life seriously’, the fanatic Jacobin, gives his place to the politician-manager, who is surrounded by special image makers and sets himself in the television networks. The new ideology must always renew. The excellent public relations, the continuous presence in television ‘windows’, the authentic smile of the politician, all these comprise his contemporary ideological arming. The new politician seems to decline every vision in itself and is able, without moral demur, to absolutely turn his face from his initial positions. Thus he follows Bonapartism and its critical attitude towards the idealists of the French Revolution. Surely in an inverse progress its vocabulary is staffed by a potential ideological arsenal and it becomes very strong, maybe stronger than that of the Jacobin politician.

For the new politician of globalization, more and more words become ideological, they become myths and their definition swings in its symbolic appearances. The progress of globalization and its relation to ideology and politics is open in the future. Every abstract thought tends to be ideological from the ‘politician manager’. Surely its definition, when it must be given, is broad enough, so as to change easily and to be adapted proportionately. And it is not by chance that in this netting the legislative power permanently reduces granting field of action to the technocratic acceptation of short-termed administrative results of the executive power. In such a climate, the economical oligarchy is favored, which, by exploiting the depoliticization of the masses, makes the mass media ideological, produce the information, the lack of criticism – probably democracy itself, by transforming them in a ‘television democracy of agreement or disagreement’ in the offered premanu-factured models. But here we should examine whether globalization and the New Economy that patrons it has been destroyed by the organic roots of the western civilization. These roots are in the way of thinking and existence of the contemporary man in developed societies. Western civilization established subjectivity as the factor of action and interpretation of the world and cut itself off the ancient Greek civilization, on which it was based. While the ancient Greek civilization had as a kernel the man as a whole, the Western one placed the individual in the center of the world.

Thus, the question for the progress of ideology and the western thought in the new millenium goes flagrantly together with the critical interpretation and the philosophical choices of the individual. Its Manichaeism and its tendency probably appoint incomprehensibly the utopist targets (mythes sociaux according to Sorel) and must be examined seriously by criticizing knowledge and the philosophy of history. The critical investigation of the European individual will pave the ways that probably elucidate culture and the rational choices of the western world.


Let us draw some conclusions.

1) we can say that the political origins of the absolute leaders are in the thought of the Jacobine Politician;

2) the Jacobine Politician is a historical result of the Arcadia Movement and the Calvinism thought in the Western European History;

3) we can say that the common point of these origins is the Homo Ideologicus;

4) in the level of Ideology we can find common points between the Jacobine Politician and the politician of globalization;

5) here we need help from the criticism of ideology on the 20th century;

6) the after-ideological man has the same targets with the Jacobine Politician in the level of ideology, although he prefers to give ideological meaning to the worlds.


1 The term Homo Ideologicus is drawing up from the seminar lessons of the Professor of History G. Leondaritis that concerns ideology during the year 1993–1994 in the lesson ‘Nationalism’ in the University of Athens.


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