'The people must act without thinking. "It is essential that they should first commit acts which would prevent any retreat." Only then could they be tied irrevocably to the revolutionary leadership.'
Babeuf's blueprint (1796) for future revolutionaries underlines how the first insurrectionists - Robespierre and Marat - were not men of the proletariat but of bourgeois or declasse background. For it was they - and men of their ilk later - who provided the direction, the intelligence, and the unlimited dedication required by the peoples' causes they espoused.
Mr. Fishman describes, first, the lives, ideologies and influence of Marat and Robespierre; of Babeuf and Buonarroti ('the first professional revolutionist'); and of Blanqui, that tireless advocate of student-worker cooperation in immediate and violent action, who greatly influenced Marx. He traces also the continuity of ideas between these men individually and, more important, between them and Lenin; and in so doing he explores the growth of Revolutionary Socialism from the French Revolution to its first and greatest triumph in the Russian Revolution.
Finally it could be inferred that it is partly due to the influence of these men that today, especially on university campuses, the structure of contemporary society is being challenged.