According to the Marxists online dictionary, the Girondins
were the representatives of the big bourgeoisie in the Convention of 1792-94, the Parliament set up to replace the monarchy. The Girondists were “the party of order,” vascillating between democratic measures and compromise with the Royalists….The Girondists were the party of orderly progress, sweetness and light the men who dreaded all violent, i.e., energetic measures[.] Such men, however well-intentioned they may be, must always in the long run become the tools of reaction from their timidity and hesitancy. The Girondists desired a doctrinaire republic, led by the professional middle-classes, the lawyers and literateurs….[they] favoured strictly middle-class republicanism, a timid and vacillating policy[.]
But the only admirable part in the description above, the non-violence, happens to be false. Even the article says some of them were active in the fighting of the revolution. But more to the point, their truly violent tendencies were directed outward. The following lecture is great in its entirety, but specifically beginning at about 23m, there’s a great description of the Girondins, who were
merchants, who were “in love with war,” believers in free trade and in “export[ing] revolution.” Then the lecturer quotes a fantastic passage against them by Robespiere:
The most extravagant idea that can arise in a politician’s head is to believe that it’s enough for a people to invade a foreign country, to make it adopt their laws and their constitution. No one loves armed missionaries. The Declaration of the Rights of Man is not a beam of sunlight that shines on all men, and it is not a lightning bolt which strikes every throne at the same time. I am far from claiming that our revolution will not influence the fate of the world, but I say that it will not be today.”
Familiar, n’est-ce pas?