In The Terror of Natural Right, Dan Edelstein argues that the
revolutionaries used the natural right concept of the “enemy of the
human race”—an individual who has transgressed the laws of nature and
must be executed without judicial formalities—to authorize
three-quarters of the deaths during the Terror. But the significance of
the natural right did not end with its legal application. Edelstein
argues that the Jacobins shared a political philosophy that he calls
“natural republicanism,” which assumed the natural state of society was
a republic and that natural right provided its only acceptable laws.
Ultimately, he argues that what we call the Terror was in fact only one
facet of the republican theory that prevailed from Louis’s trial until
the fall of Robespierre.