Voltaire and his time
Voltaire is a man of the 18th century and of the Enlightenment, it is true, but he was born in the 17th century. Very attached to the freedom of trade and expression, he is also very conservative in political matters.
"Ecrasez l'infâme !" (Crush the horror !)
Through the episode of the caning, Voltaire understands that he will not be treated by the nobles as an equal. However, he will never become a revolutionary like Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He will try to become as powerful as possible, in his own way: by earning a lot of money, by advising princes, by influencing public opinion. But Voltaire’s indifference towards the structural injustices of the society of his time, gives way to an unquenchable anger when it comes to the Church and more generally to the fanaticism caused by the revealed religions. At the end of his letters, he often added “Ecr. l’inf. : Crush the horror, that is to say the religious fanaticism, the power of the Catholic Church. He remained convinced that to write is to act, and that he and his encyclopedist friends could destroy what twelve apostles had begun to build.
[source : conférence d’Henri Guillemin]