French revolution Essay

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French revolution Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 2168

  • Pages: 9

French revolution

Before the French Revolution, France was ruled and governed by the king, his Grand Council of ministers, and 13 courts called parliaments. King Louis XVI ruled by “divine right,” believing that he had been put on the throne by the grace of God. France then was one of the most powerful and wealthiest countries, and had a strong army, and even stronger cultural influence. (Plain, 5) Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were shielded from the daily lives of the ordinary people in France. When Louis XVI inherited the throne in 1774, he also inherited many problems left behind by the previous king, King Louis XV. The country had been involved in the Seven Years War, also known as the French and Indian War, and was left with many debts of the war.

France was divided into three groups, or estates with their own status and role to play in the country. The First Estate involved religious people in the country. The Second Estate involved all the nobles. These two estates had many privileges, and were the wealthiest group, but were only a small piece of the entire population. The Third Estate was everyone else in the country: the peasants, poor city dwellers, and the “middle class”. The Third Estate was the largest group, and had little to no power, even though it was the largest group. (Connolly, 8) In order to pay off national debts, Louis XVI increased taxes in the Third Estate, which impacted many of their lives. Because of the taxes, industry started to lag, and there were bread shortages in many places. People of the Third Estate relied on bread as their primary source of food, and when the bread ran out or the price increased, many people went hungry and riots broke out. (Plain, 19) Louis XVI shocked many people when he declared war against the British, even though they were already in massive debt because of the Seven Year’s War. King Louis XVI wanted to increase trade with America, and wanted revenge against the British for beating them in the Seven Year’s war. After the American Revolution, many Parisians were fascinated by Benjamin Franklin, the American Ambassador to France. Franklin told of the new American Republic, where representatives obeyed the will of the people. Talk about similar change spread through France.

Louis XVI tried to make reforms by ending the corvée in many provinces, and outlawed the use of torture to gain information. He also granted more rights to Protestants and Jews living in France, and allowed more freedom of press. However, it was becoming harder and harder to govern with a stubborn parliament. In order to pay off debts, Louis tried to impose a tax on all landowners, not just the Third Estate. The parliament of Paris claimed that only a special assembly could approve a tax, an assembly that hasn’t been called in over 170 years, the Estates-General. (French Revolution², 2) The Estates-General was an assembly where representatives of the three Estates could discuss what to do. Through May and into June 1789, the representatives argued about how many votes each Estate should have. The First and Second Estates bent the rules to their advantage, saying that each Estate should have only one vote, ensuring that they would win any conflict two to one. The Third Estate wanted a system of majority votes, since it would give it the most say. On Jun 17, the Third Estate broke away and declared itself the National Assembly, which was a direct offence to the people in power, including King Louis XVI. (Connolly,12)

The National Assembly created a new law that gave only it the power to decide on taxes. Louis XVI banned the National Assembly from its meeting hall upon hearing this. However, on June 20, 1789, the National Assembly responded by moving to the Versailles tennis court across the street and swore the “Tennis Court Oath.” The representatives swore that they would not break apart until they had drafted a constitution for the people of France, guaranteeing rights to the French people. Many lower-ranking clergy and a number of nobles broke away from the First and Second Estates to join the National Assembly. Louis feared the combined strength of this group, and could see that people were rising up against him. (Connolly, 14) In order to show the French his power, Louis hired foreign soldiers to go to Versailles and Paris, and fired the popular minister Jacques Necker. However, with the public and numbers from the other two Estates on its side, the Third Estate stood strong. The king, not wanting an outright revolt, ordered the representatives from the First and Second Estates to join the National Assembly to show that he accepted the change in mood, which then changed its name to the National Constituent Assembly.

The French people wanted complete victory for the representatives of the Third Estate. They were mad that the king brought foreign soldiers in to France and fired Jacques Necker. On July 12, 1789, full scale rioting began, with symbols of the king’s power the main targets. Crowds of people gathered at the Hôtel Invalides, the place where the army stored their guns, and demanded arms to fight with. They rioters were able to get about thirty-thousand muskets and several cannons. However, they obtained very little gunpowder and few bullets. Upon hearing that the gunpowder and ammunition have been moved to the fortified prison, the Bastille, for safekeeping, thousands of people went to swarm the Bastille. The Bastille was originally built as a fortress, with walls five feet thick, but was now used as a political prison, but held very few prisoners. The crowd attacked shortly after noon on July 14, and Bernard de Launey, the man in command at the Bastille, agreed to surrender to the crowd if he was not harmed. But, the crowds took Launey prisoner, and soon after cut off his head and mounted it on a pike. (Corzine, 44-46) When Louis XVI was informed of the fall of the Bastille, he exclaimed, “But, this is a revolt!” The official who informed him told him, “No, Sire. It is a revolution.” (Plain, 29)

In August, the National Assembly wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, influenced by America’s Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen called for political power to be shared by every individual, for the right of religious freedom, and the rule of law. (Plain, 30) On October 5, 1789, thousands of women gathered at the city hall in Paris demanding bread. They disarmed guards and collected weapons and set out to Versailles to see the king. Along the way, a number of men and women joined them armed with scythes, heavy sticks, pikes, pitchforks, and knives. After the king was led back to Paris, he was literally held under house-arrest as a hostage. Louis XVI was convinced by his advisors and the queen to flee Paris and the entire royal family fled under the cover of the night. Many deputies feared that, with the king gone, foreign armies could invade France. The family’s flight was thwarted when they were recognized, and were led back to Paris as a prisoner in disgrace, and to many, a traitor. (Corzine, 63-65)

By August 30, 1792, France was in a state of terror. The stronghold of Verdun was under siege by the Duke of Brunswick’s armies, which would give the enemy an open road to Paris if it fell. On September 2, news reached Paris that Verdun had fallen. On that September afternoon, terrible massacres occurred. Priests were dragged from their coaches and killed. Mobs stormed the Carmes prison and killed the priests imprisoned there. They were brought to a mock trial, and then executed. The killings lasted for five days, and over fourteen hundred people were killed. Nearly all the prisons in Paris were attacked and the prisoners murdered. (Corsine, 79-81)

By 1792, members of the Jacobin club had taken control. The Assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia, but were easily defeated. As the enemy armies marched towards Paris, the people panicked. On August 10, about twenty thousand French revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries palace, forcing the royal family to flee. By then, many of the Revolution’s former leaders had left the country. In September, the French army defeated the Prussians. The National Assembly then voted and renamed itself the National Convention, which adopted the slogan Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. The Convention then immediately abolished monarchy, and, on January 15, 1793, the Convention found the king guilty of “conspiring against liberty.” The king was escorted to the guillotine on January 20, 1793, and was quickly executed, becoming a symbol of the Revolution. (Connolly, 32)

Following the death of Louis XVI, France was waging war with nearly every European power, including England, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, and Prussia. There was also a small civil war in France, with the Royalists and the pro-Church people against the Revolutionaries. To help France through the war, the National Convention created the Committee of Public Safety, led by Maximilien Robespierre, the leader of the Jacobin Club of Paris. Robespierre stressed the need for a center of opinion and was enemies with many members of the Convention. The Committee of Public Safety tried to de-Christianize France, and created a completely new calendar. The Committee of Public Safety soon led the country into what is now known as the Reign of Terror. During the Reign of Terror, possible enemies of the Revolution were executed. Over sixteen thousand people from all classes were sent to the guillotine, and flags now had the phrase Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death! But, in July 1794, Robespierre was sentenced to the guillotine, and his followers followed swiftly. (Plain, 35-38)

The National Committee created a constitution that gave power to a five-member Directory, and two legislative bodies. The Directory had serious problems it had to face, such as supplying France with food and goods. Much of France’s population was starving. A little-known officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, supported the Directory and was able to help France in times of need. Several politicians overthrew the Directory on November 9, 1799, and created a new constitution which supposedly gave power to the Consulate, but actually gave all the real power to the First Consulate, which Napoleon Bonaparte was elected into. (Connolly, 44-45)

Napoleon Bonaparte established the Bank of France, strengthened the school system, made government jobs, and established a code of justice known as the Napoleonic code. France also conquered many European countries, and by 1806, France controlled much of Western Europe. Napoleon soon became more and more powerful. He changed the constitution in order to give himself even more power, and declared himself Emperor of France soon after. The French believed that their lives were better under Napoleon, even though this was not the ideas of the Revolution.

The French Revolution and the American Revolution were similar and different in many ways. The American’s wanted to break away from Great Britain, while France just wanted to get rid of the monarchy. During periods in the French Revolution, over seventeen thousand people were sent to the guillotine to be beheaded. During the war, America had France and Spain on its side and was against only Great Britain. France, however, was on its own, and had to fight against five countries. The French sent the king and queen of France to the Guillotine, but the Americans did not harm physically harm the royal family in any way. After the war, America had two forms of government. One was the Articles of Confederation, which gave too much power to the states, and another one was the Constitution of the United States. The French had four forms of government. The first was the National Assembly, the second was the Committee of Public Safety, the third was the Directory, and the fourth was the Consulate. For the French, their lives were better after the Revolution and once Napoleon was the First Consulate. The French Revolution was truly a revolution.

The French Revolution was a real revolution because there are political changes, social changes, and economical changes. After the war, the French have overthrown the monarchy, and replaced it with the Directory. However, the Directory then fails, and is replaced with the Consulate. The people’s lives improved after the Revolution. The school system was better, and there were more jobs for people who could qualify. Napoleon established the Bank of France and improved the economy. Napoleon had improved the areas of education, justice, and business after the war, making the French Revolution a real revolution.

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French Revolution Essay

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French Revolution Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1095

  • Pages: 4

French Revolution

The French Revolution was a very important series of events for all of French history, making a big impact on all the lives of past and present French citizens. There was no one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal cruelty and taxing, public revenues and public debt mismanagement contributed to a French society that was on the edge of revolt. The French Revolution, the revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799, reached its first climax there in 1789. After taking notice of the falling economy in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI, very self-centered, thought his authority to rule came from god himself. He brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury. Each advisor reached the same conclusion, that France needed a large change in the way it taxed the public, and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out. Eventually the king realized that this taxation issue really did need to be solved so he appointed a new controller general of finance.

The new general of finance suggested instead of taxing the poor, tax the ones that would be able to pay, the nobility, the ones that were exempt from paying taxes before. The nobility refused. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent. The French Revolution was a very important series of events for all of French history, making a big impact on all the lives of past and present French citizens. There was no one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal cruelty and taxing, public revenues and public debt mismanagement contributed to a French society that was on the edge of revolt. The French Revolution, the revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799, reached its first climax there in 1789. After taking notice of the falling economy in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI, very self-centered, thought his authority to rule came from god himself. He brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury.

Each advisor reached the same conclusion, that France needed a large change in the way it taxed the public, and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out. Eventually the king realized that this taxation issue really did need to be solved so he appointed a new controller general of finance. The new general of finance suggested instead of taxing the poor, tax the ones that would be able to pay, the nobility, the ones that were exempt from paying taxes before. The nobility refused. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent.

The French Revolution was a very important series of events for all of French history, making a big impact on all the lives of past and present French citizens. There was no one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal cruelty and taxing, public revenues and public debt mismanagement contributed to a French society that was on the edge of revolt. The French Revolution, the revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799, reached its first climax there in 1789. After taking notice of the falling economy in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI, very self-centered, thought his authority to rule came from god himself. He brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury. Each advisor reached the same conclusion, that France needed a large change in the way it taxed the public, and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out.

Eventually the king realized that this taxation issue really did need to be solved so he appointed a new controller general of finance. The new general of finance suggested instead of taxing the poor, tax the ones that would be able to pay, the nobility, the ones that were exempt from paying taxes before. The nobility refused. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent. The French Revolution was a very important series of events for all of French history, making a big impact on all the lives of past and present French citizens. There was no one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal cruelty and taxing, public revenues and public debt mismanagement contributed to a French society that was on the edge of revolt. The French Revolution, the revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799, reached its first climax there in 1789.

After taking notice of the falling economy in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI, very self-centered, thought his authority to rule came from god himself. He brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury. Each advisor reached the same conclusion, that France needed a large change in the way it taxed the public, and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out. Eventually the king realized that this taxation issue really did need to be solved so he appointed a new controller general of finance. The new general of finance suggested instead of taxing the poor, tax the ones that would be able to pay, the nobility, the ones that were exempt from paying taxes before. The nobility refused. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent.

The French Revolution was a very important series of events for all of French history, making a big impact on all the lives of past and present French citizens. There was no one factor was directly responsible for the French Revolution. Years of feudal cruelty and taxing, public revenues and public debt mismanagement contributed to a French society that was on the edge of revolt. The French Revolution, the revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799, reached its first climax there in 1789. After taking notice of the falling economy in the late 1700s, King Louis XVI, very self-centered, thought his authority to rule came from god himself. He brought in a number of financial advisors to review the weakened French treasury.

Each advisor reached the same conclusion, that France needed a large change in the way it taxed the public, and each advisor was, in turn, kicked out. Eventually the king realized that this taxation issue really did need to be solved so he appointed a new controller general of finance. The new general of finance suggested instead of taxing the poor, tax the ones that would be able to pay, the nobility, the ones that were exempt from paying taxes before. The nobility refused. Financial ruin thus seemed imminent.

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French Revolution Essay

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French Revolution Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 499

  • Pages: 2

French Revolution

The three most important causes of the French Revolution were the demands of the middle classes, taxation, and the American Revolution. The French Revolution of 1789 had many causes. Political, social, and economic circumstances in France made the French malcontent. The thoughts of the Enlightment thinkers brought new views of regime and humanity. The American Revolution also influenced the people to ignite their revolution of 1789. One important cause of the French Revolution was the demands of the middle class.

As stated in document 3 the middle class had lists of grievances kept in their “cahiers. ” As stated in the document, “That the taille be borne equally by all classes. ” This means that the taxes should be put on every class instead of just one class being heavily taxed. This is important because the king declined the idea in results of majority rule between the clergy, nobles, and the middle class. The king had declined the idea because the clergy and nobles had won a vote whether or not the first class and second class should also be taxed.

Louis XVI asked one person from each class if all classes should be taxed. The vote was 2 to 1 the middle class was furious due to this. Another cause of the French Revolution was the heavy taxation by the king. In document 1 an author known as Arthur Young had traveled to France during 1787 to 1789. Upon his travel he was joined by an unfortunate who complained of the hard times. She said “The tailles and feudal dues are crushing us. ” This means that the taxes and the rents owed to the lords were depriving them from everything.

The people living in poverty couldn’t afford to support themselves or their families due to the heavy taxation. On October a mob of poor women marched on the Palace of Versailles to complaining about lack of bread and taxation. The third cause of the revolution was the influence of the American Revolution. As stated in document 5 “The spark that changed thought into action was supplied by the Declaration of American Independence, the American example caused the Revolution to break out. ” This meant that what ignited the revolution was the American Revolution.

This important because it showed the French were greatly influenced to receive a change; if the Americans can do it they could as well were their attitudes. It’s the cause of all these dreadful variables that made them revolt. On July 14, 1789 the revolutionaries stormed the fortress and prison known as the Bastille. In conclusion the three most important causes of the Revolution were the American Revolution, the demands of the middle class, and the heavy taxation. Political, social, and economic also were problems in France. What also contributed to the revolt were the ideas of Enlightment thinkers.

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  • University/College:
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  • Words: 3681

  • Pages: 15

French Revolution

Modernity by itself is a very abstract concept which can be associated with all new experiences in history. It is largely temporal because what is modern today is the old or obsolete tomorrow. Modernity is said to be a logic of negation because it tends to give importance to the present over the past, and at the same time also frowns over the present with respect to the future.

From a purely historical perspective however, the society which evolved in Europe after the French Revolution of 1789 can be termed as modern in so much so that there is a marked difference or break in the way of thinking, living and enterprise between the societies after and before the French Revolution. The evolution of the modern society was not a process that happened overnight. The roots of the modern society and its gradual evolution can be traced back to the beginning of the eighteenth century.

In fact the period from that point in history to the French Revolution is termed as the period of intellectual Enlightenment when there was a radical change in philosophy, science, politics, arts and culture. It was on these new forms of knowledge that the foundation of the modern society or modernity was based. Defining the Traditional Many scholars have tried to analyze the basic or instinctive nature of human beings in attempts to track back how modernity could have affected the core individual.

In his book Leviathan, Hobbes deduced that in an environment uninfluenced by artificial systems or in a ‘state of nature’ human beings would be war like and violent, and their lives would consequently be solitary, poor, brutish and short. Rousseau however contradicts Hobbes. He claims that humans are essentially benevolent by nature. He believed in the ‘noble savage’ or the concept that devoid of civilization human beings are essentially peaceful and egalitarian and live in harmony with the environment – an idea associated with Romanticism.

Human beings have however lived in communities and formed societies since the very early ages. In what is now known as the ancient world or the world of classical pagan antiquity typical of the societies of Greece and Rome, the concept of the ‘new’ or ‘change’ was absent. Time, like the seasons, was supposed to move in cyclical order, repeating itself with regularity cycle after cycle with nothing new or changed to break away from the established order. The people were steeped in more superstitious and religious beliefs which ruled almost every aspect of their lives.

Christianity brought about changes in the belief systems of the ancient world. Christianity postulated that time was linear, that it began from the birth of Jesus Christ and would end with the apocalypse and the second coming of Jesus. This was a linear concept of time that moved in a straight line and not in a cycle that kept coming back to the same point. The Foundations of Modernity It was during the Enlightenment period that the Christian concepts of time and history were secularized to give way to the modern approach to change and progress.

There were many other basic changes during the Enlightenment. The key ideas which formed the basis of the enlightenment period were autonomy and emancipation, progress and the improvement of history and universalism. The development of scientific knowledge gave rise to religious skepticism. People were no longer willing to submit blindly to the dictates of ordained religion. In other words they attained emancipation from the shackles of religion that had governed almost all aspects of their lives. This emancipation led to autonomy of the individual.

Individuals began to decide for themselves instead submitting to an external authority such as religion. The people now decided by themselves what kind of authority, rules and regulation would be good for them, and such authority must be natural and not supernatural. Enlightenment encouraged criticism. Enlightenment thinkers did not hold anything sacred and freely criticized, questioned, examined and challenged all dogmas and institutions in their search for betterment or progress. Thinkers such as Voltaire defended reason and rationalism against institutionalized superstition and tyranny.

The belief that there could and should be a change for the better came to be a prominent characteristic of modernity. The critical attitude of enlightenment thinker to contemporary social and political institutions paved the way for scientific studies of political and social studies and subsequent evolution of better forms of such institutions. The scientific revolution during the period, culminating in the work of Isaac Newton, presented a very practical and objective view of the natural world to people at large, and science came to be regarded very highly.

Scientific inquiry was gradually extended to cover new social, political and cultural areas. Such studies were oriented around the cause-and-effect approach of naturalism. Control of prejudice was also deemed to be essential to make them value free. Enlightenment thinking emphasized the importance of reason and rationality in organization and development of knowledge. The gradual development of the scientific temperament with a paradigm change from the qualitative to the quantitative is also very evident in Europe of the time.

People came to believe that they could better their own lot through a more scientific and rational approach to everything. The concept of universalism which advocated that reason and science were applicable to all fields of study and that science laws, in particular, were universal, also grew roots during the period. People began to believe in change, development and progress – all basic tenets of modernity as we know it today. Autonomy to decide for their own good, gave the people the right to choose the form of authority that could lead them as a society or community towards a better future and progress.

This opened the doors to the emergence of states with separate and legally defined spheres of jurisdiction. Thus we find that modernity represents a transformation – philosophical, scientific, social, political and cultural – at a definite time in history at a definite spatial location. This transformation also represents a continuum up to the present in so much so that its basic principles are inherent in the societies and nations of today. The period of enlightenment can be seen as one of transition from the ‘traditional’ to the ‘modern’ forms of society, from an age of blind beliefs to a new age of reason and rational.

Different Perspectives on development of Modernity Different political and philosophical thinkers have however developed different, and sometimes contradicting, theories of the development of modernity. Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx are two of the leading thinkers whose theories run counter to each other. For Hegel, the development of modernity was a dialectical process which was governed by the increasing self-consciousness of what he termed as the collective human ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’.

According to Hegel, the dialectic process of development of the mind comprised three stages, with two initially contradicting positions synthesizing into a third reconciled position. Human beings live what Hegel called an ‘Ethical Life’ or in a social environment shaped by customs and traditions. This ethical life has three stages: the first is the family, which is dissolved in due course, the second is the ‘civil society’ that a person builds up as a result of his social interactions beyond the family and greater relations, and finally the third stage of the ‘state’ which Hegel defines as the highest form of social reason.

For Hegel therefore, the formation of the modern state is the mark of modernity when human beings achieve the ultimate stage of social existence. Hegel believed as individuals or families, human beings are too selfish and self-centered co-exist in harmony and work for development. It is the state that is able to integrate the contradictions of different individuals, and not market forces. Since the state by itself is composed of political institutions, Hegel’s theory equates the development of the modern state or modern political institutions with modernity.

Marx took a completely opposing view, when he asserted that material forces drive history. For him the state by itself is not an ideal entity for the integration of human beings into a cohesive whole for their development as a nation or a society. According to him it is the material forces comprising social and economic forces that drive history towards modernity. People engage in production for their means of subsistence, they bind together and form states for the sake of production. Different forms of productions create different class relations.

It is to maximize production and gain the maximum benefits and advantages that people bond together in different classes in the form of the modern state. The different ways in which production is organized give rise to complex forms of social organization because a particular mode of production is an entire way of life for the people who are involved in it. For Marx social existence is not consciously determined by human beings, rather, it is the other way round: their social existence determines their consciousness.

When there are contradictions between productive forces and the social relationships of production, class conflict arises. For Marx, therefore, modernity is defined by the state of social existence. Marx acknowledges that ‘capitalism has been the most productive mode of production, and it contains the most potential for the realization of human freedom’. This very dynamic characteristic of capitalism is born out of its destructiveness for all traditional social constraints such as religion, nation, family, sex, etc.

But it is the same destructiveness and creativeness that creates the experience of modernity in Capitalism. This vital association between capitalism and modernity from none less that Marx himself establishes that the capitalism that evolved after the period of enlightenment in Europe has been acknowledged as the modern era of the period of modernity by Marx. Marx however states that capitalism is exploitative, and because it is exploitative, its full potential cannot be harnessed for the benefit of all.

He therefore advocates communism which is a system of planned and conscious production by men and women of their won free will. This brings us to the question whether humanity has already passed through a stage of history that has been termed as modernity, and has moved on to the postmodern era (Mitchell, 2009). Another important point is regarding the placing of modernity. Modernity is understood to be a process that began and ended in Europe, and was later exported to other parts of the world. Thinkers like Marx tend to differ.

He saw Capitalism emerge as a ‘rosy dawn’ not in England or the Netherlands but in the production trade and finance of the colonial system (Marx, 1967). Therefore, though the concept of modernity can be defined in various ways, it definitely refers to the process of evolution of the human mind and the society to a point where people were able to come together for their own advantage and benefit and work for unceasing development under a collectively formalized authority such as the nation state.

It can also be state with a certain degree of assertiveness that the period from the beginning of the Eighteenth Century to the French Revolution in 1789 actually marked the period of active development of modernity in Europe. The concepts that were nurtured during the period bore fruit immediately afterwards in Europe and the West and later spread to the rest of the world. The world has continued since on very much the same basic principles but with far more advanced technologies and superior social, economic and political approaches.

Influence of Modernity on Literature Modernity had a profound influence on literature. As people began to think differently, they also began to write differently. The modernist ideas of religious emancipation, autonomy, reliance on reason, rationality and science, and on development and progress began to find expression in the literature that developed even during the period of enlightenment and thereafter. This new form of literature came to be known as the Modernist Literature.

Modernist literature tended to vent expression to the tendencies of modernity. Modernist literature, as also modernist art, took up cudgels against the old system of blind beliefs. Centering around the idea of individualism or the individual mind, modernist literature displayed mistrust of established institutions such as conventional forms of autocratic government and religion. It also tended not to believe in any absolute truths.

Simmel (1903) gives an overview of the thematic concerns of Modernist Literature when he states that, “The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life. ” Examples from two Greats A few examples of Modernist literature will serve to make its characteristics more clear.

Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) is considered to be one of the early enlightenment thinkers whose literary works opened the avenues to the modern era. Known as the founder of modern philosophy and the father of modern mathematics, Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician and scientist whose influence has served to shape the beginnings of Modernist literature. In his famous work, The Discourse on Method, he presents the equally famous quotation ‘cogito ergo sum’ or ‘I think, therefore I am’, which about sums up the very principle of the basis of the modern era.

“I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am (COGITO ERGO SUM), was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search” (Descartes, 1637).

In this work, Descartes drew on ancients such as Sextus Emiricus to revive the idea of skepticism, and reached a truth that he found to be undeniable. “Descartes started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions. In other words, he rejected man’s reliance on God’s revealed word, placing his own intellect on a higher plain” (McCarter, 2006). David Hume (1711 – 1776) was a philosopher, economist and historian from Scotland, and was considered a notable personality both in western philosophy and of the Scottish Enlightenment movement.

In his works, he had a way of projecting the errors of scepticism and naturalism, thus carving out a way for secular humanism. In his most famous work, ‘An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding’, Hume asserts that all human knowledge is imbibed through our senses. He argues that unless the source from which the impression of a certain entity is conveyed to our senses is identified, that entity cannot exist. The logic would nullify the existence of God, a soul or a self. “By the term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will.

And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned …It seems a proposition, which will not admit of much dispute, that all our ideas are nothing but copies of our impressions, or, in other words, that it is impossible for us to think of anything, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or internal senses…” (Dover Philosophical Classics, 2004) In the same work Hume also postulates two kinds of human reasoning – Relation of Ideas and Matters of Fact.

The former involves abstract concepts such as of mathematics where deductive faculty is required, and the later is about empirical experiences which are inductive in nature. This postulate has come to be known as Hume’s Fork. Hume, along with his contemporaries of the Scottish Enlightenment, also proposed that the basis for principles of morals is to be sought in the utility that they tend to serve. This shows the questioning nature of modernist literature not only of religious but also of moral and social norms and values. A very visible influence of modernity is therefore seen in the works of Hume.

Present-day Modernist Literature If modernity influenced literature, it also used literature to shift from a philosophical and theoretical domain into the practical lives of people. Modernity could infiltrate into the lives of people through literary works that defined and reiterated the legitimate new modes of classification. Old literary forms with traditional meanings attached to them were reworked, allowing readers to modify or contravene the older meanings. “This opening-up process allowed readers to glean new meanings that modified or contravened the older ones.

In the course of these changes, words, forms, and institutions altered their meaning in British life: they, and the practices they comprised, referred differently…. modifying ‘reference potential’ in literature fed back into how readers responded to changes in life…” (Rothstein, 2007) In art and literature, many critics view ‘modernism’ as a new trend in the field of art and literature, defined basically by stylistic and structural variations. They would not accept the fact that ‘modernism’, it is basic approach, was the principles of modernity rendered plausible in literature and art.

Modernity has always tried to hold up the world in new perspectives. Similarly, modernist literature opens up the world in all its forms – theoretical, philosophical, aesthetical and political – for fresh scrutiny. Even in its present form, modernist literature attempts to break the objective world of the realist. “Modernist writing … takes the reader into a world of unfamiliarity, a deep introspection, a cognitive thought-provoking experience, skepticism of religion, and openness to culture, technology, and innovation” (Melton, 2010).

Modernist literature exhibits a fascination with the workings of the mind, and how reality is reflected by the mind. The questioning of life, with or without the presence of God, is another trademark of the philosophical and theoretical moorings of modernist literature. Charles Darwin’s work challenges God as the Creator and presents the process of natural selection in the survival of life. This led to modernist literature of time travel, of questioning the existence of individuals and the purpose of the universe.

Modernism brought about a new openness in the areas of feminism, bisexuality, the family, and the mind. In the world of today, modernist literature still display much of the characteristics of the times in which it first took shape. A very important theme of modernist literature today is a feeling of being alone in the world – a feeling stemming from estrangement or alienation. Characters are often presented as being depressed or angry. A second common trait is that of being in doubt.

“It may be disbelief in religion, in happiness, or simply a lack of purpose and doubt in the value of human life. Finally, a third theme that is prevalent is a search for the truth” (Foster, 2010). Then there is a third theme in which the alienated character is always in the search for truth and seeks answers to a plethora of questions relating to human subjectivity. In all these characteristics are to be found the same questioning nature, the same denouncement of blind beliefs and the same dependence on reason and rationality that the Eighteenth Century enlightenment thinkers had pursued.

The character is alienated and estranged because he or she questions all that is deemed not right by his or her own mind; the character questions the beliefs of religion and other institutions which are not based on reasoning; and finally the character seeks answers and the truth. “Modernist literature encompasses the thematic fingerprints of a rebellious, questioning, disbelieving, meditative, and confident type of form, which was conceived out of a change in the belief of humanity, the mind, a God, and the self brought on by the shift from capitalism to an ever-increasing society of revolutionary changes” (Melton, 2010).

References Descartes, R. , 1637, The Discourse on Methods. Dover Philosophical Classics, 2004, David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Dover Publications Inc. Foster, J. , 2010, Modernism in Literature and History, Available: http://www. helium. com/items/743749-modernism-in-literature-and-history Karl Marx, 1967, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 3 vols. , New York: International Publishers, 1:703. McCarter, J. , P. , 2006, Literature of the Modern Era, The Puritans’ Home School Curriculum.

Melton, L. , 2010, Modernism in Literature and History, Available: http://www. helium. com/items/809291-modernism-in-literature-and-history Mitchell, T. , 2000, The Stage of Modernity, Available: http://www. ram-wan. net/restrepo/modernidad/the%20stage%20of%20modernity-mitchell. pdf Rothstein, E. , 2007, Gleaning Modernity, Earlier Eighteenth Century Literature and the Modernizing Process, Rosemont Publishing and Printing Corp. , Associated University Presses. Simmel, G. , 1093, The Metropolis and Mental Life.

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French Revolution

The French Revolution marked a period that was characterized by fundamental social and political disturbances in France. The French society was initially under an absolute monarchy prior to the Revolution which occurred in the late 18th century. The French society went through ambitious transformations whereby feudalism, aristocracy and religious privileges sublimed due to spirited attacks from the political activists and the masses. There was a call to shift from the old hierarchical system and adopt the enlightenment tenets of nationality and absolute rights.

The Revolution in France is said to have begun in 1789 and it was marked by various stages with the various revolutionary groups executing the much needed transformations. This paper shall explore how the various groups executed their revolutionary activities that eventually contributed towards the political changes witnessed during the time. The French Revolution The revolution was initiated by the Third Estates-General who demanded that the king undertake practical reforms in the government.

The ‘constituent’ forcefully ensured that France had undergone reformations that brought in the constitutional monarch while abolishing feudal advantages and also creating a representative electorate though not a democracy. The constituent had a well elaborated law that was referred to as the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens’ which can be compared to the bill of Rights in the American constitution . Between the years 1791 and 1792, the Legislative Assembly was introduced and the King was supposed to govern hand in hand with this entity.

In August of 1792, the king was forced to flee and take cover in the Legislative Assembly during the Parisian march that happened near the royal residence. The king became de facto as the Assembly took control. From 1792 to 1795, France witnessed the First Republic and grand terror in its history . This is a time when the revolution reached its peak. Terror was established as a means of dealing with the opponents of the regime and France was pronounced to be a republic in the year 1792. The somehow liberal constitution that observed some democratic tenets was introduced in 1793 but was to be shelved by the revolutionary government.

France was under the rule of the Committee of Public Safety which comprised of a dozen members whose first leader was Danton . Following the execution of Danton, Robespierre took over. In the year 1794, the Revolutionary activities were intensified and it begun executing those who were in opposition to its activities. This led to the execution of its own leader, Robespierre in July of 1794 . After the execution of Robespierre, there arose what was referred to as the ‘Thermidorian Reaction’ which led to the creation of a new constitution.

The reaction was in opposition to the terror and paved way for the final stage of the Revolution . In the years 1795 to 1799, the Directory regime was established in which case the executive authority was shared among five directors. The regime was unpopular but it used any means possible to cling to power. There were numerous attempts to overthrow the Directory which culminated in the final disposal of the regime in 1799 by Bonaparte. Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup led to the installation of the Consulate before Bonaparte established his dictatorial regime. He later proclaimed himself as emperor which ended the republican chapter of the revolution.

Conclusion The French Revolution was a period characterized by upheavals in the political arena in France towards the late 18th century. However the Revolution played a crucial part in European politics. The revolution ensured that sovereignty was observed as absolutism was discarded which led to the replacement of monarchy with nationhood. The French Revolution therefore marked a major turning point in human history especially in regard to the political orientation of the western society of the 18th century and the world in general.

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French Revolution

I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. – Thomas JeffersonPolitical rebellion takes place when the people of a country feel it is essential that a change in government is made. Different nations have different ideas about the responsibilities of government, and as a result there are many possible reasons for political rebellion. John Locke, an English medical doctor and philosopher who lived until 1704, published his liberal theories about government, property, and the rights of man, in his book Second Treatise of Government.

Edmund Burke, a writer with a legal background who spent his life involved in English politics, published his opinions about revolution in 1790 in his book Reflections on the Revolution in France. Both Locke and Burke support political rebellion, but Lockes belief that politics are based upon abstract natural rights drives his support for the complete dissolution of government in the event of rebellion, while Burkes belief that rights and morals are derived from the conventions of society makes his support for rebellion more reserved and conditional.

This comparison is significant to any individuals considering revolution as a means of changing government. The outcomes of rebellion can depend on the underlying beliefs driving it, and both writers positions are useful to establish the underlying reasons for revolution, and some of the risks involved depending on the extent of the change. Locke believes that before we form civil society by consenting to establish government, we live in a State of Nature.

He describes this pre-political state as,…a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man. (Locke, 1980, p. 81)The State of Nature is ruled essentially by human nature. Liberty, equality, self preservation, reason, and property are the most prominent principles that Locke feels are innate to humans.

Locke explains how nature intended for all men to be equal,…creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same facilities should be equal amongst another… (Locke, 1980, p. 8)Locke comes to the conclusion that humans are self preserving in the State of Nature, through his observations that we are attracted to pleasure and have aversions to pain. He believes that God gives us these attractions and aversions that preserve us, because we are essentially all the property of God. This limits the perfect freedom present in the State of Nature.

Since we belong to God, we do not have the liberty to destroy ourselves. Although we are not all born with property (except through inheritance which Locke fully supports) the ability to acquire property is present in the State of Nature, for it is attained by our labor and resources. Our self preserving instinct produces a great desire among us to protect property that we have attained, therefore measures taken to protect our property are considered just. Since government does not exist in this state, individuals have the right to uphold the law.

Locke believes that any individual, who breaks the laws of nature, proves that he is not ruled by reason and equality, as the rest of the inhabitants in the state are. Breaking the law can be defined as doing harm to innocent others, this includes stealing property or acts of physical harm. These offenders are dangerous to mankind, and their peers must invoke punishment,… every man hath a right to punish the offender, and be the executioner of the law of nature. (Locke, 1980, p. 10)Punishment in the State of Nature takes on two distinct forms: reparation and restraint.

Only the victim of the crime committed is entitled to reparation, to compensate for the damage he has received. Restraint is the method used to ensure that the crime will not be committed again, usually by causing repent. Since there is no judge to decide to what extent offenders should be punished, it becomes a decision based on the instinct and reason of the individuals involved.

Locke outlines some details about invoking punishment to make this individual license more clear,… every man, in the State of Nature, has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate, …and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule god hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind… (Locke, 1980, p. 11)

While Locke gives complex details about this theoretical pre-political state, Edmund Burke does not believe it exists at all. Burke believes that we are born into civil society, and that the qualities Locke describes in the State of Nature, are not innate, but are derived from societal institutions. … for I have in my contemplation the civil social man, and no other.

(Burke, 1987, p. 522) Since our rights develop from experience, compromise, convention, and reason (which is learned) natural and abstract rights do not exist in a universal sense. Burke believes that such abstract ideas about natural rights are too simple to fit into the real world, and if something were true, it would have to possess the ability to be contextualized. … in the gross and complicated mass of human passions and concerns, the primitive rights of men undergo such a variety of refractions and reflections that it becomes absurd to talk of them as if they continued in the simplicity of their original direction.

The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition of direction of power can be suitable wither to mans nature or to the quality of his affairs. (Ayling, 1988, p. 210)Burke also fears that abstract rights, expressed by philosophers such as John Locke, place too much emphasis on individualism, restricting essential human affections. Burke believes that affections preserve society; for it is the respect, love, and admiration of the past, those around us, and those who are not yet born that solidifies traditions and institutions.

On the scheme of this barbarous philosophy… laws are to be supported only by their own terrors and by the concern which each individual may find in them from his private speculations or can spare to them from his own interests… our institutions can never be embodied, if I may use the expression in persons, so as to create in us love, veneration, admiration, or attachment. But that sort of reason which banishes the affections is incapable of taking their place. (Burke, 1987, p.68)

Burke does believe that we posses liberties, but that they are flexible and particular to each society. These liberties are exercised through societal institutions, so if the institutions are erased then so are our liberties. In the following quote, Burke explains his conception of the rights of man, by listing rights that are specifically satisfied by institutions such as law courts, hospitals, and educational facilities. Men have a right to… do justice… they have a right to the fruits of their industry, and to the means of making their industry fruitful.

They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents; to the nourishment and improvement of their offspring; to instruction in life, and consolation in death. (Burke, 1987, p. 51)Burke and Locke agree that humans have a need for government. Locke explains chaotic anarchy as the dark time in the State of Nature, the tragedy of the commons. This situation occurs after currency has been created in the State of Nature, leaving individuals free to accumulate money. The demise of the golden age (the era of harmony) is brought about by property disputes, greed, and insecurity.

When the inhabitants of the State of Nature realize that they will not be able to cure the inconveniences of the state (the insecurity of property and inability to settle disputes due to lack of impartial judges) they realize the need for government and learn a system of political rationality. Burke uses the example of the French revolution to illustrate the need for organized government. He believes that the state is an organic body; it can be adjusted but if it is destroyed total chaos is likely to result.

Although the French attempted to set up new governments such as the National Assembly and later the National Convention, they were short lived and unstable. The French revolution brought about periods of anarchy, a state of a suspended constitution, overturned laws, destabilized economy, and the closing of essential institutions. The violent era known as the Reign of Terror is certainly comparable to Lockes tragedy of the commons. When Napoleons Coup detat took place in 1799, the French people were desperate for an organized government to bring an end to the terror and re-build their society.

Locke stresses the importance of the social contract that occurs during the transition from the tragedy of the commons to civil society. Political power is manifested peacefully by a voluntary agreement between the people and the sovereign or ruling body. Burke does not acknowledge this specific moment of consent that Locke professes, but Burke values a consent of a more tacit nature. Burke attributes given consent far back in history, At some time or another… all the beginners of dynasties were chosen by those who called them to govern. (Burke, 1987, p. 13) and he implies that consent to the government is inherited though generations.

… we transmit our government and our privileges… in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain we are never wholly obsolete… adhering in this manner and on those principles of our forefathers… In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood, binding up the constitution of our country with the dearest domestic ties, adopting our fundamental laws in to the bosom of our family affections, keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our alters.

(Burke, 1987, p. 30)Burke might say that by being born under any government, we are naturally subjects to it since we inherit the choices of our forefathers. Locke disagrees with this, taking into account that children can not be completely free, yet he still insists that there is a specific time in each persons life where they must give consent to the government in order to become part of the body politic. … a child is born a subject of no country or government.

He is under his fathers tuition and authority, till he comes to the age of discretion; and then he is a free man, at liberty what government will he put himself under, what body politic he will unite himself to… (Locke, 1980, p. 63)Property is sacred to both writers. Locke and Burke agree that the main function of government is for the protection of our property.

The government is also responsible for protection from external attack and from each other. Locke speaks of why men give up some of their natural liberties, such as punishing offenders, to the government, …for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates, which I call by the general name property. (Locke, 1980, p. 66) Burke also defends property as an important liberty, … it is the property of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of the state, that first and original faith of civil society is pledged. (Burke, 1987, p. 94)

Locke believes that government, the protector of our property, has no right to confiscate it, … The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government…

(Locke, 1980, p. 73) And Burke agrees with him by expressing his distaste for the massive amounts of church property that were confiscated by the National Assembly in the French Revolution. … we do not approve your confiscation of the revenues of bishops, and deans… It is in the principle of injustice that the danger lies… (Burke, 1987, p. 133) He explains how the governments violation of property rights can lead to failure of government by angering the people. if governments provide for… debts by heavy impositions, they perish by becoming odious to the people. (Burke, 1987, p.136)

Tyranny is condemned by both Locke and Burke. Both support a system with a division of power in the he government. When a government has power divided into different bodies it is forced to be held responsible for decisions made to the other branches of government, and to the body politic. This system of checks and balances makes arbitrary rule unlikely to occur. Citizens feel more secure and protected form the government, and since they are given a chance to assert their concerns (for example, Englands House of Commons) drastic action like revolution becomes unnecessary.

Revolution to Locke means the dissolution of the government in power. The citizens then return to the State of Nature until they choose to give consent to create a new government. He supports revolution in two possible instances he describes the first, … governments are dissolved, when the legislative, or the prince, either of them, act contrary to their trust. (Locke, 1980, p. 111) Locke gives examples of the government breaking the trust of the body politic as tyranny, usurpation, or the violation of the social contract that was established between the people and the government when civil society was formed.

This social contract enabled the government to have power, and the people agreed to obey the laws in return for government protection of property and rights. The second instance in which rebellion is likely to occur is,When so ever… the legislative… put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands… and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty… (Locke, 1980, p.111)

Since the social contract that created the government commits the people only to the government they have chosen to lift them from the tragedy of the commons, the government does not posses the right to forfeit the body politic to another power by conquest. It is the responsibility of the government that was peacefully formed to protect the people from the conquest of arbitrary outside powers. To Edmund Burke, revolution is the last resort to be used as a solution to a problem with the ruling body. The line of demarcation where obedience ought to end and resistance must begin is faint, obscure, and not easily definable.

It is not a single act, or a single event, which determines it. Governments must be abused and deranged, indeed, before it can be thought of; and the prospect of the future must be as bad as the experience of the past. (Burke, 1987, p. 27)His opinions differ from Lockes regarding the way that effective revolution should initiate change. Burke agrees that the government should be responsible for protecting its citizens, however in the event that the government breaks this trust we do not return to our natural liberty, as Locke believes.

Burke finds this return to natural liberty impossible, not only because of his disbelief in the existence of the State of Nature, but also because Burke flatly denies the peoples right to form government for them. He believes that we inherit liberties and government from our previous generations, and government contains more wisdom, captured through the state institutions, than one human is ever capable of possessing. He speaks of England,… our constitution preserves a unity in a so great a diversity of its parts.

We have an inheritable crown, and inheritable peerage, and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties form a long line of ancestors… A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never looks backward to their ancestors. (Burke, 1987, p. 29)Burke believes that completely dissolving government and starting over with a blank slate is bound to fail, because a blank slate leaves no elements to form ideologies from, and is ignorant to the trials and errors of past governments.

He uses the French revolution as an example,… you chose to act as if you had never been molded into civil society and had everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you. You set up trade without a capital… Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. (Burke, 1987, p. 31)To clarify his expectations about successful and justified revolutions burke uses the example of the Glorious revolution of England in 1688. King James the Second was a Catholic king.

He was accused of not representing the interests of the majority, since England was primarily of Protestant religion, and the King showed favoritism to Catholics. Burke explains the accusations against the King as,They who led the revolution grounded the virtual abdication of King James upon no… light and uncertain principle. They charged him with nothing less than a design, confirmed by a multitude of illegal acts, to subvert the Protestant church and state, and their fundamental, unquestionable laws and liberties; they charged him with having broken the original contract between king and people.

(Burke, 1987, p. 24)Burke admires this revolution because it was bloodless reform as opposed to violent rebellion. However, he admits that violence can be used to achieve change in government but only if absolutely necessary. In England it had become obvious that a change was needed in the government, and the people took only the necessary actions to complete the change and return the country to normal. King James abdicated the throne, and was replaced by a Protestant king. An irregular convulsive movement maybe necessary to throw off an irregular convulsive disease (Burke, 1987, p.22) the glorious revolution made great improvements in English government.

Burke approves of the fact that the revolution did not begin until the leaders had accumulated evidence and facts that the King was irresponsible. The spirit of the revolution was not to dissolve society and begin anew, but had a more realistic spirit of eliminating the specific problem in the government while preserving societal institutions. … they regenerated the deficient part of the old constitution through the parts that were not impaired. (Burke, 1987, p.19).

This type of revolution provided stability for the English people; their rights were re-asserted in Declaration of Right, and the government was made more responsible to the people. They secured soon after the frequent meetings of parliament, by which the whole government would be under constant inspection and active control of the popular representatives and of the magistrates of the kingdom. (Burke, 1987, p. 24) Burke contrasts this example of effective revolution with The French revolution of 1789, which he believed was ill spirited and caused further problems in French society.

He feels that the French did not have just cause to rebel,The French rebel against a mild and lawful monarch with more fury, outrage, and insult than ever any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper or the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance was made to concession, their revolt was from protection, and their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favors, and immunities. (Burke, 1987, p. 34)Burke feels that their cause for revolution was unreasonable and foolish, … rash and ignorant counsel in a time of profound peace.

(Burke, 1987, p. 34) The National Assembly, the government created upon the execution of the King of France, had the potential to become tyrannous. Burke believes that since the assembly had been created form a blank slate it was a danger to society. That assembly, since the destruction of the orders, has no fundamental law, no strict convention, no respected usage to restrain it. Instead of finding themselves obliged to conform to a fixed constitution, they have a power to make a constitution which shall conform to their designs.

Nothing in heave or earth can serve as a control on them. (Burke, 1987, p. 39)Locke feels that people will impose restraints of power on their government as they see fit. He fully supports the division of powers, and believes that tyranny is a worse state for society to be in than the tragedy of the commons. The reason behind this being that a tyrannical government may force its citizens to live a life without liberties, but the tragedy of the commons although a dark and unstable time, is a time without government, where each man has natural liberties by the law of nature.

One of the commonly known reasons that the French people rebelled against their monarch, was because of the poor economy. However, Burke makes it clear that a poorly planned revolution can bring worse times than those of the past. They have found their punishment in their success: laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigor; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; everything human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence…

(Burke, 1987, p. 34)People who are dissatisfied with their government, and considering revolution as a means of change must take both Burkes and Lockes positions into account. The individuals must define the rights that they feel entitled to, and decided if the government and society can reform to assert these rights. If they find revolution to be necessary, these individuals must decide what type of political situation would embody these rights through institutions and government actions. Both Burke and Locke see a need for revolution when government is ineffectual.

However, they differ in opinion on how and when revolution should take place, because of their beliefs on what society is like without established government. Locke feels that the peoples return to the State of Nature is a chance to build a new civil society when they see fit, based on their desire to have their natural rights protected. Burke believes that there is no State of Nature for us to return to, escaping civil society is not possible. In order to preserve the lives of the people and the establishments that have been built by past governments, the government must be reformed rather than abolished.

Thus summing it up I would say that the reflection of the ideas of Burke and Locke can definitely be seen today especially in democratic form of governments like our India. Both Burke and Locke talk on the aspects of Liberty, equality, self preservation, reason, and property. They believe that these aspects are a must for governments in order to sustain continuity and thus we do see all these aspects in a modern democratic system of a government. Burke and Locke believe that revolution is not the correct method to achieve things in a democracy.

They say that governments shouldnt be thrown out by means of a revolution. Revolution to them is merely a way of bringing about a change in government by exercising out rights and privileges that the democratic government system offers to us and not by dissolving a government by means of revolution as per the meaning during the 17th century. Therefore Burke and Lockes ideas fit very well for new emerging, growing and existing democratic systems of government today and must be reviewed upon before taking extremist decisions like abolishing a government completely.

And thus I see their ideas and views on revolution did have immense influence during the period they lived in and the importance of ideas and views of Burkes and Lockes continue to be of immense importance to governments today and tomorrow. BibliographyAyling, S. (1988). Edmund Burke: His life and opinions. New York: St. MartinsBurke, E. (1987). Reflections on the revolution in France. (reprint) Indianapolis: HackettLocke, J. (1980). Second treatise of government. (reprint) Indianapolis: Hackett.

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  • University/College:
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French Revolution

The world has seen many revolutions in history. One of the biggest revolutions was the French Revolution because it came with many consequences and influences. Nothing else like this had ever happened this powerful to change the political status quo. Many people surprisingly don’t know how the French Revolution started but through this paper we will be learning more about it. Starting in 1789 through 1794 the people of France dethroned and arrested their king Louis XVI, took apart his monarchy, and executed him, his wife, and thousands of nobles.

The French people then set up a new system of government on concepts of popular rule, personal liberty, and equal justice for all to replace their old leaders. This was a new start for France and would hopefully put them in the position they wanted to be in as a country. France was one of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world and had good monarchy, a large army and navy, and many foreign colonies and responsibilities. Much of this was very expensive to keep up, but not having it could end up becoming even worse. Paying for all these different things would be costly but this would not put them in their economic struggle.

It would be their support in wars like “The Seven Year War” that caused them to borrow too much money to the point they could not pay back. Louis XVI would now take the thrown and try to help France in these horrible economic times. He came up with a plan to aid the Americans in their dependence from the British. He hoped this would get some influence in North America, but even though this was much help in the American victory France made no progress and went farther into debt. France was in big trouble and now had no national budget and little central financial planning.

The French people were already overtaxed. Knowing the French was stuck in a hole and must find a way to get money Louis had to talk to his advisors. Many of King Louis financial advisors told him the only way to build up the France economy was to tax vast lands owned by the church and nobility, but the only way to tax them was to have a meeting with the Estates General. In 1788 Louis called a meeting with the Estates General and this would be a big part in setting the stage for the beginning of the French Revolution. The meeting would consist of representatives of each

Estate. Even though the Third Estate made up 97% of the French population Louis would rely on the First and Second Estate to overrule the third. But things would soon turn for the worst for Louis, because the commoners (the third Estate) with a few of the members of the other estates disobeyed the king and named themselves the National Assembly. Their goal was to get all the all French citizens basic civil rights. They were willing to be very peaceful at the beginning, but Louis would not even come to an agreement with any of the Third Estate’s demands.

Louis called a meeting between himself and the delegates of the three estates on June 23, 1789 three days after the Tennis Court Oath. There Louis told the delegates he would negotiate a number of reforms. The reforms Louis named had nothing to do with the demands of the Third Estate. The revolutionaries would not give up that easily and wanted Louis to know it. This made the king upset and now he would begin to use the army to force his will on the people. In late June Louis ordered four regiments of soldiers to advance on Paris and Versailles and soon after that ordered up several more.

A large group of people went to Bastille to get ammo and gun powder and were met by a large number of troops where there was a big battle. This battle put the revolutionaries on top and Paris was pretty much theirs. Rumors went around that Louis was sending troops into the rural areas to handle the peasants, this became known as the “Great Fear”. When the troops did not come, the peasants went crazy and started to attack and sometimes burn the rich lord’s mansions. Doing this they also burned records of feudal obligations. Now the National Assembly had wanted to focus on getting a new constitution for France.

The first draft was made August 27, 1789 named the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and showed to Louis on October 2, 1789. Louis said he would look over the draft but the revolutionaries needed to know how long it would take. They were worried that the king might be stalling to set up some attack. Inspired by the concern and mad about the latest lost in bread, part of the populace took action. On October 5th a large group of women went to Louis’s palace demanding he use his wealth to provide bread for hungry families and that he approve the declaration.

When Louis’s wife, Marie Therese heard about the peasants not having any bread she then said “Let them eat cake” not even knowing that cake was a food that the rich ate because they could only afford it. This made the women very angry and was a very big part of the revolution. Fearing that the women would soon get violent he agreed to their demands. The women still didn’t trust Louis and made him and his family move to the old palace (Tuileries) in Paris so he could be watched.

Later Louis and his family then tried to flee France when they were caught and sent back to Paris for Louis to stand trial. Leaders of the Assembly then realized that killing Louis would be best for all. So on January 21, 1793 Louis XVI was publically executed hoping that the French monarchy would soon end. This was the start of the revolution and would now hopefully let France start over. Louis was now gone and the people could now try to make their own decisions. This might not be the end of all their worries but they are now pointed in the right direction.

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French Revolution Essay

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French Revolution Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 534

  • Pages: 2

French Revolution

Although an autocrat, Napoleon is revered by many as the son of the French Revolution as he single-handedly implemented the ideas of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”. Napoleon implemented the ideologies of French Revolution which were derived from the Enlightenment by introducing the Napoleonic Code, lycee and baculerrate education, constitutions and meritocracy. These reforms could have only been implemented by a strong ruler with the power of the modern state tailored to suit his motives of maintaining his power.

During the start of the French Revolution the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was not really put into complete practice. During the reign of terror, the nation grew weary of terror and turmoil and therefore welcomed Napoleon’s rule. Ten years of upheaval had the firm rule much more appealing. Napoleon seized power and was welcomed by the nation even though he was an autocrat as he brought the end to the terror and started executing various enlightened ideals.

During the first few months of Napoleon’s rule were most productive. After seizing power in coup d’état in 1799 and forming a consulate he passed new constitutions and with popular approval in 1804 became an emperor with absolute power.

Napoleon like most autocrats had certain motives for implementing the radical reforms of the French Revolution. It allowed his to maintain his position as an autocrat by giving reforms so people would be happy and continue supporting him. By using meritocracy he rewarded only those that earned his loyalty and by improving society earned the support of people.

He used his popularity and charisma to maintain order which was crucial for Napoleon in order to survive being an autocrat. Napoleon used his powerful position as the ruler of France to bring reforms as it was an instrument to maintaining his power. He brought about freedom of religion by the Concordat of Bologna in 1801 which allowed state to control religious affairs and allowed Catholics to practice their religion freely.

He bargained with the middle classes and made the famous Napoleonic code which simplified the French laws which used to favour the nobles. He made enlightened laws like freedom of speech, equality before law, protection of property etc. He lowered the feudal taxes on the peasants and granted them liberty. He created meritocracy and education by introducing the baculerrate and lycee and favouring only those that worked harder than being born into a noble family this created more equality.

Napoleon executed the ideals of French Revolution not only in France but spread them to countries that he defeated or made allies with. He did this by ended feudalism and manorialism and reformed the political and economic systems by introducing constitutions. He also simplified the complex structure of Germany and Italy and this brought about the rise of nationalism which was the idea of fraternity of the French Revolution. Napoleon is widely accredited to spreading the ideals of the French Revolution to all of Europe.

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French Revolution Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 776

  • Pages: 3

French Revolution

To fully explain the root cause of Modern Nationalism, one must look into what has transpired in the French Revolution. In 1789, the French revolution was born. There were transitions of power acquisition in the vital parts of Europe. On the 14th of July 1789, Bastille was under siege and on October the King Louis XVI and Royal Family was dethroned from Versailles and ended up to Paris. King Louis XVI was the ruler back then so his downfall can be equated to a total loss of order and authority.

There were several attempts to escape the ouster of King Louis XVI but unfortunately it failed. With no clear power over the vast land, an assembly was formed to have a well-rounded and organized republic comprised of Austria, Holland, Prussia and Sardinia. When the republic was formed, King Louis was executed for his tyranny which have entailed for the sprouting of the Revolutionary Tribunal. France did not participate with this ideology because of the resistance of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon Bonaparte acquired control of the Consulate to proliferate a uniform law, equality, property rights and eradication of feudalism. Geographically, France is situated between the two large clusters of the liberal advocates. Basically, the French Revolution was the clash between the liberals and the radicals. Liberalists are those people who adhere to a just society through the divine law that is hereditary through culture while radicals are those who adhere to line of thinking that change and variation from the old system must manifest for a better society.

From the clashes of the two opposing ideologies of the French Revolution, a new ideology was formed which is the Modern Nationalism. Nationalism is an ideology which focuses on the unity of the members of the nation to have a single national identity given basis to ethnicity, origin and the cultural background of these nations (Miscevic, 2005). The essence of adhering to the Nationalist Ideology is to establish a state. A state is political entity that is assumed to have a high degree of sovereignty (Miscevic, 2005).

The state has a high sovereignty because it is assumed that the power is centralized with this entity. All of the members of the nation must abide to the imposed terms and conditions made by the state. The state can be polymorphous in way that it can be democratic and also can be totalitarian. The two opposing kingdoms of Italy and Germany were united. Despite of their contrasting beliefs, they found a way to remedy the situation and push through for the development of the nation.

In 1871, they were united but the times went sour when the nation needed a sole leader of the two states. It is assumed and predicted that there will be conflict between Italy and Germany because of their adherence to Liberalism and Nationalism, respectively. Guissepe Mazzini was a radical revolutionary thinker that viewed the Italy as a state under an umbrella of control by a foreign authority. He wanted to free Italy from nationalistic ideology that it has adhered to since he was a liberalist.

With his propaganda mission, he was put into bars in Italy. His revolutionary act were extremely refuted by the nationalist view hence he did not stop pursuing his effort of shifting Italy to a liberal state. Nationalism is a good ideology but it has some loopholes like any other ideologies. Some of them are: it is too predictive and presumptuous, why, because it always aims to unite people that are completely different from one another. Cultural relativism can be an issue for nationalism.

Second, the selection of state that will be the center of authority, this is very important hence no one could tell what possible qualities should a good state possess and it all boils down to who has the greater means of production. Lastly, it assumes that the world possesses a harmonious relation, but in reality, we are driven by conflict.

References

Cody, D. (2007). French Revolution. The Victorian Website. Hartwick College. Retrieved on November 6, 2007 from http://www. victorianweb. org/history/hist7. html Spitzer, A. (2005). Tocqueville’s Modern Nationalism. Oxford Journals.

University of Iowa. Retrieved on November 6, 2007 from http://fh. oxfordjournals. org/cgi/content/abstract/19/1/48 Chastain, J. (2004). Guissepe Mazzini. Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions. Retrieved on November 6, 2007 from http://www. ohiou. edu/~chastain/index. htm Chew, R. (1995). Napoleon I: Emperor of French. Lucidcafe Website. Retrieved on November 6, 2007 from http://www. lucidcafe. com/lucidcafe. html Miscevic, N. (2005). Nationalism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved on November 6, 2007 from http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/nationalism/#1. 2

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