Why do some reject the French Revolution?

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,647
San Antonio, Tx
It didn’t really though. The revolution killed probably a few 100s aristocrats.
They were all back by Napoleon’s reign and he was making knee ones dukes, Kings.. all sorts. Most of his army was lead by aristocrats. Many of the revoltions top soldiers were aristos. They existed until 1848 with their old privalages and until the 1870s as titled but unprivileged. So it was with out the nobility for around a decade.
I’m just stunned when I read things from posters that laud the great French Revolution. For God’s sake, the “revolution” failed, was supplanted by Napoleon who crowned himself in the Catholic Church and not until about 70-80 years later, it finally succeeded. But for anyone to “worship” at the feet of this so-called revolution is at the very least disappointing.

Not that France didn;’t need a revolution that overthrew the monarchy; it did, no doubt of that. But the way this unfolded was, simply, horrible. The “great French Revolution, just wasn’t.
 
Jan 2017
1,309
Durham
I fail to see what's wrong with looping off heads of aristocrats who would blissfully let thousands of "non-born" starve in misery while the "well-borne" were feasting
As you replied to me, I'll respond.

I'm one of the very few Englishmen on this board who is genuinely working class. I was born and raised on a council estate, which in US terms is the equivalent of a trailer park, not sure what it would be in Australian terms.

To us, these people you mention, 'the aristocrats', may as well be from the moon; that is how close they are to us in terms of values and culture.

All that said, if you can't get want you want at the ballot box then that means people simply do not agree with you, and you have to accept that.

You can talk about all of the aristocrats in the world and what they do, and if you were being fair you would also mention the various coups that have amounted to outright murder that were not instigated by 'the aristocrats', and if you need to eliminate them through violence then that is murder and it simply isn't justified.

As I say, the people you talk of have absolutely nothing in common with me, but murdering them? That's not for me. If you can't get rid of them through the ballot box then you need to keep going in terms of the battle of ideas - by means of diplomacy.

The ends never, ever, justify the means.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,647
San Antonio, Tx
Can you break out exactly what the Reign of Terror really was, how many people were killed and in what circumstances that happened?

As I said times and times before on historum wherever this issue pops up: if we live in a world in which we certainly accept and so desperately justify acts such as the General Sherman scorched earth warfare against the South and the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why the Reign of Terror should be so vilified?
It turns out that there were many more “victims”of General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” than there really were in reality. Even so, Sherman was quite instrumental in enabling the end of the Civil War which was a good thing. Ending WW2 with 2 atomic bombs may be vilified by some but no American tagged to serve in the invasion of Japan believes this was a mistake because it certainly saved American lives.

We are always eager to accept acts of mass murder as long as they are committed by the righteous side and if the outcome is the good of humanity. We always do and denying that is being intellectually dishonest. Therefore what makes the Reign of Terror such an horrible and criminal act that should be automatically condemned?
The atomic bombings of Japan certainly killed a lot of people, no doubt about it, and we can regret the loss of lives without losing sight of the reasons why the bombs were dropped. The bombs did in fact hasten the Japanese surrender in spite of a lot of revisionist blather and let’s not forget, US planners were very interested in saving American lives, not Japanese ones though in the big picture, they did both.

And how Napoleon destroyed everything the Revolution aspired? Yes, he was a pragmatist and reverted many of the progressive reforms of the previous revolutionaries. Anyway, the French Revolution was not to establish a Liberal Democracy as we know it today. It was not even originally made to establish a Republic, it was mainly to end the social order that was based on privilege and feudalism. It was meant to achieve equality before the law for every citizen, social justice, civil rights and separation between the church and state.
And how did that work out for France? I don’t doubt that the French needed a revolution, but I very much doubt that the random beheading of people in an orgy of revenge was the best way to accomplish this goal.

Napoleon was an autocrat indeed, but certainly most of the ideas that I mentioned before were still respected and promulgated under his rule, and even more importantly, he expanded those ideas throughout the European continent and effectively planted the seeds of progressivism and revolutionary thought everywhere.
That's the historical legacy of the both the FR and Napoleon Bonaparte.[/QUOTE]

Not sure if this even comes close to justifying anything Napoleon accomplished, especially that thoroughly useless invasion of Russia. Adoption of the metric system, while useful, is hardly a reason to lionize this dictator.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,647
San Antonio, Tx
You never had to contend with entire empires (several) of monarchical absolutists by the Grace of God, armed willing and ready, sitting right on top of you. Britain was an ocean away, a fraction as resolute about putting down that rebellion compared to the absolute monarchs were about the French, and politically the UK ALREADY was a liberal society in most ways that mattered. Add to that the American colonial society ALREADY was the kind of liberal society that the French revolutionaries first had to create, and were successful at. The US could make a revolution to create a democracy because it didn't NEED to first have a revolution to create the society in which a democracy even made sense, which was what the French did.

There's really no comparison to what the French had to overcome. The US was even aided by being a colonial society, and by European common agreement what people got up to there was of no actual consequence; unlike France, the heart of Europe and its entire political system.

For the rest there is a problem of relative US myopia and over-focus on its own history. That's usually fine, everyone is of course entitled to being keenly interested in their national or local history, until that interest itself it's taken as "proof" that this bias matters more than what happened in Europe. Or is somehow "proof" that the US did better. In those cases one has to conclude that Americans don't quite understand the issues.
Wrong. Americans have a visceral understanding of why the French revolted and why they urgently wanted to do away with the leech-like “nobility” that ruled their country. Our natural inclination would be to support those aspirations. What many here would not have supported was the random nature of the terror, the terror itself, and the blood-thirstiness of the whole business. Loyalists during the US Revolution were invited to leave. Many went to Canada, some probably went to England, but to my knowledge, none dropped their heads into straw baskets.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,647
San Antonio, Tx
First Barons War, Second Barons War and English Civil War had no blood spilled ? English Civil War is considered the most or at least one of the most destructive conflicts for England by many historians by the way. Than you got Oliver Cromwell's reign, Restoration of Stuarts and Glorious Revolution in 1688.
Yeah, I was talking about the American Revolution.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,758
Wrong. Americans have a visceral understanding of why the French revolted and why they urgently wanted to do away with the leech-like “nobility” that ruled their country. Our natural inclination would be to support those aspirations. What many here would not have supported was the random nature of the terror, the terror itself, and the blood-thirstiness of the whole business. Loyalists during the US Revolution were invited to leave. Many went to Canada, some probably went to England, but to my knowledge, none dropped their heads into straw baskets.
Which still comes out blaming the revolution for the strength of its enemies. That's a willful choice.

Underpinning it all is a self-congratulatory Anglo-American sense of entitlement.
 
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royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,647
San Antonio, Tx
The French revolution was the beginning of the end of the Ancién Regime. There wouldn't be a First World War and the political outcome of that disaster if the French Revolution hadn't happen. FR was a spark that set in motion a century of socio-political dramatic change that the civilized world as ever witnessed since the Tang-song dynasty transition.
At one time during my college years, I was under the impression that the French Revolution was a single, singular event. That shows you how little attention I paid in that course. Over the ensuing years, I gradually became aware through various readings on the subject that the reality was quite different. Like a coat of many colors, the French Revolution turned out to be a rather complex event that took decades to come to fruition. Oh yeah, there were some kings and an emperor that stood in the way of its realization. That, and heads that rolled into bushel baskets, but we don’t need to sensationalize this, do we?

So, it was a “revolution” that, well, that failed and it wasn’t until, literally, decades later, it finally succeeded. I’m wondering why so many posters in here lionize this revolution so much considering what a bloody botch it really was. Understand, I fully believe that France needed a revolution, just not one that was so throughly botched in its execution and the apparently low quality of the revolution’s leaders. The whole ”Napoleon thing” wound up costing the French nation around a million of their citizens’ lives. Great job.

The French Revolution was certainly an earthquake in the European landscape and it’s easy to see why monarchies next to France experienced feelings of existential angst which, following the advent of Napoleon was well and fully justified.

With higher quality and thoughtful leadership it might have gone differently. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,647
San Antonio, Tx
You never had to contend with entire empires (several) of monarchical absolutists by the Grace of God, armed willing and ready, sitting right on top of you. Britain was an ocean away, a fraction as resolute about putting down that rebellion compared to the absolute monarchs were about the French, and politically the UK ALREADY was a liberal society in most ways that mattered. Add to that the American colonial society ALREADY was the kind of liberal society that the French revolutionaries first had to create, and were successful at. The US could make a revolution to create a democracy because it didn't NEED to first have a revolution to create the society in which a democracy even made sense, which was what the French did.

There's really no comparison to what the French had to overcome. The US was even aided by being a colonial society, and by European common agreement what people got up to there was of no actual consequence; unlike France, the heart of Europe and its entire political system.

For the rest there is a problem of relative US myopia and over-focus on its own history. That's usually fine, everyone is of course entitled to being keenly interested in their national or local history, until that interest itself it's taken as "proof" that this bias matters more than what happened in Europe. Or is somehow "proof" that the US did better. In those cases one has to conclude that Americans don't quite understand the issues.
Of course it’s true that conditions in France precedent to the French Revolution were very different from those prevailing in America. I’ll grant that. It doesn’t change the fact that the French Revolution was a failure.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,504
Of course it’s true that conditions in France precedent to the French Revolution were very different from those prevailing in America. I’ll grant that. It doesn’t change the fact that the French Revolution was a failure.
But a lot of the main changes to French society , equality before the law, the abolution of fedudal dues, noblie privalegde and the masisve church lands and privileges survived the restoration. Much of the chnage of the French recolution was not rolled back.. It was not a total failure, in real terms the French ppulation maintained much of the gains of the revolution. Sure it could have been managed without the massive bloodshed.