Why do some reject the French Revolution?

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,281
Lisbon, Portugal
I wouldn't say I reject the French Revolution, however I see the folly of a movement which claimed to promote liberty, equality and fraternity, and then initiated a reign of terror that probably exceeded the wicked and cruel acts of the monarchy. Theoretical, abstract ideas aren't easy to translate in practical, everyday living. The real test of Revolution's character was how it responded to its abstract ideas being challenged in the real word. the answer appears to be not too well. It was the perfect environment for a dictator to step into. He then crowned himself as an imperial ruler. In less than a generation the experiment went full cycle, 360 degrees.
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?

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?

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 It was not even originally made to establish a Republic, it was mainly to end the social order that was based on privilege and feudalism.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.
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.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,160
Napoleon's new nobility was also hereditary people were going to inherit because of who they were. Also Napoleon appointed friends, family nad acquaintances. Napoleon heavily favored old nobility, wealthy backgrounds in his appointments. Patronage and who you knew were vital necessities for getting ahead in the Fist Empire. Civil offices are reserved for 'notables' those who were noted locally as being in the wealthiest 10% of the population.
The titles of Napoleon's new nobility (appointed on merit and success) came with property, land and real estate, which was passed down with the title.

There's a vast difference even between a titled nobility, even a hereditatry one, whose legal and financial base is private property ownership, same as the bourgeoisie, under the rule of law, and a traditional nobility based on privilege. The surrounding system for the former is inherently Liberal and individualistic, which was what the French at the time hoped to get out of the new regime along with some good governance, and be rid of the excesses and violence.

It's a bit funny having someone British repeatedly slamming Napoleon for enacting something curiously like the British system.

The reality of the French situation at the time was that even the bourgeoise was split about what they wanted, but Napoleon's base was the property owning and professional bourgeoisie, and THAT group also saw his new nobility as a vehicle for possible advancement.

Property, equality before, and rule of law, on a basis of individualism (citizenship) still underpinned the system under Napoleon's, including his new aristocracy. The system was still opposed to rank per se, privilege (private law), and corporatism which was the basis of the social system the Revolution did away with. Napoleon signally did NOT bring any real aspect of that back. It would have been extremely impopular (dangerously so for the regime). Not even the Restoration, much as the Ultras might have liked it, quite managed that.

The French at the time were keenly aware of the difference between the social system of the Empire and that of the Ancien Régime, even with the new aristos around.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,160
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?
By the look of things: Because it's the French what done it.

That's Old Hat with both a certain kind of both British and Americans.

Can't yet quite work out whether they have become more strident in their denunciations of certain things not Anglo-American? Or if there is a greater tendency with others to confront certain kinds of ingrained self-congratulatory Anglo-American notions of history?
 
May 2017
1,285
France
The "terror" in statistics:from march 1793 to july 1794.
The 10 march 1793 is created the "Tribunal Revolutionnaire" exceptional juridiction with rapids procédures.The 17 september is adopted the "law about the suspects".In june 1794,the rights of the defense are abolished.
I Paris and suburb:
From march 1793 to may 1794,2277 people are arrested;1216 are executed.
From may 1794 to july 1794,1784 people are arrested;1409 are executed.
Total:2625 people executed for less than 5000 people arrested.The number of liberated,evaded and suicided is around 850.
In pourcentages,the condamnations to death are:
-from march to october 1793,26%.
-from october 1793 to may 1794,58 %.
-from may 1794 to july 1794,79 %.
In the last period of three months,the number of exécutions is 200 people each week.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
10,098
The titles of Napoleon's new nobility (appointed on merit and success) came with property, land and real estate, which was passed down with the title.

There's a vast difference even between a titled nobility, even a hereditatry one, whose legal and financial base is private property ownership, same as the bourgeoisie, under the rule of law, and a traditional nobility based on privilege. The surrounding system for the former is inherently Liberal and individualistic, which was what the French at the time hoped to get out of the new regime along with some good governance, and be rid of the excesses and violence.
.
Just was privileges did the Nobl;es have under the old regime that they did not have under napoleon?

The new nobility was tax except too. Just what was the difference?

Civil appointments were restricted to the wealthy. the Notables. too.

the Whole system was massively corrupt from top to bottom.

It's a bit funny having someone British repeatedly slamming Napoleon for enacting something curiously like the British system.
So someone arguments are invalid because of their nationality? How is my nationality relevant in any way what so ever. Address the arguments.

The reality of the French situation at the time was that even the bourgeoise was split about what they wanted, but Napoleon's base was the property owning and professional bourgeoisie, and THAT group also saw his new nobility as a vehicle for possible advancement.
the exact same people who were advancing under the old regime.

Property, equality before, and rule of law, on a basis of individualism (citizenship) still underpinned the system under Napoleon's, including his new aristocracy. The system was still opposed to rank per se, privilege (private law), and corporatism which was the basis of the social system the Revolution did away with. Napoleon signally did NOT bring any real aspect of that back. It would have been extremely impopular (dangerously so for the regime). Not even the Restoration, much as the Ultras might have liked it, quite managed that.
How were people unequal before the law before the revolution?

The French at the time were keenly aware of the difference between the social system of the Empire and that of the Ancien Régime, even with the new aristos around.
You have not provided how the system was different. I cant go ask the french form the time they cannot make your argument for you. You have to bring something rather than vague unverified claims.


My argument is not that there was no difference just a lot less than people generally think.

Napoleon used arrest and imprisonment without trial just as often as the Ancient regime did.

He imposed higher taxes that fell heavier on the Poor, his nobles were tax exempt to.

He imposed vast conscription which the Ancient Regime had not.

Napoloen's empire was corrupt and patronage was very important.
 
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Oct 2013
1,344
Monza, Italy
Why do you not accept the fact the French Revolution was a wild, bloddy and extreme corrupted and totalitarian Revolution...they could choose to follow the steps of the American Revolution ... but they preferred to be the precursors of the Cheka.
The French revolution, like any historical event, was a very wide and complex episode; among the French revolutionaries, there were people which we would label as moderate if not conservatives as well as proto-socialist revolutionaries; the cultural background was amde up by thinkers whose relevance in putting the basices of modern liberal-democracies is out of doubt (Montesqueu), by thinkers who justly condemned fanatic positions (Voltiare) as well as thinkers who can be interpreted in many different ways (Rousseau, whose social contract inspired even the American founding fathers but whose "general will" theory is considered at the vcore of Jacob Talmon's concept of "totalitarian" democracy); amond the revolutionaries themeselve, there were people like Saint Just, Robespierre, Baeuf in the aftermath, but also moderate leaders). When we rightly condemn the French Terror and the massacres in Vandee, we should also consider the specific historical context (reaction of European monarchies); when we comapre the French revolution with the American revolution, we should consider how it was much more easier for the new-born US NOT to fall into Terror.
In the end, the record of history is pretty clear: the French revolution ended in a bloodbath but it put the basics of modern democracy (social justice included) endind a political system which should be considered, by common modern standards, as out of date in the 21th century.
The industrial revolution, which you mentioned, wasn't less controversial than the French revolution in putting the basice of modern democracy. Even 21th century's populist, even though some of them quote Guenon and Evola, actually are much more similar to a democratic culture which started at the end of 19the cntury and which appeals to the will of the people, and not to the cultured elites. French nationalists of the 19th century which would have evolved in extreme right parties at the beginning of the 20th century (ending in Vichy's experience) celebrated the French people heroism against Prussians in 1792. It's more a matter of style than of political thinking actually.
 
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May 2017
1,285
France
II Province:
To help the revolucionaries tribunals of province,the Convention sends specialists of repression,who give all the garanties:favorables to the execution of the king,implicated in the catch of the Tuileries or in the slaughters of september 1792.
-Nantes:Jean Baptiste Carrier (1756-1794).Missions in Normandy,Bretany and Loire.
Carceral population:12000.Fusilied:2600 people;drowned in the Loire,8000.After the fall of Robespierre the 27 july 1794,he is arrested and executed the 16 december 1794.
-Arras:Joseph Le Bon (1765-1795).Missions in the north of France.Carceral population
2000 people.Executed:560.Arrested and executed the 25 september 1795.
-Lyon:Joseph Fouche (1752-1820).Specialist of the missions of police,sent by the Convention to help Collot d Herbois (1749-1796)..Carceral population:3000 people.Fusilied:106 people;bombed by the artillery,269;guillotined,1567.Fouche continue his carreer of first policeman of France,and Collot died in deportation in Guyane in 1796.

-
 
May 2017
1,285
France
-Bordeaux:Jean Lambert Tallien (1767-1820).Missions in southwest.Carceral population:5000 people.Executed:300.
-Marseille/Toulon:Louis Marie Stanislas Freron (1754-1802).Missions in southeast.Helped by Paul de Barras (1755-1829).Carceral population:500 in Marseille,1300 in Toulon.Executed,123 in Marseille,and 1090 in Toulon (800 fusilied,290 guillotined).
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,782
Sydney
.
the Vendee was an insurrection between the Blues (republicans) and Whites (royalists) , the blue repression was very brutal , including the wholesale slaughter of population by cavalry columns utterly despoiling large swaths of the countryside pretty much at random

General Westerman , after the final crushing of the Chouans rising
" "The Vendée is no more ... According to your orders, I have trampled their children beneath our horses' feet; I have massacred their women, so they will no longer give birth to brigands. I do not have a single prisoner to reproach me. I have exterminated them all."


the human losses are estimated to have been well above 100.000 ,



 
Apr 2012
1,058
The Netherlands
Nope. They were rewarded for being Napoleon’s brothers. None of which were talented or particularly succesful. And others were hereditary. Their kids would inherit their titles and privileges. Long ago the noble’s ancestors were men raised up and rewarded due to their talent and skill. So the revolution tried to do away with a system, failed miserably and Napoleon brought it back.
I'd say his brother Louis who Napoleon made king of Holland was both talented and successful. Rather than bumble into a civil war like big brother Joseph Louis strived to be a good king and won the love of his new people. That's why he lost his job, because he was too busy being a good king to be a French puppet.