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FRANCE AND GOD


CHAPTER 4





The revolutions




I don’t know if we must say fortunately or unfortunately, but from its links, by its size, and its position in old Europe, undoubtedly also by its moderate climate and an advantageous physical geography, France was often used as example for many people. It just have to look at how much still today, international tourism visits our country, to perceive, without for that, to pride oneself from interest which it symbolizes in the world. For a majority of those who seek cultural bases in it, their interest for the whole of Europe is extremely natural, but we must remain concrete and to question us why France is more visited than our neighbors like Germany or England?

After the progressive Roman Empire's disappearance, and the fall which was followed from there for a majority of Europe, it was from frank kingdom, and in particular by Charlemagne, that were born stable Christian structures which continue until our days on a great part of Europe. Nearer to us however, but even more perceptible by our direct neighbors, as well as a great part of the colonized world by this old Europe, was the revolution of 1789.

It is undeniable indeed, "it is the French revolution that was to see formulating, for the first time, the idea of a revolution social in communist matter, within the framework of Conspiracy of the Equals 1". Precursor of so much of other movements all over the world, it allowed the synthesis by someone called Karl Marx, Soviet revolution's main instigator of 1917. This is why we will try to define the context of analysis of this man in order to be useful to us about it, like thought guides.


1) Conspiracy of the Equals: Conspiracy directed by Babeuf against the French Directory of 1796 and 1797. The plot was denounced and its instigators were guillotined.


Contrary to our neighbor England, of which the monarchy had started for several centuries to make concessions towards a parliamentary monarchy, French monarchy shut oneself away in the absolutism, whose Louis XIV was the apogee. After the revolution, this absolutism actually regressed from 1790 to 1792 then of 1815 to 1848 to the benefit of a constitutional monarchy, but never took the complete step towards the parliamentary government, which leads to the evolution "From the sovereign king to the sovereign people".

Parliamentary monarchies are the fruit of a long change during which little by little the middle-class conquers the monarch’s absolute power. Initiated by this one, which establish Parliaments to limit the royal capacity, this political system, created in England, was used as model by all European monarchies. Today, the king has only a role more or less symbolic system; it is the popular authority's emanation that fixes its destiny.

In England, country considered as the cradle of parliamentary government, and the reference of parliamentary monarchies, the change started as of fourteenth century. Ceaseless and sometimes violent fights between the royal power and that of Parliament ended up benefiting this last. The shift of competences from the sovereign towards the people was done in a progressive way, thus ensuring the system's perenniality in which the royal power is reduced to its simpler expression.

This stability made of England the state more in advance of all European nations, with regard to the "industrial revolution", but what was the benefit for the working classes? From campaign where they lived badly, because exploited by landowners on whom they depended directly, these suffering classes had passed to the city, in an element even more hostile to the poor. From little ground of which they were getting before a minimum survival in the event of famines, they had become entirely dependent on those whom gave them work in an incipient capitalism, more organized to defend the profit than the social actions.

The raised problem by that urban growth's speed in England was dramatically underlined by an epidemic of cholera of 1832, although the epidemic was sometimes quite as fatal in the campaigns. The new industrial towns were concentrated on very small surfaces, because everyone was walking to go to work. In town, the surface of which disposed each one was related to its economic situation. The population's very small fraction, who had land, undoubtedly less than five percent in a cotton city, were often occupying fifty percent of the total surface. The working population was living where factories, roads, channels, then railroads, allowed him.

The result was sordid: at the nineteenth century, the cities were only smoke and stinks, and their inhabitants pay a lot of rents and human lives. A suitable house could cost a semi-skilled worker the quarter of his income, and rare were families, which could offer it. And so, the slums multiplied in the cities' center, "nests to crows" of London, cellars of Liverpool and Manchester, "China" of Merthyr Tydfil, or new types of "regional" dwellings according to the owners and speculators' imagination, since the  "back-to-back" Yorkshire's accommodations, to the tiny apartment "one room and kitchen" and apartments "gut", which sheltered 70 percent of the families of Glasgow around 1870.

The housing conditions were bad, but still worse was the sanitation system. The most prosperous townsmen could create commissions in charge of the water conveyance, sewers, street lighting and road works, but to the detriment of their poorer neighbors. Very often, waste water from a new middle class' district, were flowing out in the water points which used the working population.

The very unequal living conditions were very hard for a population’s great majority, and this made say to the Toynbee's contemporaries, in agreement with Karl Marks, until 1848, the capitalist industrialization had not improved the working classes' condition.

This progression would have existed if the English middle-class had been upright perfectly, and had used its power to introduce the parliamentary government in order to make some profit at all social layers. It was unfortunately not thus and the dominant classes behaved towards the working classes that they exploited as the monarchy against which they fought.

It was also the case in France! Because in France, as in any occident’s other part, the middle-class men were already active, rich and powerful, to the middle Ages. Even if in our country from catholic dominant, the Counter-Reformation had smothered the middle-class for nearly two centuries, the eighteenth century had been restricted to revive it, while waiting for its complete resurrection with the nineteenth century. But the middle-class man of this time was a being extremely various, and it is wise to distinguish several types from them. First there was the one for whom the middle-class was a title and not a function: the person of private means, the "Paris's middle-class man " for example, whose economic activity remained null. It is surprising to note the two formulas "to live nobly" and to live "respectably", which seemed to be opposed, were signifying both to live without working.

There secondly was the middle-class of the offices, loads owners, which constituted one of the monarchy's customers and which was alienated to the system.

These middle-class men, "officers" were readily motionless and preserving, became sluggish in the past in love them also with their privileges and they tolerated of another movement only that opinions. These middle class' members, "officers" were readily motionless and conservative, lethargic from the past and also in love from their privileges, were tolerating only the opinions movements.

A third category gathered the doctors, the lawyers, all the liberal professions. These ones were very little relying on the institutions and the money. They were distinguishing themselves differently: by their independence and their competences. It is among them, Diderot gathered to recruit his "encyclopedic bourgeoisie".

Finally the fourth group, was that of commercial professions: Masters and the storekeeper, those who manufactured and those who marketed, one another were very often confused by the people, not exceed from the management of their small company; those who produced on a vaster scale, and especially the traders, who were really connected to the exchanges’ circuit, formed a more dynamic middle-class and already conquering, but where one should see only with precaution the ancestors of our capitalists.

From these four bourgeois categories, the two first were inactive, and only the last played an essential part in the economy.

Contrary to its powerful counterpart English that had been able to alone fight against monarchy, the chance of the "weak" French middle-class was to not be alone. If it found complicities in spite of antagonisms, side of the privileged people, it had at one's disposal a "clientele " (in spite of other antagonisms) in the city's people.

The work world of the eighteenth century, did not have indeed even a rudimentary unit, nor trace from class consciousness. These ones least free among the workmen were the "companions", whom the corporation's rules were binding, and who lived under the roof even of their owner, in a proximity which quickly became a solidarity, practically a dependence. The workmen who worked in manufactures of the big cities could perhaps begin, by the alone virtue of their gathering, a vague proletarian conscience. But most independent and best armed were the craftsmen, who worked on their premises on behalf of merchant or of trader and who made some time appears of small employers by bringing together around them some companions. The craftsman was however subjected to the "capitalists" on whom he depended at the same time for the raw material and for the outlet to the trade. Only his tools belonged to him own.

Hatred and the fight would have been thing possible between the workman and the middle-class man, because as century goes by raised the middle-class income, while the popular purchasing power did not cease dropping. But the nature and the causes of such a contrast prevented it from degenerating and changed the virtual conflict into another conflict.

The workman's difficulties or miseries were more due to the food products' price than the wages' weakness. During long years, the wage rate remained a constant, and the workman forgot it to let himself fascinate by the variable whose rise or fall ordered the vicissitudes of his existence: the prices’ curve, and in particular that of the price of the bread. It was the paramount expenditure which devoured on it owns, a half of the working income.

The consequence was they thought a lot less to claim wage increase (claim which would have opposed the workman to his middle-class employer), than to require a price control, which diverted popular anger towards the aristocrat owner of the lands, recipient of the revenue feudal and hoarder of the grains.

The lack of unit and town peoples' collective conscience was an godsend for the bourgeoisie. These ones of whom they exploited work became paradoxically their allies. The aristocracy had thus become the common enemy: peasant's enemy whom it deprived, enemy of the middle-class man of whom it prevented the climbing and the apotheosis, enemy finally of the city's workman, who made it responsible for the leap in prices. So that contrast was absolute between the society's structures, which was all to the aristocracy's service and a social dynamics, where all the forces converged directly or indirectly towards a bourgeois progression.

To the contrary of English middle-class, which persevered for long time to make lever of all its weight between the various higher classes to find one's place in the sun, the just resurrected French middle-class was confronted on the international market to its top sister on the Channel's other side. It was envious of privileges obtained by this one, but remained too weak to quickly obtain these same prerogatives.

Thus, if the middle-class conscience condemned the aristocratic life style for its sterility, its ostentatious expenditure, it existed an aristocratic conscience to say the middle-class men were the creatures more of habit of the world, attaches to their traditions and their prejudices, deprived all at the same time of activity, sensitivity and imagination. And when the bourgeois "was managing to achieve himself" or was ennobled, he was forbidding to the others, the step that it had just overcome. No one was then more intransigent than him to show than conditions' inequality alone was required by the progress or even the existence of any society.

of 1789, in order to reach its objectives, this bourgeoisie haven't got enough powerful in itself, with the very image of Archimedes when he says, give me fulcrum and I will raise the ground, was going to take "fulcrum" on the people to raise the royal absolute power. This support was however going to be turned over against it, because of a pre revolutionary movement in which the "book of grievances 1" did not claim any monarchy abolition, this bourgeoisie will be found at the first following day with a popular revolution that it will have the devil's own job to manage in its favor.


1) Book of grievances: At that time, documents in which the assemblies that prepared the General Statement consigned the complaints and the wishes that their representatives were to put forward.

The people, whom, by effect of group, let himself go to justify his more low instincts towards his persecutors, stoop to reproduce what he condemned at the others!

From the philosophical current born from another part of itself, had already appeared a beginning of the people's collective conscience, and in particular in certain Parisian " the sans-culottes 1", although these ones remained minority numbers compared to a very great part of the peasantry. This peasantry about which Michelet 2 speaks to us when he evokes the French peasant in his misery ("lying down on his dunghill, poor Job..."), he was undoubtedly not wrong, to attract the attention to the precariousness of fate of the French peasants' major share: Those who, from the day laborer without ground, to the farm laborer or the poor sharecropper, all were included in the category called the "consumer" peasantry. For those ones, the eighteenth century didn't have anything glorious, and price increase whose profited to the peasantry "selling", weighed heavily on this world of consumers.


1) Sans-culottes: Revolutionist who belonged to the most popular layers and who carried trousers in striped homespun at this period.


2) Michelet: Great French Historian (Paris 1798 - Hyères 1874).


The philosophical current of eighteenth had not reached that the bourgeois classes, because the nobility eager at the same time to preserve its privileges related to the absolutism of monarchy, would have however liked to acquire rights that parliamentarism would have brought to him, without of course losing any of its advantages. The Revolution was thus the "privileged people's acts", nobility and middle classes, whose political conscience had been sharpened in contact with philosophy, from now on rather close to the government to know its weaknesses and to wish to take part in it.

Until 1788, when the great divorce between the nobility's competing ambitions and the middle class occurred, the fight against the absolutism were the fact of the “Bodies 3”, supported at the court by the cabals and led in front of the opinion by the Parliaments' large hybrid body, all united in an opposition common to the "ministerial despotism", in theory the all-powerful adversary, but in fact solitary.


3) Bodies: Parts of the State whose members aren’t elected, such as senior civil servants recruited through the “Prestigious University-level College” prestigious university-level college preparing students for senior posts in the civil service and public management, Court of Auditors, administrations, justice...

 

In the fight against the absolutism, the privileged persons' action had found an ally paradoxical in the "philosophy of the Lights 4", even so mortal enemy of the "bodies". As much as to the religious "tradition", the philosophers, indeed, were opposed to the preceding privileges "social and political", "traditions", "usages", but especially to the "distinctions" such unjustified and abusive advantages. But they equally it were, against the arbitrary capacity; and their declamations, in addition to the revolt climate which they contributed to create, provided to each group the suitable weapons to defend their private interests. The number and the power of the privileges were such, than any partial action didn't seem to be able to reduce the number or harmfulness of it.


4) Philosophy of the Lights: Partisane philosophy with new ideas at the eighteenth century, precursory sign of the revolution of 1789.


The essential reorganization could not thus come from the "bodies" themselves for which advantages of each one was related to the similar existing advantages for the others, whatever were otherwise the jealousies and the contempt, whom they went reciprocally. The nature even of the absolute monarchy prevented it to destroy these "bodies", since it was by them it reigned on the population whole.

In the powerlessness of the traditional authority and its impossibility to lead to a broad consensus, the regime appeared unable to reform itself by the legal and peaceful means. This absolute monarchy inserted in the slump of the colonial wars had moreover led the State coffers to the excessive debt, but was supported in this dimension by the church's head which maintained it in idolatry of the old monarchy's strong points, the divine law was in fact, I quote: the keystone; Lord's anoint, thaumaturge king, the king is a sacred person, an image from God the father.

Like each one knows, this explosive set was going to find the spark which would put fire at the powders, to give 1789; 1789 and its revolution. A revolution that, for the today's majority a few years after their exit of studies, remain only a vagueness of memory on July 14 and the storming of the Bastille, has however lasted ten years. Ten years during which, beyond the failure of the system, important evolutions of society were going to be born, and according to the observer was going to give the world various currents in public opinion in the following generations, until today.

After the Declaration of Human and Civic Rights and the destruction of feudalism, both carried out in 1789, the sale of the national properties confiscated to the clergy, made it possible the bourgeois revolution by this massive expropriation which touched nearly the tenth of the French territory, attached to it, by extremely strong ties, the group of those which one saw, at the heart of the action in 1790 and 1791, to benefit from "bargain".

Consolidation on a side, break of the other: the nationalization of the ecclesiastical possessions was inseparable from the officialization that the civil Constitution of the clergy undertook, voted on July 12, 1790.

In these same days in Paris, in spite of the rain and lack of preparation (mitigated by the voluntary work of thousands of citizens) and especially the oath without heat of Louis the sixteenth 1, the Federation's festival (July 14, 1790) were the ultimate demonstration of a Revolution which wanted to still believe in its perfect unanimity.


1) Louis the sixteenth: Last French absolute monarch (1774-1791), then king of the French (1791-92).  The young king will appear indecisive, subjected to the influences of his entourage, particularly to that of the queen.


By this new civil Constitution of the clergy, bishops and priests were became civil servant elected within the framework of new administrative divisions, had to take the civic oath, what didn't arrange cohesion. The hostility of the pope "Pie VI", his formal condemnation of the "Swearers 1" in April 1791, introduced an irremediable fault into a revolutionary world that endeavored to safeguard the national unanimity's myth. In the months and the years to come, this break had to take a great importance in a popular opinion whose religious factor was an element of polarization.


1) Swearers: Designation of the priests who, at that time, had to take oath to the clergy's civil Constitution.  


One year later, the scene had changed: what the revolutionary iconography presents to us at the date of July 17, 1791 by squeaking recall of the Federation, it's the gunfight of the March Field. Animated by the club of Cordeliers 2, the Parisian petitioners claimed the forfeiture of the king.



2) The club of Cordeliers: Revolutionary club of left founded in April 1790 and whose leaders were Danton, Marat, Desmoulins, Hébert, and Chaumette. It played a decisive part in the deposal of monarchy and disappeared in March 1794, at the time of the elimination of its partisans by Robespierre.


Bailly, mayor of Paris, La Fayette, ordering the national guard, made proclaim the martial law and to fire against the demonstrators (revolutionary of another side): the break was going to prove to be final between the popular revolution and a certain bourgeois revolution.

What was launched was going to make its way, by the counter-revolution led by the forces supporting monarchy and the clergy in first, and in addition, by the distortion toward the left of the process, in what we could call, the "inevitable skid" of a handling towards its author. The bourgeoisie that had taken the people like point of support, was thus going to check to raise a load, any point of support must be more powerful than the load itself, and would generate obligatorily a popular revolution if one were employing the people. It was the case!

Beyond from the change that this bourgeois revolution was going to live, most important for the French history, and much of other civilizations perhaps, happened at this time on the level even from the people. From a population that wasn't yet conscious about it a few years, to see certain a few months before, the people was going to acquire a concept of importance that was going to be built by the most motivated ones.

All the renewed popular dynamism found indeed in the context of 1791 and 92 of the environments where to fit: the rapid growth of the clubs and fraternal companies then covered France of a network sometimes surprisingly dense of popular organizations. In Paris, the club of Cordeliers, where Danton and Marat were speaking, outnumbered, by its more popular recruitment, the club of the Jacobins 1, which remained, then, more closed. At this date, one can say that already a great part of the most politicized urban masses, had opened the eyes, and had got into fight: "The sans-culottes" like one will call, was thus developed between these years 1791 and 1792.


1) Club of the Jacobins: Constituted initially in Versailles by the province's deputies, it was moved in convent of the Jacobins in Paris. Deprived then from its moderate members such as La Fayette and Sieyès, this organization fell into the hands of revolutionists the most radicals, called Montagnards, because sitting on the highest tiers, was dominated by the personality of Robespierre. These "Montagnars", Power’s Masters in 1793, imposed a policy of public salvation, called The Terror. Divided into three principal periods, this "Terror" resulted in the imprisonment of approximately 500 000 suspects, of whom approximately 40 000 were guillotined. It was the principal political period of dechristianization, economic supervision by the state and the redistribution of the suspects's possessions to the poor. In its last weeks of power, it removed the judicial guarantees at the accused, and was finished with the fall of Robespierre, in Thermidor 9 (July 28, 1794).


In the revolution that interests us, a manipulation other than the bourgeois midle-class went in same time being thwarted, that of king. In spite of its oath makes to the people on July 14, 1790, and the example which it then had of England, much more in advance that France with regard to the constitutional monarchy then parliamentary, this was not going to prevent Louis the sixteenth to persist in one's error and settle the conflict by the strong manner. He secretly organized an escape from France with an aim to bring an army back together with many officers already emigrated abroad. This one was stopped in Varennes-in-Argone June 20, and 21 1791, and nearly two years after the first conflicts, was carrying the first openings to the republican spirit.

The very poor shy behaviors of this king, more attracted by the iron work than state's management, were going indeed to produce an inversion of revolutionary motivations towards the monarchy's dismissal in favor of republic, which hitherto was not even considered. These new data were accentuated during the summer 1791 by the intervention of the foreign monarchs, Emperor and king of Prussia, who launched a call with the monarchical coalition to restore Louis the sixteenth in his sovereignty.

He got into deep the policy of the worst, and like to justify himself to his attackers he accepted a constitutional monarchy, and formed in March 1992 a government known as Girondins because of origin of a good number from them. April 20 he declared war against Bohemia and Hungary's king, and was more than justified since the first engagements were disastrous for a French Army in full change, disorganized by the emigration of its officers.

Less waited, at least in its forms, its scope and its maturity, was the popular reaction to this new situation. Half-improvised, the day of June 20, where the Parisian demonstrators invaded without success The Tuileries Palace, was a prelude to a more serious mobilization. From province arrived "sections" for asking the king's forfeiture, from whom famous "Marseillais" come to defend the capital and the fatherland, that assembly proclaimed "under threat" on July 11.

These conditions have then carried an unreservedly counter-revolutionary, which formed a unit with the general-in-chief of the Prussian and Austrian armies, Charles of Brunswick. This one launched his famous ultimatum on July 25, threatening to deliver Paris to a military execution and a total subversion for these ones who would had attack the Louis sixteenth family. That made an opposite effect and produced the fall of the monarchy.

One often keeps the picture of the storming of the Bastille as proletarian revolution's key picture or the barricades of the “Faubourg Saint-Antoine”. One forgets then this crucial moment when the people became awake of the challenge against this Prussian army, coming from people which had wiped considerable defeats in the fifty previous years, in hostilities carried out however by trained troops.

Into this crucial moment where the disorder was everywhere, the middle-class's revolutionary front was split into two to the contact with a popular movement. From second force that it was, the most populist movement passed in first-rate of revolutionary dynamism. August 10, this one took by storm the Tuileries Palace, deserted by the royal family, after a murderous battle against the Swiss Guard that defended it. The assembly voted the king's suspension, the meeting of a news Constituante, a "Convention", whose election will be done by vote with universal suffrage: It will be a prelude to symbolic system for a democratic revolution.

One should not seek to dissociate the two pictures on which this phase of the Revolution was completed: Valmy and massacres of September, which are there like showing that nothing of balanced and really good, can emerge from a revolution.

The battle of Valmy, September 20, 1792, broke the Prussian offensive in Champagne: unhoped-for recovery after the first defeats, engagement poor says one, if one counts to the number of deaths; but the young French half-improvised Army, without experiment of fire, had constrained to the retirement the frightening Prussian troops. On the mainstay's level, it was the Revolution that had just beaten the Former Régime European.

Let us thus recall few dates, on September 21, 1792 monarchy is abolished, the 22, republic is proclaimed.

Oh! It is obvious that it didn't have style yet this very discussed republic, which was far to be like nowadays in the heart of all French or almost, because it was for poorest, words which they understood only with half, as-with richest it saw there already all the loss of their privileges.

If we would have the counting of its active participants, the Revolution remained indeed a phenomenon of active minority. In the sections of Marseilles for example, the most massive pushes of popular participation never brought more the quarter from male adults of district to the meetings of sections, that it had at summer 92 or federalist spring of 93. If one passed in counting with true "militants», the active group would be reduced even more. From this revolutionary elite different aspects however began to be detached, a revolutionary mentality appeared, and then the gulf restricted itself between the revolutionary masses and the drama's heroes.

In his majority the French people wasn't yet on the point of assuming a political share, but it was lay the foundations, and the important thing is certainly the value which this first foundations in the heart of humblest then represented. This began to make them become aware of their man dimension, "Mister", whom they were all, because all called "citizens".

Any progression, especially as regards collective behavior, is not generally done in a day, and "Nothing that results from human progress, is obtained with the approval of all. Those whom see the light before the others, are condemned to continue it, in spite of the others "as had said, it seems to me, Christopher Columbus and why not Jesus, Christ. If a share of middle-class men, were motivated only by their own covetousness, it was for others a great sincerity, even if for some peoples this can appear a little as puerile.

The picture that Mathiez gave of the Jacobin Louvot, master of smithy frank-comtois, manufacturing who led his workmen to vote for the Mountain with the clarinet's sound, at the time of the elections of Convention, would find easily good numbers homologous. There were for example the brothers Duval, glassmakers from Montmirail, who were going to the markets on horseback at the head of their workmen to tax there the grain. This price control of food products and in particular that of bread, was one of major claim's topics from "the Enragés" of 1792, which expressed best the popular aspirations. This is why, in order to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding we mustn't judge the middle-class, because many of them were sincere and motivated by the happiness of all. It nonetheless true that the conditions of class struggle with modern type were not carried out in a world, in good share, pre-capitalist.


1) The Enragés: Factions of militants more extremists of the Parisian sans-culottes.

Beyond developed, indeed during the rise of the revolutionary dynamism until 1794, an increasing aggressiveness against the rich persons, at city as in countryside, judged in their selfishness at the "Terror" time. This is why, we must remember that: "the revolutions are only brackets of the history, and generally recreate after a more or less long time, similar systems to those of which they precipitated the fall". Each one in its fanaticism, born from covetousness too often justified in view of the bad behavior of richest, was reproducing what it had fought.

Counter-revolution or popular revolution thus, that does not have a real importance, because the consequence is very different, and it is undoubtedly what makes all the value of it still today all over the world. The people, the lower people's classes, at least the most evolved parties, started to understand that they had importance, and they weighed in the balance and with the God’s eyes, even if they were only at their exit of Egypt.

They had until then lived only in the dark of great men they often idolized like "higher" persons, but they then started to measure the notions of their existence. We will not say however this idolatry of the "higher" man didn't exist any more since, but it then received the first genuine arrow, because the idea making its way, more and more the higher man had to only govern and not to dominate. It is extremely fortunately what we find more and more, in the stimulus of our today's governments, but also what we must expect for the future, without us to satisfy with "great men" to only great "appearances".

What changed, and what we must retain as being most important with the benefit of hindsight, is the birth of this new glance on themselves whom could have all these million men within the people in this time and those to come. Without this benefit, and if we deepen still a little, we would be likely to go out a synthesis identical to that from certain Karl Marx to whom our glance will relate soon.

The great number of the agricultural day laborer who had placed all their economies in the purchase of little lands, often even of bad quality, began to realize that they had fallen into a trap. Each one had wanted to be owner, and the majority from them had run after independence and happiness, abandoning the sure profit from their work in the farmers, but found only misery. For others on the other hand, the rich bourgeois who were "provided themselves" with the purchase in abundance property confiscated from nobles and clergy, we were going to find them seven years later, in 1799, the day before the 18 Brumaire (November 9), which was going to see the putsch of Bonaparte first consul, to gather under the slogan "It is necessary for a king to me, because I am owner".

Mrs. de Staël noted it without tenderness, but humorously: "the great force of the Heads of the State in France, it is the extraordinary taste which one has there to occupy of the positions [... ]. All that distinguishes a man from another is particularly pleasant to the French; there isn't nation for which the equality agrees less; they proclaimed it to take the place of the former superiors; they wanted to change inequality... ".

This revolution that didn't finish any, was going to find in Bonaparte the one who was necessary to him to conclude. But, what conclusion for those whom were going to analyze their results! Let us look just little!

The Bonapartism created the personal power indeed, amalgamates monarchical tradition and sham democracy. The First consul controlled and reigned with the way of an enlightened sovereign who conceded at the Revolution's accomplished fact, with surrounding of republican forms, but thus created an extremely ambiguous situation. His power progressively in monarchial attitude, the life of court was restored, since from Consulate until the proclamation of the hereditary Empire and coronation, all was of course materialization of a dream of absolute power going until taking the forms of a universal domination, and to revive of the archaisms, Napoleon being caught for new Charlemagne.

The proclamation of the Empire and the perpetual reinforcements toward personal power were however as many means of consolidating the Revolution's established privileges in France and defying the European Counter-revolution. The coronation and anointment, from this aspect, is less interpreted like one masquerade around a parvenu, than as a singularly daring political act by which the Revolution was going to take again their own weapons to its adversaries.

Many freedoms were however suppressed, the freedom of expression was brutally reduced; just on first days 1800, 60 Parisian newspapers out of 73 were removed, and the survivors did not have to publish contrary articles "to social pact, people's sovereignty and the glory of the armies ", moreover, several of them like "the Moniteur" or "le Journal des débats", were sheets "inspired by the imperial power".

But Napoleon, very quickly, went much further. He wanted to define an elite social and political on a basis which was not nor that of feudal nobility "not on the distinctions of blood, which is an imaginary nobility, since there is only one kind of men, he said! ", nor that of richness," which one cannot make a title, of all the aristocracies, this one seemed to me the worst ", will say the Emperor to Sainte-Hélène, having always held, or pretends to hold, whom the various forms of fortune, movable or real, came by their origins of flight and plunder.

The workman’s genius being nevertheless to know to employ materials that it has under the hand, the families of old nobility entered often near Napoleon, because their fortunes already existent and their influence were put at the government’s service that was not enough rich to pay everyone.

The imperial aristocracy's bases were thus the personal merit and the "service" rendered to the State. Thus Napoleon was proclaiming, "Our time is that of merit; it is necessary to let sons of the peasants to rise by talents and services to the first rank... Where I found the talent and courage, I raised it and put at his place everywhere. My principle was to open the careers to the talents, thus, "will be born a historical" and "national" nobility ", substitute to the parchments the" beautiful actions, and to the private interests the fatherland's interests".

Napoleon thus lives in the creation of a new type aristocracy, just like in the institution of a hereditary Empire, not a reaction or a treason with regard to the Revolution, but on the contrary a consolidation of the new order. "A national nobility's institution was not contrary with the equality" for him; it was "eminently liberal and was able with the time, to consolidate the social order and destroy the nobility's vain pride". It was one of these "granite masses", which he intended to throw on the ground of France to base the republic definitively. In a mixture, which was well in his authoritarian manners, the assertion of principles and the cynicism of their execution, he found in the French’s temperament the justification of a new scale of titles: "they need distinctions, because it is with rattles that one leads the men".

From 1804 until 1808, i.e. from empire's proclamation until the decree on the organization of the imperial nobility, the social policy of Napoleon developed with a greater complexity, including the Legion of honor itself in a organize along hierarchical meticulous lines. At summit: The Napoleon Bonaparte's family. Around it, "an organization of the imperial palate conforms to the dignity of the throne and the size of the nation". Let us perceive: A Court to which Napoleon assigned for function, however very badly carry out, to give the flavor to the French society with the good example, at summit by fusion of the elites. At the first rank of great officers, eighteen marshals whose their promotion meant at same time, firstly all the price attached by the Emperor to the titles acquired to the field of honor, secondly the importance whom he granted to the army like instrument social rise.

At the creation's time of first titles in 1807, he made for example the marshal Lefebvre, duke of Dantzig intentionally, because he says: "This marshal had been private, and everyone in Paris had known him sergeant in the French guards". The only fact of belonging to the Legion of Honor conferred the title of knight, lowest on the scale. The non-military national services found as much their place and their rewards, in the few 1500 the persons with title, knights excluded, created in eight years: Talleyrand became prince-of-Bénévent and Berthier prince-of-Neuchâtel; Fouché was duke-of-Otranto or Gaudin duke-of-Gaète among so much marshals-dukes; to the ranks of count and baron, the prefects, the mayors, the general advisers, the senior officials mingled with the Generals.

It's on the level of imperial nobility's organization that the more equivocal aspects of the Napoleon’s social legislation were. Being very preoccupied indeed, to put "his" nobility in a position to support as for appearances the competition of old aristocracy, and to lead to a fusion of elements, the Emperor incontestably transgressed the principle from the civil equality and reintroduced in France, features of feudality identical to the precedents. It was what arose in particular from the heredity of titles, the creation of great hereditary fiefs by substitution of property and transmission of titles to the elder son, the distribution of endowment in pension, the institution of the majorats on the government initiative or the private individuals request, in other words of inalienable properties of family intended to guarantee to the heir a title of nobility a sufficient fortune to honor this title, etc. It is however wise to notice that the title most abundantly decreed, that of "baron", was not hereditary; the one of knight could be granted on simple justification of an income of 3 000 franks per annum; That the fiefs and equipments were generally taken on the vassal kingdoms, therefore on foreign ground.

The population's fate had absolutely not changed. The rural migration not being started yet, like it was the case in England, the population of cities accounted for only fifteen to twenty percent. The eighty-five percent thus, continued to crowd in the plains and the mountains. The misery of certain over-populated rural districts was a phenomenon then more important than workmen’s urban misery, in a time when the industrial revolution was only at its beginnings.

The peasants had wished, with passion and sometimes with fury, to release themselves from the feudal and seigniorial exploitation, the tithes' burden, the champart and other taxes. On this point, a share of them had obtained only one purely verbal satisfaction. The taxes’ name had indeed disappeared from the vocabulary, but not from economic reality for all those, sharecroppers and farmers, who were obliged to take land with lease.

The revolutionary legislation, from Constituent to Convention until the Directory, indeed in practice, had left the owner-lessor free to introduce into the contracts, clauses of increase transferring to its profit the load represented by the quoted royalties. This situation being combined with a continuous farm rent's rise, whose value was related to the trend of prices of grains, only the owner, and not the farmer, had thus benefited from their abolition.

The historian Albert Soboul (1914-1982), underlined these facts in which the bourgeois owners' middle-class, townsmen or rural, consolidated to its profit feudal system in an economic form, consequences from the wealthy elements of the third state always had worked support, consciously or not, at the Revolution time, like a transfer or an extension of privileges towards new privileged people.

Let us add to that, under the Consulate and the Empire, the return of a great number of emigrants on their lands, when they remained to them and the clergy's prestige restoration, had developed in the campaigns, particularly in the West and South-west, an atmosphere of reaction, a deaf threat of Re-feudalism, a moral pressure of lord of the manor and priest. They maintained stirs up of revolutionary agitation, in campaigns that required only living with a conservative regime, and the alone appearances of Napoleonic authority was not enough to calm the minds. The power was itself the source of other elements of dissatisfaction, such  "tax inquisition" that came for example embitter the small owners, which was the source of local disorders, in the vineyard's countries by the levying of new taxations on drinks, as well as a total hardness of the tax collector in the recovery of the land tax. It was common that he is made pay in services or in kind the interests on arrears in and he recalls by the sending of military detachments the worst memories of Old System.

It's evident that the French revolution’s picture and of its direct evolution towards the "dictatorship" of the first Napoleonic empire which one receives on the school's benches, resembles only slightly the summary of the very good work whose reference is in bibliography, which emphasizes well the social repercussions, in spite of perpetual wars. We thus find there the ways of thinking that certain contemporary observers of this time could answer off the top of their head, attached at too hasty and concrete results. We already approached the fundamental people's awakening and its man dignity, in report with the simple "servant" increasingly domestic, but it was largely occulted by objectives of a bourgeoisie more concerned to equip oneself, than to release the people.

Already rich philosophy at the eighteenth century of utopian ideas has thus quickly learnt a lesson from many analyses and conclusions from this great period of history and civilization. If it had occurred anything from particularly concrete lasting the centuries to feed these ways of thinking, there were a lot of things to be said about that, in very great thoughts.

The idealistic character from developed theory being unique to philosopher, he becomes of brittleness higher than the vast majority, if he feels an opposite practical application with his ideals, going until justifying the limits of his own theory. I don’t say it in advance in order to be able to accuse the various philosophers whom we will quote a too great precipitation of analysis, but quite to the contrary so that nobody judges them in their ideals, and give to them entire responsibility for the revolutions which were going to be born from it. Conflicts such as they had just lived themselves had perhaps marked deeply them. If we represent ourselves the number of deaths, executed cold-bloodedly for the only reason of richness or membership of a social class, I think that it is simple for a majority among us who didn't live themselves such atrocities, to easily judge those whom wanted to institute laws of a human ideal. Undoubtedly many from our contemporaries confronted almost daily from their activities, in contact with such a human misery, would easily dream also that all this stops one day. Isn't it the characteristic of man to seek the improvement of his living conditions? Isn't because we have the same aim that we are together? However, not being able to change him, and each one being different of other, can the man really build an ideal universe with his own dimension?

To quote only some of these philosophers, they were named Saint Simon1 or Hegel2. The first, although from a "relationship" remote enough, was going to give rise to our today's French socialist party, as for the second, his works was going to be more important in the current of ideas to which was going to adhere one certain Karl Marx3 like his friend and fellow traveler less known, Engel 4.


1) Saint-Simon: (Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Count of), French philosopher and economist (Paris 1760-1825). He taken share at the war of American independence and from the French revolution's start he broke his title status. Being based on a religion of science, and the constitution of a new class of industrialists, he sought to define an economic planning and technocratic socialism (the industrialists' catechism, 1823-24), which had a great influence on certain industrialists of second empire.

2) Hegel (Friedrich), German philosopher (Stuttgart 1770-Berlin 1831). His philosophy identifies the being and the thought in a single principle, the concept; from this last, Hegel describes the development by means of dialectic, of which he makes not only one rational method of thought, but the life even of concept and his history.

3) Marx (Karl), Philosopher, economist and German Socialism's theorist (Trier 1818-London 1883) born from a father, Jewish lawyer, converted to Protestantism by fear of the anti-Semitism. Drew one's inspiration from the dialectic by Hegel, while criticizing his philosophy of the history, he discovers the criticism of the religion at Feuebach, socialism at Saint-Simon and the economy in Adam Smith. He thus gradually develop the "historical materialism", i.e. the scientific theory of any social science (Thesis on Feuebach, 1845; the German Ideology, 1846; Misery of philosophy, 1847). After his contacts with the working class, he wrote with Friedrich Engels, The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848). Expelled of Germany then of France, he takes refuge in the United Kingdom, where it writes the Fights of classes in France (1850), Foundation of the criticism of the political economy (written in 1858; published in 1939-1941) and provides the foundations of his great work, The Capital. On 1864, he is one of the principal leaders of the first meeting "The International" and gives its objective: the abolition of capitalism. In Karl Marx's opinion, the human history rests on the class struggle: proletariat, if he wants to make disappear the exploitation of which he is victim, must organize himself on an international scale, seize the power and, during this phase (dictatorship of the proletariat), abolish the classes themselves, which will bring the ultimate phase, where the state will die out itself (Communism). The Marx's doctrines were baptized against his liking, the Marxism.

4) Engels (Friedrich), German socialist theorist (Barmen, integrated today in Wuppertal, 1820 - London 1895), friend of Karl Marx. He wrote the Situation of the working class in England (1845), where some key ideas of the Marxism are worked out. He wrote in common with Marx, the Holy Family (1845, the German ideology (1845-46) where he provided the foundations of the historical materialism, and The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848).

He fought the theses of E. Dühring in The Anti-Dühring (1878), and analyzed dialectic materialism (Dialectic of the nature, 1873-1883; published into 1925). He ensured the publication of the Capital after the death of Marx. He continued the historical thought of the Marxism in the Origin of the family, of the state-owned property, (1884). He was in the center of the creation of second International.

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