Saturday, January 24, 2009

One of the reasons that the French Revolution freaked people out so much...

I think that the violence was just the icing on the cake. What happened in the radical phase of the French Revolution was that the huge feudal estates held by Lords were broken up and the land redistributed to the farmers who actually farmed it. Then the Lords were arrested and tried. The idea that radical democracy has to be bloody is less tenable once you realize that often in the cases where big excesses occurred the point wasn't simply revenge or hatred but was an underlying principle like the possession of land by the people who work it. That type of principle can be strengthened without violence, thereby short circuiting the argument against radical democracy by turning it into a question posed to the arguerers: does the underlying point make sense?

The bloody phase of the French Revolution was indeed bloody and somewhat indiscriminate in all likelihood, but the writers of the time were also thinking about their money when they registered their shock and displeasure.

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