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Author Topic: The Odyssey of Revolution and Democracy in France  (Read 1446 times)
homelycooking
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« on: December 12, 2011, 09:03:51 am »
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Reflecting on the political turmoil both of the 1848 revolution in France and, more generally, of France’s recent past, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “Shall we reach…a more complete and profound social transformation than our forefathers ever foresaw or desired, and which we ourselves cannot yet conceive; or may we not simply end up in that intermittent anarchy which is well known to be the chronic incurable disease of old peoples?” (de Tocqueville 66). Throughout his Recollections, de Tocqueville observes the February revolution and “June Days” of 1848 with a great deal of despair in retrospect at the state of French society and politics. To the nobleman and politician, a third violent revolution in little over fifty years signified, through the use of revolution to satisfy vanity and radicalism, the imminent rejection of France’s ancient political traditions. “I often wonder whether that solid land we have sought for so long actually exists”, de Tocqueville wrote of the ultimate arrival of a Republic that would ensure stability through liberty and political justice, “and whether it is not our fate to rove the seas forever!” (de Tocqueville 66).

The transition of a society from monarchy to democracy cannot be achieved merely with a few slices of the guillotine. To inculcate the values and responsibilities of citizenship within the consciences of people who had previously been subjects of a king requires decades or even centuries of commitment to political and social change. In the early years of France’s revolutionary struggle, to be sure, that commitment wavered often as the popular demand for decisive leadership and national glory swelled and abated. And though these forces no longer pose an existential threat to the French Republic in the present day, the solid land referred to by Alexis de Tocqueville has not yet been reached. As long as irrational hatreds and nostalgias are allowed to exist in French society, the revolutionary project of limiting and making accountable sovereign power, empowering every citizen with the right to participate in democratic discourse and making the promise of civil and economic equality for all Frenchmen real will remain unfinished.    

   Since the time of the ancien régime, revolutionary thought has been guided by the lodestar of reason. Especially to thinkers of the Enlightenment, extreme inequalities of wealth and power in society represented an affront to man’s natural right to liberty and self-fulfillment. Though Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality was not intended as a critique of France’s political order, his thinking about these ideas revealed the fundamental abjection to which the millions, existing in a near-finite social structure under the auspices of a hereditary monarch, had been reduced. Subjects of a sovereign, Rousseau argued, “all ran to chain themselves in the belief that they had secured their liberty” through his supposed obligation to exercise the masses’ delegated right to initiate force on behalf of his subjects, “for although they had enough sense to realize the advantages of a political establishment, they did not have enough experience to foresee its dangers”. (Rousseau 56) After all, since our association with other men through society is so intensely colored by an obsession with the perceptions of oneself by others, “[one] consent[s ] to wear chains in order to be able to give them in turn to others” (Rousseau 66). “Peoples have given themselves leaders in order to defend their liberty and not to enslave themselves” (Rousseau 59), but those same peoples invariably seem to end up as slaves. Rousseau’s critique of this state of affairs, moreover, implies a rejection of both divine right and the legitimacy of the social contract. Of life and liberty, he writes, “everyone is allowed to enjoy [them]…In giving up the one he degrades his being; in giving up the other he annihilates that being insofar as he can” (Rousseau 62). One’s rights to these two cannot be delegated through any means since they are inherent within the person and meaningless without. Since “no temporal goods can compensate for one or the other” (Rousseau 62), men, as creatures corrupted and made docile by society, might look to “an unbroken steed…struggling violently at the approach of the bit” (Rousseau 60) to learn what sort of reaction the alienation of their liberty ought to provoke from them.

   As the Constitutional Monarchy and First Republic put an end by the early 1790s to unchecked monarchic power, France’s politicians and philosophers were confronted with the challenge of making democracy meaningful through inclusion and tolerance. “Make men free”, the Society of the Friends of Blacks reminded its audience, “and they will necessarily and rapidly become enlightened, and they will necessarily be better” (Hunt 58). But freedom did not bring with it the rights accorded by citizenship to women or freed black slaves. Regarded as inferior, or at most immature, by a paternalistic, white, male governing elite, blacks freed from physical servitude could not be trusted with citizenship, since “it would be to abandon to themselves and without assistance children in the cradle or mutilated or impotent beings” (Hunt 108). Similarly, the exclusion of women from political participation was justified by the danger a sudden rejection of “republican motherhood” would pose to society. In the words of Louis Marie Prudhomme, “civil and political liberty is in a manner of speaking useless to women and in consequence must be foreign to them” (Hunt 130) due to their traditional familial role. Women’s political clubs were banned in 1793, moreover, to encourage woman to “make order and cleanliness, ease and peace reign at home” (Hunt 130, italics added).  

But Maximilien Robespierre, in a speech denouncing property requirements for voting and holding office, pronounced these words in 1789: “The Constitution established that sovereignty resides in the people, in all the individuals of the people. Each individual therefore has the right to participate in the making of the law which governs him.” (Hunt 83). Indeed, one of the principal critiques made by the Abbé Sieyès in his “What Is The Third Estate?” of the old regime was that exclusion from power constituted a “social crime” against the masses who made the functioning of society possible (Hunt 66). For this reason, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen proclaimed in 1789 that “the principle of sovereignty rests essentially in the nation. No body and no individual may exercise authority which does not emanate expressly from the nation” (Hunt 78). Both Robespierre and the Declaration made no distinction among “the people” or “the nation” as to religious identity, race or gender. Clearly the Revolution, at its philosophical core, strove toward universal participation and citizenship, but was restrained by an enduring memory of and affection toward aspects of the old regime. Sovereignty had been expanded far beyond the boundaries of aristocracy, but still had yet to become the tangible possession of the masses.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 09:08:41 am by De lelijke keuken »Logged
homelycooking
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 09:05:06 am »
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But Maximilien Robespierre, in a speech denouncing property requirements for voting and holding office, pronounced these words in 1789: “The Constitution established that sovereignty resides in the people, in all the individuals of the people. Each individual therefore has the right to participate in the making of the law which governs him.” (Hunt 83). Indeed, one of the principal critiques made by the Abbé Sieyès in his “What Is The Third Estate?” of the old regime was that exclusion from power constituted a “social crime” against the masses who made the functioning of society possible (Hunt 66). For this reason, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen proclaimed in 1789 that “the principle of sovereignty rests essentially in the nation. No body and no individual may exercise authority which does not emanate expressly from the nation” (Hunt 78). Both Robespierre and the Declaration made no distinction among “the people” or “the nation” as to religious identity, race or gender. Clearly the Revolution, at its philosophical core, strove toward universal participation and citizenship, but was restrained by an enduring memory of and affection toward aspects of the old regime. Sovereignty had been expanded far beyond the boundaries of aristocracy, but still had yet to become the tangible possession of the masses.
   
Yet the people of a society which had so recently reveled in the ascendance of reason and the triumph of republican ideals soon “consented to let their servitude increase in order to secure their tranquility” (Rousseau 65). Out of the Terror and foreign intervention motivated toward reinstalling the Bourbon monarchs arose Napoleon Bonaparte, a military genius and skillful exploiter of republican ideas for imperial purposes. In his Proclamation to the French People, he assured the citizens and subjects-to-be that “you will no doubt recognize in my conduct the zeal of a soldier of liberty and of a devoted citizen of the Republic” (Mason and Rizzo, 336).  The Revolution had come under attack, his message implied, and its failings had left the nation vulnerable and in need of strong leadership – ostensibly, as Rousseau wrote, to safeguard the gains in liberty made by the Revolution. Napoleon’s promise of national greatness, suppression of insurrection and the restoration of Catholicism overwhelmed in the first years of the 19th Century the last barricades of democracy, and France became an Empire. As school children pledged in the 1806 Imperial Catechism to devote to Emperor Napoleon “love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, and the taxes levied for the defense of the empire and of his throne”, Madame de Staël noted the similarity of imperial authority’s ability to produce obedient subjects to the powerful machinery at a mint’s production of thousands of identical coins: “Should anyone attempt to resist their power, he would be annihilated…The invisible propulsion of these human machines comes from a will both violent and methodical, which transforms moral life into a servile instrument” (de Staël 36-7). Under Napoleon, sacrifice of one’s liberty was deemed a virtue and the ideal quality of the “citizen” became the Napoleonic bee’s unquestioning servitude to the queen.  
   
Napoleon, however, made a lasting contribution to French citizenship through his insistence upon codified law. After his final defeat, monarchs and emperors could no longer offer tradition or divine right as the explanation for their power. Indeed, the charter of 1814 reestablishing the Bourbon monarchy recognized for the first time that “the wish of our subjects for a constitutional charter was the expression of a real need” to lay out in a foundational document the nature and functions of government and to allow citizens recourse to action should their rulers violate the terms of that contract with the people. Indeed, when Charles X announced the new censorship laws and restrictions on suffrage in 1830, the slogan shouted by revolutionaries of the July days was not “Vive la liberté!” but “Vive la Charte!”. This was the first enduring achievement of revolution: a foundational attachment to the rule of law and limitations on sovereign power.
   
But the desire for a more transformational socioeconomic change from the left that went beyond limiting the power of kings agitated France into two more revolutions. King Louis Philippe’s unofficial motto encouraging Frenchmen to “enrich themselves” won no sympathy among the urban proletariat increasingly turning to utopian socialism or communism in order to realize the promise of equality. To Alexis de Tocqueville, the proliferation of socialist ideas as a motivating factor in the Revolution of 1848 represented a disease of “greedy, envious desires” (de Tocqueville 165) and “oppression of the Paris workmen” that threatened the ability of people to interact civilly with one another and the premise, set out in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, of “property being an inviolable and sacred right” (Hunt 79). What meaning would democracy have, after all, if citizens looked in the first place to satisfy their envy for their neighbors’ possessions and did not hesitate to use force in acquiring them? The Goncourt brothers similarly described the state of things as the Paris Commune declared its authority over the city in 1870: “Government is passing from the hands of the haves to those of the have-nots, from those who have a material interest in the preservation of society to those who have no interest whatever in order, stability or preservation” (Goncourt 185). To these admittedly conservative thinkers, the establishment of “the republic of justice of labor” prophesied by the song “The Bloody Week” would not be accomplished with respect to liberty or reason if it was to proceed out of the democratic disease of envy and the violence that attends it.

What, then, can be said of Vichy? How could, in a nation so captivated by political memory, a people revert to oppression and servitude? After all, the Constitutional Act establishing the collaborationist regime declares, in opposition to 150 years of revolutionary thought and discourse, that “The Chief of the French State shall have full governmental powers”, and seems a disturbing anachronism in the trajectory of French society toward liberal democracy. Indeed, collaboration with fascism and the doctrine of “work, family, country” ran contrary to France’s more universal and more fundamentally human ideals of “liberty, equality, fraternity”. Left with no peaceful way of exercising their liberty, French resistors of the Maquis resorted to subterfuge, sabotage and violence against Nazis and their collaborators. As “free peoples sacrificing pleasures, tranquility, wealth, power and life itself for the preservation of [liberty] which is regarded so disdainfully by those who have lost it” (Rousseau 60), the Resistance kept the revolutionary pursuit of human freedom alive not through debate but violence, the human action indicative of the state of nature. The French resistance, indeed, sang these words in the Chant des Partisans: “Tomorrow, dark blood will dry in the shining sun on the roads. Sing companions, in the night, liberty hears us…”.

The vigorous political culture of pluralism in France which arose after Vichy during the Fourth and Fifth Republics has not yet accomplished that social transformation which Tocqueville yearned for, nor has it made revolutionary struggle obsolete. But in nearly every quarter of political society there resides a belief in the legitimacy of politics and of the promise of participation. Confronting the rise of the extreme right for Françoise Gaspard does not entail fighting hatred with force or an equal and opposite hatred, but proposing alternatively “a vision of the future founded on the struggle against oppression” (Gaspard 165). The barricades of the 19th century have been replaced by Gaspard’s cordons sanitaire (Gaspard 163), which serve to segregate those ideas repulsive to the idea of the Republic from responsible civic dialogue. But exiling the far right from republican discourse cannot eradicate those various nostalgias for Vichy, for empire and for a recaptured authoritarian past. Healing these old wounds of France’s past does not require initiating force or changing politics, but rather changing men’s minds.

But France now faces the problem of assimilating an immigrant underclass of citizens into that civic dialogue who are the objects of economic inequality and racism through “the eyes of others” and must be made “to feel that they have a right…to shape their own destiny as participants in and not merely subjects of government” (Gaspard 175-76), The subjects of La Haine, after all, are men in the prime of life with no jobs, no prospect for education, and no hope of escaping the banlieues which have become their prison. The only form of power available to them is force, and its exercise – as war and insurrection have proven – bring about countless unnecessary tragedies. France has a responsibility, in the continuation of its revolutionary struggle unfinished by the First Republic or by the Paris Commune, to ensure that its promise of liberty, meaningful citizenship and equality are granted at last to all people regardless of their personal identity. If France can ever see the “solid land” described by Tocqueville ahead in the distance, it will not reach it if the nation abandons the struggle prematurely in saying: Jusqu’ici tout va bien.
   
« Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 08:42:18 pm by De lelijke keuken »Logged
homelycooking
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2011, 09:07:33 am »
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My final paper for "History of France since 1750" on political culture, democracy and revolutionary upheaval. A work still in progress. If you have any comments (especially on the overall structure of the essay), I'd love to hear them.
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 10:17:09 am »
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Better late than never: here are my comments !

- First, some formal remarks: in French, we always say "Tocqueville" and not "de Tocqueville".
Maybe it's too focused on the 89 Revolution and on Rousseau, but it must be because of the documents you had to use...

- A remark of principle: you write about "democracy" in France, but it's in fact more about "republic" than about democracy. It's not exactly the same, especially in France... (well, 1792-1799 wasn't so democratic after all Tongue)

- It leads me to my big idea here: during the period you study, what was at stake is more the structures and the organization of power and the identity of those in power, not the philosophical and political ideas and the democratic practice.

The Revolution resulted more in giving power to the bourgeoisie, after having destroyed the (already corrupt) aristocracy, rather than substituting (even imperfect) democracy to absolutism.

The republican messianism was very strong: see the Etre Suprême during the Convention and in Robespierre's and Saint Just's minds, see la Raison (with a big "R"), see the republican colonialism (yes, during the 3rd Republic, colonialism was more "leftist" than rightist).
The republican authoritarianism or dictatorship was also a reality: 1793-1794 (not even Marat, Hébert, St-Just and Robespierre, but also the so-called "moderate" Danton), Directoire, Consulate, France in WW1, Daladier government in 1938-1940.

In a way, Vichy is more a consecration of the bourgeois and rural 3rd Republic (with a more and more conservative and entrenched-in-power Radical Party) than a comeback to Ancien Régime or any royalist nostalgia (BTW, Maurras wasn't very influent on Vichy...).
The bourgeois and rural France was afraid of Revolutions and wanted order: not especially monarchical power, but just order. Napoléon I, Napoléon III, Thiers, Doumergue in 1934, Daladier in 1938, Pétain in 1940 fitted well this will of order. And in good periods, Louis-Philippe or Grévy-Ferry or Poincaré or even Herriot were fine enough to let those bourgeois enrich themselves, whatever the form of the "regime".
This rural and bourgeois France wasn't behind the "legitimists" or Boulanger or Maurras: they wanted to make money in peace, not to put back a king in power.
Poujade and Le Pen were popular heroes, not agents for a comeback to the Ancien Régime.

- So, the French Revolution wasn't so much a breaking event, after all. Vichy wasn't either. There is a clear continuity between Revolution, Empire, some aspects of Republics and Vichy.
Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit but consider this:

the problem is France isn't about monarchy vs democracy, but about the fact that every political change is directed from the top (don't tell Hash I'm writing anti-Jacobin things Grin), without any deep acculturation inside the people.
Political changes go through eruptions, explosions, when the top is too far away from the down; not with a slow path of gradual and consensual changes.
The Constitutional history of France is a series of crises: 17899, 1792, 1793-94, 1799, 1814-15, 1830, 1848, 1851-52, 1870-71, 1946, 1958, 1968-69...

This problem stems from another one, which is more sociological: the weakness of intermediate bodies and representative structures.
Local powers were powerless during the absolute monarchy, but also during the Revolution and the Republics.

Even before, the aristocracy (which could have been a fine thing, hadn't it been decaying) had already been absorbed by Louis XIV's "Cour", which was in fact a corruption of the monarchical system, not at all a brilliant period for France (outside the financial catastrophe and the military ineptitude). In a way, Robespierre can thank Louis XIV...

The Church and the clergy, as institutions and social movements, were killed in 2 stages: 1792 and 1905. They could have been good intermediates but they were destroyed in the name of another messianism.

Trade unions were always weak and divided in France. In the end of the 19th century, they didn't become strong enough (in a way, Bismarck was a better thing than Gambetta and Ferry Tongue).

Political parties remain weak bodies. The symbolic Radical Party was more a coalition of bigwigs, of national power-hungry men.
The French parties remained weak because of a culture of "providential men", of saviours who can act from the top in the name of the people: after Louis XIV, Robespierre, Napoléon, Napoléon III, Clemenceau, Poincaré, Pétain, de Gaulle, Sarkozy, but also Jaurès and Mitterrand, are good examples of this persistent absolute culture of personal power.
Men like Mandel, Schuman, Mendès-France, men who worked through really democratic, open, consensual methods, were exceptions in France.

So, France hadn't had the American way, with philosophical and political ideas and structures built from the base (at least in the 18th and 19th centuries...).
France hadn't had the British way, with an old parliamentarian tradition and an old consent to taxes and an old bill of rights.
France hadn't had the Dutch or Scandinavian way, with smaller and more consensual societies.

France has had a problem to adopt real democracy, even when it adopted a republican form of power, even when it ruled a Declaration of Human Rights (from the top and practically used against "the enemies of Liberty", whereas it was a theoretically perfect text).
Philippe Auguste, Louis XI, Louis XIV still live in a way in our political system and ideas since the French Revolution...

In a way, after 1750, France said it changed fundamentally its regime, whereas it only modified the formal way its power is organized...

Sure, the Constitutional Council, the 3 "cohabitations" between left and right (1986-88, 1993-95, 1997-2002), the ability to change peacefully constitutional clauses may have opened another period in French history.
But when you see that the messianic side of French politics is still everywhere and perfectly fits the new "democracy of opinion" that medias are imposing, when you see that trade unions are weaker and weaker and that political parties are just tools for "big" men or women, one cannot be much optimistic.

What I'm saying isn't very original as one can say Tocqueville understood almost everything in the 19th century...
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 11:17:02 am »
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Some of this you've rightly pointed out because I've completely missed it. It is about the Republic and not "democracy" and the trends of dictatorship, extreme secularism and messianism within that Republic. I think I have a talent for political theory and political culture: however, all that goes to waste here because I'm a useless historian.

I recognized in thinking about this paper some of the other themes you've mentioned: the provincial fear of revolution and disorder, the influence of clericalism and trade unions. Some of this I couldn't go into detail on because I have little textual evidence for some of it. I had no resource for Poujade and Boulanger, and I was cautioned against reading the whole of Tocqueville's Recollections to look for additional material. I'm reading it from start to finish now, and am realizing how much I missed in writing the paper.

The essay question was somewhat ambiguous, but my professor specifically wrote "political culture of democracy" into the question as an important theme for the paper. Basically I had to accept as a premise for my writing that it wasn't just about organization of power, but that the basic ideas of the French regarding the nature of society and the ideas of sovereignty and citizenship had fundamentally changed. That's why I felt I needed to have a strong exposition of Rousseau and the 1789 dialogue. Unfortunately, what I wrote ran to the very limit of the length we were permitted in the paper. If I had another two or three pages, yes, I would have engaged more thoroughly the 1848 and 1968 crisis as well as the Dreyfus affair.

In a way, I'm kind of disappointed in this essay, it's definitely the weakest of the three I wrote  for the class and I hope it doesn't sink my grade in it. But if I hadn't made the mistakes I did, I wouldn't have had this opportunity to be set straight in my thinking and analysis.

A million thanks again, fab, for your considered and helpful comments.
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 12:33:21 pm »
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Fab, you're not a fan of Francois Furet by any chance...?  Wink

Homelycooking, which Lynn Hunt text are you citing?

I had to use de Tocqueville's Recollections myself recently (in a paper about Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and his coup).  It's funny that I've now read three books by de Tocqueville and still haven't read Democracy in AmericaThe Old Regime and the French Revolution is a magnificent book that has only gotten the respect it deserves in the last 25 years or so.
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 12:40:49 pm »
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Homelycooking, which Lynn Hunt text are you citing?

The French Revolution and Human Rights, a very good primary source reader. Due to the nature of the class, it was unfortunately the only text on the Rev that we read.

The Recollections are a fascinating study in political culture. It's sort of a primer for my inevitable future read of Democracy in America...
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 12:44:11 pm »
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I think I'll echo what Fab said, with the exception that perceiving "rural France" as some uniform entity as deeply conservative (which is not what Fab meant, I'm sure) is wrong: the Montagnard vote in 1849 was quite rural, the biggest opposition to the 1851 coup came from rural areas, there were plenty of 'radical' rural areas (though perhaps not 'radical' in a Marxist sense).

My other main point when I read this paper is that I did not really have a feel in your introduction of sorts what your thesis was, and it only became clearer in the last paragraph(s). One thing which came to my head when reading it and which Fab pointed out well is this:

France has had a problem to adopt real democracy, even when it adopted a republican form of power, even when it ruled a Declaration of Human Rights (from the top and practically used against "the enemies of Liberty", whereas it was a theoretically perfect text).
Philippe Auguste, Louis XI, Louis XIV still live in a way in our political system and ideas since the French Revolution...

In a way, after 1750, France said it changed fundamentally its regime, whereas it only modified the formal way its power is organized...

There is an inherent contradiction in a country which prides itself in chopping the head of a monarch but continues to exercise deference in reference to powerful figures: nobility are still often referred to with their title (Monsieur le Comte, Monsieur le Vicomte etc), there is deep respect in conservative milieus of authority figures to the point where it is ridiculous (some people we knew were all up in arms when we referred to "Mr. Chirac" as "Jacques" or even "Chirac").
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2011, 01:16:55 pm »
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Thanks for the input, Hash. Fair critiques all. And I agree that the thesis is not clearly stated.

My main project in the paper was to show that a democratic spirit came to eventually develop in France after the Enlightenment among the vast majority of Frenchmen. It's entirely correct that many of the old customs and nostalgias, as well as the new utopian/revolutionary perspective on social organization, ran contrary to that spirit and influenced the structures of power. The paper doesn't really account for the paradox that Fab rightly pointed out, so I guess my writing is too caught up in a fascination with the (percieved) wholesale transformation of the organization of government and society.

the biggest opposition to the 1851 coup came from rural areas, there were plenty of 'radical' rural areas (though perhaps not 'radical' in a Marxist sense).

Could you elaborate on that, Hash? I'm interested to know about it.
My excuse for treating France as a homogenous whole: the class I'm taking is very Paris-centric.  A weak statement, sure, but I have to work within the intellectual confines of the readings and perspectives provided me. Tongue 
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2011, 05:51:34 pm »
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Let's be clear: you essay is very interesting and very well-written. It's just that, with some law, history and elections materials, it could have been different. But you had to work with philosophical sources, so that's fine.
Don't be too disappointed Wink
After all, your thesis is far more PC and may well be better rewarded than what The Mikado pointed partly rightly as Furet's ideas Tongue

Hash is right on rural areas, of course.
I meant rural bourgeoisie, more the France boutiquière (though even this France wasn't entirely conservative...).
The agricultural France isn't really the rural one. Agricultural workers and poor peasants were of course big sources of rebellion and "leftist" vote, to say things very, very quickly.
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2011, 10:27:23 am »
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the biggest opposition to the 1851 coup came from rural areas, there were plenty of 'radical' rural areas (though perhaps not 'radical' in a Marxist sense).

Could you elaborate on that, Hash? I'm interested to know about it.
My excuse for treating France as a homogenous whole: the class I'm taking is very Paris-centric.  A weak statement, sure, but I have to work within the intellectual confines of the readings and perspectives provided me. Tongue 

On what part?

A lot of the resistance to the December 2, 1851 was concentrated in rural areas such as the Basses-Alpes, Hautes-Alpes, Diois, Baronnies, parts of Allier, the Var, parts of the SW (Gers) and parts of the Languedoc (Beziers). Opposition in urban areas was quickly crushed and not as significant. The only canton to vote No in the plebiscite was Vernoux, which was a rural Protestant canton in the Ardeche.

As for radical (non-Marxist) area, a lot of the places of small property but also places like the Var, Drome, Herault, Limousin, Allier, Cher, Indre and so forth. The map of the 1849 elections is a pretty good guide to rural left-wing areas which would continue to be that way until the 1890s at least and in some cases until the 1970s.
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2011, 12:39:10 pm »
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There is an inherent contradiction in a country which prides itself in chopping the head of a monarch but continues to exercise deference in reference to powerful figures: nobility are still often referred to with their title (Monsieur le Comte, Monsieur le Vicomte etc), there is deep respect in conservative milieus of authority figures to the point where it is ridiculous (some people we knew were all up in arms when we referred to "Mr. Chirac" as "Jacques" or even "Chirac").

Important thing to remember about so-called French "nobility". Many of current "Comtes", "Vicomtes" etc. etc. were not descendants of the real nobility, but started to use these titles with purchase of estates; some as late as after collapse of the Second Empire. Some, like VGE's daddy or Maurice Couve de Murville, adopted extended name under rather weak regard to ancestry.

Btw, some people were mistaking Jacques Chaban-Delmas for nobility, but that was diffrent matter (adopting nom de guerre as a part of legal name).
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2011, 05:19:13 pm »
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Also, aren't even a lot of the "aristocracy" in fact descended from Restoration-era "nobility" rather than the real Old Regime set?
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Einzige is a poltroon who cowardly turns down duel challenges he should be honor-bound to accept. The Code Duello authorizes you to mock and belittle such a pathetic honorless scoundrel.
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