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The Period of Enlightenment and French Revolution


The period of Enlightenment was marked by great transformations in social and political consciousness of European nations. This period had a great impact on national identity of nations and their unity, self-determination and state sovereignty.

The revolutions can be characterized as one of the milestone events in European history which led to formation of the state and the nation. The historical significance of the revolutions is that they opened new opportunities for the European people to fight for personal freedom and liberty, independence and self-governance. With an independent and developing Western Europe, there would be a steady increase in the production of agricultural and manufactured goods. Population of the lands virtually vacant at that time would probably double in twenty to twenty-five years with no corresponding diminution of it in the European nations from which emigration will have occurred.

Discussion Section

The French Revolution and struggle with the conservative and monarchial tradition shows that it is the duty of nations to recognize the right of expatriation to under-populated areas richly endowed with resources. This concept derives from natural laws of which mankind are rational observers and agents. The social order should be regulated by “fixed laws” which make the entire scene one of “order and proportion.”

The second condition leading to minority rule occurs, when one-third of the population who choose rulers becomes a majority by the “accession” of those whose poverty excludes them from the right to vote and for this reason are likely to join in “sedition” instead of supporting the established government. The revolutions changed international relations and opened new opportunities for international trade. The government of France and Britain received a chance to trade with the rest of the world and supply cotton, tea and other goods (Spielvogel 2005, p. 32).

For leaders of the French Revolution promoted democratic freedoms and creation of the new forms of the state power. In spite of great opportunities and benefits proposed by the new regime, it could not solve the problems of spiritual life and meet century-old traditions of the nation. The revolutionary movement was a response to false ideals and values imposed by the government. The leaders of this movement, promoted the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance typical for new religion (Spielvogel 2005, p. 87).

Thus a tradition of the absolute ruler was accepted within France. Though, this issue was not seen as radical in intention, but rather as a way to goad the fully accepted kingly bureaucratic status into specific action against exact problems. The removal of the absolute leader and his substitute with a more active and competent one did become part of the political structure. This was distinctive to France as rationalism had changed itself within the court through the elite sector of the mandarin chain of command, and to whom the divinity and magic of the emperorship had been reduced (Israeli 2002, p. 87).

It is important to note that the French leaders of the 1789-1815 revolution wanted to maintain and even support the unifying emperorship, did not destroy old state institutions, but rather confident its preservation among the workers. As long as the workers believed in magic, they could believe in a divine king. Both the political and cultural union of France were maintained (Gay 1995, p. 23). The state bureaucracy gained real control over this charmed organization, and spread its rational policy into the cultural mix. Finally, new political traditions–in the area of everyday life–also became a democratically unifying event. But, the leaders of the revolution showed a great deal of acceptance toward the precursor (Spielvogel 2005, p. 32).

Because the political ideas of France created as administratively rational, but only as linked to an irrational, all powerful, inner power endowed with a magically unbreakable “manufactured” charismatic legality. In this situation, equality between social classes was important for the leaders and society as political power and as a feeling of consonance with the past. Broken out of the traditional structure, the leaders began to search for some other form of culture. Because the people were being subjugated by the world’s powers, they began to study the views of these nations (Spielvogel 2005, p. 54).

New trends were marked by increased social and political consciousness often nation and belief in social equality and the idea state. Further this situation changed and many political leaders including Mao supposed the view that a democracy linked to democratic modifications or individualism would help to control the populace (Israeli 2002, p. 11). The religious tradition were not seen as mysterious but wished to establish it full-blown in France.

The difficulty for democratic revolutionary group was not France’s political culture, but the supporting reality of alienated militarily. New regime, which was founded and institutionalized, and which allowed for free communication and the formulation of new ideology, was unproductive, not because the French couldn’t manage democracy, but because the political leaders did not distinguish the power and legitimacy of the self-governing and religious regime, and actively opposed it. The communist regime completely changed the urban population from the power of the party (Spielvogel 2005, p. 66).

By insisting that the party leaders had become like the mandarins of old–and this is not what communism was supposed to have meant for French –the leaders destabilized the party. The party members themselves were under attack for reform and reduction of expenditure. The new regime required to destroy both the old monarchy and any references to the past. France had drifted hazardously toward chaos, and the leaders did what they could in order to save his state.

But the French citizens are no longer compassionate in their feelings toward the administration. The communist cadres became confused themselves, and began to lie and cover up their errors (The French Revolution Economic Conditions 2002).

The revolution, with its final end of democracy wipe out the last bit of authority that the workers loaned the regime. In such circumstances, new political leaders feared the power and importance of democracy in France so the only possible way to gain the power was to destroy the old monarchy. The workers and urban citizens were aware that the political changes, so they did not want that, yet they could see that the new politicians were not expedient, but nation-serving. The system of the revolution seemed to be linked to the past, and this was reassuring for a nation that had begun to refuse its past culture and social life (Spielvogel 2005, p. 38).


In sum, Enlightment period influenced ideas and perception of people and led to new political actions. New revolutions brought new ideas and new social relations trying to promote equality and liberty. European countries did not fear the rising power of the independent nations. Unfortunately, many nations could hold monarchial power in contempt because of lack of force, internal dissensions, and existing system of government. All of these factors made it very difficult to establish and execute an aggressive national and social policy.

List of References

DeFronzo, J. Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements. Westview Press; Third Edition edition, 2007.

Gay, P. The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism. W. W. Norton & Company, 1995.

The French Revolution Economic Conditions. 2002. On-line. Web.

Israeli, J. Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.

Spielvogel, J. J. Western Civilization (19th Cent. Europe). Wadsworth Publishing; 6th edition, 2005.

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