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"More Fraternité Than Liberté" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2020 8:34 p.m. PST

"The French Revolution of 1789 astonished the world, and then came Napoleon Bonaparte, one of those rare historical figures who defined an epoch. The cascade of events between 1789 and Napoleon's final defeat in 1815 gave birth to much of what we know as modern politics: revolution as a leap into the future, "right" and "left" as political markers, the notion of universal human rights, the extension of voting rights to most men, the "emancipation" of the Jews, the first successful slave revolt and the first abolition of slavery, not to mention the use of terror as an instrument of government and guerrilla warfare as a tactic of resistance, along with the police state, authoritarianism, and the cult of personality as ways of circumventing democratic aspirations.

Those are just the obvious political consequences of these upheavals. A dangerously unstable element was added in 1792: warfare that continued with little respite for twenty-three years. The fighting eventually touched virtually every continent and sea, took the lives of at least four million people and upended the existence of millions more, redrew national boundaries, led to the creation of new states, and struck fear into the hearts of every traditional ruler from New Spain (Mexico) to Java. France's war with most of Europe unraveled the fragile democratic promise of 1789, as national security undermined rights at home and French aggrandizement abroad undercut any notion of liberating other peoples…"
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