Lecture 5- Revolutions of 1848.docx

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Political Science
Spyridon Kostivilis

Poli Sci and Modern Europe Lecture 5: The French Revolution and 1848 Making a Good Voluntarism Argument 1. Identify the specific decision/event (e.g. bad harvest) that causes the outcome. 2. Decision should be highly contingent. It should be easy to imagine that it could go the other way. It is not contingent if: a. Decision overwhelmingly in the interest of the actor (e.g. a government taxing, since governments have to tax to get money). b. Hard to imagine someone making a different decision/action. 3. Show specifically how a decision/action affected an outcome. • A N EXAMPLE ARGUMENT  ROBESPIERRE AS AN INPIRATION BEHIND THE TERROR . Marxist Interpretation of the French Revolution • Rise of the commercial class and elimination of barriers to capitalism  bourgeois revolution. • Role of the commercial class in the revolution: o Third estate – support voting by head. o Revolution supported by “middle class” – Artisans, shopkeepers. • Impact of Revolution: o Strengthens private property. o Barriers to national market eliminated. • Critique of Marxist Approach: 1. Blurred lines of conflict (sizeable minority of aristocrats/clergy support voting by head. 2. Conflicts within ruling class 3. Revolution strengthens state, not entrepreneurs. Skocpol and the French Revolution • Weakened French state due to international competition from stronger powers (such as England). They lost the 7 years war and that resulted in financial problems (debt counts for 60% of expenditures). The state was also weak because many people had the choice to pay taxes. • The elite resistance to state reform meant that French elitists depended on the state, but did nothing to make it stronger. Parlements and nobles gave up privileges. The officers of the state refused to suppress the resistance. • There was also Autonomous Peasantry and peasants were extremely oppressed. The revolution was needed to reform the social system. • Problems with Skocpol: 1. Very little room for agency. 2. No real theory of human revolts, which were key to the revolution. 3. No ideology – can we understand the French Revolution without enlightenment ideas? Revolutions of 1848 – The Role of Diffusion • Raises opposition and the expectations of what is possible. It solves the collective action problem by focusing demands of population. • Discourages incumbents and is less likely to take risks to save the regime. • Reinforcing logic snowballing the more success the more it seems possible to happen. • In 1848 France was a constitutional monarchy with a 60% literacy (Russia had only 5%). Germany had eight separate kingdoms, and the Habsburg Empire was in control of Italy and surrounding states. • Also in the 1800s was the emergence of nationalism. There was also a lot of political opinions that rose that was separate of the leader (newspapers, discussions, etc.). There was increased hunger as part of the industrial revolution (as seen in France). The Revolutions • The revolutions begin in France
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