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Lecture 4

Lecture 4--French Revolution and 1848.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
Lucan Way

The French Revolution and 1848 Midterm: Will give us a Voluntarist argument and we are asked to refute it with a Structuralist argument. ● Have deep understanding between the two ● Know the two cases well enough so that you’ll know which factors that will account for both What is a good voluntarist argument (VA)? ● Specific action or decision or event that causes the outcome (e.g. bad harvest) ○ By saying they are human beings, does not mean it’s a good argument ■ To what extent is it free choice (imagine it going one way or another etc.) ● Highly contingent -- easily go the other way (e.g. weather etc.) ○ And show that this contingency is caused the outcome ○ NOT VA when decision overwhelmingly in the interests of the actor ■ e.g. Whether Louis XVI taxes or not. Because the king needs money, he really had no choice but to tax the citizens. ■ e.g. Marrying Marie Antoinette would be a better argument. ○ NOT VA when it’s hard to imagine someone making another choice ■ e.g. Arab Spring--When he went to resign is not a VA. What made him choose to resign? Voluntarist Argument for French Revolution ● Mistakes by Louis XVI? ○ Louis XVI radicalizes the Parlements in 1788 by arresting the members of the Paris Parlement, which lead to the calling of Estates General ● Robespierre as the inspiration behind the Terror ○ No structural reason for Robespierre’s role and inspiration to exist Marxist Interpretation of the French Revolution ● Helped shape his own thinking ● Rise of the bourgeoisie or commercial class (Bourgeoisie Revolution) ○ What told him it was a class based conflict? ■ e.g. October 17--The fact that the working class women broke into the palace at Versailles for the first time, and want equality. Demanded the King to accompany them back to Paris. ■ Some of the major actors of the revolution was the poor (in rioting and forcing the system to collapse) ● Eliminate the barriers to Capitalism ○ Role of commercial class in revolution ■ Rise of the third estate by the Estates General ■ 98% of population on had 33% of the vote. They said no to voting by order (class and birthright) and yes to voting by head ● Revolution supported by middle class (artisans and shopkeepers) ○ All based on class-based analysis ○ Impact of the Revolution: ■ Strengthened private property ■ Barriers to national market is eliminated ● Limitations to the Marxist Approach ○ Blurred lines of conflict ■ It wasn’t the case where only the Third Estate supported voting by head. A minority of aristocrats and clergy supported it. One of the initial moments was in fact 30 aristocrats. ○ Conflicts within the ruling class just as intense as the conflict between classes ■ Why was the Estate General called in the first place? Because there was conflicts between the aristocrats and the king due to taxation. ■ Conflict within the elite allows the lower classes to emerge. ○ Revolution strengthened the state (created a bureaucracy) not the entrepreneurs Skocpol and the French Revolution ● Weakened French State ○ Why was the state weak enough to all the masses to win? ○ International competition from stronger foreign powers. France has to raise money (taxes) to compete with England. ● Efforts at reform ● Strong resistance or rebellion by aristocracy or other elites ● Opening for peasant rebellion → Allie with the urban radicals → Change in social order/revolution International Pressures ● International pressures ○ Lost wars (Seven Years War, War of Austrian Succession) ○ American Revolution ■ The state is overwhelmed due to loans Weak French State ● Weak revenue in raising capacities ○ Louis the XVI’s power is actually decentralised. So many people had the right to not pay taxes. ○ Privileges ○ Venal offices where he sold bureaucratic positions (short term cash, long term = you’re stuck with them till you buy them out) ■ Ineffective administration, are they even good at their job?! ■ A key to a good government is able to fire people ● He’s saving money to support the aristocrat’s interests. Need money to keep the system. BUT Aristocracy is resistant to taxes and tax reform “screw you I want to keep my money” ○ Parlements ■ Nobles refuse to give up privileges ○ The officers of state often refuse to suppress resistance ● Estates General ○ Skocpol: Why was the general called in the first place? It is a function of the weak state, whose not even able to tax their nobility. ○ Marx: ○ ON THE MIDTERM. Skocpol vs. Marx on Estates General. ● Autonomous Peasantry ○ French peasantry had ownership had large portions of land passed on within family ○ Carry out their own affairs (had heavy rents or controls) ○ They are in the position to carry out massive rebellions → Downfall of French social system Problem with Skocpol ● Very little room for agency (Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Robespierre) ● No theory of urban revolts, key to the revolution ● No ideology, that we can understand the French revolution without enlightenment ideas Summary of French Revolution ● First stage: Constitutional Monarchy ● Second Stage: Terror ● Marx, Skocpol, Voluntarist Revolutions of 1848 ● Classic example of the role of diffusion (Voluntaristic because it’s purely by example and perception. Not economic interest, etc.) ○ Inspires opposition ■ What seemed impossible is now possible! ■ Solves the collective action problem by focusing demands of the population ■ Creates sense that there are fewer costs to rebellion ○ Discourages incumbents ■ Preemptive reform ■ Less likely to take risks to save regime. Why stick out neck to save yourself when it’s going to happen? ■ Deer in headlights! ○ Reinforcing logic snowballing ■ The more success the more it seems inevitable ● Main powers were: France, Habsburg Empire (multi-ethnicity), Austrian Empire, 8 German states (biggest was Prussia), Italian states, UK Trends in early 1800s ● Your culture = country ○ If you’re German then you’re part of the German state ○ Emergence of nationalism, a “young Europe” ● Civil Society ○ Increasing amount of newspapers, arenas for people to discuss and form opinions separate from the king
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