POLC73 – Week 2 – 18/09/2012
The French Revolution
- Pivotal in launching liberal democracy
- Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France
- King had to raise taxes for the war against Britain (in Canada)
- Needed permission from the aristocracy (The Estates General)
- Separated by clergy, aristocracy, and people. Each group has one vote.
- People wanted to expand the number of votes given to the people (the 3rd estate). Aristocracy
and clergy voted against it.
- Political terms of left and right come from the Estates General, in which the people sat on the
left and the aristocracy on the right (clergy in the middle).
- Got rid of the king, enfranchised workers, redistributed land; also attempted to intentionally
change culture (ie changing the calendar to 10 months and renaming the months)
- Bloody executions of the king; counter-revolutionary movements against redistribution and
atheistic ties of the revolutionaries. Total roughly 100.000 deaths.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
- From a modest background.
- Scholarship student
- House of commons, not house of lords.
- Strong opposition to the exploitative nature of British colonialism in India.
Reactions to Reflections...
- When it was first published it was popular, but controversial; people were mostly excited
about France having the opportunity to be more politically like Britain.
- Later, though, after the horrors, people thought he was prescient and ahead of his time.
- Manly liberty: both man versus beast and man versus woman
- Liberty in the abstract as freeing criminals and madmen; rhetorically tying revolutionaries
with criminals and the insane.
-Also presents them as like slaves.
- “Jew broker”; manipulating the people with ideas of liberty and equality in order to advance
their own careers.
- “Piercing with bayonets”: sexually violent imagery associating the revolutionaries with
Freedom is a benefit, but not a universal right. It is a privilege earned through good judgement and
balanced against the need for social order.
Burke's Theory of Freedom/Rights
- Not based on “metaphysical abstraction”
- Rights are bas