Lecture 8 - Renaissance (Florence v. Venice) and Democratic Revolutions part 2

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27 Mar 2012
Lecture 8, November 8, 2010
Last Week
o Opposition between 2 city republics, Florence and Venice
o Mechanism created to offset conflicts
o Florence, stratified society, sortition, scrutiny, rotation
o Venice, election, 5 or 6 families consistently re-elected
o English revolution of 1640
o Elements contained in 3 major revolutions of modern times
o English revolution of 1640
New Model Army divided, grandees, levellers
o Putney debate, key question of legitimacy, what will make government not only
legal but also legitimate
o CONSENT: triumph of election over lottery
o Cannot give the right to vote to all -> chaos, anarchy, danger
o Only those with a fixed interest should have the right to vote
American Revolution
1776, American declaration of independence, birth of U.S.A.
1775, 13 colonies declared war against Great Britain
American war of independence, 1775-1783
With decisive help of France, American colonies will manage to defeat Britain
Treaty of Paris 1783, recognize America as a nation
British policy of taxing the 13 colonies to pay for 7 years against France met with great
resistance within American colonies
Contrary to contemporary, wasn’t upset of principle of paying taxes
o Pay taxes to place where they have no representation, no voice
“No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry of 1st American
revolutionaries (political legitimacy rest on consent)
o Express the sentiment that it was illegitimate to raise taxes of people who were
denied access to political process
13 colonies will engaged in many acts of civil disobedience
o Boycott British goods, refuse to sell taxation stamps, “disobey”, non-violent
direct action
o To express illegitimacy of British rule
o Acts of disobedience is part of democratic experience
Boston Tea Party, 1773, resistance to British imperial rule
o British decided to tax tea and other essential goods, small group of American
rebels dumped all the tea in Boston harbour
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Acts of civil disobedience that made up American revolution were motivated by the
same principle of the debate at Putney, American revolutionaries will echo the political
position of the levellers, first seek the consent of those who are to submit to his rule”
If people do not agree, governments cannot govern
American declaration of independence in 1776 (1/3 revolutionaries, a lot left for Canada)
o Founding fathers were convinced that only consent was key to political
legitimacy, in the opening paragraphs of the declaration
o That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed
o Rearticulation and confirmation
Voting shows consent to the institution
French revolution 1789 1914, 1799, July 1795
Extremely complex, multifaceted
France governed by an absolute monarch, Louis XVI, dominated by a small fraction of
population, aristocrats and high clergy; 2% ruling the other 98%
France aristocracy and catholic church were exempted from most obligations to the
state (e.g., no taxes)
Both aristocracy and clergy benefited from special “privileges”
o Given by birth or by vocation (priest)
98%: merchant class (bourgeoisie), peasants, assume expenses and extravagancies of
the French aristocracy
2 distinct periods, quest for a constitutional monarchy (king/queen’s power limited by
constitution), and establishment of a republic
Quest for a constitutional monarchy 1789-1792 (calmer phase)
o Proclamation of the rights of mans and citizens 1789
Equality rights, freedom rights, also property rights and right to resist
o Constitution of 1791
Limit the powers of the King, transform Louis XVI into Louis Capet, top
civil servant of the land
Change in king’s title, Louis Capet will no longer be the King of France,
becomes King of the French (now responsible for his actions towards
people of French, King no longer embodies the nation call France,
French people themselves no embodies the nation)
o Will not survive in an important event, King’s flight from Paris, fuite a Varennes
Demonstrated that the King is against revolution, did not accept the
curtailment of his powers
Point to the idea that King’s in a conspiracy against revolution, by
leaving Paris he might leaving to get help from other crown heads of
Europe (other kings in Europe might help)
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