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Alexis de Tocqueville- french rev notes.docx

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New York University

Alexis de Tocqueville- The old regime and the French revolution notes Ch 2 -the main aim of the rev was not to overthrow religious and to weaken political authority in France -seemed antireligious because they believed “that all men are born equal and its corollary, the abolition of all privileges of class, caste and profession” (6) -18 century philosophers attacked the Church by “declaimed against its clergy , its hierarchy, institutions, and dogmas” (6) -“Church was hated” because its priest were “landed proprietors, lords of manors, tithe owners and played a leading part in secular affairs” ( 6) -“since the object of the Revolution was not merely to change an old form of government but to abolish the entire social structure of pre-revolutionary France, it was obliged to declare war simultaneously on all established powers, to destroy all recognized prerogatives, to make short work of all traditions, and to institute new ways of living, new conventions” (8) -rulers everywhere “are breaking down class distinctions, leveling out inequalities, replacing members of the aristocracy with trained civil servants, …and a diversity of powers with a strong, centralized government” (9) Ch3 -although objectives were political the rev followed the lines of a religious rev -it had “repercussions far beyond French territory, but like all great religious movements it resorted to propaganda and broadcast a gospel” (11) -“common to all religions is an interest in the human personality” and “the chief aim of a religion is to regulate both the relations of the individual man with his Maker and his rights and duties towards his fellow men on a universal plane” (11) -rules based on human nature, “they hold good for men in general all the world over” (11) -French revolutions’ approach to problems of man’s existence here on earth was similar to that of the religious revolutions as regards his afterlife. It viewed the “citizen” from an abstract angle, that is to say as an entity ind
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