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Chapter 1

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Darryl Burgwin

Chapter 1 - The Course of French Revolution: Feb. 1848 to Dec. 1851 People: Hegel, Robespierre, Louis Blanc, Blanqui, Danton, Guizot. Terms: Bourgeoisie, Proletariat. Questions for discussion: 1. What were the three periods Marx identifies in this period and what were the main events that marked out the development of each phase? 2. “All great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. ... the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Can you think of modern day events like this, or instances from your personal experience? 3. “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past” Can you illustrate what this means in terms of current political problems? 4. Can you give contemporary examples of how political leaders “conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.” 5. But Marx says “The revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content”, so how is it possible for the working class to avoid simply borrowing its slogans from the past? 6. Marx describes the difference between the way a bourgeois revolution progresses in contrast to how the proletariat develops politically. Why is there this difference? 7. Can you describe the process whereby the defeated proletariat got itself back into the struggle in the “third period”? 8. Marx describes the broadening and narrowing of the base of the government. At what point was it broadest and why, and at what point was it narrowest and why? Chapter 2 - The Downfall of the Republicans Terms: Bonapartism, Freedom. Questions for discussion: 1. How did it come about that a proletarian uprising put a group of reactionaries into power? 2. How did the republicans undermine the freedoms which the French Revolution had claimed to establish, and how was the struggle over these rights reflected in the Constitution? 3. What do you think about Marx's analysis of the relative position of the President and the Legislature, thinking in terms of the government in your own country? 4. What mistake did the republicans make in making a constitution that was impossible to amend, and why were they thrown out? 5. How did Napoleon come to be able wield power in France, and what lesson does Marx say he learnt from the Barrot Ministry and the Party of Order? Chapter 3 - The Rise of Louis Bonaparte Terms: Legitimists, Historical Materialism, Questions for discussion: 1. Who were the Constitutionalists, the Girondists and the Jacobins? 2. Can you think of examples in your own experience of situations, maybe in the workers' movement, where every party relied on the party to its left, and on the other hand, where every party relied on the party to its right? And what happens at the end? 3. What were the social bases of the House of Bourbon, the House of Orleans, the Legitimate Monarchy and the July Monarchy? 4. What function does the Monarchy perform for the bourgeoisie, and on the other hand, why does Marx say that only a republic can make their rule complete? 5. What brought the petty bourgeoisie and the workers together and what price did the proletariat pay for this support? 6. “What makes them representatives of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems and solutions to which m
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