Post 160 FRENCH REVOLUTION 1789
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BLOG 160 July 14, 2014
FRENCH REVOLUTION 1789
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 1789
Today, 14 July 2014, is the day of FETE NATIONALE (National Day) in France. We all know that 225 years ago on July 14, 1789 rioters stormed the Bastille fortress and the French Revolution started. Probably when we were students, we learned about the French Revolution –a rich period of historical events, full of figures in all sorts, cruelty, idealism, patriotism, hope and illusion- I am sure that each one of us did love or hate some consequences of this revolution and in the same time admire or disapprove these ‘heroes’. There were plenty of ‘heroes’ including extremists, criminals, innocents, dictators, executors, and executed! Many names are still today well remembered such as: Marat, Robespierre, Lavoisier, Philippe Egalité, La Fayette, LouisXVI, Marie-Antoinette … and certainly Napoleon Bonaparte.
My question is: Today -with the global world and the era of information technology, and with the distance to the time we were students- would our views and convictions have changed or adjusted under the light of new knowledge? Would we wish that our children or possibly our grand-children see History in the same way we did?
It is easy to give a quick answer such as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ according to our sentiment or conviction. But it would be much better if each one of us could forget about what we believed and then, with open mind, read –old and new- documents on the French Revolution from different perspectives. Probably, I wish, new views and judgments will emerge. From my part, this week-end I have done my home-work and here is my result:
I focused my efforts on many things and narrowed on just a few things I call ‘the Best’ and ‘the Worst’, as follows:
-BEST: The separation of the State and the Religion, consequently this helped Education, Sciences, Social and Economics to better progress.
-WORST: The illusion about Revolution, consequently it opened the way to extremists, to mass execution, exodus of the elite, and many unnecessary destructions; also it paved the way for dictators. Was it really justified such a sacrifice imposed on the people of France at the crucial period of Industrial Revolution (1760-1820) which required talents, investments, development, and social order?
Conclusion: In many cases evolution is better than revolution, and ironically the term revolution also means a complete circular movement to come back to the starting point!
Charles Phan Hoang
July 14, 2014