French Revolution - Richard Muvdi Western Civ. II Prof....

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Richard Muvdi Western Civ. II Prof. Lesko February 29, 2008 Quiz #4 In the 18 th century, the traditional rulers of Europe- the kings, aristocrats, and clergy, despised the French Revolution because it was the final blow that ended their hierarchical titles. When the revolutionaries executed Louis XVI, confiscated the church’s land, and ended the privileges instilled in the aristocracy, and instituted the Reign of Terror that was the end of the old France. The conservatives found a political philosophy to counter the thoughts of the Enlightenment. In Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France he played a key role in shaping the ideas of conservatism. Burke wanted to warn his fellow countrymen how dangerous the revolutionaries’ ideology was. Burke predicted that the Revolution would lead to a military dictatorship and terror among the citizens. Burke thought of the revolutionaries as “fanatics armed with abstract ideas divorced from historical experience” and that they had led France to an unneeded revolution. He developed a political philosophy that opposed the ideology of the Enlightenment and the Revolution. The Continental Reactionaries, Joseph de Maistre and Vicomte Louis de Bonald also despised the French Revolution. De Maistre denounced the ideas of the revolution saying that they were “insurrections against God”. In his Reflections on the State of France he argued with the philosophes of the French Revolution who he blamed for instigating the whole Revolution. He denounced the whole idea of political of religious liberalism. He thought of the Revolution as some kind of “satanic evil” that needed to be removed from the culture of Christian Europe. De Bonald, like De Maistre, readily defended the monarchy and attacked the ideas of the Enlightenment as “an enemy of faith”. His religious and political beliefs can be summarized in this famous quote, “When God wished to punish France,
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he took away the Bourbon from her governance.” The philosophes and the revolutionaries envisioned a community that was free and independent. Conservatives, however, believed that the individual citizen could only function well as part of a social group, i.e. family, church, or the state, but alone the individual would be selfish and frail. They believed that through a social group, the individual could learn manners and cooperation. The conservatives feared that the revolutionaries would dissolve society into severed parts. Also, they thought that individualism would put at risk social stability, destroy the obedience to the laws, and break society into “self- seeking atoms”. The conservatives holding the belief that the community was much more important than the individual, they rejected the philosophy of natural rights. They believed that the state would always remember the needs of the community, there where no individual rights but on the rights of the French, the English etc. determined by the independent state. Conservatives viewed equality as another harmful concept that contradicted all historical
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French Revolution - Richard Muvdi Western Civ. II Prof....

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