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Early Modern Revolutions - Essay Example

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Early Modern Revolutions

After a discussion on these questions, this paper finally ends with a short conclusion.
To understand the concept of revolution, it said that it is best to postpone any attempt to define it until one has inquired into its history. A revolution must not be considered as timeless thing that is wanting of change and variety. Like all human artifacts revolution has a history; therefore, one's understanding of revolution must be sensitive to those changes. Relative to this discussion are the views of revolutionists Max Weber and Friedrich Nietzsche during their time.1
Weber (1864-1920) said, "Definition can be attempted, if at all, only at the conclusion of the study." Meanwhile, Nietzsche (1844-1900) held that "only that which has no history can be defined."2 To understand then a revolution, we look to its history.
Both the American and French revolutions happened in the late 18th centuries. Although the two revolutions took place at different occasions and different continents, their causes were very much alike. The American and French Revolutions did acutally both begin with conservative intentions. The Americans wished, they said, to go back to the working arrangement that they had had with the British state since the seventeenth century. On the other hand, the French wished to restore power to the old institutions of the parliaments and the Estates-General. In both cases the revolution rapidly went beyond these conservative premises, to the alarm of many who began the revolution.3
A new concept of revolution arose in the course of these revolutions. Tom Paine, whose pamphlet Common Sense (1776) called the American Revolution as "the birth-day of a new world," went on in The Rights of Man (1791-1792) to see the French and American Revolutions as jointly introducing a truly "age of Revolutions, in which everything may be looked for." Paine4 said -
"What were formerly called Revolutions, were little more than a change of persons, or an alteration of local circumstances. They rose and fell like things, of course, and had nothing in their existence or their fate that could influence beyond the spot that produced them. But what we now see in the world, from the Revolutions of America and France, are a renovation of the natural order of things, a system of principles as universal as truth and the existence of man, and combining moral with political happiness and national prosperity." (Paine, 1984 ed., p. 144)

Revolution has come to mean the action of human will and human reason upon an imperfect and unjust world, to bring into being the good society, a world of reality.5 At this point, the powerful writing of Sieys (In Whitcomb, 1899)6 can come full to render insights on man's "acting upon an imperfect and unjust world to bring into being the good society." Sieys,7 was said to be the spokesman of the Third Estate in the preliminary struggle for the organization. He wrote about public functions in which he said that the Third Estate attends to nineteen-twentieths of them, with this distinction: "that it is laden with all that which is really painful, with all the burdens which the privileged classes refuse to carry." And then he asked, "Do we give the Third Estate credit for this" He continued -
That this might come about, it would be necessary that the Third Estate should refuse to fill these places, or that it should be less ready to exercise their ...Show more

Summary

There are so many contradictory views about the Revolution, particularly that of the French. To help decipher some of the puzzling problems of revolutionary ideology, it will be of value to look into the discourses of historians of modern Europe and their students.
Author : phoebe07
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