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Analysis of the French Revolution

Georges Lefebvre, in The Coming of the French Revolution, argues convincingly that the revolution can be best understood by viewing it as four interrelated revolutions --- the aristocratic, the bourgeois, the popular, and the peasant revolutions. Lefebvre presents these turbulent and overlapping events in such an orderly way that the reader gains a clear perspective on both the historical and human elements of the revolution. It is certainly one of the author's intentions to show the process of the revolution as it moved through its various grand stages, but Lefebvre also seeks to show that politics is at its root human and not merely cold historical processes.

Writing of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, Lefebvre says,

The Declaration in proclaiming the rights of man appeals at the same time to discipline freely consented to, to sacrifice if need be, to cultivation of character and to the mind. Liberty is by no means an invitation to indifference or to irresponsible power; nor is it the promise of unlimited well-being without a counterpart of toil and effort (p. 220).

The author argues effectively that the revolution was the result of forces---economic, political, social, historical---which could not be stopped as they drove to transform France in the late 18th century. However, the author's argument should not be seen as Marxist in any sense of the word. To the contrary, Lefebvre sees the French Revolution as a triumph of democracy in its early stages, and there is a clear link in the author's mind between democracy and capitalism.

Lefebvre argues that it is misleading to see the leaders of the French Revolution as selfish property-owners who wanted primarily to preserve their own political and economic power:

They had before their eyes a society in which modern capitalism was barely beginning, and in which the increase of productive capacity seemed the essential corrective to poverty an...

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Analysis of the French Revolution. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:49, July 01, 2022, from