Enlightenment and the Age of Revolutions

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  • Created on: 18-05-18 12:59

Liberalism a revolutionary ideology?

Christopher Bayly:

KP - Revolutionary, seen in its consequences.

  • Contemporaries understood the ideological consequences of 1789 were of world class importance (self aware).
  • Process of rev. 'ricocheted' around the world.
  • Visionary thinkers announced the American rev. heralded a new order of the ages.
  • Intellectuals of both left and right believed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen threatened to blow apart all old forms of moral and political authority.
  • Creation of new, stronger, more intrusive states, European, Colonial and Extra-European was strongest legacy.
  • Liberalism sank shallow roots in many societies across the world.
  • Everywhere imperial and rev. armies travelled they found people eager for change.
  • Symbol of 'the people' - idea that people had rights and could act as a creative even rev. force in politics was globalised.
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Liberalism a revolutionary ideology?

Lynn Hunt:

KP - rev. due to the new ideas centered around it.

  • Hardly anyone or any country was exempt from the impact.
  • Rev. ideas and institutions travelled far and wide.
  • French rev. idea of the Rights of Man has been seen as part of the circulation of ideas and cultural practices between and within Europe and Americas.
  • New notions and practices concerning individual autonomy took shape from the 1760s onwards in the Atlantic world.
  • Like human rights, independence, placed in a global context, circulated an idea and set of political practices.

Peter Campbell:

KP - Rev. but due to influence of the enlightenment

  • French rev. 'shatteringly' transformative of state and society.
  • Drew profoundly on the movement of enlightenment ideas in the eighteenth century.
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Liberalism a revolutionary ideology?

Peter McPhee:

KP - Rev. examines impact in the modern era.

  • Bicentary of rev. coincided with a new wave of revs, this time against soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe.
  • Most people have seen the rev. based on sincere liberal beliefs in tolerance and judicial process until national convention was forced to compromise due to violent counter-revolution.
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Why was the revolution violent?

Donald Sutherland:

KP - People turned to violence due to the high stakes

  • The stakes were so high. From the earliest days of 1789, ordinary people knew the breakdown was an opportunity to rid themselves of oppression.
  • Rev. taught ordinary people to express their aspirations in democratic language.

Lynn Hunt:

KP - Examines from global, national and local contexts, believes it can be best understood from local context.

  • Whilst aspiration for popular sovereignty clearly crossed borders, popular violence seems especially rooted in local contexts.
  • Example - fall of the bastille appears to be an internal French affair, even a Parisian one, in terms of how it unfolded.
  • Yet rev. political practices circulated just as surely did the declaration.
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Why was the revolution violent?

Peter McPhee:

KP - violence was a central, significant aspect of the revolution.

  • All revolutionaries had to come to terms with large-scale popular violence, its successes and its excesses.
  • Violence made the rev. possible.
  • Seen the rev. as based on sincere beliefs in tolerance and judicial process until the National Convention was forced by circumstances of violent counter-revolution to compromise some of its founding policies.
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What were the global implications?

Christopher Bayly:

KP - ideas from the rev. were transported worldwide.

  • Contemporaries quickly understood the ideological consequences of 1789 were of world class importance.
  • Impact of the rev. and napoleonic state carried well beyond the French conquest itself.
  • The idea that people had rights and could also act as a creative, even rev. force in politics was globalised.

Lynn Hunt:

KP - Rev. had global impact which can be seen most clearly in the colonies.

  • Hardly anyone or any country was exempt from the impact of the French rev. ideas and wars.
  • Between 1792-1796, citizens of the US celebrated the French rev. more than Washington's bday or independence day.
  • Colonies - free men of colour demand equal political rights with their white counterparts.
  • Haitian rev - events in France influenced Saint Domingue and vice versa.
  • Other Caribbean islands also felt the impact - within a month of inital uprising Jamaican slaves were singing songs about it.
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What were the global implications?

  • Universalistic claims of the declaration of rights of man and citizen excited an international debate about human rights and their universalism ensured an international audience.

Peter McPhee:

KP - Recognises contemporary and modern day implications.

  • The two great waves of revolutionary change since the 1980s - the overthrow of regimes in eastern and Southeastern Europe and the 'Arab Spring' - have served to revivify out interest in the world-changing upheavals of the late eighteenth century.
  • Historians have long reflected on the intellectual and cultural similarities and differences in what have been called the 'age of the Atlantic revolution'.
  • The new historiography includes studies of global politics, personal and intellectual nerworks, Caribbean slave societies, and wider European and Mediterranean links.
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