Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer and Liberal Thought in France
Chapter 5. The Revolution of 1848
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THE REVOLUTION OF 1848
From 1830 to 1848, the social and political situation in France changed considerably, and after years of relative calm, chaos returned. In the eyes of many liberals of varying allegiance, the main cause could be attributed to political and social centralization, which intensified spectacularly following the events of February 1848. That centralization sparked fears that socialist ideas would triumph. Liberals were seized with pessimism and anxiety. The economist Charles Coquelin noted this in an article published in the Journal des économistes. “We are sliding down a slippery slope to ruin. The torrent of false doctrines is sweeping us along and the abyss yawns before us. Yes, the regulatory mindset is triumphant: it has achieved supreme power, under the name of the organization of work. Liberty pales before it. This sacred liberty, so highly vaunted just a month ago, the name of which still shines forth in gold letters on the flags of the Republic, is now just a word. All our wealth, our industry and our labors will now collapse or disappear with it. All will be lost if we are not vigilant—the public finances and private fortunes, the resources of today and the hopes of tomorrow.”1 Yet this alarmist tone was not unique to the economists: it was a central feature of the views of Guizot and Tocqueville. As ← 109 | 110 → for Dunoyer, he gave free rein to his fury in a polemical essay...
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