The French Revolution in Myth and Reality- Edited by Janusz Adamowski- Translated by Alex Shannon
Epilogue: The Persistence Of Myths
Let us devote some final words to a brief consideration of the persistence of the revolutionary myths we have just presented. After all, these myths also accom- panied later revolutions, above all those which plowed deep into the social soil. A new image of the world, a new society, and a new man - they correspond roughly to Condorcet’s three great hopes, which he formulated like this: “The end of inequalities among nations [both in politics and on the higher, civiliza- tional level]; progress toward equality within the same people; the truly per- fected man.” One could interpret the great triad of revolutionary values in a similar spirit: Liberty (if, that is, we mean by this, above all, individual autonomy), Equality (if we believe that it should exceed the normal limits of equality before the law), and Fraternity (if we lend it a universal, and not just tribal, dimension). Those were wonderful hopes, and they were noble values. They stimulated the imagination, activated the mind, moved the conscience, mobilized energy, and encouraged perseverance. But they quickly clashed with social and politi- cal realities, which deformed human actions, so that actual results were an in- sult to intentions. When the Emperor of the French waged bloody wars against Europe and then dictated the terms for peace, it was clear that the fraternal image of the world had been shattered. After Thermidor, and especially after 18 Brumaire, when the rule by elites began to consolidate its position at the expense of de-...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.