Causes of the French Revolution

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THE FRENCH REVOLUTION (1789-1799) The French Revolution was a watershed event that changed Europe irrevocably and ended a century of slowly increasing opposition to absolutism and the supremacy of a decadent aristocracy. The causes of the French Revolution are difficult to pin down. Therefore, we will divide them into long-term and immediate causes. Within long-term causes, we will also define intellectual, political and economic causes. Long-Term Intellectual Causes Before a movement can reach the proportions of an actual revolution, it requires a body of ideas that provides a programme of action and a vision of the new order to be achieved. The intellectual causes of the French Revolution are a direct result of the Enlightenment. This…show more content…
Eventually, some men started to stake off plots of land to mark their property and this led to inequality and ambition. For the sake of security, men established a civil society and surrendered all their rights to the community. By a social contract, each individual agreed with the whole body of individuals to submit to the will of the majority. Whereas liberals said that only a portion of sovereign power is surrendered to the state, Rousseau maintained that sovereignty is indivisible. What’s more, he believed that each individual in becoming a party to the social contract gave up all of his rights to the collective body of people and agreed to submit to the general will. Therefore, the power of the state is subject to no limitations. According to Rousseau, this did not mean that the liberty of the individual is destroyed. In his opinion, it is actually enhanced and it becomes genuine because it is the true freedom of reasoning creatures in obedience to law. When Rousseau referred to the state, he did not mean the government. The state is the political organised community; the government is the executive expression of the state. The function of the government is not to formulate the will of the majority, but to carry it out. The influence of Rousseau’s theories was key, especially during the second stage of the French Revolution. Finally, we should also mention two new economic theories as intellectual causes of the
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