Violent Language In The French Revolution

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It was thanks to the power of language that revolutionaries in France influenced the population to unify and embrace their movement and new ideas. The belief in the freedom of language, of expression, and of the press that grew out of Enlightenment philosophies strengthened the creation of new publications that challenged the status quo and spread revolutionary concepts. By 1791 there were 150 newspapers, some of which sought to rally the people toward violent action. Jean-Paul Marat, who published a daily paper called The People's Friend, notably declared: “The political machine can only be wound up by violence, just as the air can only be cleared by words” (Vidalenc). While violent language did inspire violent action in the name of revolution, the hopeful language of equality celebrated in the writing of the Enlightenment also paved the way for the revolution, like Montesquieu's “Spirit of Laws” of 1748 that talked about liberty and Rousseau’s “Social Contract” of 1762 in which he wrote that "the person of the meanest citizen is as sacred and inviolable as that of the first magistrate," declaring equality between men (Rousseau 36). As the revolutionary movement grew, so did the danger for those who believed in it. Because of the conflict, confusion, and complication inherent in the political and cultural upheaval of the French Revolution, it was difficult for people to know who to trust. Codes became critical. OpenLearn’s article on Art in the French Revolution shares that

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