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Political Legacy of the French Revolution

The French revolution marks one of the most pivotal points in world history. Avoiding the debatable topic of its success or failure, the paper would focus primarily on the extensive impact of the French revolution, particularly with regards to American Political System, Middle Eastern Politics and International Terrorism. The paper also explores the driving factors behind the revolution which can be summed up in three words: freedom, impartiality and sorority.

The revolution appears to be quite global in its approach, for the current communal, political and fiscal issues are more or less aligned to the problems being faced by the people back in the 17th century. The long term impact of the French Revolution constitutes itself not only in American and Middle Eastern Politics, but also Chinese socialism, Poland and the revolution in Mexico. But that is not all; French revolution has also put a lot of focus on to controversial topics such as slavery and racism.

It was indeed a landmark movement, voicing the crucial need of democratic elements in the society to curb the exploitation being faced by the Third Estate, or Labor Class, or the Proletariats; whatever the name, the exploitative behavior has continued through the ages till to date. French Revolution, with its emphatic ideals has quite definitely embarked up on the minds the power of securing class-consciousness and rising against those in power. It is a strong voice against the dual standards of the society in their treatment with regards to the elite and the labor class.

The paper will explore such aspects of the society that have been a harbinger of change with the ideals of French revolution in mind. Concepts of autonomy, moderation and communalism were given birth to with the advent, progress and ultimatum of the French revolution. Introduction: Revolution refers to the transformation in governmental structures in a limited duration by use of force. By turning the pages to history, it appears that the only way a change had emerged was through the use of force.

Examples of the American Revolution of 1763, Russian Revolution of 1905 and the French Revolution of 1789 validate the rhetoric, even though the methodology might differ. While the American Revolution dispelled less bloodshed and was more of a peacefully operated movement, the French Revolution is quite the contrary. The reign of Terror has left an ever-lasting impact and perhaps it is the gory nature of the Revolution aimed to acquire socio-political demands that has embedded in the minds of people the significance of the use of force.

It follows Karl Marx ideology that when the proletariats achieve class-politics, they can cause the downfall of the bourgeoisie. By a close examination of the causes of the French Revolution, the root cause appears to be inequality; inequality in terms of political status; inequality in terms of social presence; inequality in terms of rights. The third estate in France was greatly undermined by the strong social status of the elites in the National Assembly.

This coupled with the ideas of the enlightenment, the bankruptcy and the success of the Americans to overthrow British rule inculcated the strong desire to struggle for egalitarianism, freedom and sorority. The influence of the political ideas of the French Revolution mirrors themselves in the revolutions in Mexico; in China; in Poland; in Iran; in Russia; in the Ottoman Empire. Also, terrorist groups such as AL-Qaida, Tamil Tigers use the rubric of pressurizing the state to conform to the ideologies of these groups by using force and violence.

Ideals of patriotism, moderation, Marxism and communalism have indeed emerged as the after-effects of the revolution. (Gerard Chaliand et al , Pp. 46) The Revolution’s impact on American Politics: The American political sphere was direly affected by the French Revolution. Strong thoughts of democracy penetrated the society that had emerged from the Revolution in France. Initially, pertaining to the peaceful progression of the revolution, the government of America backed the efforts of the people of France.

However, once the turn was taken towards violence and bloodshed, perfectly articulated in the Reign of Terror and the murder of King Louis. This divided the political minds of U. S. A in to the supporters and the refuters of the French Revolution, thus the emergence of the Republicans and the Democrats. While the democrats defied the policies being followed by the people of France, primarily due to the gory nature of the revolution; the Republicans approved the struggle of the third estate in bringing about change in the political and social system of France.

The fight for equality in the French Revolution accentuates the exploitation of the labor class; around liberty from the hierarchal system of society; around the sense of brotherhood as an integral part of society where neither the aristocracy was superior nor was the labor class inferior. These ideas gained recognition amid the people of U. S. A at the time of the revolution and even till to date persist. The idea of an absolutist government dispersed as the significance of public view started to overshadow politics.

The opinions and ideas of the masses enhanced communication, one thing that is vital for the successful running of democratic societies. The French revolution also raised its voice against racism and how the American political system seems to have adhered to it is evident through the election of Barack Obama as the President of U. S. A. Furthermore, U. S. A is undoubtly considered one of the world’s leading democracies, where the voice of the people is not suppressed. Along with instigating a democratic political structure, the French revolution is also responsible for introducing diplomacy and inculcating jingoism and loyalty.

The short term effect of the French Revolution, pertaining to the XYZ affair inculcated a sense of remorse in the Americans as they considered the Old world not to be appreciative of the new world . This was the prime reason of a strong nationalistic and patriotic feeling amongst the masses. And this condition persists till to date. The Americans deem themselves superficial to the Europeans. A successful revolution coupled with a democratic structure has incorporated a sense of pride In the Americans which has resulted in them considering themselves superior to others.

The effect of this is evident in the undermining of the culture of Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. (Klaits and Halzet, Pp. 26) America has become a victim of its own power as mirrored in the incident of the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. Devaluing another nation’s sovereignty can leave gashes on the country’s own integrity. Although America’s motive in Iraq was to advocate democracy, yet the invalid issue of the armaments of mass devastation resulted in a massive amount of damage. The pride the American politicians gained from the French Revolution has indeed become their own nemesis.

Rationality not impetuosity is the key to executing successful revolutions. America’s devaluing of soft power resulted in Turkey’s refusal to allow soil for attack, even though the country is a supporter of America. Furthermore, America’s intrusion in Afghanistan without U. N approval also advocates the hubris of the American political formation. Of course it is this prime reason why the popularity of America is suffering. Attempt at democratizing nations should be aligned to the peaceful American Revolution; not the gory French Revolution. The Revolution’s impact on Middle Eastern Politics:

Middle East gained a lot of influence from the Revolution in France as well. This is mirrored in the revolutions in Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, turkey, Palestine. The ideals of a democratic government free from the absolutist government of the royalty penetrated the Egyptian political structure in 1952, aimed at overthrowing the monarch, King Farouk 1. The faction of militias namely, the free officers movement had risen against the pro-British government, aimed at establishing a civilian form of governance in Egypt. The ideals were to a certain extent similar to the French Revolution.

The political aim behind the revolution not only achieved a civilian form of government, but also advocated nationalism, mirrored in the placement of the Suez Canal in the public sector. Thus, Nasser gained immense support and popularity for his strong sense of patriotism due to which he defied foreign rule and pressure. This patriotism has extended itself in to the current Egyptian political stature as well. The outcome of the revolution in France was also felt by Iran. Iran underwent 2 revolutions; the constitutional revolution of 1905 and the Islamic revolution of 1979. (Klaits and Halzet, Pp.

36) The purpose was to limit the power of the monarch; an absolutist government was greatly undermined and the need to involve the people of Iran was strengthened. The Shah had violated the rights of his people and the dire political need of liberty, equality and freedom instigated the people to move towards the formation of a constitution. The Islamic revolution which took place in Iran is highlighted as the third great revolution of the world after French and Bolshevik revolutions. The underlying factor behind the revolution was overthrowing the monarchy to establish an Islamic republic.

This can be recapitulated in 2 words: populism and jingoism. The Islamic revolution of Iran helped to inspire many through out the Islamic world namely Malaysia. The result of the revolution was political freedom and human development. The Cedar revolution in Lebanon is another valid example of the long-term impact of the political legacies of the French Revolution. The revolution embarks a strong landmark movement as it helped all the different sects in Lebanon to combine together for a similar purpose, to overthrow the influence of Syria.

The Cedar revolution of Lebanon featured protests against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, voicing their aggression on the attack against their country’s sovereignty. The complete withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon marks a pivotal point in history. Finally Lebanon is also on the route to democracy. Another democratic revolution has been the democratic revolution of Palestine. Democracy is the harbinger of peace, freedom and economic growth. Emphasizing on the need of multi party elections and defying the single party rule, the Palestinian people achieved in a time span of 12 months, a democratic revolution.

The purple revolution in Iraq, in which the tyrannical leader Saddam Hussein was conquered and democracy established is also one of the world’s most important revolutions. (Nye, Page 24) The French revolution articulately outlined the drawbacks of absolutist government and advocated democracy; democracy nowadays is the higher law. Independence of speech, expression in actual fact, liberty and impartiality in each aspect – from political to social is being stressed repetitively. Saddam Hussein a leader known for his inhumane behavior was a big boulder in the pathway to democracy.

With the purple revolution, the people of Iraq finally gained their right of democracy in every aspect. This has also been the harbinger of prosperity in the region, unlike in the past when sectarian divisions fuelled aggression and animosity. The Young Turk Revolution of the Ottoman Empire in which ultimately the empire was broken down was also one of the most important revolutions that took place in the Middle East. Led by students, the revolution aimed at disposing off the Sultan, the one with the absolute power. This led to the formation of Turkey.

A state that is going through a silent revolt quite similar to the Revolution in France in terms that the Turkish-Muslim bourgeoisie are struggling to put an end to monarchy. Thus, Middle East was a region where an absolutist government had the monopolistic power, achieving democracy seemed a far-fetched thought. However the cries of freedom, impartiality, and fraternity had instigated the need for the people to work towards a democratic political environment. Democracy is the key towards successful politics, successful economy and a successful social state of affairs, as mirrored by the revolution in France and America.

The French Revolution and International Terrorism: The imperative bequest of the French Revolution was the birth of the terminology “terrorism”. It was terrorism during the supremacy of terror organized by Robespierre and St. Just in which 90,000 Frenchmen were beheaded and 300,000 jailed; currently there are around 500 terrorist groups presiding in the world. (Colonel Alfalasi Juma, Pp1) Modern terrorism has indeed become the plausible tool for organizations to impose pressure on the governments to adhere to their ideologies.

Political violence at times can be considered a revolution, if it succeeds in the disposal of the ruling regime with the restoration of the revolutionaries, as evident in the case of Russia in 1917. However, if the aftermath of the political terrorism is violence, unrest and anarchy then it is synonymous to terrorism, for example the political terrorism in Latin America. International terrorism has resulted in putting forth the injustices towards the terrorists in front of the whole world. In short, international terrorism relies more or less on propaganda.

This propaganda results in terrorists earning the domestic support of different countries. A valid example would be of Syria and Iran – state supporters of violence. Also, through the use of force the terrorists are able to earn themselves rewards by earning fractional political recognition. International terrorism has of course been a part of the global system as far as 1972. Hijacking of planes for purposes of emanating terrorism was not introduced just by the 2001 attack on America. But date as far as 1974 when Trans World Airlines Boeing 707 near Kefallinia, Greece caused the airplane to thrust into the Ionian killing around 88 people.

Groups of terrorists include the IRA, Tamil Tigers and Al-Qaida. After Carlos the jackal, the most notorious terrorist was Osama bin Laden, founder of the Al-Qaida as well as the Taliban. The Taliban ruled over Afghanistan until September 11 2001, beside all international scrutiny. This was primarily due to their radical Islamist beliefs. After refusing to hand over Bin Laden to America, the Taliban became a target of the war of terrorism and had to sacrifice their political power. Consequently, the ratio of global terrorism, rotating around suicide bombing mostly increased.

The use of violence against America in order to restore their political status marks the headlines till to date. Violence is being used as a means of achieving what they consider their rights. The motives of AL-Qaida undoubtly gained them mass popularity and a massive amount of propaganda. Furthermore, it has gained domestic support from countries such as Iran, Syria and Palestine – state supporters of violence. However, their deeds were unsuccessful to earn them mass support. In fact terrorism throughout the world has resulted in the eruption of immense dislike.

(Gerard Chaliand et al , Pp. 44) However, terrorism is not confined to the motives of the Al-Qaida and Taliban. Terrorist attacks within the country in order to apply pressure on the government are also a common routine. India, Venezuela and England for example have experienced an immense amount of suicide attacks, bombings and assassination attacks on the leaders. The infiltration of terrorists in to such places harming innocent civilians poses a great threat for national security. International terrorism can not be curbed by force; this is a proven fact.

However discussions with terrorists also contain great hindrances. Yet, some one has to take the first step. America’s war of terror is posing to harm the integrity and sovereignty to various nations. Furthermore, it has not curbed the threat of terrorism. Violence, if countered with violence can by no means be eradicated for it instigates the terrorists to retaliate. However, the present violence does have its roots at the French Revolution, the revolution that introduced the term terrorism and propagated its use to force the governments to agree to their demands.

Conclusion: The French Revolution marks one of the most monumental acts in history. A revolution which sprung from the mistreatment of the masses and aimed to achieve the political and social status for the commoners has indeed been the light of hope for many modern revolutions. The result of the revolution was not only the abolition of absolutism, monarchy and exploitation, but also advocated the equivalent conduct for every one, the liberty to be free and the sense of brotherhood.

It advocates that tyrannical rule is not to be suffered; freedom in every regard is what is required for the prosperous running of any country. However, this liberty of actions has also been misused by extremist groups in the form of terrorism, in their crusade for their political rights. According to Paul Johnson, the famous writer, “The French Revolution had opened an era of intense politicization. Perhaps the most significant characteristic of the dawning modern world, and in this respect it was a true child of Rousseau, was the tendency to relate everything to politics.

In Latin America, every would-be plunderer or ambitious bandit now called himself “a liberator”; murderers killed for freedom, thieves stole for the people. ” (Rich Geib pg 1) References: Joseph Klaits, Michael H. Haltzel. Global Ramifications of the French Revolution Published by Cambridge University Press, 2002. Pages (26-54) Gerard Chaliand, Arnaud Blin, Edward Schneider, Kathryn Pulver, Jesse Browner. The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda. Published by University of California Press, 2007 Pages 44-46 Joe Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.

Public Affairs, 2004. Page 24. Rich Geib . French Revolution . 92006) Retrieved from http://www. rjgeib. com/thoughts/french/french. html Colonel Al Falasi Juma, Global Security: The International Terrorism. Military Issues Paper U. A. E. Quantico, Virginia. (April 1995) Retrieved from: http://www. globalsecurity. org/military/library/report/1995/AJ. htm Did you know? Terrorism. Knight Media Limited (2004). Retrieved from: http://www. didyouknow. cd/terrorism. htm Wikipedia. Al-Qaeda. Wikimedia Foundation Inc 2001. Retrieved from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Al-Qaeda#History_of_the_name

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