Revolution_ by ert554898


 The two models

                  Ronald Wiltse December 2006
Model 1:   The American Revolution
           A revolution of sober expectations

Model 2:   The French Revolution
            The revolution of utopian hopes
 Sidebar 1: Democratic government
• a bad question
  – Plato caused confusion by misstating the
    essential question about government, saying
    the fundamental question is “Who rules, the
    leader or the people?”
  – But, in all cases (except theoretical ‘direct
    democracy’), the leader or leaders rule.
  – A better question would be “How many rule?”
  Sidebar 1: Democratic government
• what it is, actually
  – a way of choosing the leadership, not “rule of
    the people”
  – therefore, democracy is not a type of
  – (the “people” are the authority behind American government,
    but this isn’t essential for democratic government)

  – (the philosopher to see: Karl Popper)
 Sidebar 1: Democratic government
• from majoritarian to antimajoritarian
  – Our Founding Fathers rejected ancient
    “democracies” and (therefore) the word
    democracy because the majority could abuse
    minorities. This type of democratic rule can
    be called majoritarianism.
  – Our Founding Fathers wanted protection for
    minorities—they were antimajoritarian.
 Sidebar 1: Democratic government
• Antimajoritarian features of the US
  Constitution include
  – primarily, limitations on the power of
    majorities (to protect minorities)
  – but also, requiring super-majorities to
    exercise certain actions

  – (see Federalist Paper No. 10)
 Sidebar 2: Republican government
• named by the Romans for their government
  with plural leaders and no king
• but : This form of government had already been
  invented by polis Greeks (they misnamed it, by
  confusing the method they used for choosing
  the leadership with the type of government).
• not associated with representative government
  until the late medieval period (the Roman
  republican assemblies were not representative)

  – (the book to see: The End of Kings, by William Everdell)
  Sidebar 3: a clearer view of gov’t.
• Single leaders (originally all kings, later with
  various titles) can be called monarchs.
• Plural leadership marks out the substance of
  republican government (originally, all
  examples of plural leader government had no
  kings, so it was easy to think of this as the
  defining characteristic [and, unlike Americans,
  Europeans still define republican government in
  this way]).
  Sidebar 3: a clearer view of gov’t.
• Thus, we can see the two types of
  government as
  – monarchy (single leaders, no matter what the
  – republican government (plural leadership, no
    matter whether one of the leaders has the
    title of king)
  Sidebar 3: a clearer view of gov’t.
This type of analysis allows for clearer thinking
  than the traditional “democracy=republic
  =representative government”.
For example, in dealing with questions such as
  how should one view term limits? (They are anti-
   democratic, but republican.)
Should an elected official vote his beliefs or his
  constituents’ beliefs?
(A leader is a leader and should therefore vote as he sees fit, but
   practically, he may choose to vote otherwise to keep his employers
  Sidebar 3: a clearer view of gov’t.
Confusion of thinking:
  ►shadow over substance: The significant point about a king in
  the government is not his presence, but his power (thus,
  defining republican government as one without a king
  emphasizes appearances, while defining it as one with plural
  leaders emphasizes the substance of the matter).
  ►After the Civil War, as the US became more democratic, the
  terms democracy and republican government melded, making
  clear thinking about these issues more difficult.
  ►The description of republican government as representative
  government (or representative democracy) is historically
  inaccurate (Roman assemblies were not representative).
  ► Plato misstated the essential question about government,
  causing confusion ever since.
             Sidebar 4

All modern so-called democracies share
          five characteristics:
             Sidebar 4, continued
The five elements of modern “democracies”:
 ►republican government
 ►democratically chosen leaders
 ►anti-majoritarian restrictions
 ►willingness of the citizenry (and canditates) to lose an election
      (i.e., acceptance of majority rule over being right)
 ►citizenry’s sense of fair play (toleration of opposing views)
          Sidebar 4, continued
Thus, the government of the United States can
  clearly and accurately be described as an
  antimajoritarian democratic republic.

Parts of our constitution are antimajoritarian,
  parts are democratic, and parts are
  republican (what the Founding Fathers called
  “popular government”).

• All revolutions involve two elements: tearing
  down and building up.
• Of the two, destruction is far easier than

      The great destroyer: Tom Paine
Model 1:   The American Revolution

   • A revolution of sober expectations
      – limited goals: political only
      – built on a democratic tradition
      – well thought out
      – negative outcomes weighed
      – primarily constructive
      – moderate
      – no theory of class warfare
Model 2:     The French Revolution
   • The Revolution of utopian hopes:
       – everything was up for change, not just
         political leadership
            •   government, legal system
            •   religion
            •   economic system
            •   calendar
            •   measurement system

see slide presentation, The French Revolution, for details
Model 2:   The French Revolution

   But, The French
   Revolution was
   actually two
       . . . one moderate, and one radical
Model 2:   The French Revolution
       First Revolution
• moderate
• result: an actual republic
• King Louis XVI was the chief executive, with less
  power than he had had as absolute monarch
• “The revolution is over”—Robespierre
• Fatal weakness: the chief executive was not loyal
  to the government (he already had shown this
  earlier by trying to flee the country).
Model 2:   The French Revolution
 The first revolution failed to produce
 a lasting government. Why?
 Even though the king had shown his
 enmity toward the aims of the
 revolution, he was allowed to be its
 chief executive.

       so, back to revolution
Model 2:   The French Revolution

• It is the second revolution most think of
  when they think “French Revolution”.
      Second Revolution
• radical
• utopian goals
• willingness to resort to violence
• result: totalitarian government (in the form of
  an oligarchical republic)
• END RESULT: the revolution collapses,
  monarchy returns, and government allows
  more freedom (for example,
  the Napoleonic Code replaced medieval
  legal system)
Model 2:   The French Revolution
       Lessons of the French Revolution
1. Utopian goals are unobtainable on earth.
2. Noble goals without wisdom can lead to bad
3. Tyrants claim to know what’s best for others and
      are usually willing to use coercion.
4. A monstrous evil can have some good results (but
      don’t look only at the good).
Model 2:   The French Revolution
     Legacies of the French Revolution
. From now on, monarchies (whether run by kings
  or dictators) must court popular support because
  such support releases greatly increased power to
  the government; that is, the government must
  give (or at least appear to give) the citizenry
  some of what they want.
• In France itself:
   – a thoroughgoing decimal system
   – national public education
   – the Napoleonic Code
 Which model will most
 subsequent revolutions follow?
The models . . .
  1: The American Revolution
         A revolution of sober expectations
  2:   The French Revolution (i.e., the 2nd one)
           The revolution of utopian hopes
The revolutions . . .
  The Bolshevik, Chinese and Cuban Revolutions
   Sober expectations vs. Utopia

• The winner, when measured by imitators:
          The French Revolution

• The winner, when measured by freedom
  created and good achieved:
         The American Revolution

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