There is a silver line behind every cloud. So, is there a benefit of Covid-19 SARS Virus, which costs millions of lives and losing your loved ones?
Towards the latter part of Covid-19, many governments toppled, and many people realized that they are in power. This mostly affected developing nations than developed nations. But is Covid-19 the reason for this or is it human psychology and sociology?
Is revolution the right word for people standing up?
The word ‘revolution’ is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system. But did this start recently when people started realizing they were only pawns in the game whilst the 1% of the economy and the whole country was run by rich people?
The latest revolutions happened towards the East than the West, due to a weak government and the government’s inability to control its debt. Few revolutions were: Kyrgyzstan’s latest revolution , protests in South Korea & of course the latest protests in Sri Lanka.
Much of this civil strife from the 19th century to the 21st century can be traced back to that one point in the 18th century. Minor changes in the British government to even the second world war has this common link, and it was initiated in France, through a moment called ‘The French Revolution’.
What is ‘The French’ Revolution’?
In the late 1700s, the people of France were tiresome of the government and tits decisions that were taken over the years. The citizens were irritated with the top 1% of the economy, looting in all the money & properties of the country to their gain. They were also maddened by the fact that people who stood up against the government were exiled or executed.
But to start off with the revolution, lets dive deeper into what happened in Europe during that time period. France and the Great Britain was in war, which is history been repeated all over again since the Vikings or even before that as these countries were clashing to gain power across the world map. This resulted mainly since the King of Spain dying in 1700s & didn’t leave a hair to the throne of Spain. This lead both France and the Great Britain to be apart of the completely upended battle of power across Europe.
Even 40 years later, the two countries were at war, being pulled in the great battle or as we might call it the War of Austrian Succession when Archduchess Maria Theresa was denied the Austrian throne because back in 1740s, women couldn’t rule over a country and women was called as ‘good looking and not anything else, certainly not to rule a country’.
However, Archduchess Maria Theresa took over the throne resulting France and the Great Britain to continue their conflict with their colonies fighting overseas in countries towards the East like the French forces entering India in the early 1763.
However, in the early 1778, United Stated decided to declare a war of independence as they didn’t agree to the terms of taxation been looting from all these colonies. This gave France an opportunity to fight back against Britain immediately since they were armed with the rebels.
A war will make the people of the country suffer, but the permanent damage is the economy of the country which is crushed back over a decade or so. France been at war, let them to a very dire financial situation. King Louis XVI, amidst two decades of poor harvest and droughts decided to spend everything he had in his reserves to increase his private wealth and to waste money on non-essential lifestyle luxuries.
People at that time weren’t aware of the rising ‘inflation’ until they had to face the ever-increasing bread prices and daily essentials. At the same time, the King was increasing taxes on the basic essentials whilst wasting taxpayers money on his own private wealth and on the way against the British. This made the daily income earners to realize that they were paying more than what they earn, specially in terms of taxes to the government.
This made the peasants begin a riot along with a labor strike refusing to work until the King acted against the worsening situation. The government however, under Louis XVI king’s purview, created a financial reform package that would include a universal land tax which would not exempt the upper class from paying the taxes.
Previously before this package was introduced, only the poor paid for the taxes. However, after this financial reform, the poor and the rich had to pay for the taxes. This led the top 1% of the economy at that time to force their hand against the King and start reforming their own riot against the government.
Declaration of Estate General Assembly
The King took the liberty of calling in the ‘Estate General Assembly’ where the Clergy, the Nobility and the Middle class were invited. For this assembly the poor class or the peasants weren’t invited. This was the first time this assembly was called in by a King, which was previously called in back in the early 1600s.
After almost 200 years later, the assembly now consists of non-Aristocratic members (the highest class in certain societies, typically comprising people of noble birth holding hereditary titles and offices) which included almost up to 98% of the assembly and the rest 2% included the middle class and the clergy. Since the majority at the assembly was with the high class, the middle class started to campaign for equal representation.
Due to this reason, the middle class, also known as ‘The Third Estate,’ met alone and declared themselves as ‘The National Assembly’. Since they met inside a Tennis court and formed their assembly, they took the ‘Tennis Court Oath’, under which they coved that they would not disperse until constitutional reform had been achieved. Looking at the strength of this assembly, most of the clergy at that time and 47 nobles joined the newly formed ‘New National Assembly’ and started to begrudge the King whilst disbanding the Estates-General.
This made King Louis XVI move several of his army regiments into Paris and then surrounding the countryside. Whilst doing so, he took most of the forces off the war between the Great Britain. However, when the King decided to bring forces into the countryside, it let the Parisians fear that the king was preparing to start a civil war inside the country itself and more importantly to declare war against ‘The National Assembly’.
To add more curiosity into the minds of the Parisians, the King decided to remove his own non-noble minister, Jacques Necker from his list of ministers. But the King however wasn’t aware that this minister was well pleasant with the citizens of Paris as he was the on the edge of creating a national reform.
These actions by the King, let Parisians believe that the King was attempting to pressure them, thus riots began all over the country. However, as all governments are scared of its own people standing up, the governor, Bernard-Rene de Launay of Bastille decided to negotiate with the angry Parisians promising not to open fire against the riots .
However, since the negotiation took longer than expected the people outside were convinced that their delegated were imprisoned inside the infamous fort of the governor. These curios Parisians started jumping over the bridge to rescue their delegates, but to control the situation, the governor gave the order to fire against the angry Parisians who were forcing themselves into the governor’s fort.
This resulted in the death of almost 100 citizens who were under the impression of rescuing their delegates who went into negotiation. However, the French guards who were firing against the Parisians were loyal to the people of Parisians and started to stop the shoot, which led the governor to surrender. Since 100 citizens were killed by the order given by this governor, the Parisians were dragging the governor to the city hall and murdered him whilst decapitating his corpse .
The Parisians saw this as an ‘opportunity of victory’ thus the Paris Revolution raised its head across the national with the middle class and the lower class in play. After decade dos exploitation, the peasants began an open revolt by burning the home of their tax collectors, landlords and the elite which triggered an exodus of the nobility from France, which was known as ‘The Great Fear’ .
Even at this stage, the National Assembly was in control of its citizens, leading them to abolish feudalism in France on the 4th of August 1789. This day was called as ‘The Declaration of the Rights of man and of the Citizen’. This declaration removed the old system of exploitation by the nobility and called for a system based on equal opportunity for all, freedom of speech, popular sovereignty, and representative government .
Even-though the declaration was announced, the King was still in power and was anointed with the power to appoint ministers as he sees pleased. The King agreeing to this declaration started appointing his own ministers, however the influential revolutionary leaders didn’t agree as the King was still in play and was appointing minister as his will.
Looking at the constitution akin to that of the United States, these leaders decided that there shouldn’t be a King in France as the declaration will be of no use if a King has power to appoint ministers as he seeks, and that France should be called a Republic. They also agreed to the terms of placing King Louis XVI on trial for his many crimes committed against the people of France.
As time went by, in April of 1792, the newly elected Legislative Assembly, which consisted of members who were appointed to power by the people declared war against Austria and Prussia as they were under the impression that these two countries were harboring counterrevolutionary French nobility and to take control of these two nations which would let them to spread democracy across Europe.
What happened to King Louis XVI?
On August 10th, 1792, King Louis XVI was arrested by a few radical revolutionists and was demanded that the King should be put on trial immediately for both his past crimes against the nation and having secret desires to end the democratic legislative assembly.
As history would have it, all governing parties have an opposition leading a nation-wide bloodshed which resulted in the Legislative Assembly to be disbanded and to be replaced by a new National Convention which immediately declared the abolition of the monarchy and the birth of ‘The French Republic’.
With almost after 5 months of imprisonment, the King was sentenced to death for high treason and crimes against the French Republic.
Did the revolution end by the King’s demise?
Not at all. People were now in power, and they all had a say against the people in power. Even 10 months after the King was executed publicly, with a reign of terror of public executions. This led to a whole new revolution which is also called as ‘The Thermidorian Reaction’.
The Birth of Napoleon Bonaparte
With the initiation of ‘The Thermidorian Reaction’ as Parisians were well tired of the ever-lying politicians, it was decided that the executive power would lie with a five-member directory which is of course appointed by the parliament. Still, people were against it as people were still under the impression that they had a say in it. However, the military were able to turn down the opposition thus it was successful. The military was head by a very successful and a bold general called ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’, who later became famous as the first emperor of France and one of the world’s greatest military leaders.
Napoleon was also famous for his institution of the Napoleonic Code, which granted freedom of religion, eliminated privileges based upon birth, and demanded that government jobs be given to those most qualified to hold them.
But of course, a military leader will always want war and to be in control. The five-member directory was a disaster which led the famous military general to take control of the whole nation as he declared himself Emperor.
But imagine the French Revolution didn’t happen at all? Do you think France would be a great nation or some would call it ‘lover’s paradise’ by now? So do you think its important to have a revolution where people can raise their voice and be heard by people itself and the importance of a government in control?
To answer all these questions is a doubt the society will have to play with, but as history has shown us, it is vital for a country to develop with its people and not the 1% of the economy. The entire nation must be treated equally and with a great leadership, a country will move forward. In the absence of such, a country will always need revolutionary leadership!
Things to learn
- Often at the sign of trouble, the people in power will go through the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance). When the people in ‘Power’ decides to bargain, that’s a clear sign that they are in grief and wish to take it no further. But this is also the stage, where everyone must remain calm 
- When people are in control, without a proper leadership, it will lead to a great bloodshed 
- At times of people gaining power against the government, the people in power first remove their families. This is a clear sign that, people in power have a backup plan when things are getting rough 
- Even in battles all citizens riot in the 21st century, they are demanding something similar to the declaration signed on 4th August 1789 by the National Assembly