French Paradox

Topics: Liberalism, Europe, Suppression of dissent Pages: 4 (1267 words) Published: September 10, 2014
In many circles, there exists a paradox which astounds many – the French Paradox. The French, famous for their diets rich in, well, rich foods – foods high in saturated fats and full of butter – have confused and annoyed world observers because of their ability to eat such delicacies and drink fine wines and yet maintain near perfect physiques. In essence, the French are able to have their cake and eat it, too. During the late 1700’s, the French sought to experience a sort of similar paradox during the French Revolution. While the French Revolution began as somewhat similar to the American Revolution in that it was part of a movement seeking freedom from a ruler that refused to grant concessions regarding representation, the French Revolution soon evolved into something greater; however, while the French masses sought to achieve greater liberties, they were not interested in being the clown of Europe. They wanted strong, stable leadership – as long as it wasn’t oppressive of their rights and freedoms. Herein was the French Paradox of 1789, an internal struggle between two forces that, by their very nature, typically stand at opposite ends of the revolutionary spectrum – civil liberties and freedom versus strong, central, internationally respected government. In Napoleon, the French thought they had the right mixture of the two. He was a man who talked like a son of the Revolution. His life story perhaps best exemplified the ideals of the Revolution – a poor boy rising to the top based on qualities, not favoritism or social class. Yet while Napoleon could talk the talk, he would have far greater difficulty practicing what he preached. An examination of Napoleon’s foreign affairs as well as his domestic suppression of individual liberties and internal dissent to his authority reveals that this son of a poor nobleman was by no means a son of the Revolution but rather a Dictator.

Although Napoleon accomplished several challenges in Europe, he also enforced...
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