French Revolution: the Solution to Class Inequality

Topics: Age of Enlightenment, United States Declaration of Independence, Voltaire Pages: 3 (1131 words) Published: September 25, 2011
The Solution To Class Inequality.

The French Revolution was one of the most important events that occurred in the history of France. The revolution crumpled the Old Regime and completely transformed the social and political system of France. The people of France sought to establish a more egalitarian society through their newly created Republic. When Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Baron de Montesquieu introduced individual liberty, natural rights and equality the ideas of revolution emerged. As the ideas from the Enlightenment spread across the country, people start to vision a new government that could be the solution to the on going class struggle. The Enlightenment and the American Revolution impelled the inevitable French Revolution.

The foundation of the revolution arose from the rigid social structure of the French society. The ongoing struggle for power between the middle class and the nobility was an immediate cause of the revolution. France was divided into three Estates. The First Estate were clergy, the Second Estate consists of the nobles and the Third Estate consists of the majority of the people, including peasants, merchants, intellects, and lawyers. When middle classmen accumulated enough wealth to buy their nobility, the blood nobles refuse to recognize the new nobles as Second Estate (Lecture, 12/09/09). In other words, there were no real upward social mobility and the majority of the people had no political power. The inequality of the French system was authorized by law, which can only be changed fundamentally through a revolution. In comparison to the Old Regime’s divine rights and authority, the Enlightenment encouraged freedom and equality. As Immanuel Kant, a German philosophe, pointed out “ all that is required for Enlightenment is freedom (Sources, 407)”. The ideas of intellectuals of the Enlightenment brought new views about government and society, triggering the revolutionary...
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