I read for you THE OLD REGIME AND THE REVOLUTION Alexis de Tocqueville


In this work clairvoyant, Viscount de Tocqueville takes the wrong way bristled story showing how the 1789 revolution, far from being a failure, is a continuation of the old feudal system.


But first, a word about the author. Talented writer, but poor speaker, he distinguished himself as shrewd politician during the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly that followed the fall of Louis-Philippe (and the « July Monarchy » in 1848). This work will include evidence that the 1789 declaration established the equality of citizens but not those of workers. Serfs have changed masters but remained slaves, becoming proletarians.

Tocqueville particularly opposes the initiative of the Left MP for the Drôme (Mathieu) wishing to integrate into the constitution the enforceable right to work. For Tocqueville, such an amendment would require the control of means of production by the state (and therefore their nationalization), leading either to a return to the old regime (horror!) Or communism (even worse).

Alexis is a liberal who made his classes in American lands where liberalism triumph without a king. He thus was able to ascertain that a company can totally turn this without God’s representative on earth. Yet it is a direct descendant of St. Louis and from a family could not be more royalist. The wind of the guillotine is also just missed the shot of his father narrowly saved by the fall of Robespierre in 1794. He therefore calls, alongside the English Liberals to a liberal democracy. It may well have today voted Bayrou.

But back to the old regime and the revolution. Alexis y shows clear continuity between the old regime (as Louis XIV to Louis XVI of the word) and the First Republic. Of course, the Jacobins did not invent the centralization already evident under Louis XIV. By this time, indeed, the nobles had left their province castle to woo the king at Versailles. They had fallen into the trap set by the Sun King smarting from successive fronds major of France that had nearly cost him his crown. Louis XIV had succeeded in transforming the sword nobility noblesse de robe, much less dangerous. The administration of the country, previously provided by the Nobles, was entrusted to the king’s officials (inspectors general) that réglèrent life of the provinces in every detail. Everything was so centralized. The state, it was he (Louis XIV)! Tax collection, militia, public order (floor tide) and justice depended Versailles, as well as the administration of cities.

This centralization was as unpredictable consequence of feeding the first seeds of revolution : in fact, the company seventeenth century had nothing to do with the early days of feudalism. On the death of Louis XIV (1715), the citizens had become rich and aristocrats (sometimes more), at least as grown (sometimes much more). They read the same books, dressed in the same way, something unthinkable in St. Louis for example. King sometimes appealed to talented citizens to lead the country’s affairs (often to counter the power of the nobles).

In short, two social classes came together more and more, without touching, except by painful flesh.

Seen from the bourgeois side, the situation became under Louis XIV and later properly unbearable. The exorbitant privileges enjoyed by nobles were, until then, more or less accepted because in exchange, they were protecting the city, dispensed justice or administering the country. But with due centralization by the Sun King, here they are not doing anything and who retained despite all their privileges. Inevitably, injustice became increasingly visible.

Also not surprising that the first bomb detonators of the revolutionary were lit in bourgeois circles (Danton, Robespierre, Marat, Montesquieu , Rousseau , …) and that 1789 was only the expression of the will of the citizens of access to aristocratic privilege. The citizens then hastened to include in the Declaration of Human Rights the right to property (private) property they constituted cheaply by seizing Church property offered for sale, thus despoiling fortunes, capturing the means of production that enabled them to exploit the true revolutionaries ( Babeuf and his heirs slaughtered in terror fomented by Robespierre).