Soboul and Furet

The French Revolution is an event which is seen both as the emergence of liberty and capitalism in France and as a force of execution and terror against the enemies of the Revolution. Both of these viewpoints are represented by Soboul and Furet, respectively.

In his article, Soboul centers his argument around the fact that the French Revolution was a needed cause which brought an end to feudalism and led to the rise of a capitalist democratic system. He argues that the revolution ended the horrible institution of a feudal system which oppressed the many peasants of France and kept them trapped under the burden of taxes and ever rising food costs which were hardly matched by a slowly rising average wage. Further, he states that the revolution was key to bringing about ideas of religious freedom; an idea which had been ignored after the English Revolution.

Furet, on the other hand, seemingly ignores the positive after-effects of the French Revolution by arguing that, while it did bring about some positives, it cannot be ignored that the revolution led to the deaths of thousands. The Terror, he claims, was an embarrassment to all who supported the revolution. In fact, he claims that the year of 1793, the height of the terror, is generally ignored among the events of the Revolution as a whole.

These two historians show the two sides of one of the most well-known events in history. Through the eyes of one historian, the war brought peace and capitalism to a land which was once ruled by rich tyrants while the vast majority were left to starve and die. Through the eyes of the other can be seen the grave horror of the Revolution: a group of what may arguably be called murders were attempting the overthrow of a government which had led to the deaths of thousands, a sort of life-for-a-life paradox which is more often than not overlooked or is viewed as an inevitable consequence of war.

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