Sunday, 15 November 2015

Blue, White and Red for France

[In memory of Paris attacks]

The Destruction and Creation Of French Revolution*

French Revolution takes a loop process of 'destruction

and creation' and it is then followed by another 'creation

and destruction'. Its revolutionary spirit continues and

possible to extend into the future.

From the First French Republic formed during French

Revolution until the current Fifth French Republic, the

way of destruction and creation process shows the

revolutionary strength. It is also relevant to the historical

development as shown during Second World War when

France faced her survival challenges.

Can we or can we not rule out a Sixth French Republic?

We don't know. With the integration of European Union,

end of cold war, euro crisis and shift of economic power to

Asia, France and Europe at large will certainly need to

find a new role in the world stage. French Revolution,

perhaps, can add some 'destruction and creation' ideas to

a new France and a new Europe. In particularly, how

French and Europe cope with the revolutionary

movements in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world.

French revolution shows the possibility of mankind, the

destructive and creative power beyond the traditional elite

class (of nobles and priests): the Third Estate, the

women, the slaves, and the new elites(and/or middle

class). In between the destruction and creation process,

we see the emergence of citizen rights, liberty, republic

states and constitutions, new culture and new business


We notice the end (destruction) and closing charter of

feudalism and the creation of radicalism. The radical force

can also create negative outcome like the terror in

1793/­94 or positive outcome of anti­slavery and

independent movements outside Europe.

As a country, the French Republic also ended her own

division, the privileges, concentration of land ownership

and dues to nobles/churches. We witness the rise of

nationalism, standard measurement, creation of new

culture and common language, social relationship

(citizens and state) and even new form of business and

capitalist practice.

However, dilemma, conflicts of interest, controversies

and comprises too are the features of French



We see the large scale participation of women in the

revolution. Never before in history, there are so many

female participants actively joining the revolutionary force

to overthrow the traditional establishment. However, not

all in the revolutionary camp are willing to accept and

recognise women’s contribution and sacrifice and accord

them with equality.

It is controversial enough to see some free black in the

republic enjoy more equal right than women. (A similar

development also occurred earlier during the American

Revolution when black men, who joined the independent

movement, gained rights of votes before women).


We also see the controversy and comprises on the issue

of slavery. There were free black as well as black slaves

concurrently, especially in the French colonies. The

unequal status and double standard unavoidably resulted

to another round of ‘destruction and creation’. French

colonies begun to fight for their independence.

We also notice the declaration of equal right before the

total removal of slavery trade. It shows some ‘destruction

and creation’ movements, like women rights, free black,

cannot take effective immediately. There are conflict of

interest among the revolutionary forces. Some agree but

other may not agree. Hence, they need to find a


It is quite clear that the job of French Revolution during

the First Republic is not complete. It needs Napoleon

Bonaparte to strengthen it either militarily with a strong

army or civilly with a civil code. It also needs another

Republic to complete the unfinished job and totally

remove the emperor.

Imperial crisis:

The bigger revolutionary impact is the threat and

challenges posed to imperialism. The European powers

whether revolution or anti­revolution had to face the

awakening of rights, liberty, freedom, national assembly

and constitutional government in their colonies. No

imperial powers can stop this movement. Hence,

European colonies in Central and South America begun

to break away from their imperial masters in the 19th

century. It was then followed by European colonies in

Africa and Asia in the 20th century.

However, the destruction and creation process still

continues in some parts of the world. New states emerge

like South Sudan, or states merge to form new state, like

Yemen. However, whether new states or merged states,

they continue to call themselves a Republic with a

constitution and national assembly.

Culture and economics:

With the standardised measurement and legal

administration, new thinking, culture and business

practices begin to take place. Paris was rebuilt in the

middle of 19th century (after revolutionary destruction),

new architecture, new creative thinking and innovation

also emerge. For France, her design and rich cultural

heritage have strengthened ‘soft power’ French products

and service, for example, fashion, cosmetic, arts,

paintings, foods, etc.


The revolutionary of the French Revolution is her spirit of

continued 'destruction and creation'. Revolution has its

bright and dark sides and the consequence can be

unpredictable and even horrific or terrific.

This is why we have different and contradicting comments

about French Revolution. We have the minimalist and

maximalist views. Countries with no impactful revolution,

like United Kingdom or Japan, continue to progress and

practice democracy, national assembly, rights and liberty.

So, one can argue revolutionary is just part of the human

development. It comes naturally to destroy old systems

and build new practice.

From the scientific point of view, it is an evolution. The

old system is discarded due to its uselessness. And new

practice needs to emerge to cope with the new challenges

and environment.

But the revolutionary force behind the big change is

extremely important. We are not sure what are the

revolutionary force behind the big change to transform

human beings into a thinking man. However, without the

revolutionary force, we are no different from other


So, how should we consider French Revolution? Is it

revolutionary enough to give a new meaning to human

beings? It depends whether you are a minimalist or


*class assignment for "French Revolution" course

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