Translator: Davood Salehan
Revolution of 1789 was introduction of modern bourgeois capitalist society in the history France. The main characteristic of this revolution was the successful deployment of national unity through the fall of the landlord regime. According to Tocqueville, the aim of the revolution was the elimination of the last vestiges of the Middle Ages. The French Revolution was not the first revolution from which the bourgeoisie benefited, and earlier the Dutch revolution in the sixteenth century, two England revolutions in seventeenth century and American Revolution in the eighteenth century had shown the way. At the end of the eighteenth century most of Europe, including France, was under the rule of a regime that in terms of sociality, privileges of the nobility and political terms was characterized by authoritarianism based on divine right monarchy. In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the bourgeoisie was not grown so much that could have much influence. Geographical discoveries in fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, exploitation of the colonies and displacement of offshore transactions to the West had all helped backwardness of social and economy conditions of the countries, although the Revolution of 1640 in England was an attempt to desert the way of a despotic government, the establishment of political freedom in Britain in no way could hit a crushing blow to the foundations of social hierarchy based on wealth. British freedoms' foundation was formed by customs and traditions and not philosophical consequences. Burke wrote in his book "Thoughts on the French Revolution," which was released in 1790: since the issuance of the Magna Charter till expression of rights, Constitution Rights has been policy of our freedoms permanent; the freedom that we have inherited from our ancestors and we should pass them to our descendants. (Gaetana Mosca, the history of political ideas and correspondence: Hussein Shahidzadeh, Morvarid publications, p. 125). However it is obvious that the constitution of Great Britain recognized the rights of British officially and not human rights and English freedoms did not have global characteristic. In American Revolution in 1779 also there were disputations on principles for achieving it, which absolutely do not recognize freedom and equality. Blacks were still slaves and whites' equality of rights in fact never endangered social hierarchy based on wealth, and by the way in the first constitutions of them, the condition of having wealth for the right to vote existed. America and Britain revolutions are examples of revolutions that defend excellence of wealth under the guise of "bourgeois freedom". The French Revolution was the most prominent bourgeois revolution and it has overshadowed all previous revolutions because of the dramatic nature of the class struggles.
These features are signified of hardship of aristocracy which had clung to feudal privileges and was opposed to giving any benefits and it was also opposed to the masses of people passionate by any privilege or class differences. Essentially bourgeois did not demand a complete collapse of aristocracy, but refusing aristocracy was one of the compromises and dangers of counter-revolution which forced the bourgeoisie to destroy the old order. The French revolution chose truly revolutionary path of transition from feudalism to capitalism. This revolution by destroying the remnants of feudalism and by making the peasants free from the rights of landlords and church tithe and uniting the trade at the national level was the decisive step index in the evolution of capitalism. Suppression of feudal released the direct petty producers and led to separation of peasant masses and their polarization between capital and wage labor. After the revolution by the development of entirely new production relations, capital became free from the imposition and aggression of feudalism and labor became as a real original commercial fact and the issue eventually guaranteed autonomy of capitalist production, both in agriculture and in industry. Victory over feudalism and the old regime was not along with the rapid emergence of new social relations. The road to achieve capitalism was not a simple process; the development of capitalism was slowly in revolutionary period and the industry did not grow that much and trade finance had retained its supremacy but the destruction of the great feudal governments and traditional systems of controlling transaction, independency of the capitalist mode of production and distribution, realized a classical revolutionary transformation. The French Revolution shattered political framework of the old regime and eliminated the remnants of the old local government and eliminated local privileges and state discriminations in order to rummage economic and social structures. While the French Revolution was considered a necessary step in the transition from feudalism to capitalism has its own characteristics in relationship with other similar revolutions. These features are concerned especially with building French society at the end of the old regime. While the French Revolution is a freedom-seeking revolution and is following American Revolution by insisting on natural rights, has a universal position in contrast with revolution of England. Surely this statement of Tocqueville that says: Why political similar principles and views in the United States only lead to change of the state, while in France it leads to a complete collapse of a social order (ibid., P. 304) suggests the greatness of the French Revolution. Declaration of 1789 undoubtedly speaks with more heat than its American predecessor and takes further step on the road to freedom. The French Revolution as an egalitarian revolution takes further steps from its predecessors, and neither in England nor America equality was not stressed because both aristocracy and bourgeoisie united their forces to achieve power, but resistance of counter-revolution aristocracy and engaging in war forced the French bourgeoisie to raise equity as a major issue because it was the only way to have people beside. French economic transition to capitalism through the integration of industry, increase and focus of workers and consciousness and awaking of their class information could once again revive the principle of equal rights in the minds of people.
Now we will explain the special features of French society, which led to differentiation and excellence of 1789 Revolution other former revolutions: in aristocratic society of old the system, according to the traditional law, three classes were distinct; Clergymen and nobility who were from privileged classes and the third class was the majority of the people. The nobles were composed of people who often had different interests. Court nobles were from nobles present at the court and lived in Versailles and formed the king's partners. State nobles that were less glory and lived among the peasants. The main source of money of the nobility was imposing feudal results on peasants. The nobility by the garment were made since they created their own monarchy, judiciary and administration. At the head of this class of nobles, there were large parliamentary advisors families who aimed at seizing control of the government and taking part in government. The nobility had so much power that were affiliated with their points and opposed any reform that might jeopardize their status. At the end of the eighteenth century, feudal aristocracy was crumbling. Courtier nobility at Versailles went into bankruptcy and the state nobility continued their life with no purpose. That is why when aristocracy saw their decline soon, asked for the consolidation and effect of feudal results and increasing limitations. In 1781, by a royal decree, the right to achieve higher positions in the army was exclusively dedicated to the nobility or those who could prove nobility decency. Economically aristocracy tried to worsen feudalism even worse than the present status. According to the decrees about the triage of great feudal lords, they had seized a third of the rural community property. In the meantime, some of the nobles gradually expressed interest to business issues of middle classes and used their capital in the industry and in particular in the iron industry. In the tendency to trade, a part of nobles belonging to the upper layer of aristocracy got closer to the middle class and to some extent they shared in political ideals of them, but the vast majority of the state and the court nobility saw the solution only with more explicit express of their privileges. The differences and divisions among the elites of French society got easier for revolutionaries in the way.
Clergymen were from other classes of French society who had significant political, judicial and financial privileges. In fact, only the clergy literally constituted a social rank as the social rank had a civil administration based on meetings with presence of the priests and it had their own church and court officials. Although clergy formed one of the social ranks and had spiritual unity, it did not form a harmonic united community. Upper layer of the clergy, the priests, and heads of churches and bishops of cathedrals were elected exclusively from the nobility class that this was due to defend the higher rates from which Clergymen with low ranks were generally deprived. Clergymen, who were in lower ranks, were people who came from ordinary people and lived with them and shared in their insights. The people, who lived in difficult conditions, gradually became interested in the works of philosophers and became fascinated by the ideas of the new era. Hence, dichotomy could be seen between elites of society and the clergy of France.
Since late fifteenth century the third rank of society was known as the third class. The rank included the majority of people in the end of the old regime. Social importance of the class was increasing due to the role that it played in national survival and serving the country. The bourgeoisie was the most important rank on the third class. The bourgeoisie had especial culture and wealth, thus it had gained leading position in society, and the position was in the conflict with official existence of privileged classes. Since France remained a rural country at the end of the old regime, and agricultural production played a dominant role in its economic life, the farmers' issue was of important issues of their society. First of all, the importance of peasant was due to their number, because if peasant masses remained passive during the revolution, neither bourgeois achieved victory nor revolution was achieved. The fundamental reason of presence of peasants during the revolution was the legal issue of lords and the remnants of feudalism and their intervention which finished feudal system. In a country where the vast majority of the population was peasants and agricultural production affected other activities, of course the peasants' demands would have had a special importance. Special feudal reaction of the eighteenth century had made the mentioned system even more unbearable. When there was a struggle, landlord justice crushed the peasants under its pressure. Landowners collectively attacked common and traditional rights of peasants and their lands and considered them as a part of their jurisdiction area and proved their claim by appealing to the orders of the king who gave then the right to seize a third of the lands on dispute. Tolerating such a difficult situation for the vast majority of the population was impossible, therefore, there was no choice left but unison with unsatisfied people from current situation.