Were France’s demonstrations barbaric?

Even those who are not fond of Paris cannot comprehend what happened to this charming and captivating city! The demonstrations started as arbitrary and experimental, but soon became a chaotic European disease, reaching as far as destruction and corruption!

Cars were burnt in Balzac street, Balzac the master of theater, who, had he been alive, would have ached at the sight of his novel ‘Lost Illusions’ shredded on the streets or dumped in the river; similar to what the Mongols did to the heritage of Baghdad and its books.

The crowd’s behavior does not measure up to logic, nor is it driven by reason, and therefore is not controlled by the wise. This is what caused this collective crowd behavior to be based on feelings or psychology, as Gustave Le Bon says in his book, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind”.

During the French Revolution, Rosseau’s theory achieved the dream of the "republic system", which makes the president today bow to negotiating and making compromises to the Yellow Vests at a highly difficult and chaotic stage!

Turki Aldakhil

Rousseau’s theories

Even Le Bon, that esteemed Frenchman, the scholar of civilization and its history from where he was stationed in the west to the far east, can’t help but be remembered along with his texts in the presence of mischievous movements. He is the top analyzer of crowd behaviors and its patterns of their marches on earth because of his accuracy in studying rebels’ patterns.

The observer sees the demonstrations and what resulted from them a distortion worthy of being studied, for the situation is difficult to define, especially when contemplating the history of the republic’s perspective, and the vision of France through the ages.

In 1753, Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who became French after moving there and embracing the culture, answered a question proposed by the Academy of Dijon: What is the origin of inequality among people? Is it part of the natural law?!

Although Rousseau was Swiss, what he wrote influenced political events in Europe in general, and in France in particular, where he was linked to, and even influenced by complex political relations.

Described by Henry Kissinger as “the godfather of the French Revolution”, the question seemed intriguing to a bright mind with sharp tools, like Rousseau’s. His answer was a window to some exceptional theories in the history of modern politics, which are marked in his famous book, “Discourse on Inequality”.

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In the main preamble of the book, is a dedication to the Republic of Geneva, something historians of Rousseau’s work considered to be the nucleus of the rest of his theories, specifically his influential books “The Social Contract” and “Discourse on Inequality”.

Rousseau’s students know that he is the entry point to the social contract, because of what he engraved as contents and principles, especially because during the French Revolution, his theory achieved the dream of the "republic system", which makes the president today bow to negotiating and making compromises to the Yellow Vests at a highly difficult and chaotic stage!

Before Rousseau, the political theory and social contract of challenges that grew up with European societies went on, especially in the devastating years of war in Europe.

Adel Zaiter, the translator of Rousseau’s book, “Discourse on Inequality,” states that Rousseau opposed two personalities, Voltaire and Montesquieu, as they were from the upper classes that haven’t experienced the miseries that Rousseau had to live with.

The social contract

Rousseau’s sharp and comprehensive vision has become the nucleus of most of the constitutional implications related to the social contract and the relations between the individual and the state, making the philosopher one of the founders of the concept of the contemporary state, along with the likes of English philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

France, with its long-standing history, does not stand far from revolutions and their aftermath of tragedies, blood, and destruction. The seed of a revolution does not always produce good fruit, and that is not my opinion, rather the analysis of a famous academic and politician, Henry Kissinger, who says in his book World Order: “The revolutions intellectual godfather, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, formulated this universal claim in a series of writings whose erudition and charm obscured their sweeping implications. Walking readers step by step through a rational dissection of human society, Rousseau condemned all existing institutions – property, religion, social classes.”

Kissinger, is not confined to the above, but also considers that most of the Thirty years’ War was based on the concepts first put forward during the French Revolution. Not forgetting to point out the dreams of Napoleon and his followers from the depths of political narrative of the French enlightenment through the regular paths that the region witnessed in different forms through aimless presidential preaches.

Political theory has exceeded the effects of the French Revolution and its advice, and hopefully this beautiful and elegant state will transcend all crises. In theory, however, the French must recognize the progress of other nations, away from historical rivalries, and in view of the extractions of production and development, while taking into account cultural differences. Aside from Britain, there lies in India, China, and Japan successful experiments that may outperform the French experience, with all due respect. With no offence whatsoever, success of a state is not linked to the application of Rousseau’s theories, and methods of Napoleon!

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Turki Aldakhil is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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