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[If anyone wishes to continue discussing this, perhaps we should
do so off-list in the interest of topicality.]

From:    John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>
>  The fall of the Bastille symbolizes primarily the destruction of
> tyranny through the physical destruction of one of its most hated symbols.
> [...] The fact that Louis XV's rule represented a considerable moderation of
> what comes before it affected the timing of the French Revolution, but not
> its symbolic impact.

But it wasn't really a hated symbol until extremist propagandists
for the far Left (a term which of course did not exist until later)
invented it.  At the time of the storming of the Bastille, it was
effectively serving as an insane asylum, since most of the 8 prisoners
remaining were what we would consider mentally deranged.  The fact
that it is still celebrated is really more of a measure of the victory
of the anti-monarchist cause, and not a reflection of the reality in the
late 18th century.

But that to me is almost beside the point. Celebrating its fall would be
tantamount to Russians' celebrating the abdication of Nicholas II who
was even more unwilling to relinquish power than Louis XVI.  During
Nicholas II's entire reign, approximately 6,000 people were executed
for political crimes, which sounds, and is, bad. But then you realize that
the Bolsheviks had already far surpassed that number in the first *six
months* of their reign, and this was minor compared to the government
engineered famines of the early 20s through the early 30s.

Celebrating such events is, IMHO, to close one's eyes to vast political
crimes committed by later regimes and to buy into their propaganda
out of political convenience.  We should not have to choose between
two evils. But there were clear practical differences between these two,
and if we are going to celebrate anything at all, surely we should
celebrate the *lesser* of two evils.

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From:    Christophe Grandsire <[log in to unmask]>
>En r=E9ponse =E0 John Cowan :
> >  The fall of the Bastille symbolizes primarily the destruction of
> > yranny through the physical destruction of one of its most hated symbols.
>
> Which is why it is viewed as a happy event even though it went very
> wrong afterwards...

See above.

> > The fact that Louis XV's rule represented a considerable moderation of
> > what comes before it affected the timing of the French Revolution, but not
> > its symbolic impact.
>
> Louis the XVI you mean :) . While he was indeed quite moderated compared to
> his predecessors, he was not ready to give up a single bit of his power,

This is not really true.  Louis XVI was a profoundly ambivalent man,
who was almost incapable of making decisive policy statements.  This
meant that he was constantly being torn between different court factions,
such as his wife who constantly urged him to uphold absolutism, and
others like Necker, Turgot or Lafayette who sought liberalizing reforms.
It was only after people like the latter were pushed out of the way
that the Court came to stand for reaction.  He himself had surprisingly
little to do with this.

> which is why we got rid of him rather than create a constitutional monarchy
> (the fact that the nobility and the clergy always voted against the
> Tiers-Etat during the Etats G=E9n=E9raux didn't help either :) ).

But the clergy didn't always vote against the Third Estate; in
fact, a great many of the clergy went over to the Third Estate
when the negotiations in the Estates General broke down, and
the Tennis Court Oath was sworn.

 =========================================================================
Thomas Wier	       "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics    because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago   half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street     Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637