Saturday, January 09, 2010
The Great Fear
(fm the BC thread "The needle in the haystack")
The critical moment in the French Revolution was not the Terror. That was only a device to commit the nation to the results of the revolution and forestall backsliding. Much more important was what happened at the beginning with the Great Fear. That was when the peasants with the encouragement of the shopkeepers and artisans burned the chateaux. The reason they burned them was to destroy all the legal records. 18th century France, like 5th century BC Athens and 21st century America was ruled by litigation. Everyone had a lawsuit and the blood sport of tracing and arguing special rights and grievances supplanted productive work. Ny destroying the records they destroyed the basis of feudalism and freed France to develop. We now need a cleansing to free us from the tort bar.