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How true is the statement that the French Revolution was avoidable?

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kayzzy | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 25, 2012 at 2:41 PM via web

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How true is the statement that the French Revolution was avoidable?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2012 at 1:20 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that any revolution could be seen as avoidable.  In historical hindsight, one can always play the hypothetical game of "What if."  This means that historians are always able to play around with "What if..." and be to craft a potential alternate history of a revolution.  In this light, I suppose that a historical revisionist could make the argument that the French Revolution was avoidable.  Had the monarchy been more receptive to the needs of the body politic, perhaps the revolution could have been avoided.  Had Louis XVI not raised taxes to such a high level, perhaps discontent could have been shelved for a bit.  Had the aristocracy had better insight into letting the new working class into the economic system of the time, perhaps there might have been some deferring of their anger at being excluded.  Yet, the reality is that the Status Quo proceeded with such a fervent authenticity in its own political and social notion of the good that reflection seemed impossible.  The absolutism with which the ruling monarchy and aristocratic class proceeded was so dauntingly abrasive that it left no room for potential negotiation.  The French monarchy seemed so convinced of its own certainty in ruling and could not conceive of popular uprising so successful as to destabilize it that the revolution almost seemed inevitable in this regard and not avoidable. 

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