Pensées montagnardes

Bienvenue à l'an CCXXII de la République

24 notes

Anonyme a demandé: What is "international revolution theory" and what is your stance on it?

bunniesandbeheadings:

montagnarde1793:

bunniesandbeheadings:

Hi Anon! 

I was just scribbling in my tags without doing much thinking - as people do on tumblr - and my neurons must’ve been doing flipflops because I meant to say that the quote reminded me of the theory of ‘western’ or ‘Atlantic’ Revolution. I had the concept right, my memory just bailed on me for the term. 

It was a concept touted in the late 50s by historians like R.R Palmer and  J. Godechot, largely to combat the orthodox Marxist view that was dominant at the time. Effectively, it just contends that the French Revolution was just an aspect of a larger western or Atlantic revolution that began in the English colonies in America soon after 1763, was prolonged by the revolutions in Switzerland and the Netherlands and Ireland, before reaching France between 1787 and 1789. From France, it rebounded to the Netherlands, overcame the German Rhineland, Switzerland, Italy, Malta, eastern Mediterranean and Egypt, and finally spreading throughout Europe and Latin America. So rather than the French Revolution being an autonomous event in its own right, it just contributes to the wider scope of a “Great Atlantic Revolution,” to use Godechot’s phrase. The French Revolution was brought about less due to any unique social or economic forces in France but more due to vague international agitation and geographical location: In this case, the Atlantic Ocean. 

And my stance is…well, to clarify, I don’t exactly think the Orthodox Marxist view is 100% perf itself, but I don’t know if the Atlantic theory succeeds as either a replacement or an interpretation in its own right. In the first place, it’s not as though the capitalist economies and bourgeois power (chief components of the Orthodox-Marxist interpretation, that again, the Atlantic view is tirelessly trying to debunk) were confined to the shores of the Atlantic ocean. But they don’t really address that in any of the works that I’ve read - in fact, they seem to aggressively avoid economic and social discussions, period.

Moreover, and this is less hoity-toity analysis and more “gosh darnit are you seeing this shit” but: gosh darnit, are you seeing this shit? The shit that was the French Revolution? The concept of a ~western ~Atlantic revolution integrates the French Revolution as a mere component of a larger uprising - making it part of something bigger, but draining itself of national significance. Real talk, can we seriously make the argument that the French Revolution ranks alongside the Irish rebellion of 1798? Fueled by the same concepts and ideas, sure, but equal in depth, identical in social and political struggles, historical influence? Are we really going to look at the French Revolution as - and this is a quote from R.R Palmer himself, “a revolutionary upheaval common to Europe and America?” 

Meeeeeeeh. 

After ten years, even its main proponents abandoned it, and Palmer wrote somewhat shyly in 1968, “The more one stresses the idea of an expansive geographical movement, the more on sees it in the light of an essentially bourgeois revolution.” Which was effectively going, “Oops I made a bad.”

Not to say that just because its inventors nixed the idea it has no merit whatsoever - no nation is an island…even if they are literal islands, they aren’t metaphorical islands okay - but it’s not one that I really put much stock into.  

That said, R.R Palmer’s The World of the French Revolution is swiftly rising in my reading queue and maybe he’ll talk me around to it? 

Not sure you exactly have that right, Bunnies, I have to say. I’ve never seen anyone, including Palmer and Godechot, argue that the French Revolution was just another aspect of a more global Atlantic movement and that it didn’t have its own specificity and unique significance. The idea, as I understand it, was and is that the French Revolution can’t be understood in a vacuum and that there was a great deal more circulation of people, goods and ideas than either American or French exceptionalists (notably) like to admit. Which is a point that most historians acknowledge now that we’ve moved beyond a Cold War context (though plenty fault Palmer and Godechot for taking a narrowly Atlantic view of currents that extended beyond the reach of the Atlantic, and everyone has their own nuances to bring to bear on the question).

So, in other words, each revolution had its own specific causes and effects and different revolutions were of differing significances, but they employed a more or less common vocabulary and store of ideas and influenced each other a great deal. Keeping in mind as well that this was also the perception of contemporaries, though, obviously, things were never as simple as propagandists, revolutionary or counterrevolutionary, depicted it…

In short, I’m not really disagreeing with your interpretation, but I think you might oversimplifying the argument of the Atlantic Revolution camp - and certainly of its more recent off-shoots.

I have little doubt that the Atlantic Revolution has been developed more recently; I confess that I stopped tracing its more vocal arguments after 1989. This would account for my blinders past the Cold War context of analysis. 

To that end, my initial definition was actually a loose paraphrase of what Godechot himself describes as his thesis in the introduction to La Grande Nation. I mainly just expanded it to include Latin America, since he chooses not to include them in his litany. I imagine, given that this was published in 1954, that the argument was rounded later but since I commonly saw Godechot cited (by Soboul, Palmer. etc.) as one of the chief founders of the theory, I figured using him as a touching-off point to answer a stray tumblr ask would be acceptable. 

To clarify, the Atlantic Ocean did play an essential role that cannot be underestimated, in the renovation of the economy and the exploitation of colonial countries by the nations of western Europe. And I even admitted, in my initial answer - somewhat cheekily but nonetheless - that no nation was a metaphorical island, and that ripples from one brush against another. If that alone is enough to count as an Atlantic theorist, then I guess you can count me in. Me and Barnave, the contemporary social proponent of 1792, and Hobsbawm — but I had thought it to be something more tangible than “countries don’t exist in vacuums.” 

But I still maintain that the initial proponents of the Atlantic Theory appeared to have no interest in economic nor social foundations of the French Revolution’s movement in history - or at least, they displayed little in La Grande Nation or 1789, Les Revolutions de la Liberte et de l’Egalite or their articles on the subject published until my cut-off date. The bottom line is that they seem to be screeching, “It wasn’t a bourgeois revolution!” with little more substance to offer in contest aside from vague geographical rumblings. I’m glad to learn that the theory evolved, apparently to the point that it rides past without my noticing. 

Who are its current proponents and where could I read their work? And also, I probably won’t reply again until tomorrow since I do have plans but thank you very much anyway!! 

I wouldn’t say that there are too many straightfoward continuers of Godechot and Palmer, but I do think the interest of a number of their points goes beyond their own context and shortcomings. Ironically, the Atlantic historiography has a somewhat disconnected, if not necessarily conflictual relationship with the Age of Revolutions historiography. Which is not to say that we should underestimate the influence and importance of the circulation of revolutionaries and their ideas in places where revolutions did not ultimately take place…

However that may be, my director actually just held a seminar on just that topic, ie what has become of the Revolutionary Atlantic in recent historiography. Checking out some of the authors who presented (or who were presented) there would be a good place to start: http://revolution-francaise.net/2014/01/13/560-seminaire-la-revolution-francaise-et-le-monde-paris-ouest-nanterre-2e-semestre. As would some of the collections of articles that have been published in the last 15 years or so, like Révoltes et Révolutions En Europe (Russie comprise) et aux Amériques de 1773 à 1802 (2004) or La France et les Amériques au temps de Jefferson et de Miranda (2001).

In any case, as far as I’ve seen, no one these days is trying to make a globally explanatory theory out of Atlantic history or the notion of an Age of Revolutions to the exclusion of local factors. It’s not really an zero sum game, again, thanks to the end of the Cold War. I fully agree that the history of ideas - not that Atlantic history can be reduced to that, far from it - can’t stand on its own without any kind of social and economic underpinning. No more than we should allow ourselves to get mired in economic determinism on the other end. They should by rights be complementary. I don’t think I’ll shock anyone by saying you can’t really understand history without embracing all those angles. At the same time, it should be noted that there are some pretty strong arguments grounded in the social and economic as well as the political - with varying degrees of influence of the “Atlantic” or Age of Revolutions “schools” - for rejecting the hypothesis of the bourgeois revolution - at least in its traditional definition and usage. Cf. Florence Gauthier: http://revolution-francaise.net/2006/05/13/38-critique-revolution-bourgeoise-droits-homme-citoyen

24 notes

Anonyme a demandé: What is "international revolution theory" and what is your stance on it?

bunniesandbeheadings:

Hi Anon! 

I was just scribbling in my tags without doing much thinking - as people do on tumblr - and my neurons must’ve been doing flipflops because I meant to say that the quote reminded me of the theory of ‘western’ or ‘Atlantic’ Revolution. I had the concept right, my memory just bailed on me for the term. 

It was a concept touted in the late 50s by historians like R.R Palmer and  J. Godechot, largely to combat the orthodox Marxist view that was dominant at the time. Effectively, it just contends that the French Revolution was just an aspect of a larger western or Atlantic revolution that began in the English colonies in America soon after 1763, was prolonged by the revolutions in Switzerland and the Netherlands and Ireland, before reaching France between 1787 and 1789. From France, it rebounded to the Netherlands, overcame the German Rhineland, Switzerland, Italy, Malta, eastern Mediterranean and Egypt, and finally spreading throughout Europe and Latin America. So rather than the French Revolution being an autonomous event in its own right, it just contributes to the wider scope of a “Great Atlantic Revolution,” to use Godechot’s phrase. The French Revolution was brought about less due to any unique social or economic forces in France but more due to vague international agitation and geographical location: In this case, the Atlantic Ocean. 

And my stance is…well, to clarify, I don’t exactly think the Orthodox Marxist view is 100% perf itself, but I don’t know if the Atlantic theory succeeds as either a replacement or an interpretation in its own right. In the first place, it’s not as though the capitalist economies and bourgeois power (chief components of the Orthodox-Marxist interpretation, that again, the Atlantic view is tirelessly trying to debunk) were confined to the shores of the Atlantic ocean. But they don’t really address that in any of the works that I’ve read - in fact, they seem to aggressively avoid economic and social discussions, period.

Moreover, and this is less hoity-toity analysis and more “gosh darnit are you seeing this shit” but: gosh darnit, are you seeing this shit? The shit that was the French Revolution? The concept of a ~western ~Atlantic revolution integrates the French Revolution as a mere component of a larger uprising - making it part of something bigger, but draining itself of national significance. Real talk, can we seriously make the argument that the French Revolution ranks alongside the Irish rebellion of 1798? Fueled by the same concepts and ideas, sure, but equal in depth, identical in social and political struggles, historical influence? Are we really going to look at the French Revolution as - and this is a quote from R.R Palmer himself, “a revolutionary upheaval common to Europe and America?” 

Meeeeeeeh. 

After ten years, even its main proponents abandoned it, and Palmer wrote somewhat shyly in 1968, “The more one stresses the idea of an expansive geographical movement, the more on sees it in the light of an essentially bourgeois revolution.” Which was effectively going, “Oops I made a bad.”

Not to say that just because its inventors nixed the idea it has no merit whatsoever - no nation is an island…even if they are literal islands, they aren’t metaphorical islands okay - but it’s not one that I really put much stock into.  

That said, R.R Palmer’s The World of the French Revolution is swiftly rising in my reading queue and maybe he’ll talk me around to it? 

Not sure you exactly have that right, Bunnies, I have to say. I’ve never seen anyone, including Palmer and Godechot, argue that the French Revolution was just another aspect of a more global Atlantic movement and that it didn’t have its own specificity and unique significance. The idea, as I understand it, was and is that the French Revolution can’t be understood in a vacuum and that there was a great deal more circulation of people, goods and ideas than either American or French exceptionalists (notably) like to admit. Which is a point that most historians acknowledge now that we’ve moved beyond a Cold War context (though plenty fault Palmer and Godechot for taking a narrowly Atlantic view of currents that extended beyond the reach of the Atlantic, and everyone has their own nuances to bring to bear on the question).

So, in other words, each revolution had its own specific causes and effects and different revolutions were of differing significances, but they employed a more or less common vocabulary and store of ideas and influenced each other a great deal. Keeping in mind as well that this was also the perception of contemporaries, though, obviously, things were never as simple as propagandists, revolutionary or counterrevolutionary, depicted it…

In short, I’m not really disagreeing with your interpretation, but I think you might oversimplifying the argument of the Atlantic Revolution camp - and certainly of its more recent off-shoots.

2 679 notes

10 Evil Crimes Of The British Empire

stay-human:

10. The Boer Concentration Camps

Pitched under the white hot African sun and crawling with flies, the camps were overcrowded, underequipped, and lethally prone to disease outbreaks. Food supplies were virtually non-existent, and the callous guards would dock people’s meager rations for the slightest perceived offense. The result: sickness and death spread like wildfire, killing women by the thousands and children by the tens of thousands. In a single year, 10 percent of the entire Boer population died in the British camps—a figure that gets even worse when you realize it includes 22,000 children.

But the atrocity didn’t stop there. While rounding up the Boers, the British also decided to detain any black Africans they encountered, 20,000 of whom were worked to death in slave labor camps. All told, British policy in the war killed 48,000 civilians.

9. Aden’s Torture Centers

The Aden Emergency was a 1960s scramble to control the once-vital port of Aden in modern Yemen. Although the port had long been under British rule, a nationalist wave sweeping Yemen led to strikes, riots, and a general desire that the Brits leave as soon as possible. A desire the British decided to quell by opening torture centers.

Detainees were stripped naked and kept in refrigerated cells, encouraging frostbite and pneumonia. Guards would stub their cigarettes out on prisoner’s skin and beatings were common. But perhaps worst of all was the sexual humiliation. Locals who had been detained could expect to have their genitals crushed by guards’ hands, or to be forced to sit naked on a metal pole; their weight forcing it into their anus.

8. The Chinese “Resettlement”

In 1950, the Empire had a problem. Armed Communist insurgents were trying to take over Malay and most of the population seemed willing to let them do so. Reasoning that their forces stood no chance against a hidden army that could call upon the peasants for supplies, the British hit upon an ingenious solution. Rather than fight, they’d simply imprison all the peasants.

Known as “New Villages,” the camps constructed to house Malay’s poor were heavily fortified and watched over by trigger-happy guards. Inmates were forced to do hard labor in return for scraps of food, and contact with the outside world—including family—was forbidden. Once in a village, you lost all right to freedom and privacy. At night, harsh floodlights flushed out the shadows to stop clandestine meetings. Expressing any political sentiment could get your rations docked.

7. The Amritsar Massacre

On April 13, 1919, thousands of peaceful protesters defied a government order and demonstrated against British rule in Amritsar, India. What happened next was one of the lowest points in British history.

At 4.30pm, troops blocked the exits to the Garden and opened fire on the crowd. They kept firing until they ran out of ammunition. In the space of ten minutes, they killed between 379 and 1,000 protesters and injured another 1,100. A stampede caused a lethal crush by the blocked exits. Over 100 women and children who looked for safety in a well drowned. Rifle fire tore the rest to shreds.

The British public labeled Brigadier Reginald Dyer, the man responsible, a hero and raised £26,000 (around $900,000 in today’s money) for “the man who saved India.”

6. The Cyprus Internment

The big myth of the British Empire is that it nobly withdrew from its colonies when it realized the days of Imperialism were over. Yet one look at Cyprus proves the myth to be just a feel-good fairy tale. Between 1955 and 1959, the British responded to a Cyrpus rebel bombing campaign by rounding up and torturing 3,000 ordinary Cypriots.

The victims of this internment campaign were often held for years without trial and violently abused for being “suspected” terrorists. Detainees received regular beatings, waterboarding, and summary executions. Children as young as 15 had burning hot peppers rubbed in their eyeballs, while others reported being flogged with whips embedded with shards of iron. Those found guilty of rebel sympathies were relocated to London, where a UK opposition party inspection found inmates with their arms broken and jagged scars running across their necks. 

5. Crushing the Iraqi Revolution

In 1920, the newly-formed nation of Iraq was tiring of British rule. Charged with guiding the new state towards independence, the Empire had instead installed puppet leaders. turning the place into a de facto colony. Fed up with their imperial overlords, the Iraqis turned to revolution, only for the British to unleash wave after wave of atrocities against them.

First the RAF conducted nighttime bombing raids on civilian targets. Then they deployed chemical weapons against the fighters, gassing whole groups of them. But the real horrors came in the aftermath, when the victorious British decided to use collective punishment against the offending tribes.

From that point on, any tribe that caused a fuss would have one of its villages randomly annihilated. Specific orders were given to exterminate every living thing within its walls, from animals to rebels to children. Other villages were subject to random searches. If the British found a single weapon, they would burn the place to the ground, destroy the crops, poison wells, and kill livestock. They’d sometimes target weddings to terrorize the population. In short, the British deliberately targeted civilians in a campaign that lasted the better part of half a decade, all because a few Iraqis had dared to ask for their country back.

4. The Partitioning of India

Cyril Radcliffe has the distinction of killing more people with the stroke of a pen than anyone else in history. With almost zero time to prepare himself, Radcliffe was tasked with drawing the border between India and newly-created Pakistan that would split the subcontinent forever along religious lines. It was a tricky task, one that had the potential to cause massive displacement and ethnic violence even if handled carefully. Radcliffe, on the other hand, was asked to make some of the most-important decisions during the course of a single lunch.

The result was a border that made no ethnic or geographical sense. Terrified of being caught on the wrong side, Hindus in modern Pakistan and Muslims in modern India upped sticks and ran. The result was 30 million people trying desperately to escape one country or the other, a situation that quickly spiraled into mind-numbing violence.

Gangs of armed Muslims held up border trains and slaughtered any non-Muslims onboard. Hindu mobs chased and battered Muslim children to death in broad daylight. Houses were ransacked, villages burnt, and half a million people killed. It was a ridiculous waste of life, one that could have been largely avoided simply by giving the unfortunate Cyril Radcliffe enough time to do his job properly.

[or you know, letting the Indians figure shit out instead of a white guy who had never before even been to the subcontinent]

3. The Irish Famine

What started out as an ordinary if brutal famine soon became something more like genocide when London sent the psychopathic Charles Trevelyan to oversee relief work.

A proud Christian who believed the famine was God’s way of punishing the “lazy” Irish, Trevelyan was also a fierce devotee of Adam Smith. How fierce? Well, he passionately felt that government should never, ever interfere with market forces, to the extent that he refused to hand out food to the starving Irish. Instead, he instituted a public works program that forced dying people into hard labor building pointless roads so they could afford to buy grain. The only problem was he refused to control the price of grain, with the result that it skyrocketed beyond what the road builders could afford. Trevelyan thought this would encourage cheap imports. Instead it led to a million people starving to death.

Trevelyan was later officially honored for his “relief work.”

2. The Kenyan Camps

In the 1950s, the people of Kenya decided they wanted their nation back. Fearing a countrywide rebellion, the British rounded up 1.5 million people and placed them in concentration camps. 

Under slogans like “labor and freedom” and other variations on ” Arbeit macht frei,” inmates were worked to death as slave labor filling in mass graves. Random executions were not-uncommon and the use of torture was widespread. Men were anally raped with knives. Women had their breasts mutilated and cut off. Eyes were gouged out and ears cut off and skin lacerated with coiled barbed wire. People were castrated with pliers then sodomized by guards. Interrogation involved stuffing a detainee’s mouth with mud and stamping on his throat until he passed out or died. Survivors were sometimes burned alive.

The official body count is under 2,000, but more reliable estimates place the total dead in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Most of them were civilians or children, detained on vague, trumped-up charges of aiding the rebels. 

1. The Bengal Famine

In 1943, a deadly famine swept the Bengal region of modern East India and Bangladesh. Between one and three million people died in a tragedy that was completely preventable. At the time, the extent of suffering was put down to an incompetent British government too busy dealing with a war to look after its empire properly. But in 2010 a new book came out claiming the lack of famine relief was deliberate and that the deaths of those millions had been intentionally engineered by one man: Winston Churchill.

According to the book, Churchill refused to divert supplies away from already well-supplied British troops, saying the war effort wouldn’t allow it. This in itself wouldn’t be too damning, but at the same time he allegedly blocked American and Canadian ships from delivering aid to India either. Nor would he allow the Indians to help themselves: the colonial government forbade the country from using its own ships or currency reserves to help the starving masses. Meanwhile, London pushed up the price of grain with hugely inflated purchases, making it unaffordable for the dying and destitute. Most-chillingly of all, when the government of Delhi telegrammed to tell him people were dying, Churchill allegedly only replied to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.

Sans même parler de toutes les violations du droit des gens antérieures au XIXe siècle…

(via clubjacobin)

Classé dans perfide albion