By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
History advances in disguise. There is a saying that History repeats itself. We scrutinize history only because we need to have a better and fuller idea how it will help us to shape our future. A revolution is a change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against oppression (political, social, economic) or political incompetence of governments.
Liberation movements have been growing gaining ground in scope and depth, invariably facing strong resistance by the systems they rise up against. Revolutionary attempts that fail will be regarded as coups against the authority and will be subject to punishment under the Law. The Modern free world, we witness today, comprise of many countries that have emerged victorious in their struggles for national liberation with great sacrifices made by the revolutionaries.Victories of the National Liberation movements and class struggles waged by working people to defeat the monopolies and exploitations have contributed to the development and strengthening of Socialism. Many revolutionary struggles have been recognized as Great land mark events in the world history.
The American Revolution was an epic political and military struggle waged between 1765 and 1783.- also called the U.S. War of Independence—was the insurrection through which 13 of Great Britain’s North American colonies threw off British rule to establish the sovereign United States of America, founded with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The protest began in opposition to taxes levied without colonial representation by the British monarchy and Parliament.
The Russian Revolution took place in 1917, during the final phase of World War I. It brought about the transformation of the Russian Empire into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), replacing Russia’s traditional monarchy with the world’s first Communist state.
The Chinese Communist Revolution, known as the War of Liberation, … led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman Mao Zedong, …
On October 1, 1949, Chinese Communist leader Mao declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt in the mid 1950’s led by Fidel Castro against the government of Fulgencio Batista. … He was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Fidel. As he announced in his famous speech addressing the Judiciary that convicted him, “history will absolve me!”, he established a government in October 1965.
Industrial Revolution was different. The Industrial Revolution was the transformation of economies dominated by agriculture and handicrafts to economies dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. The process began in Britain (18th-century) and slowly spread to other parts of the world.
The Industrial Revolution involved technological changes, including the novel use of materials like iron and steel, the intensified use of energy sources like coal and steam, and the use of new inventions; socioeconomic changes, including the introduction of the factory system and a wider distribution of wealth; and cultural changes, including the growth of cities and development of worker’s rights movements. The period was also marked by the devaluation of skilled work and by unsafe working conditions, long hours, and child labor.
The French Revolution was a culmination of the revolutionary movement that was developing in France between 1787 and 1799.It brought an end to a long existing regime in France in 1789 and was hence called Revolution of 1789. The climax of the event was in July and August of 1789. It is interesting to examine the social conditions that prevailed at the time of this uprise. Hence, I thought of dealing with this in more detail looking at our own situation with regard to certain aspects.
The Feudal Regime was characterized by a system of privileges extended by the monarchy to the rich and the elite at the expense of the peasants denying equality before the Law. Abuse of Judicial procedures by the King and his administration were serious challenges levelled against the system. There was a strong need that the individual must be safeguarded against arbitrary police or judicial action.
In such a background some protest actions of the people starting from May 5, 1789, reached climax levels by July that year leading the peasants to rise against their lords in many provinces. The Nobles and the bourgeois were scared. The national State Assembly on the night of the 4th August 1789, declared the abolition of the Feudal regime and the tax laws in force. Thereafter on 26th August it introduced the declaration proclaiming liberty, equality, the inviolability of property and the rights to resist oppression, which came to be known as “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”
The decrees of August 4th and the Declaration were accepted as great innovations but the King refused to sanction them and made an attempt to flee. People, rose again and brought the Royal family back to Paris.
French population participated actively in the culture put into place by the Revolution. Uncensored newspapers reported and kept the people abreast of the developments.
The National Constituent Assembly totally abolished Feudalism, established civil equality, nationalized the lands which helped pay off the public debt and created widespread redistribution of property.
Following sequence of events will indicate what led to the culmination of that great revolution.
Feb 1787, Charles de Calonne, controller general of Finances arranged a meeting of “notables”( prelates, great noble-man, and representatives of the bourgeoisie) to propose reforms designed to eliminate the budget deficit by increasing the taxation on the privileged classes. The assembly refused the proposal. Due to adverse opposition to the proposed reforms the privileged class managed to curtail the powers of the courts of justice by the Edict of May 1788.
Before end of 1788, people started revolting creating unrest. The King, Louis XVI, had to yield and convened the Estates General in May 1789. He reappointed a reform-minded Finance Minister and granted freedom of the press, after which France was filled with pamphlets addressing the reconstruction of the State.
May 5, 1789- The Estates- General met and agreed to declare themselves as National Assembly. Many parish priests supported this move.
The King agreed and yielded and allowed the official Title to the National Constituent Assembly on July 9.
July 14, 1789, the Parisian crowds seized the Bastille ending the Royal tyranny.
June 20-21 ,1791, King tried to flee the country but was stopped and brought back to Paris.
August 10, 1792 , the revolutionaries occupied the Palace of Louis XVI and imprisoned the Royal Family.
January 21, 1793, Louis XVI was Judged and condemned to death for treason, and executed.
Marie Antoinette (Queen) was guillotined nine months later.
The group of revolutionaries who held power till July 27-1794, adopted a radical economic and social policy. They introduced the Maximum (govt. control of prices), taxed the rich, gave national assistance to the poor and disabled, declared that education should be free and compulsory, and ordered the confiscation and sale of the properties of the aristocrats who fled France following the success of the revolution.
It is also of interest to recapitulate some of the salient features of the Declaration made in Aug 1789;
Article 1: “all men are born and remain free and equal in rights”
Article 2: Rights of liberty , private property, the inviolability of the person, and resistance to oppression;
Article 6: all citizens are equal before the law and were to have the right to participate in legislation directly or indirectly;
Article7: no one is to be arrested without judicial order;
Article 10: Freedom of religion;
Article 11: Freedom of Speech;
Article 16: offices and position were open to all citizens:
It is publicly claimed that the French Declaration went beyond all the other models then available elsewhere in its scope and its claim, as regards the principles that are fundamental to man. It was an attack on the pre-revolutionary monarchial regime.
Economic and social conditions that cause hardships to people sometimes trigger unexpected developments. Our critical economic conditions and the consequential hardships caused due to the Pandemic have to be addressed in an utmost seriousness for the masses to feel that the Government has done its best possible. Hence, we turn inwards to our own situation to take a look and get a clear picture of the current position.
In the Agriculture sector, which is an important source in the National Income there appears to be a growing dissatisfaction and a restlessness, unprecedented hitherto. The peasants with improved standards of education are concerned with their rights to landownership and the holding rights. They are mindful of the Obligations of governments to address the issues confronting them. The Fertilizer issue continues unattended remaining exposed only to Lip service. Threats to their cultivation rights due to displacements caused by the invading investors and other common grievances due to continued failure of the successive governments to provide the basic living facilities including infrastructure, children’s education, health, safety to the lives from hazards, marketing problems, the dwindling assistance schemes to provide financial support at the village level etc. etc. have compounded the restlessness among the peasant class.
The Urban population too are becoming more and more alert to the plundering and exploitation they are being subject to by the highly inefficient local govt. administrations, at different levels. The tax and assessment incomes of the local bodies are used to enrich the elected representatives than to be adequately utilized for the main objective purpose of “discharging the responsibility of regulation, control and administration of all matters in the purview of the body, relating to the public health, public utility services and public through fares and generally with the protection & promotion of the comfort , convenience and welfare of the people.”
The increasing cost of living making it unbearable to a large percentage of the people.
The rulers standing more and more aloof from the problems of the commoners and showing scanty interest to solve them.
Issues of wage-earning classes remaining unsettled over long periods without any adequate measures to address them causing great unrest among the organized working class.
Inability to present consistent policy plans to resurrect a fast-falling economy with expert and professional participations and the assistance and intervention of multilateral organizations to deliver quick results.
The failure to present any solution to the growing inequalities in incomes of the population & to minimize the burdens imposed on the indirect tax payers.
The continuing inefficiencies, undue political interferences, mounting corruption and wastage in the State Sector Organizations.
Glaring instances of highly obvious personal favoritisms intended to enrich chosen henchman at huge costs to the national budgets, with no resulting benefits accruing to the public.
The growing social concerns about the curtailment of Freedom of the Press and speech.
The Education sector and the students’ movements rising against certain educational reforms should be taken seriously as it has assumed questionable magnitudes.
The situation that prevailed in France under the Monarchial rule of King Louis XVI, was much worse and cannot be compared with our situation.
But if left unattended for long these might develop in to levels leading to serious situations.
History has taught us many good lessons.