Revolutions in Western Civilization

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Throughout time Europe has usually stayed tense with each other due to greed and poor leadership. With this tension and poor leadership, it can cause the citizens within the nation to become disgruntled. Revolutions are actually very common throughout history and often don’t meet the approval of everyone involved. History is a tool to give people experience over events that they don’t personally have to go through. We have seen revolutionary leaders attempt to use similar events to help aid in their cause. Throughout the history of Western Civilization, most historic revolts manifest from the working class due to unfair treatment or some desire for change from the Government which is evident in The Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, The Decembrist Insurrection in Russia, and The State and Revolution. In France, the monarch that caused so much unrest was Henry XVI. This person was extremely unpopular with the third estate due to the enlightenment and how the Catholic church was being promoted. Many of the French citizens were also starving and didn’t have the basic things needed to survive, this caused the whole third estate to finally take a stand. After the third estate made their list of grievances and it was disregarded the estates general started to form their own private government separate from the French national government.

Over time they were able to overthrow King Henry XVI and begin to form their own laws and promised people a more progressive government. This government was called the National Assembly and they believed that “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good”. This can be interpreted in many ways like how they didn’t actually believe “Men” were equal because they despised Catholics, Nobles, and any former government official. Many of the ideas of the National Assembly sounded good but what was good in theory wasn’t implemented very well and left people with fear and mistrust with this new government. This Assembly did appear to have the citizens wellbeing as one of their top priorities and they viewed the mistreatment of the citizens as the cause of corruption “The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments….” . The National Assembly drafted The Declaration of the Rights of the Citizen to protect and give some civil rights to the French Citizens who have been neglected by the previous leader. In many ways, the French Revolution is the ideal way to frame a revolution because of how successful it turned out to be. There hasn’t been an ideal revolution to this point but for the people of Russia much like the French people were not completely happy with their leaders and what they wanted, the Russian Revolution of 1825 was caused by a new leader who was taking the crown against the more popular brother who wanted major constitutional reform.

he citizens of Russia wanted to get rid of the serfs and to have a more progressive government like that of the French Revolution. With the new unrest in Russia secret groups started to form and plan out a revolt against Tsar Nicholas. This revolt was also caused by the Vienna settlement and how it suppressed freedoms and national independence. The Decembrist Revolt was caused by the sudden death of Tsar Alexander I who died unexpectedly. His next in line ultimately stepped down and that left Nicholas as the new Tsar who was disliked by several people. Many secret societies found that they would like to be as progressive much like the rest of Europe at the time. Many people felt as if they weren’t actually being represented by their government and that they were being used as machines rather than humans. They described the need for people in government in this quote “The people conceived a sacred truth – that they do not exist for governments, but that governments must be organized to them” this speaks of a democracy or any other type of government which represents the people living in its country. Kakhovsky also said this “I wish the kind Sovereign prosperity! May God aid him in healing the wounds of our fatherland and to become a friend and benefactor of the people…….”, he wished that Russia gained so much power that the sole need for their government is to aid the people. Russia had a serf system for a long time and in comparison, to its other European counterparts, it seemed to be outdated and not really practiced anymore. Since people within their country realized how unfair they were being treated in comparison to people in other countries it made tensions very high. By the time the Russian Revolution of 1917 happened the first World War was raging on in Europe and caused a shortage of food, clothes, and shelter usually since a great deal of Russia was burned down and pillaged. With the shortages growing this caused a big desire for equality but for equality throughout every social class.

While the first World War was going on there were several Russian Revolutionaries who became favored by the people and the biggest voice of the Revolutionaries was Vladimir Lenin. He became popular based on his writings and his idea for a one-party proletarian state. People believe what he was promising was a perfect world, but he describes the cause as “We are not utopians, we do not “dream” of dispensing at once with all administration, with all subordination. These anarchist dreams, based upon incomprehension of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship, are totally alien to Marxism, and, as a matter of fact, serve only to postpone the socialist revolution……”, this quote points out his desire to not have a socialist government but to have a single power lead the country with the people’s needs as a top priority . Lenin understood that great change wouldn’t occur over time however the best method of reaching the final goal was to have a revolution which he pointed out in his writings “To prune Marxism to such an extent means reducing it to opportunism, for this “interpretation” only leaves a vague notion of a slow, even gradual change, of absence of leaps and storms, of absence of revolution” . Historically many revolutions in Western Civilization occur due to mistreatment and misrepresentation from the government, these are evident in The Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, The Decembrist Insurrection in Russia, and The State and Revolution. Each of these writings served as a useful tool to help aid the Revolutionary leaders to gain an outline for what they wanted to achieve. Hopefully there won’t be a need for any more revolutions but unfortunately, if history has taught us anything is that people don’t seem to learn much from their mistakes.

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Revolutions in Western Civilization. (2020, Feb 22). Retrieved from

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