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French Revolution and Its Impact on 20th Century Totalitarian Systems

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The impact of the French Revolution on the twentieth century totalitarian systems. by Kinga K. Krajewska

The French Revolution is one of the most significant events of the modern era. Not only has it changed a countenance of France, but it has also considerably affected the further history of Europe and the world. Nevertheless, the essence of its significance raises controversy among scholars. In a long tradition of historiography of the French Revolution there can be extracted several major concepts: the liberal approach represented by historians such as Alexis de Tocqeville or Francois Mignet, the Classic or Marxist interpretation, which considers the French upheaval as a 'bourgeois' revolution, and the Revisionism. The last-named has abolished the myth of the social interpretation and has brought a new conception of the Revolution as highly political.

Probably the most influential revisionist work on the French Revolution is Francuas Furet's Penser la Revolution francaise (1978; English translation- Interpreting the French Revolution, 1981). It assumes the revolutionary events as remarkably anti-democratic and emphasises its connection with the totalitarian systems. The book has stated quite an innovative thesis, which has become an object of evaluation for both academics and the general public. Thus, this essay is to demonstrate the impact of the Revolution on the totalitarianism of the twentieth century and to indicate the major similarities as well as their common ideologies. The intention of this work is also to show philosophical inspirations for the events of 1789 and therefore for those from the first half of the twentieth century.

In his famous dialogue with Stanislas Girardin, Napoleon was supposed to admit that"it was he [Rousseau] who laid the ground for the French Revolution" (Hicks, 2012, p.73). In fact, Rousseau's ideas of 'general…...

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