REVOLUTION DEMYSTIFIED: Truth and Lies Surrounding the French Revolution


REVOLUTION DEMYSTIFIED: Truth and Lies Surrounding the French Revolution
by Darius Kadivar

The French Revolution of 1789 has served as a role model for subsequent revolutions particularly in the 20th century. But are the clichés and stereotypes which have shaped the French Revolutionary iconography pertinent today ?

Historian Simon Schama Slams philosopher Slavoj Zizek fascination for Robespierre:




A Quick Overview on the Truths,

Lies and Clichés on the French Revolution



Part I: Roots of the Revolution

John Green discusses the causes of the French Revolution and its initial events, including the French debt crisis under King Louis XVI,the convocation of the estates general, the rise of the third estate, the formation of the National Assembly, the tennis court oath at Versailles, the storming of the Bastille, the women's march, and the moving of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to Paris.

Part II: The French Revolution and the Exiles

John Green continues his introduction to the history ofthe French Revolution, discussing Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's flight to Varennes, the constituent assembly's attempts to write a constitution of France,France's brief experiment with constitutional monarch, war with Austria and Prussia and then eventually the rest of Europe, and the rise of the French Republic--also guillotines and the use of the guillotine in Revolutionary France.

Part III: Reign of Terror

John Green completes his introduction to the history ofthe French Revolution, discussing the rise of the Committee of Public Safety,Maxmillien Robespierre, the reign of terror, the guillotine, the death of Marie Antoinette, the Directory, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, and some thoughts on why we study history in the first place.

Although a turning point in history many other nation's failed their revolutionary experience in trying to emulate this radical recipe for change often wrongly thinking that all revolutionary movements automatically follow a determinisitc irreversible path as if history was rocket science. Many popular revolutions actually led to totalitarian systems with far more brutal regimes than the previous one against which the people had revolted.

Nearly two centuries after the Revolution, France today is a fully democratic society and despite an eduring guilt regarding the way the French Royals were beheaded there is little chance of seeing a Restoration of the Monarchy as has been the case in Spain or as in Great Britain both of which are equally democratic.

How Truly Democratic And Stable Is The British Monarchy?

HISTORY FORUM: Franco's Ghost- Spain's Painful Road Towards National Reconciliation

But how relevant are the clichés and stereotypes which have shaped the French Revolutionary iconography today ? Particularly given all the upheavals inthe past 32 years where Peaceful Velvet Revolutions set Eastern Europe Free or the very different revolutionary outcomes which are currently shaking and shaping the Middle East and North Africa it is interesting to observe how different regime’s in the région have responded to the upheavels.

Interestingly Monachies deemed absolute like Jordan and Morroco today seem for the time being at least to have responded with a sense of responsability and compassion towards their people’s demands:

Jordan's King Abdullah II announces sweeping reforms

Morocco's King Mohammed VI pledges constitutional reform

Tunisia and Egypt have also succeeded if not bloodless yet far more peaceful and less vengeful transitions than that of the French Revolution of 1789 or Iranian Revolution of 1979.

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE: IRI's Reign of Terror Begins (BBC Report 1979)

VIRTUE IN TERROR: Maximilien Robespierre and the Reign of Terror (BBC)

pictory:(FOR REFERENDUM BASHERS) Women Punched in Face by Iranian Revolutionaries

Iran’s current so called « Green Protest » was also met with far more brutality by an Iranian regime which calls itself a Republic and was founded upon the toppling of a monarchy whose King was ready for dialogue but whose words of caution at the time were greeted to deaf ears by a nation too impatient and too blinded by hatred to fully grasp what they were about to produce and endure for the next 3 decades.

THE SHAH's SPEECH: Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi's Last Speech

Revolutionaries hang Reza Shah's Bust at Paris Embassy (1979)

SimilarilyNever it seems has the expression : « A Revolution Eats it’s Own Children » been so ironically true in the Case of Libya or Syria both of which have lost complete legitimacy in the way they have been responding to the natural demands of people hungry for Freedom and thirsty for self determination.

QUO VADIS ? Nero Sings While Tripoli and Tehran burn

That the French Revolution played an undeniable important role in the history ofmankind and that the ideas it defended or claimed to défend (much of which were already achieved by the British centuries earlier thanks to the Bill of Rights which insired the American One) were achieved at great costs is not a matter of debate.

Even if in implementing much of the ideas of the Enlightment Philosophers the early French Revolutionaries ignored much of their principles notably of tolerance and rejection of violence:

GOOD READ: All You Need to Know About The Enlightment Philosophers

HISTORY OF IDEAS: Ian Davidson on Voltaire's "English Exile"

What is however a matter of debate is whether or not it is still a role model or valid recipe for change in all circumstances ?

THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: How Would You Evaluate Iran's Democracy Index in 1953 ?

Mehdi Bazargan and the controversial legacy of Iran's Islamic intellectual movement

Mashallah Ajoudani on Intellectuals and the '79 Revolution

I guess there is no definitive answer to this question But definitively it is one which cannot be so easily dismissed in the name of romantic clichés which have often cost millions of lives for an ideal which for the most unfortunate nations was never acheived !

SHEKAYAT KOJA ? Akbar Ganji say's Iran has less than 1000 Political Prisoners

BOOK: EVEN AFTER ALL THIS TIME By Afschineh Latifi ( A Memoir )

My Humble Opinion,


16th of June, 2011







Scene of Confrontation between Danton and Robespierre in Adrei Wajda's Film "Danton":

Hollywood's take on Charles Dickens "Tale of Two Cities" Final starring Ronald Coleman:




Humorous sketches on French

Revolution, Aristocrats, Kings,

Queens and Revolutionaries



Mel Brooks: It’s Good to Be The King:

The French Revolution ("Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga) :

Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake" but it's a Lady Gaga song, so we had to have that line!

Sophia Cappola’s Marie Antoinette:

French Parody by “Les Inconnus”:

Teacher tries to give a history lesson to young arab students by encouraging them to reenact the French Revolution on Stage

Bienvenu dans le Village de Moncul:

Les Tigresses de St Benoit - Elie Semoun et Franck Dubosc :

Les Inconnues - Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy- French Aristocrats :

Les Inconnues - The Dangerous Liaisons -Van Damme Parody:

Related Blogs:

VIRTUE IN TERROR: Maximilien Robespierre and the Reign of Terror (BBC)

RESTORATION: Britain's 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 and the 'Bill of Rights'

Other Related Blogs:

Tunisia could benefit from bitter lessons of Iran’s clumsy '79 revolution

Crown Prince Reza on importance of "Checks and Balances" of future regime

Shah to Nixon on "Revolutions" vs "Evolutions" in Middle East (1969)

POINT OF NO RETURN: Russian Revolution's Bloody Sunday and Iran's Black Friday

STUBBORN WALLS: Ben Gurion, Hussein, Nasser interviews on ME Peace Process

RESTORATION: Shapour Bakhtiar advocates Restoring the Monarchy

Mahshid Amirshahi speaks about Shapour Bakhtiar's political legacy and criticizes the Diaspora Intelligenstia's silence


more from Darius Kadivar
Darius Kadivar

FYI/Tunisia's "Martyr" was as Phony as Antoinette's "Cup Cakes"

by Darius Kadivar on

Tunisia's "Martyr" was as Phony as the false claims that Marie Antoinette had told ministers to feed the hungry parisians with "Cup Cakes" ...  

Doubts surface over Tunisia's revolutionary 'martyr' (bbc)

Only Proves How during Revolutionary Turmoil Emotional Rage get's in the way of Journalistic Objectivity amongst all these so called "experts"...    


Reminds me how Le Monde "Iran Experts" were writing articles praising Iran’s Revolutionand endorsing so many exaggerated claims on crimes committed by the Shah’s armyor police without ever verifying their sources. That became History ! …


Iremember in university I looked back at some of the articles published in LeMonde by Eric Rouleau ( a close friend of Gobtzadeh and Ebrahim Yazdi) the fellow later became France’s Ambassador and guess where he was sent to ? Tunisia !


The Same fellow was praising Khomeiny and writing all these outrageous articles onthe Shah’s régime and how people were living in terror and blah, blah, blah …


Someone should look back at Le Monde’s Archives today and publish all these articles in retrospect and see the amount of Rubbish which was written.


It would truly embarrass their authors …

So would Slavin ... LOL 

WHO'S THE EXPERT? John Simpson Proves Barbara Slavin Wrong on Libya



Recommended Blog:

Tunisia could benefit from bitter lessons of Iran’s clumsy '79 revolution

Other related Blogs:

Alleged SAVAK Victim testifies on an American Liberal TV

CAMEL SPOTTING: First reactions to Mubarak's Speech on Tahrir Square

SATIRE: Egypt's "Papyrus Revolution"

BREAD & CIRCUS: It Ain't about Democracy or HR Stupid, It's About Show Business