Rebels & Rulers, 1500-1660: 2 — Conspectus, typology, causality by Perez Zagorin

Germany’s Peasant Revolt of 1524 to 1525 was the largest and bloodiest popular uprising in Europe until the French Revolution of 1789. (WikiCommons)

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The revolutions selected for consideration in this book almost all occurred in the century and a half between the beginning of the sixteenth and the middle of the seventeenth century. Moreover, with the main exception of the German peasant war, they belong almost entirely to the history of three states: England, France, and the Spanish empire. The rationale for this choice of locale in space and time as the basis for a study of early modern revolutions is explained by a number of reasons.

Far across the abyss of time, before the French revolution and the emergence of industrial society, lies spread out and stretching backward into the past the Western Europe of the old society. Dominated in its polities by monarchies and princes and in its social structures by nobilities and aristocracies, still rural despite its great capital cities, still agricultural despite its commerce, manufactures, and bourgeoisie, this is the society that grew out of the feudal world and was eventually to be transformed during the nineteenth century into the industrial world. One phase of its life history, the last, which was disrupted by the French revolution, is usually known as the ancien régime. The whole of its history is commonly described as the early modern era, extending from about 1500 to the late eighteenth century and the outbreak of the French revolution.

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Rebels & Rulers, 1500-1660: 1 — The concept of Revolution and the comparative history of Revolution in early modern Europe by Perez Zagorin

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There are at least two reasons that might be cited for undertaking the historical and comparative investigation of revolution. The first is the desire to make a revolution, the second is the desire to prevent it. Perhaps nearly everybody is susceptible to the one reason or the other, but there is yet a third reason that gives the study of revolution a compelling interest and significance, even though its appeal is doubtless much more limited. This is that the understanding of revolution is an indispensable condition for the fuller knowledge and understanding of society. Depending on how we define it, revolution may be common or uncommon, frequent or rare. But in the case of societies, nations, and communities that have experienced revolution, we cannot claim to understand them adequately without understanding their revolutions. In a deep and therefore a nontautological sense, it is true that every people gets the revolution it deserves and equally true that it gets only the revolutions of which it is capable.

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THE GENERAL IDEA OF THE REVOLUTION IN THE 19th Century by P. J. Proudhon. Reviewed by Robert Anton Wilson.

Pierre-Joseph_Proudhon_0The General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century, by P. J. Proudhon. Reviewed by Robert Anton Wilson. (With thanks to the Joseph A. Labadie Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan)

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Benjamin Tucker considered this Proudhon’s best book — “the most wonderful of all the wonderful books of Proudhon”— and he may well have been right in that judgment. Like many of the greatest works of the last century’ this “most wonderful book” comes to us from a prison cell: a fact which is probably far from insignificant. It is not without cause that the letters of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Nietzsche’s Antichrist, the best poems of Antonin Artaud, Van Gogh’s two or three greatest canvases, Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, and several other of the most significant cultural products of this age, were produced by men who were at the time unwilling “guests of the State.” Nor is it idle to note that some time has been served (unproductively, alas!) by Ford Madox Ford, Nijinsky, Seymour Krim, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jim Peck, and almost everybody else worth a damn as a serious thinker or artist. It is getting to the point where, as Eustace Mullins noted in his biography of Ezra Pound, lack of a police or psychiatric record is looked on, by avante garde, as a sign that a man has sold out.

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GENERAL IDEA of the REVOLUTION in the NINETEENTH CENTURY by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1851). Translated by John Beverley Robinson. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

Revolution19thcenturyGENERAL IDEA of the REVOLUTION in the NINETEENTH CENTURY by P. J. Proudhon

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 See  Robert Anton Wilson’s review of ‘General Idea...’

The General Idea of Proudhon’s Revolution by Robert Graham

The General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century is one of the classics of anarchist literature.[1] Written in the aftermath of the 1848 French Revolution, it sets forth a libertarian alternative to the Jacobinism which at that time still dominated the republican and revolutionary movements in France. It contains a critique of existing society and its institutions, a vision of a free society based on equality and justice, and a detailed strategy for revolutionary change. Despite its ambivalent position regarding government initiated reforms, it set the tone for subsequent anarchist propaganda as anarchism began to emerge as a significant force on the revolutionary left.

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