Short Note on the French Revolution of 1848

Short Note on the French Revolution of 1848:

When children put a number of bricks erect in a row and push the first one, all bricks fall one by one. The same thing happened in 1848. Organized reactionism born out of the Vienna Congress stood like a wall in the path of the natural development of Europe. Every stroke on the wall failed to demolish it. Matternich stood as a vigilant guard of this wall. But when the current of the progressive stream that had been striking against the wall, swelled it collapsed like a wall of sand.

The revolution of 1830 was not inevitable; it could have been averted with little understanding in France because it was strong and extensive neither conceptually nor organizationally, but things had changed by 1848. Revolutionary changes have taken place in the European world of ideas in the last decade. In place of reforms, people talked about a drastic change in the structure of society. Crossing all hurdles the wave of industrial revolution reached Europe. The number of workers in towns swelled and with it expanded their discontent and organization. Now it became clear that society could not change by alternating the king or introducing peacemal reforms half-heartedly.

Behind the revolution of 1848 were fundamental changes that were taking shape in spite of the repressive policy of the reactionary forces. They rapidly affected economic life and the world of ideas.

The basic tenet of the age of Matternich was opposition to change. Even urgent reforms were not introduced. Reforms act as a safety valve for rulers. The European rulers were not willing even for them. They were unable to discern the brewing desire for change under the layer of external peace. In the absence of gradual change and reforms discontent and rage were bound to explode.

In this way, in the whole of Europe, there were seventeen big and small revolutions. In places they were put down in a few days and in others some liberal changes were introduced but as soon as the influence of the revolutionaries subsided the revolution was decimated. Fundamental changes were introduced in France for some time but as soon as Louis Napoleon was elected President the influence of revolution dwindled. No doubt Matternich had failed in Austria but liberal and progressive programmes could not make a beginning in Austria or Germany. Nationalist movements in Italy and Germany were suppressed. The despotic rule was imposed on Hungary and Bohemia. Everywhere absolute, anti-national, and reactionary forces were dominant.

It is surprising that the Revolution that spread like wildfire consumed itself in a while and left nothing but some ashes as remnants. The reason was that the discontent in the towns was loud but miseries were rampant in villages where no one paid heed to them. In towns, there was a clash between the interests of the middle class and the neo-capitalists on the one side and those of the workers and laborers on the other. The workers had numbers but power and experience were on the side of their opponents. Both wanted change but a change in the interests of workers was not yet possible for the workers were neither organized nor had leadership.

In spite of suppression, these revolutions left some permanent effects also. The series of constitutions that had been set in motion could not be stopped. The establishment of a federal republic in Switzerland proved permanent. Seeds of democracy were sown in the governments of Prussia, Holland, and Denmark.

Above all the most important thing was that the failure of two powerful nationalist movements for the unification of Italy and Germany instead of causing dejection among the patriots filled them with confidence. They realized that their chief enemy was Austria. The experiences of 1848 helped them in their future programmes. The most important result of this revolution was the workers learnt an abiding lesson that the capitalist class leads them only to grind its own axe, in reality, it is their sworn enemy. After this revolution, the influence of scientific socialism began to grow on socialist movements and organizations and socialism began to spread all over Europe.

Important Links:

Intellectual Enlightenment
Political Causes of the French Revolution
Economic Causes of the French Revolution
Beginning of the French Revolution
Functions of the Constituent Assembly
Unsuccessful Attempt of the Royal Family to Flee the Country
Phases of the French Revolution
Role of Philosophers in the French Revolution
Nature of the French Revolution
Correlation Between the Objectives and Achievements of the French Revolution
Do you agree that the French Revolution achieved far less than what it intended to achieve?
Importance of the French Revolution
French Revolution of 1848
The Foreign Policy of Louis Philippe
Causes of the Revolution of February 1848
Bonaparte Napoleon
Napoleon Ascendency
Consulate Rule and Constitution of 1799
Reforms of Napoleon
Napoleon Concord With Pope
Napoleonic Code
Continental System
Causes of the Failure of the Continental System
Napoleonic Imperialism
Napoleonic War
Short Note on Napoleon Bonaparte