Introduction to Revolutionary Thought

I. Ancient Thought from Aristotle to Locke

A. Purpose of Revolution: remedy for tyranny

1. Aristotle

a. what tyranny is
b. how the laws of protecting property are necessarily endangered by tyranny

2. Locke

a. royal tyranny the result of failure by kings to respect parliamentary authority over property and taxes upon property
b. the right of revolution, royal tyranny, and taxation without representation

B. American War of Independence as the last of the ancient revolutions

a. priority given to property rights, especially protection of property from taxation not approved by representatives of property holders
b. appeals to moderation and common sense by Colonial American leaders from Franklin to Adams and Jefferson

II. Modern Thought from Rousseau to Marx

A. Purpose of Revolution: remedy for all evils, intellectual, moral, social, economic, cultural.

B. Beginnings of Modern Revolutionary Thought in Rousseau and Romanticism

1. Features of Romanticism

a. reaction to perceived excesses of 18th century emphasis upon reason, formality, and manners

b. exalted the emotions, imagination, and the senses

c. return to nature, to human nature, esp. the human heart

d. castigated the evils of society, especially greed and its basis in private property

e. promoted genius, esp. the rare talents of a few who heroically refused to conform or observe conventions

f. promised esoteric knowledge that could be developed into a new science

2. Rousseau, Romanticism, and Modern Revolution

a. Rousseau's educational thought as Americans view and extend it to elementary education

b. Rousseau social and political thought as Europeans find it in his writings

1) attack on petty social restrictions, formality in manners, pretentious fashions, artificial rationality
2) claim to a science of the human heart, to unlocking the natural generosity to be found deep in human nature
3) focus on inequality, especially in wealth; origins of inequality traced to beginnings of private property
4) the state regarded as a tool of the rich; first emerged after private property permitted the accumulation of wealth

c. Modern Revolution and the French Revolution

1) differences between the American and French revolutions
2) French Revolutionary leaders and their reference to Rousseau's ideas of liberty and equality to justify seizures of property and power
3) preference of revolutionaries for an heroic leader; Napolean Bonaparte and the link between modern revolution and empire.