Absolutism was the basis for France’s government preceding the revolution. With ideas of the Enlightenment and the witnessing of the American Revolution, many French citizens started processing these revolutionary ideas and began executing the task of trying to implement these ideas into their own society. While removing the current King from power seemed like the best and obvious step toward a better society, it was unclear what the aspirations for the new government were. Through the course of the Revolution, French Society dealt with multiples forms of governments including an absolute monarch, a constitutional monarch, and a Republic along with a few other types. Though what is clear, is that each of those three began to corrupt over time (or so it was viewed by the citizens), but why? If each government was meant to embody the wants and desires of the people why were they so dysfunctional?
I have been researching Robespierre for my paper, and he was one of the key pieces in the installation of a Republic. Now while a Republic was the government he wished for French society, it was not the one he ended up creating. Robespierre was a man who sought to bring equality to men and let them be the basis for the new government. What he realized over time though is that people aren’t innately righteous enough to govern a country without someone above them to control them, thus Robespierre became the exact thing that he had opposed. Here, a man who originally opposed the death penalty and wished for a republic ended up establishing a dictatorship in which he murdered thousands of people in a period that has come to be known as “The Reign of Terror”. In the course of two years this man fell to corruption, or did he? Was he actually corrupt or was he just recognizing that a decentralized government does not possess the necessary power to govern. Corrupt is often tossed around as a way to define something that is simply unjust or opposed by society. Corruption is a view of the people, it is merely an opinion. Something thought of as corrupt cannot be pinpointed as a fact. So maybe something thought of as corrupt isn’t really corrupt, but is a misinterpretation of corrupt people blinded by some sense liberty who wish to benefit themselves not society. Now I am not saying that people shouldn’t be entitled to freedom, but I find it hard to describe something as corrupt when it is only a matter of opinion. Every person is biased due to their own opinions and that bias corrupts every individual indefinitely, and that is why no person can be trusted to govern, but how can we trust multiple corrupt people to govern? “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. (John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton). History seems to prove this notion that those who possess absolute power grow too imperialistic, but history also seems to support the idea that those who start off without absolute power end up falling to “corrupt” absolutism. Any government is a very unstable organization, but to me the only one that seems to keep society out of chaos is one where the national government possesses the power to maintain peace, but what is the right amount of power?
While modern political ideologies seem to oppose the ideas of absolutism, it is evident that any government is susceptible to fall to absolutism at anytime. History seems to repeat this perpetual cycle of governing, where when an absolute monarch becomes so corrupt that the people revolt and implement a new government that eventually falls to corruption and once again the people revolt and establish a new ruling force. It is so hard to avoid corruption when this “corruption” often seems to be the only resolution. Absolutism is unstable, but so is every other government, but people fear to admit that absolutism might be the only resolution because they fear for their own liberties. I’m just wondering how much longer it is until our country falls to “corruption”. Many people are upset with the current situation of the government but how can we expect things to change when our own leader doesn’t possess the power to make a difference. We are reluctant to give our leader more power because we wish to maintain our rights. But are we so self-centered that we are more concerned with keeping our rights than helping society as a whole? That is why society can never implement a functional government, because the people are corrupted themselves and when something opposes their beliefs they are quick to judge and blame that as the source of corruption when it really lies within themselves(That is my answer to the question I propose in the first paragraph, “If each government was meant to embody the wants and desires of the people why were they so dysfunctional?”).
Now please don’t think I am just bashing human nature when I say this, I merely just sought to express some thought provoking ideas, and in fact when I sat down to write this I had no idea it would escalate to this extent. Ultimately I challenge you to think about this, Where does corruption lie, within the structure of the government, or with the structure of the mind?