The Limits of Terror: the French Revolution, Rights and Democratic Transition

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    Abstract

    The French Revolution has ceased to be the paradigm case of progressive social revolution. Historians increasingly argue that the heart of the revolutionary experience was the Terror and that the Terror prefigured 20thcentury totalitarianism. This article contests that view and argues that totalitarianism is too blunt a category to distinguish between varying experiences of revolution and further questions if revolutionary outcomes are ideologically determined. It argues that by widening the set of revolutions to include 17th and 18th century cases, as well as the velvet revolutions of the 1990s, we can reinterpret the French Revolution as a characteristic case of democratic transition with particular features.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)64-80
    Number of pages17
    JournalThesis Eleven
    Volume97
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2009

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