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The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions

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The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The great romance and fear of bloody revolution--strange blend of idealism and terror--have been superseded by blind faith in the bloodless expansion of human rights and global capitalism. Flying in the face of history, violence is dismissed as rare, immoral, and counterproductive. Arguing against this pervasive wishful thinking, the distinguished historian Arno J. Mayer revisits the two most tumultuous and influential revolutions of modern times: the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Although these two upheavals arose in different environments, they followed similar courses. The thought and language of Enlightenment France were the glories of western civilization; those of tsarist Russia's intelligentsia were on its margins. Both revolutions began as revolts vowed to fight unreason, injustice, and inequality; both swept away old regimes and defied established religions in societies that were 85% peasant and illiterate; both entailed the terrifying return of repressed vengeance. Contrary to prevalent belief, Mayer argues, ideologies and personalities did not control events. Rather, the tide of violence overwhelmed the political actors who assumed power and were rudderless. Even the best plans could not stem the chaos that at once benefited and swallowed them. Mayer argues that we have ignored an essential part of all revolutions: the resistances to revolution, both domestic and foreign, which help fuel the spiral of terror.

In his sweeping yet close comparison of the world's two transnational revolutions, Mayer follows their unfolding--from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Bolshevik Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited Masses; the escalation of the initial violence into the reign of terror of 1793-95 and of 1918-21; the dismemberment of the hegemonic churches and religion of both societies; the "externalization" of the terror through the Napoleonic wars; and its "internalization" in Soviet Russia in the form of Stalin's "Terror in One Country." Making critical use of theory, old and new, Mayer breaks through unexamined assumptions and prevailing debates about the attributes of these particular revolutions to raise broader and more disturbing questions about the nature of revolutionary violence attending new foundations.

Synopsis:

"A remarkable new insight into the comparative social dynamics of revolutions and terrors, which provides very strong arguments against common stereotypes and misleading conservative interpretations."--Pierre Bourdieu

"In his comparative analysis of the Great French and the Russian October Revolution, Arno Mayer focuses on the interaction between revolution and counterrevolution as a source of exorbitant violence and terror that emerges less from ideological visions of the revolutionaries than from unforeseen pressures generated by the combination of external and civil war. By alluding to the ancient "furies", Mayer underlines the self-escalation of terror, usually connected with racial and religious hatred, and pleads for a critical evaluation of the revolutionary events in Russia from February 1917 to the climax of the Stalinist period. His book is a masterpiece of comparative history."--Hans Mommsen

"Arno Mayer's The Furies is an eloquent and passionate reconsideration of the role of violence and terror, not only in the French and Russian Revolutions, but in the political institutions in general. The comparison between the French revolution and its aftermath and the Russian experience is extremely illuminating, offering new insights into revolution--as an ongoing dialectic between old and new orders, in which vengeance and violence erupt as part of the process of struggle and breakdown."--Richard Wortman, Columbia University

Synopsis:

The great romance and fear of bloody revolution--strange blend of idealism and terror--have been superseded by blind faith in the bloodless expansion of human rights and global capitalism. Flying in the face of history, violence is dismissed as rare, immoral, and counterproductive. Arguing against this pervasive wishful thinking, the distinguished historian Arno J. Mayer revisits the two most tumultuous and influential revolutions of modern times: the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Although these two upheavals arose in different environments, they followed similar courses. The thought and language of Enlightenment France were the glories of western civilization; those of tsarist Russia's intelligentsia were on its margins. Both revolutions began as revolts vowed to fight unreason, injustice, and inequality; both swept away old regimes and defied established religions in societies that were 85% peasant and illiterate; both entailed the terrifying return of repressed vengeance. Contrary to prevalent belief, Mayer argues, ideologies and personalities did not control events. Rather, the tide of violence overwhelmed the political actors who assumed power and were rudderless. Even the best plans could not stem the chaos that at once benefited and swallowed them. Mayer argues that we have ignored an essential part of all revolutions: the resistances to revolution, both domestic and foreign, which help fuel the spiral of terror.

In his sweeping yet close comparison of the world's two transnational revolutions, Mayer follows their unfolding--from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Bolshevik Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited Masses; the escalation of the initial violence into the reign of terror of 1793-95 and of 1918-21; the dismemberment of the hegemonic churches and religion of both societies; the "externalization" of the terror through the Napoleonic wars; and its "internalization" in Soviet Russia in the form of Stalin's "Terror in One Country." Making critical use of theory, old and new, Mayer breaks through unexamined assumptions and prevailing debates about the attributes of these particular revolutions to raise broader and more disturbing questions about the nature of revolutionary violence attending new foundations.

About the Author

Arno J. Mayer is Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He is best known for his last two books: The Persistence of the Old Regime and Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?: The "Final Solution" in History. He is also the author of Political Origins of the New Diplomacy and Politics and Diplomacy of Peacemaking.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Introduction 3

PART ONE CONCEPTUAL SIGNPOSTS

1. Revolution 23

2. Counterrevolution 45

3. Violence 71

4. Terror 93

5. Vengeance 126

6. Religion 141

PART TWO CRESCENDO OF VIOLENCE

7. The Return of Vengeance: Terror in France, 1789-95 171

8. In the Eye of a "Time of Troubles": Terror in Russia, 1917-21 227

PART THREE METROPOLITAN CONDESCENSION AND RURAL DISTRUST

9. Peasant War in France: The Vendee 323

10. Peasant War in Russia: Ukraine and Tambov 371

PART FOUR THE SACRED CONTESTED

11. Engaging the Gallican Church and the Vatican 413

12. Engaging the Russian Orthodox Church 449

13. Perils of Emancipation: Protestants and Jews in the Revolutionary Whirlwind 483

PART FIVE A WORLD UNHINGED

14. Externalization of the French Revolution: The Napoleonic Wars 533

15. Internalization of the Russian Revolution: Terror in One Country 607

Index 703

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691090153
Author:
Mayer, Arno J.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
General
Subject:
Europe - General
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Political philosophy
Subject:
Comparative Literature
Subject:
World History/Comparative History
Subject:
World History-European History General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Violence and Terror
Publication Date:
December 2001
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
736
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 36 oz

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History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
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Science and Mathematics » Mathematics » General

The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions New Trade Paper
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Product details 736 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691090153 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "A remarkable new insight into the comparative social dynamics of revolutions and terrors, which provides very strong arguments against common stereotypes and misleading conservative interpretations."--Pierre Bourdieu

"In his comparative analysis of the Great French and the Russian October Revolution, Arno Mayer focuses on the interaction between revolution and counterrevolution as a source of exorbitant violence and terror that emerges less from ideological visions of the revolutionaries than from unforeseen pressures generated by the combination of external and civil war. By alluding to the ancient "furies", Mayer underlines the self-escalation of terror, usually connected with racial and religious hatred, and pleads for a critical evaluation of the revolutionary events in Russia from February 1917 to the climax of the Stalinist period. His book is a masterpiece of comparative history."--Hans Mommsen

"Arno Mayer's The Furies is an eloquent and passionate reconsideration of the role of violence and terror, not only in the French and Russian Revolutions, but in the political institutions in general. The comparison between the French revolution and its aftermath and the Russian experience is extremely illuminating, offering new insights into revolution--as an ongoing dialectic between old and new orders, in which vengeance and violence erupt as part of the process of struggle and breakdown."--Richard Wortman, Columbia University

"Synopsis" by , The great romance and fear of bloody revolution--strange blend of idealism and terror--have been superseded by blind faith in the bloodless expansion of human rights and global capitalism. Flying in the face of history, violence is dismissed as rare, immoral, and counterproductive. Arguing against this pervasive wishful thinking, the distinguished historian Arno J. Mayer revisits the two most tumultuous and influential revolutions of modern times: the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Although these two upheavals arose in different environments, they followed similar courses. The thought and language of Enlightenment France were the glories of western civilization; those of tsarist Russia's intelligentsia were on its margins. Both revolutions began as revolts vowed to fight unreason, injustice, and inequality; both swept away old regimes and defied established religions in societies that were 85% peasant and illiterate; both entailed the terrifying return of repressed vengeance. Contrary to prevalent belief, Mayer argues, ideologies and personalities did not control events. Rather, the tide of violence overwhelmed the political actors who assumed power and were rudderless. Even the best plans could not stem the chaos that at once benefited and swallowed them. Mayer argues that we have ignored an essential part of all revolutions: the resistances to revolution, both domestic and foreign, which help fuel the spiral of terror.

In his sweeping yet close comparison of the world's two transnational revolutions, Mayer follows their unfolding--from the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Bolshevik Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited Masses; the escalation of the initial violence into the reign of terror of 1793-95 and of 1918-21; the dismemberment of the hegemonic churches and religion of both societies; the "externalization" of the terror through the Napoleonic wars; and its "internalization" in Soviet Russia in the form of Stalin's "Terror in One Country." Making critical use of theory, old and new, Mayer breaks through unexamined assumptions and prevailing debates about the attributes of these particular revolutions to raise broader and more disturbing questions about the nature of revolutionary violence attending new foundations.

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