Click here to Download The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book by Gustave Le Bon English having PDF Size 2 MB and No of Pages 183.
The present age is not merely an epoch of discovery; it is also a period of revision of the various elements of knowledge. Having recognised that there are no phenomena of which the first cause is still accessible, science has resumed the examination of her ancient certitudes, and has proved their fragility. To-day she sees her ancient principles vanishing one by one.
The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book by Gustave Le Bon
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|Author||Gustave Le Bon|
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Mechanics is losing its axioms, and matter, formerly the eternal substratum of the worlds, becomes a simple aggregate of ephemeral forces in transitory condensation. Despite its conjectural side, by virtue of which it to some extent escapes the severest form of criticism, history has not been free from this universal revision.
There is no longer a single one of its phases of which we can say that it is certainly known. What appeared to be definitely acquired is now once more put in question. Among the events whose study seemed completed was the French Revolution. Analysed by several generations of writers, one might suppose it to be perfectly elucidated.
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What new thing can be said of it, except in modification of some of its details? And yet its most positive defenders are beginning to hesitate in their judgments. Ancient evidence proves to be far from impeccable. The faith in dogmas once held sacred is shaken. The latest literature of the Revolution betrays these uncertainties. Having related, men are more and more chary of drawing conclusions.
Not only are the heroes of this great drama discussed without indulgence, but thinkers are asking whether the new dispensation which followed the ancien regime would not have established itself naturally, without violence, in the course of progressive civilisation. The results obtained no longer seem in correspondence either with their immediate cost.
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Or with the remoter consequences which the Revolution evoked from the possibilities of history. Several causes have led to the revision of this tragic period. Time has calmed passions, numerous documents have gradually emerged from the archives, and the historian is learning to interpret them independently.
But it is perhaps modern psychology that has most effectually influenced our ideas, by enabling us more surely to read men and the motives of their conduct. Among those of its discoveries which are henceforth applicable to history we must mention, above all, a more profound understanding of ancestral influences.
The laws which rule the actions of the crowd, data relating to the disaggregation of personality, mental contagion, the unconscious formation of beliefs, and the distinction between the various forms of logic. To tell the truth, these applications of science, which are utilised in this book, have not been so utilised hitherto. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book
Historians have generally stopped short at the study of documents, and even that study is sufficient to excite the doubts of which I have spoken. The great events which shape the destinies of peoples— revolutions, for example, and the outbreak of religious beliefs— are sometimes so difficult to explain that one must limit oneself to a mere statement.
From the time of my first historical researches I have been struck by the impenetrable aspect of certain essential phenomena, those relating to the genesis of beliefs especially; I felt convinced that something fundamental was lacking that was essential to their interpretation. Reason having said all it could say, nothing more could be expected of it.
And other means must be sought of comprehending what had not been elucidated. For a long time these important questions remained obscure to me. Extended travel, devoted to the study of the remnants of vanished civilisations, had not done much to throw light upon them. Reflecting upon it continually, I was forced to recognise that the problem was composed of a series of other problems. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book
Which I should have to study separately. This I did for a period of twenty years, presenting the results of my researches in a succession of volumes. One of the first was devoted to the study of the psychological laws of the evolution of peoples. Having shown that the historic races—that is.
The races formed by the hazards of history—finally acquired psychological characteristics as stable as their anatomical characteristics, I attempted to explain how a people transforms its institutions, its languages, and its arts. I explained in the same work why it was that individual personalities, under the influence of sudden variations of environment, might be entirely disaggregated.
Many modern nations—France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Poland, Japan, Turkey, Portugal, &c.— have known revolutions within the last century. These were usually characterised by their instantaneous quality and the facility with which the governments attacked were overthrown. The instantaneous nature of these revolutions is explained by the rapidity of mental contagion due to modern methods of publicity. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book
The slight resistance of the governments attacked is more surprising. It implies a total inability to comprehend and foresee created by a blind confidence in their own strength. The facility with which governments fall is not however a new phenomenon. It has been proved more than once, not only in autocratic systems, which are always overturned by palace conspiracies.
But also in governments perfectly instructed in the state of public opinion by the press and their own agents. Among these instantaneous downfalls one of the most striking was that which followed the Ordinances of Charles X. This monarch was, as we know, overthrown in four days.
His minister Polignac had taken no measures of defence, and the king was so confident of the tranquillity of Paris that he had gone hunting. The army was not in the least hostile, as in the reign of Louis XVI., but the troops, badly officered, disbanded before the attacks of a few insurgents. The overthrow of Louis-Philippe was still more typical. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book
Since it did not result from any arbitrary action on the part of the sovereign. This monarch was not surrounded by the hatred which finally surrounded Charles X., and his fall was the result of an insignificant riot which could easily have been repressed. Historians, who can hardly comprehend how a solidly constituted government, supported by an imposing army.
Can be overthrown by a few rioters, naturally attributed the fall of Louis-Philippe to deep-seated causes. In reality the incapacity of the generals entrusted with his defence was the real cause of his fall. This case is one of the most instructive that could be cited, and is worthy of a moment’s consideration.
It has been perfectly investigated by General Bonnal, in the light of the notes of an eye-witness, General Elchingen. Thirty-six thousand troops were then in Paris, but the weakness and incapacity of their officers made it impossible to use them. Contradictory orders were given, and finally the troops were forbidden to fire on the people. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book
Who, moreover—and nothing could have been more dangerous—were permitted to mingle with the troops. The riot succeeded without fighting and forced the king to abdicate. `Everywhere,” writes Barrett Wendell, “this memory and these traditions are still endowed with such vitality that few persons are capable of considering them dispassionately.
They still excite both enthusiasm and resentment; they are still regarded with a loyal and ardent spirit of partisanship. The better you come to understand France the more clearly you see that even to- day no study of the Revolution strikes any Frenchman as having been impartial.” This observation is perfectly correct.
To be interpretable with equity, the events of the past must no longer be productive of results and must not touch the religious or political beliefs whose inevitable intolerance I have denoted. We must not therefore be surprised that historians express very different ideas respecting the Revolution. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Download
For a long time to come some will still see in it one of the most sinister events of history, while to others it will remain one of the most glorious. All writers on the subject have believed that they have related its course with impartiality, but in general they have merely supported contradictory theories of peculiar simplicity.
The documents being innumerable and contradictory, their conscious or unconscious choice has readily enabled them to justify their respective theories. The older historians of the Revolution—Thiers, Quinet, and, despite his talent, Michelet himself, are somewhat eclipsed to- day. Their doctrines were by no means complicated; a historic fatalism prevails generally in their work.
Thiers regarded the Revolution as the result of several centuries of absolute monarchy, and the Terror as the necessary consequence of foreign invasion. Quinet described the excesses of 1793 as the result of a long-continued despotism, but declared that the tyranny of the Convention was unnecessary, and hampered the work of the Revolution. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Download
Michelet saw in this last merely the work of the people, whom he blindly admired, and commenced the glorification continued by other historians. The former reputation of all these historians has been to a great extent effaced by that of Taine. Although equally impassioned, he threw a brilliant light upon the revolutionary period, and it will doubtless be long before his work is superseded.
Consciously sometimes, but more often unconsciously, the author will select the material which best corresponds with his political, moral, and social opinions. It is therefore impossible, unless he contents himself with simple chronologies summing up each event with a few words and a date, to produce a truly impartial volume of history.
No author could be impartial; and it is not to be regretted. The claim to impartiality, so common to-day, results in those flat, gloomy, and prodigiously wearisome works which render the comprehension of a period completely impossible. Should the historian, under a pretext of impartiality, abstain from judging men—that is, from speaking in tones of admiration or reprobation? The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Download
This question, I admit, allows of two very different solutions, each of which is perfectly correct, according to the point of view assumed—that of the moralist or that of the psychologist. The moralist must think exclusively of the interest of society, and must judge men only according to that interest.
By the very fact that it exists and wishes to continue to exist a society is obliged to admit a certain number of rules, to have an indestructible standard of good and evil, and consequently to create very definite distinctions between vice and virtue. It thus finally creates average types, to which the man of the period approaches more or less closely.
And from which he cannot depart very widely without peril to society. It is by such similar types and the rules derived from social necessities that the moralist must judge the men of the past. Praising those which were useful and blaming the rest, he thus helps to form the moral types which are indispensable to the progress of civilisation and which may serve others as models. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Download
Poets such as Corneille, for example, create heroes superior to the majority of men, and possibly inimitable; but they thereby help greatly to stimulate our efforts. The example of heroes must always be set before a people in order to ennoble its mind. Such is the moralist’s point of view. That of the psychologist would be quite different.
While a society has no right to be tolerant, because its first duty is to live, the psychologist may remain indifferent. Considering things as a scientist, he no longer asks their utilitarian value, but seeks merely to explain them. His situation is that of the observer before any phenomenon.
It is obviously difficult to read in cold blood that Carrier ordered his victims to be buried up to the neck so that they might then be blinded and subjected to horrible torments. Yet if we wish to comprehend such acts we must be no more indignant than the naturalist before the spider slowly devouring a fly. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Free
As soon as the reason is moved it is no longer reason, and can explain nothing. The functions of the historian and the psychologist are not, as we see, identical, but of both we may demand the endeavour, by a wise interpretation of the facts, to discover, under the visible evidences, the invisible forces which determine them.
We are better informed as to the financial system. It was very oppressive and extremely complicated. The budgets usually showed deficits, and the imposts of all kinds were raised by tyrannical farmers-general. At the very moment of the Revolution this condition of the finances became the cause of universal discontent, which is expressed in the cahiers of the States General.
Let us remark that these cahiers did not represent a previous state of affairs, but an actual condition due to a crisis of poverty produced by the bad harvest of 1788 and the hard winter of 1789. What would these cahiers have told us had they been written ten years earlier? Despite these unfavourable circumstances the cahiers contained no revolutionary ideas. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Free
The most advanced merely asked that taxes should be imposed only with the consent of the States General and paid by all alike. The same cahiers sometimes expressed a wish that the power of the king should be limited by a Constitution defining his rights and those of the nation. If these wishes had been granted a constitutional monarchy could very easily have been substituted for the absolute monarchy.
And the Revolution would probably have been avoided. Unhappily, the nobility and the clergy were too strong and Louis XVI. too weak for such a solution to be possible. Moreover, it would have been rendered extremely difficult by the demands of the bourgeoisie, who claimed to substitute themselves for the nobles, and were the real authors of the Revolution.
The movement started by the middle classes rapidly exceeded their hopes, needs, and aspirations. They had claimed equality for their own profit, but the people also demanded equality. The Revolution thus finally became the popular government which it was not and had no intention of becoming at the outset. The Psychology of Revolution PDF Book Free