Happy Bastille Day
HAPPY BASTILLE DAY!
Happy Bastille Day to all of our good friends in France.
The French National Day (Fête Nationale), July 14th (Quatorze Juillet) reminds us that the first working-class uprising which successfully overthrew an oppressive government actually took place in France.
The working class, common tradespeople, the poor, and average citizens both urban and rural were oppressed by 800 years of tyranny imposed by the rich and elites, and they ultimately benefited most from the revolution. But it sure sucked for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The clergy and nobility were forced to relinquish their power and heads rolled (literally).
France’s success showed workers in other nations that they could also take control of their lives, and so uprisings continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and even occur to this day.
We socialists regard the French Revolution as the real first popular uprising and widespread attempt to guarantee equality and basic human rights. It’s no accident that Henri de Saint-Simon and Charles Fourier, both French writers-philosophers, are regarded as the originators of modern socialist ideology (along with Robert Owen, of course). While France has since endured its ups and downs, it’s maintained those principles manifested in the motto, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.”
Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille, a prison fortress used to hold political prisoners in Paris. That brave event led in the streets by average citizens took place on July 14, 1789, sparking the beginning of the French Revolution and the greater movement known today as democratic socialism.