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Political liberty with administrative centralization?: a comparison between Tocquevillian and Guizotian interpretations of the French Revolution

Grant number: 12/20299-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2013
Effective date (End): July 07, 2015
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - Political Theory
Principal Investigator:Eunice Ostrensky
Grantee:Felipe Freller
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):13/10776-6 - The place of administrative centralization in François Guizot's interpretation of the French Revolution, BE.EP.MS


This research aims at confronting the interpretations of the French Revolution proposed in the nineteenth century by François Guizot and Alexis de Tocqueville. The starting point is Pierre Rosanvallon's suggestion that Guizot supports a liberal, rather than a revolutionary, version of the Jacobin project. Such project was designed to eradicate the old local liberties and intermediary bodies, and ensure liberty by means of a central government that could dismiss the old "aristocratic" guarantees against despotism thanks to its representative character. Based on this, the hypothesis proposed is that the main divergence between the two evaluations of the French Revolution lies in Tocqueville's criticism of this Guizot's "Jacobin liberalism" and his apology of centralization. Accordingly, Tocqueville's criticism (presented in the chapter 3 of the third book of The Old Regime and the Revolution) of the revolutionary project as a combination of administrative centralization without limits and a domineering legislative body can be also understood as a criticism of Guizot's political project. On the other hand, the research also aims at examining the extent to which Tocqueville owed to Guizot the idea of continuity in the conceptualization of the French Revolution. If Tocqueville shared Guizot's analysis of the French Revolution as the crowning event of a much longer process of centralization and equalization of conditions, then it is possible to state that the former may be endorsing the latter's criticism of the conservatives and their project of restore an aristocratic society already condemned by the march of History.

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Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
FRELLER, Felipe. Guizot, Tocqueville and the principles of 1789. 2015. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH/SBD) São Paulo.

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