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Jun 18, 2021 at 09:22AM EDT
A few things about that.
A lot of different people wanted different things out of the revolution. For most, they didn't even want to destroy the monarchy, they just wanted the tyrant to fall or to put a constitutional monarchy in place. They only went guillotine happy after the king refused to cooperate and under the influence of other ideological revolutionaries, who wanted a republic.
And for the most part, this is what happened. France went through a lot of political regimes during the next century, but they were really only republics and constitutional monarchies interspersed by temporary authoritarian coup, often rapidly overthrown.
Napoleon was the exception for several reasons. For one, he wasn't elected, he did a coup d'état thanks to the fact he had a legendary status within the army. He also had quite the popular support because he was openly attacking the corrupt elites at the time and because he won his damn wars. But really, the French people didn't really have a choice here, the army was with him and it was powerful.
Jun 18, 2021 at 09:23AM EDT
in reply to
Second, when you look at how the imperial monarchy worked under him, it was actually pretty close to a constitutional monarchy. While Napoleon was supremely powerful, he didn't rule alone either and he was the one who put in place the first local subdivisions, first drafted during the revolution. In short, he wanted the France to run itself while he was busy managing war.
So while he wasn't elected, the people liked him enough to give him popular consent. At least, before he overextended his influence and managed to put every fucking country in a coalition against France. I agree that this wasn't exactly the best outcome and not what democracy supporters of the revolution wanted, but this was definitely a step up from before.
However, the meme is right about something: France definitely has a problem with centralized power and the vision of a charismatic leader. Napoleon is idolized even today, so is General De Gaulle, and the current republic was modeled specifically for him, giving wayyyy too much power to the President. Macron is the prime example, which is why he is constantly compared to our dear emperor, except he isn't liked by anybody and only protected by a flawed regime giving him absolute powers because of his position.
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