The Theory of Social Revolutions eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 131 pages of information about The Theory of Social Revolutions.
the right to return members to the House of Commons.  Their domination lasted long; nevertheless, about 1760, the rising tide of the Industrial Revolution brought forward another type of mind.  Flushed by success in the Napoleonic wars the Tories failed to appreciate that the social equilibrium, by the year 1830, had shifted, and that they no longer commanded enough physical force to maintain their parliamentary ascendancy.  They thought they had only to be arrogant to prevail, and so they put forward the Duke of Wellington as their champion.  They could hardly have made a poorer choice.  As Disraeli has very truly said, “His Grace precipitated a revolution which might have been delayed for half a century, and need never have occurred in so aggravated a form.”  The Duke, though a great general, lacked knowledge of England.  He began by dismissing William Huskisson from his Cabinet, who was not only its ablest member, but perhaps the single man among the Tories who thoroughly comprehended the industrial age.  Huskisson’s issue was that the franchise of the intolerably corrupt East Retford should be given to Leeds or Manchester.  Having got rid of Huskisson, the Duke declared imperiously that he would concede nothing to the disfranchised industrial magnates, nor to the vast cities in which they lived.  A dissolution of Parliament followed and in the election the Tories were defeated.  Although Wellington may not have been a sagacious statesman, he was a capable soldier and he knew when he could and when he could not physically fight.  On this occasion, to again quote Disraeli, “He rather fled than retired.”  He induced his friends to absent themselves from the House of Lords and permit the Reform Bill to become law.  Thus the English Tories, by their experiment with the Duke of Wellington, lost their boroughs and with them their political preeminence, but at least they saved themselves, their families, and the rest of their property.  As a class they have survived to this day, although shorn of much of the influence which they might very probably have retained had they solved more correctly the problem of 1830.  In sum, they were not altogether impervious to the exigencies of their environment.  The French Revolution is the classic example of the annihilation of a rigid organism, and it is an example the more worthy of our attention as it throws into terrible relief the process by which an intellectually inflexible race may convert the courts of law which should protect their decline into the most awful engine for their destruction.

The essence of feudalism was a gradation of rank, in the nature of caste, based upon fear.  The clergy were privileged because the laity believed that they could work miracles, and could dispense something more vital even than life and death.  The nobility were privileged because they were resistless in war.  Therefore, the nobility could impose all sorts of burdens upon those who were unarmed.  During the interval in which society centralized and acquired

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The Theory of Social Revolutions from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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