Storming the Bastille, and what makes an event revolutionary

Etching depicting the assault of the Bastille

Historian William Sewell makes a striking claim about how the taking of the Bastille, 226 years ago today, marked not just the key moment in the French revolution, but an originary point for the very concept of revolution in the Western world. “It was by this process,” Sewell claims, “that the modern concept of revolution definitively entered French political cuiture, effecting a hitherto undreamed of but henceforth enduring articulation of popular violence to popular sovereignty.” The argument takes up a whole chapter in his book Logics of History (2005), and it’s worth your time, but here are three excerpts on the Bastille and its place.Read More »

Just in: French Opposition end support for “Occupation” of Afghanistan

A major crack in the Euro-USAmerican consensus…

The Taleban are fast regaining territory and the allies are losing the support of the Afghan people because of poor American tactics, said Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Socialist parliamentary leader. “We do not accept this slide towards a war of occupation,” he told Parliament. “Our troops are manifestly lacking in equipment,” he added.

Public opinion was against Mr Sarkozy’s decision to send more combat troops last spring. Emotion over the August ambush has raised demands for an immediate pullout, an option now backed by more than 60 per cent of the public, polls show.

Soldiers’ families have been stirring passions with public attacks on the President and the military for sending young soldiers to their deaths. Wives of soldiers complained that they could not stand the strain of knowing that their men were in possible combat. “If he doesn’t phone by 8pm I start worrying myself sick,” said one. (more from the Times of London)