Pre-Revolutionary France, the perfect public sphere? Matt West

This video is a little cheesy but it does a good job of getting the major points across. In the Sitcom Reader Robert Browns chapter discusses some concepts of what the perfect public sphere has looked like in past.

Habermas-believed this time period was in late-medival Europe

Baker-disagrees saying that the sphere was two narrow and that pre revolutionary France was ideal.

Zaret argues further that it was actually the press that would influence the sphere the most.

I disagree with Baker and Zaret and here’s why. Pre-Revolutionary France was a highly leveraged society and their were two main problems. Lack of food and economic constraints on the poor. The government consisited of three houses the first estate (aristocracy) the second estate (clergy) and the third estate (peasants). It was the inability of these three classes to agree on any principle that caused the peasants to break from the country. With regards to press what actually sparks the revolution was a rumor that the Queen had stored grain in the Versailles palace and a women’s march ensued. Eventually causing King Louis to flee. He was later executed. This entire situation could have been avoided during the pre-revolutionary period had this “ideal public sphere” been ideal. A revolution is note incited through passion over night but rather is a build up and perpetuation of injustice in which the people will no longer stand for. France was spending 50% of its national budget on servicing debt while the royalty were living lavishly, and its people were starving. The revolution was not one of ideology and a sense of social justice it was far lower on the hierarchy of needs. People simply wanted to survive. I believe that if there was to be an ideal public sphere in the definition used through the book would be on a Naval Destroyer. While this is not a conventional answer there are several things to consider. A ship cannot possibly be operated by a single individual or even several or 30 for the matter. Every single crew member must serve in a capacity for the ship to be combat ready. There also must be a relatively high level of trust among crew member that they will perform their duties so that all can survive. If not they could all potential meet a certain death. The Management of the ship is the Captain who is completely accountable for everything that happens. This accountability is the key, and good ship captains make their crews accountable for all of their actions. When the crew is well fed, has good morale, and is comfortable expressing concerns with one another the entire ship benefits. A lack of communication can be deadly. The reason we do not see this translate into civilian life is due to the lack of necessity. I can live my life and support myself essentially with my own two hands.

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One Response to Pre-Revolutionary France, the perfect public sphere? Matt West

  1. marymdalton says:

    Provocative ideas. Thoughtful post.

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