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"The French Revolution as a Bourgeois Revolution: A Critique of the Revisionists"

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The French Revolution as a Bourgeois Revolution: A Critique of the Revisionists
Author(s): Ricardo Duchesne
Source:
Science & Society,
Vol. 54, No. 3, The French Revolution and Marxism (Fall, 1990), pp.
288-320
Published by: Guilford Press
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Science &
Society,
Vol.
54,
No.
3,
Fall
1990,
288-320
O
The French Revolution as a
Bourgeois
Revolution:
A
Critique
of
the
Revisionists*
RICARDO
DUCHESNE
IDEA
THAT THE
ULTIMATE CAUSE of the
French Revolution of 1789
was
a
rising
bourgeoisie
nourished
by
several
centuries
of
developing capitalism
once
commanded
widespread
support
and,
indeed,
served as the
major
framework of research.
Beginning
in the
1950s, however,
one facet after another of this
classic
Marxist
interpretation
has
been called into
question.
The Revolution was
not
bourgeois,
a
small
army
of "revisionist" scholars now
maintains,
a)
because
capitalism
had not become dominant
in
the
French
economy
before
1789,
and
b)
because the
same
property
in
offices,
com-
mercial
capital
and
seigneuries,
and
the same
cultural
pursuits
and social
aspiration,
were
widely
shared
by
both
the
nobility
and
the
bourgeoisie.
So
broadly accepted
is the
revisionists'
critique
that the old
Marxist
thesis,
as one scholar
put
it,
is
now
seen as
"not
only
dead
but in
urgent
need
of
burial"
(Doyle,
1980,
3).
In
this
essay
I hold
that talk of
burial
is
premature,
that, indeed,
a
resuscitation
of
the
putative
corpse
is
possible.
It is
chiefly
because of a
faulty
applica-
tion
of
Marx's classic
formulations
by
Marxist historians
them-
selves
that the
revisionist case has
prospered.
To
assume,
as
so
many
orthodox Marxists
do,
that
there is a
necessary
connection
between
bourgeois
revolution and
the
emergence
of
capitalism
(i.e.,
a
wage
labor-capital
relation)
is
the real error
-
or so I will
argue.
Once this rather
offhand but
critical
misconception
is
corrected,
there
is
little
in
the
empirical
findings
of the
revisionists
*
The
author
wishes
to
thank
S
.
Longstaff
and
Georgia
Rondos for their
helpful
com-
ments.
288
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
289
that
cannot
be
organized conceptually according
to the
classical
theory.
1.
Marx's
Primacy
Thesis and the
Revolutionary
Bourgeoisie
Like
any
scientific
effort,
Marx's account of
the
bourgeois
revolution can be
reduced
to a
small
number
of axioms
or
prem-
ises.1
(See
the
Appendix.)
i.
The
productive
forces
(PFs)
have a
propensity
to
develop.
However,
the
rate
and
path
(not
the
fact)
of that
development
varies
according
to the
external
pressures
impressed
upon
the PFs
by
extra-economic
factors.
(Development
Premise)
ii.
Given
relations
of
production
correspond
to
a
definite
stage
of
productive
development. (Compatibility
Premise)
iii.
From
i
and
ii it follows
that
over
time the PFs
will
reach a level
of
develop-
ment at
which
they
are no
longer
compatible
with
the relations
of
produc-
tion in
which
they
had
previously
developed.
(Contradiction
Premise)
iv. When the
relations
of
production
cease to be suitable
to the
development
of
the
PFs to the
point
of
seriously
fettering
them,
they
will
be discarded
in
favor
of
new
relations
of
production
suitable
to the
existing
state
of
eco-
nomic
development.
The
establishment
of
new relations leads to
a
change
in
the
mode
of
production.
According
to these
premises
-
which
comprise
what
I
call
Marx's
Primacy
Thesis
-
the rise
of the
bourgeoisie
does
not
require
new
property
relations
per
se,
simply
the
development
of
new
PFs.
This
Thesis
posits
a
revolutionary
bourgeoisie growing
up
inside
the
existing
feudal
relations;
"new,
higher
relations of
production
never
appear
before the material
conditions
of their
existence
have
matured
in
the
womb of the
old
society
itself
(Marx,
1904).
Only
when
the old
property
relations
begin
to fetter
the
developing
forces
are new relations
called
into
existence,
via
intensified
class
struggle
and revolution.
Now,
what
class was
not associated
with
new
relations
of
pro-
duction?
The
merchants!
To
appropriate
the available
surplus
by
buying
cheap
and
selling
dear
is the basis
of merchant
capital,
whatever
the
property
relations
in
which
production
is
organized.
But how
can we
connect
a class
which
operates
outside the
pro-
1 The
following
compact,
deductive
presentation
of Marx's
theory
draws
on G. A.
Cohen,
1980,
158-159;
A. Levine and
E.
O.
Wright,
1980, 51-56;
W. H.
Shaw, 1986,
198;
and
D.
Laibman,
1984.
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290 SCIENCE fcf SOCIETY
auction
process
to new PFs?
I
conceive the
expansion
of circulat-
ing capital
as
signifying
the
development
of the PFs and thus the
basis
upon
which the
revolutionary bourgeoisie challenged
the
feudal
class.
Accordingly,
I
maintain that the PFs asserted their
"primacy"
over feudal
relations
from within the
sphere
of
circula-
tion. This
is,
I
think,
the
only
"theorem"
that can be
proven
true,
or
that can be derived
by
logical reasoning
from
the
premises.
Likewise,
it will
be seen that this
interpretation adequately
con-
forms
to the
existing empirical
evidence.
As Marx
himself
put
it,
speaking
of
the
16th to 18th
centuries:
"the
sphere
of
commodity
circulation was the
strictly bourgeois
economic
sphere
at that
time"
(Marx,
1904,
158).
Two
phases
can thus be
delineated
in the historic evolution of
the
bourgeoisie.
In
the
first,
we
see it
forming
itself
as
a
class
within the feudal
system
on
the basis
of
circulating
or
money
capital;
in
the
second,
which
takes
place
after
the
overthrow
of
feudalism,
we
see
it
installing capitalist ownership
relations,
which
allows the PFs to
expand
as industrial
capital.
Of
course,
these two
phases
are not
neatly
demarcated.
Embryonic
capitalist
relations
do
exist
prior
to
the
Revolution.
Nevertheless,
as
Marx
writes,
it
was "under the
protection
of
this
[feudal]
regime
of
corporations
and
regulations
that
capital
was
accumulated,
overseas trade was
developed,
and
colonies
were founded"
(Hill,
1948,
137).
Capital-
ist
relations were
begotten only
as
"the
money
capital
formed
by
means of
usury
and
commerce was
prevented
from
turning
into
industrial
capital
...
by
the feudal constitution"
(Hill,
1948,
141).2
2.
The
Development
of
Circulating
Capital
under Feudalism
I
need to
explain
the
mechanism
by
which
circulation trans-
formed
feudal
production
into
money
accumulation. Let M
stand
for
money
and C for
commodities.
In
simple
commodity
ex-
change,
where the aim is
the
satisfaction of
particular
wants,
a
given
producer
exchanges
a
commodity
C for
money
M
so
that
2
In
a
way,
Marx was
aware that the
1789 revolution
brought
to
power
a
commercial
bourgeoisie,
not an
industrial
capitalist
class.
Writing
about the events of
1815,
he
said,
"But
was not the
February
revolution aimed
directly against
the financial
aristocracy?
This fact
proves
that the
industrial
bourgeoisie
did not
rule France.
The industrial
bourgeoisie
can
only
rule when
modern
industry
adapts
all
property
relations to suit its
own
requirements
. . ."
(Marx,
1973,
46).
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
291
s/he can
in
turn
buy
further commodities C.
In
such a
process
which
we can
represent
as
C-M-C,
money merely
serves
as a
medium of
exchange
between
two
use-values.
In
merchant
ex-
change,
M-C-M'
the
goal
is
to make
money,
which
presupposes
the
exchange
of
non-equivalents:
merchants
exchange
money
M
for
a
given
commodity
C
only
to
exchange
this
in turn
for a
larger
amount
of
money
M'
In
practice,
merchant
capital
presupposes simple commodity
exchange
as a
connecting
bridge
between
the
merchant and
the
feudal
economy.
The
merchant cannot trade unless some
direct
producers
are
willing
to
sell and
buy goods.
This
point
is worth
stressing,
since
commercial
capital
tends to be looked
at
ex-
clusively
in
the
form
of M-C-M1.
In
the abstract we can connect
these
two
circuits,
since C-M-C
is
inevitably
both a
sale and
a
purchase,
allowing
for the intervention
of the merchant who
buys
(M-C)
to re-sell
(C-Mf ).
The
unity
of these
two
circuits
takes
the
following
form:
C-(M-C-Mf)-C.
As we
will see
later,
this com-
bined circuit
represents
a
unique
social relation
between the mer-
chant and the
small
producer.
Now
for
Marx circulation
is
simply
an
exchange
of commodit-
ies "at their
value."
Even
if,
due
to some "accidental
disturbance"
in
supply
and
demand,
the
nominal
price
rises above its
original
value,
what
A
gains
as a seller
he
eventually
loses as
a
buyer.
But
what
if A
gains
without
B
being
able
to
retaliate?
Again,
the total
value
in
circulation
does
not increase
one
bit,
it
is
only
distributed
differently
between
A
and
B. "If
equivalents
are
exchanged,
no
surplus
value,
and
if
non-equivalents
are
exchanged,
still no sur-
plus
value"
(Marx,
1906,
182).
How,
then,
do we
explain
the
formation
of
money-capital?
While no
change
in
the total
magni-
tude of value
can take
place
in the
process
of
circulation,
a
regular
transfer
of value
from
A
to
B
via
price
differentials
is
possible.
Merchant's
capital,
Marx
concludes,
"can
only
have its
origin
in
the
twofold
advantage
gained,
over both
the
selling
and the
buy-
ing producers,
by
the merchant
who
parasitically
shoves himself
in between
them"
(Marx,
1906,
182).
Since the connection
be-
tween the two
acts
-
purchase
and
sale
-
exists for the merchant
alone,
the
merchant
is able
to
profit
from the
peasants
with-
out
their
being
able
to retaliate.
No alteration
in
the
existing
rela-
tions
of
production
was entailed
in
this
process.
The
bourgeoisie
amassed
profits
via the circulation
movement
C-(M-C-Mf)-C
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292
SCIENCE 6f
SOCIETY
of
that
part
of the feudal
surplus
marketed
by
the direct
pro-
ducers.
3.
Circulating Capital
in
18th
Century
France
Industry:
According
to
Jan
Marczewski,
"since
the
beginning
of the 18th
century
the economic
growth
of France has been
following
a
continuously rising
curve"
(Marczewski,
1956,
386).
If
there
was
a "take-off
into
sustained
industrial
growth,
he
says,
then it occurred sometime
during
the mid- 18th
century
or at
the
latest toward 1799.
In what
follows
I
argue
that this
growth
was
not based on
capitalism,
but on
the
extension of
pre-industrial
production through
the
circulation-forms of
commodity, money,
and
capital.
This
involved two interrelated movements:
1)
the
appropriation
of
(absolute)
surplus
from the
direct
producers
via
the circuit
C-(M-C-Mf)-C,
and
2)
the formal
subsumption
of
feudalism to
the
self-expansion
of
money
capital.
To be
sure,
the
gross
physical product
of
industry
and hand-
icraft rose
from a
yearly average
of
385
million livres for
1701-10
to
1,573
million for
1781-89,
representing
a
fourfold increase
in
volume
(Crouzet, 150).
I
estimate, however,
that this increase
in
industry
was achieved
mainly
by
extending
the
existing
scale
of
operations,
with
only
incremental innovations.
Granted,
in this
period
France saw the introduction of the latest
in
English
tech-
nology,
such as Newcomen's fire
engine
and
James
Watt's steam
engine.
There was the
Anzin
coal
mining company,
which on the
eve
of
the Revolution had
12
steam
engines;
or
Le Creusot
found-
ry
which
used not wood but coal
with steam
engines
and
forges.
But
these were
exceptional
cases.
Rather it
was
the
merchant-turned-producer
in
the textiles
sector who
led and
shaped
the
growth
in
industry.
And this
expansion
in
textiles was based on
changes
in
the
organization,
as
opposed
to the
technology,
of
production.
Yes,
coal and iron
production
increased
substantially,
700%
and
300%
respectively
(Vovelle,
1984,
47).
However,
if
we take
industry
and
handicraft
as a
whole,
we
find
that French
heavy
industry
lagged
behind
textiles in
overall terms. For
one,
the textile
industry,
whether
in
the urban
manufactory
or
in
the
rural
domestic
system,
was,
in
terms of the
established
units,
present
in
every locality
of
France,
from
the north of the
Paris basin
to
Languedoc.
For
another,
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FRENCH
REVOLUTION
293
textiles were
predominant
in
the number of
workers
employed,
and
in
the
dynamism
of some of
its
sectors,
such
as linen and
cotton.
Marczewski,
for
example,
has
calculated that
the rate
of
growth
in the cotton
industry
averaged
3.8%
per
year
between
1710
and
1790,
a rate much
higher
than that for
industry
(1.9%)
as a whole
(Crouzet,
150).
By "organizational" changes
in
textiles
I
mean the
elaboration
of a
putting-out
system against
the traditional
guilds
and
the small
cottage
workshops,
and the division
of
labor
in
the urban man-
ufactory, specialization
by types
of
employment
and
within each
employment.
The
putting-out system
combined
an
extensive
commercial
network
of
local,
regional,
and even international
markets,
connecting
thousands
of rural
laborers
with each other
in
successive
stages
of
production.
Under
this
system
merchants
managed
to insert
themselves
fully
between both
supply
and
demand,
advancing
raw
materials
or
tools
to
the
producers,
and
marketing
the
finished
product.
Because
of
this
they
shortened
the time
between
the
purchase
of raw materials and the market-
ing
of the
finished
good,
thereby
accelerating
the
rate
of
turnover
(i.e.,
increasing
the
velocity
of
circulation).
Concerning
the urban
manufactory,
it
was more a case of
intensifying
the labor
process
than
of
shortening
the circulation
time.
In the
first
place,
by breaking
down the labor
process
into
extremely
simple
tasks
the
merchant-manufacturer converted
the
artisan/peasant
from
a casual
producer
into
an
increasingly spe-
cialized
worker
(unsupervised,
they
tended
to work at their own
pace).
Also,
by concentrating
hundreds
of workers
under
one
roof,
this
merchant
created
a uniform
quality
and
pace
of
work,
eliminating
the embezzlement
of stock.
This was a direct
increase
in the rate
of absolute
surplus
value,
including
the
economies of
large-scale
production
as
well
as
the number
of
persons working
on
each
product.
But one wonders:
were these merchants
appropriating
a
"feudal"
surplus?
Was not
the
merchant-turned-
producer
controlling
the
small
producers
by
advancing
tools and
raw
materials?
I
shall
return to this
question.
Suffice it to
say
now
that
they
were
not
extracting capitalist
surplus
value,
since the
merchant-turned-producer
was
not
yet
a
buyer
of labor
power.
Both the
manufactory
and
the
putting-out
system
bordered
on
capitalism,
but were
not
yet governed
by wage-labor.
These
mer-
chants treated
the
laborers
as traders
who were
given
raw materi-
als
and tools
on credit
against
the
return
of
a finished
product
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294
SCIENCE
ö>
SOCIETY
that
was
bought
from the laborer at a
market
price.
The house-
hold
spinners
and weavers after all
had
the
option,
at
least
in
principle,
of
selling
the finished
good
as
independent
producers
in
the
markets of
nearby
towns. Nor
had the
workers
in
the
"manufactures
royales"
(the
4,000
at
Anzin or
the
3,000
at
Littry)
much
in
common
with the
industrial
proletarian
of the 19th
century;
they
too were
semi-peasants
who
returned
to the coun-
tryside
during
harvesting
and
sowing.
In
general
the
money
sunk
in
fixed
capital
in
the textiles
industry
was little as
looms were
small and
inexpensive, plus
relatively
few
buildings
and mills were
necessary.
In
1789 France had
only
900
spinning
jennies,
as
compared
to
20,000
in
Great Britain
(Rude,
1974,
72).3
Agriculture:
On the
whole the
increase
in
the
gross
agricultural
product
between
1715 and 1789
was
40%,
at constant
prices
(Ladurie,
1975,
16).
An
impressive change,
but one which
Morineau labelled
as
"development
within
stagnation."
This
growth
was obtained
through
an absolute
widening
in
the culti-
vated
land, i.e.,
clearing
of
wastelands,
draining
of
marshes,
and
reclamation of abandoned fields.
Again,
the use
of
working
or
circulating capital
played
a
major part
in this
expansion:
the
introduction of
new
crops
like
maize,
broadening
of
the vine-
yards,
monetarization
and
regional
specialization,
and
fertilizers.
The area of cultivation was also
extended
through
a
higher input
of
peasant
labor,
still
using
"medieval
techniques"
like wooden
plows.
As
J.
C. Toutain's
study
of French
agricultural output
indicated,
yields
in
terms
of
seed
planted
hardly
varied between
1700 and
1790,
oscillating
around 5
to
1
on a national
average
(Ladurie,
1972,
141).
It is
true that some of
these
changes
raised
productivity
levels,
particularly
the reduction of fallow
land
by
replacing
the
rotation of
grain
and
fallow with
grain
and corn
(or
catch
and fodder
crops).
In
the
northeastern
regions
of
Flanders,
3
Marx
explicitly
writes that the
formation of
the urban manufactories involved no
technical
change:
"With
regard
to
the
mode
of
production
itself,
manufacture in its
strict
meaning
is
hardly
to be
distinguished,
in its
earliest
stages,
from the
handicraft
trades of the
guilds,
otherwise than
by
the
greater
number of workmen
simultaneously
employed by
one
and
the
same
individual
capital.
The
workshop
of
the
medieval
master
handicraftsman is
simply
enlarged.
At
first, therefore,
the
difference is
purely
quantitative"
(quoted
in
Lukács,
1973,
55-56).
Another similar
remark:
"At
first
capital
subordinates
labor on the
basis
of
the
technical conditions in
which
it
historically
finds
it. It
does
not, therefore,
change
immediately
the
mode of
production"
(quoted
in
Poulantzas,
1982.
159).
What
capital
can
this be which
subsumes the laborer "at first" if
not
circulating
capital?
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
295
Alsace and
the Garonne
valley
the
increase
in
output
was based on
higher
yields.
The rest
of
France continued the same
agricultural
trend of
3,
4 or 5 centuries back
(Morineau, 1970).
Transportation:
Another area of
growth
was the
transport sys-
tem,
the
most
important
single
economic
component
of the
sphere
of circulation.
(Though
fixed
capital
in
the form of
roads,
carriages
and
draught
animals has
always
been crucial to the
transport
sector,
transportation
controls the
carrying capacity
and
the
speed
of
supply
and
demand.)
Fernand Braudel
even
speaks
of a
"great
road revolution."
Perhaps
an
overstatement,
though
the
1
8th
century
did see
the
beginnings
of a true national road
and
canal network.
By
the end of the Ancien
Regime,
there were
40,000km
of
roads,
8000km
of
navigable
rivers,
1000km
of canals
(Braudel,
1984,
322).
In
1734,
the canal
Crozet was
completed,
linking
the Somme
to
the
Oise,
a
tributary
of the Seine. With the
completion
of
other
canals,
Paris stood
at the center of a canal
network
penetrating
much of northern France.
Progress
in road
building
was
tending
to reach
many parts
of
France, i.e.,
Paris-
Rouen,
Paris-Peronne,
Paris-Melun.
In
1715
it
took
20
days
to
travel from
Paris
to
Lyons;
in
1787
this time was reduced
to 13-16
days.
Transportation
costs
between
1715 and
1770
fell
by
about
13%
(Price,
1975,
9).
This advance
in
transportation
shortened
circulation
time,
raised
the rate of
surplus
value,
increase
money
accumulation
and,
therefore,
the rate of
development
of the
(feudal)
productive
forces.
Prices:
The
growth
of
money
capital
took
on
the
form
of
a
long
phase
of
rising
prices.
As the
price
series
compiled
by
Lab-
rousse
indicate,
prices
increased
64%
from
1726-1741
to 1784-
1789. On
the
other
hand,
wages
rose
only
10-25%,
indicating
a
significant
fall
in real
wages
(Vovelle,
47; Ladurie,
1975,
19).
Labor,
then,
suffered
a
relative
impoverishment,
reflecting
a di-
rect
transfer
of income
from
the laborers-consumers
to the mer-
chants
(including
the
tenant
farmers.)
Trade:
Trade
was the
fastest
growing
sector
of the
economy.
Between
the
1720s
and the
1780s
the ratio
of
foreign
trade to the
gross
physical
product
rose
from
10
to
25%
(Marczewski,
1956,
372).
This
high percentage
change
expressed
the remarkable
development
of
the sea
and colonial
trade,
which
increased ten-
fold.
The rate
of
growth
per
annum
in
this sector
was the
highest
in the
economy
(4.1%
between
1716 and
1748),
as
compared
to
that
in
industry-
1.9%
for the
century
(DeVries,
1976,
144).
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296
SCIENCE öf SOCIETY
Moreover,
trade
stimulated
the
growth
of new industries
like
refineries,
distilleries and
shipping.
These
enterprises together
with the colonial trade were at the forefront
of
the urban
pros-
perity.4
4.
Commodity
Relations in
Agriculture
The
French
18th-century
agricultural
economy
was
in
many
ways
a
three-storey
economic
structure,
with a
feudal
ground
floor,
a second floor of
simple
commodity
circulation
(C-M-C),
and an
upper
storey
of M-C-M1.
Unfortunately
there
are
no
precise
estimates
on the amounts of
goods
marketed.
Robert
Forster
tells
us that
in
1789 "the maximum number
of
peasants
who entered the market
(was)
about
600,000"
(Forster,
1970,
1604).
As
Young's
description
of the
peasant
who
walked
miles to
sell
just
a few chickens
suggests,
many
peasants
were still
living
on
the
margins
of
the market
economy, coming
to
the market to sell
(or
buy)
a
portion
of
their
own
crop.
A
higher
proportion
of the
total were
métayers,
who
rented land
on
a
sharecropping
basis
-
that
is,
shared
part
of their
produce
with the
landlord.
These
peasants
were thus
primarily
concerned
with
subsistence
agricul-
ture. On a national
average sharecropping
amounted
to % to % of
the total land tenure forms
(Moore,
1969,
56).
Still,
it would be
wrong
to
assume that all the
produce
from these
sharecroppers
was for use. A
large proportion
of these
peasants
were
tied to
the
market
through
commercial
debts,
guaranteed
by
the
harvest,
or
even their
property.
Moreover,
the need
to meet
the taxes of a
rapidly
expanding
centralized
state drove
many
peasants
to
sell
their
crops
in
return for cash.
It
is hard to
believe that
most
peasants
were
self-sufficient,
since
the vast
majority
had
only
a few
scattered
plots,
too small to
maintain
a
family
throughout
the
year.
Morineau,
using
material
from
Champagne,
estimates
that below a
yield
per
seed of 5 : 1
on
a four to
five hectare
farm
self-sufficiency
was
impossible
(Huf-
ton,
1983,
321).
Now in
most
parts
of
France,
75%
of
the
peasan-
try
-
the
manouvriers
-
had
less than five
hectares,
and in
nearly
every province
at least
25%
of
the
holdings
were
smaller than
one
hectare. And the
yield
per
seed in
many
of
these small
plots
was
4 This
overall
growth
in
the PFs
coincided with an
almost
300%
increase
in
the number
of
bourgeois
over the 18th
century!
(Doyle,
1980,
129).
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
297
as
low as
3
: 1
or
2
: 1 !
These
peasants
were no doubt
obliged
to
pass
through
the
sphere
of circulation as
seasonal
workers and
consumers
(though
other
"options"
like
vagrancy
or
starvation
were
available).
Forster's
figure
probably
represents
the
rich
tenant-farmers
(the
"bon
laboureur")
who
produced
a
large
surplus
specially
for the market.
Once
we add the
money-holdings
which
made
up
the other Vs
to
lA of the
leased
land,
it is obvious that
merchants
had
ample
opportunities
to
exploit
the
peasantry.
Under this form
of feudal
rent,
the
peasant gave
the lord not his
surplus
products,
but
cash
payments. Consequently
the
peasant
was
obliged
to sell his
sur-
plus
himself on the
market.
Granted,
money
rent
per
se did
not
overturn the relations
of
production: money
rent,
labor
services,
payment
in
kind,
these were
all
forms
of
feudal
coercion,
since
possession
of
the
land
in
each
case was
conditioned
by
certain
obligations.
Still
money
rent
implied
circulation
(C-M-C)
and
in
this sense
potentially
a
merchant-peasant money
relation
-
one
based
not on custom
or
status,
but on
voluntary
exchanges
or
contracts
between
formally equivalent persons.
5.
Transition
to
Capitalism
and
Bourgeois
Revolution
One
tendency among
Marxists
-
those
who
might
be called
class
struggle
theorists
-
belittles the
role
of the
merchant
bourgeoisie
in
the
overthrow
of feudalism.
Although
this tenden-
cy
includes other
important figures,
it is
to
Maurice
Dobb and
George
Comninel
that
I
shall
direct
my
attention. Our
discussion
begins
with
Dobb,
thought
it should be clear that Comninel ac-
cepts
much
of what
Dobb
says,
carrying
his
approach
further.
According
to
Dobb,
what makes the interests
of
classes
in-
trinsically opposed
is
the
exploiter/exploited
relation
at
the
point
of
production,
the
inherent conflict between those who
produce
and
those
who
appropriate
the
surplus.
He
minimizes the
merchant/noble
conflict
because
this
was
not
a
surplus
extraction
relation,
as
opposed
to the
peasant/lord
conflict which was
an
exploitative
relation.
He writes:
The basic social
relation
[of feudalism]
rested on the extraction of
the
surplus
product
[from
the
peasantry]
by
the feudal
ruling
class. ... It
follows im-
mediately
from
this
that
the basic conflict must
have
been between
the direct
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298
SCIENCE Sí SOCIETY
producers
and their feudal
overlords
who
made exactions
...
by
dint
of
feudal
right
and feudal
power
.
.
. and not
any
direct clash of
urban
bourgeois
elements
with
feudal lords.
(Hilton,
1976,
166.)
Similarly,
Dobb criticizes Henri Pirenne
and
Paul
Sweezy
for
their identification of
production
for the
market
with
capitalism.
Merchants,
he
contends,
accumulate their
capital simply
by
circulating
part
of the
existing
surplus. Accordingly,
Dobb
asks,
if
the merchant
bourgeoisie
was
extracting
its
wealth
within the
existing
feudal
relations,
was it not
likely
to be a
conservative
class,
more interested
in
preserving
feudalism than
transforming
it?
Consider this statement:
The existence
of a
trading
bourgeoisie
.
. .
was not inconsistent with
the existence
of
a
predominantly
feudal mode
of
production.
.
.
.
Indeed,
feudal
seigneurs
sometimes
themselves
engaged
in
trade
.
.
.
and their sons often went into
partnership
with merchants while
the
latter
acquired
land
and titles
of
gentry.
(Dobb,
1970,
8.)
In
separate
ways,
the
class
struggle
Marxists
and
the revisionists
agree
on this
point:
the
trade-based
bourgeois
was not
seeking
to
overthrow the feudal class as much as to
join
the
noble order. Yet
Dobb
(unlike
the
revisionists,
or even
Comninel,
as
we will
see)
retains
the idea of
the
bourgeois
revolution as a
confrontation
between
two
politically
conscious
classes,
the
nobility
and
the
bourgeoisie (though
not
merchants but industrial
and
agrarian
capitalists)
corresponding respectively
to feudalism
and
capital-
ism.
For Dobb it
was a
bourgeoisie
linked
with
new
relations
of
production
which
made the
bourgeois
revolution,
against
both
landlords and
merchants. He detects
the
really
revolutionary
bourgeoisie
in
"small to
middling-sized
men"
rising
from
the
ranks of direct
producers
-
prosperous
craftsmen or
peasant
farmers. This
bourgeoisie
emerged
out
of the
"internal"
struggle
in
feudalism
between the
nobility
and the
peasantry
over
the
distribution of
the economic
surplus.
In
this
context,
the
success-
ful
struggle
by
the small
peasant
proprietors
to
minimize
feudal
exploitation
(e.g.
abolition of
serfdom)
set the
conditions for
the
rise
of
new
social relations. The
commutation of
labor
services,
especially
the
introduction
of
money
rent,
created
more
freedom
for
the
peasant-laborer
in
the use of
his
labor
time. Once
the
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
299
peasant
was
able to
control his labor time and market his own
produce,
he
managed
to amass
savings,
to increase
production,
and accumulate.
In this
process
of
marketing
some
would
prosper
and
others
would fail
and be reduced to
laboring
for the success-
ful ones.
Gradually
the
"winners"
set out to
organize
large
hand-
icrafts
or consolidate
land
holdings
and enclose them. Thus was
born the
capitalist/proletarian
social relation.
In
England
Dobb
saw this
group
of
"petty
bourgeois"
in
the
improving
yeomen
farmer.
The
question
arises:
how were the
petty
producers merely by
retaining
their
own
produce
able to accumulate
capital?
Now Dobb
does
recognize
that "interaction"
with the market
was
part
of this
accumulation
process
and
that
market
competition
was the cause
of the
differentiation
of the
producers
into the well-to-do and the
impoverished.
But
in that case
I would want to
know how this
self-employed
commodity producer
could accumulate
capital,
considering
that
market
exchange,
according
to Dobb
himself,
is
nothing
more
than
a redistribution
of the
existing surplus
prod-
uct?
If
Dobb
answers
that
these
producers
accumulated
capital
by
lessening,
through
class
struggle,
feudal
rents,
he
would
be back
with a feudal
mode
of
production.
And neither can
he answer
that
the
initial
capital
originated
in
wage-labor,
since
that is to
presuppose
the
existence
of the
very
thing
whose
origin
he
is
supposed
to
explain.
Clearly,
we can
get
out
of this circular
argument
only by
supposing
a
type
of
surplus
extraction
preced-
ing
capitalist
relations
yet
different
from feudal
exploitation.
The crucial
problem
which Dobb
has failed
to see is this:
how
can
accumulation,
and
hence
surplus
extraction,
occur
through
simple
commodity
exchange
between
independent
producers
in
the
absence
of
any
form
of labor
exploitation
at the
point
of
production?
Underlying
Dobb's dilemma
is his belief
that a sur-
plus
can
be extracted
only
in the
sphere
of
production.
Below
I
intend
to
offer
an answer
in
the
form of a
theory
of
exploitation
that
is
operative
for
a
simple
commodity/merchant
economy,
in
which both
feudal
and
capitalist
relations
are absent.
Thus
far
in this
paper
I
have
argued
that
although
in
the
process
of
circulation
"only changes
of form
of the same mass
of
value
take
place"
nevertheless
circulation
indirectly
stimulates
"feudal"
production,
both
in
the form
of
money capital
and
by
intensifying
the
exploitation
of the
direct
producers.
In
addition,
I have
emphasized
the
unique
source of
merchant
capital
as a
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300 SCIENCE & SOCIETY
transfer of
value from the direct
producers according
to
bourgeois property rights.
In
this
respect
I
sought
to
propose
a
theory
of
the
relative
autonomy
of commercial
capital
in
the
context of
non-capitalist
relations.
On the other
hand,
Dobb and
Comninel
postulate
the
complete
subordination of circulation to
the dominant mode of
production.
Worse
yet,
Comninel
contends
that even the
surplus
generated
in
the
putting-out
system
and the
urban
manufactory
was
nothing
but a form of
agricultural
rent:
Most
of
the
surplus
distributed
through
commercial
profits
was
directly agri-
cultural
in
origin
-
not
only
the
grain
trade,
but also the island
trade
and the
wine
trade
and that
surplus
which
was
produced
and
extracted
through
man-
ufactures
essentially
conformed to
this
general
commercial
agrarian
structure.
(Comninel,
1987,
194.)
The
following
very
short and
plain argument
may
serve
to
demonstrate the
fallacy
of
this view.5
Let
us assume
N
simple commodity producers,
all of whom
strive
to minimize the labor
they expend
on
production.
Further,
assume
a
wealthier
producer
(A),
who,
due to a
higher capital-
labor ratio
and
greater
skills,
is able to
produce
more
goods
in
less
time than a
poorer producer
(B). (In
terms of the labor
theory
of
value,
the
high
productivity
laborer
will
produce
an
equal
value
in
less time than the low
productivity
laborer.)
Finally,
assume that
A
and
B
exchange
their
goods
with each other
in
the market. Then
B
will
receive
in
exchange
for the
labor
time
he has sold to
A
an
equivalent produced
in
a
shorter
length
of
time;
in
this
case,
producer
A will
be
exploiting
B. It
follows that
exploitation
be-
tween two
simple commodity
producers
can
occur
although
no
surplus
value
was
extracted at the
point
of
production.
Notice that
this
unequal
exchange
does
not rest on
any
"accidental"
disparity
in
prices;
rather,
it
involves a
transfer
of
surplus
labor
time
entirely
within
the
sphere
of
competitive
markets.
Now,
what
if
a
merchant
intervenes between A and
B?
Then
the
merchant,
not
A,
would
pocket
B's
surplus
labor
time.
The
merchant would
then be
expropriating
surplus
value
from
the
simple commodity
producers
without
"employing"
them. In
this
5 The
following analysis
is indebted
to
J.
Roemer,
1982
and
1986).
My analysis
is a
simplified
(if revised)
version of
Roemer's,
though
it
is
clear
that Roemer's aim
is to
advance a
theory
of
exploitation
in
the
context of a
simple
commodity
economy
in
which no
labor is
employed.
What I
did new was
to introduce the
merchant
as an
additional
variable.
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FRENCH
REVOLUTION 301
case,
the added
value
Mf
(in
the formula
G-(M-C-Mf)-C)
would
reflect the extra
labor time of B. Here
the
market
profit
origin-
ates,
not
in
the
agricultural
surplus,
but in
a
transfer
of
new value
created
by
the
simple
commodity
producers
to the
merchant!
Inasmuch as each
of these
petty producers
commanded
different
input-costs per
unit of
output
(since
they
were not
all
operating
in
the
same
market
and
production
conditions),
the
merchant,
by
shoving
himself
between these
producers,
could seize
the differ-
ence between
the individual labor
time
and
the
"socially
necessary
labor time."
In France the merchant
established the
putting-out system
and the
manufactory
precisely
by
subordinating
Dobb's
petty
commodity producers.
It is not difficult to
imagine
that the
petty
producer
had a
hard time
finding
his
way
into
the
market,
that
many
were forced
to
put
themselves under the control
of
mer-
chants
who
already
had a
monopoly
over markets and
could
provide
the
necessary implements
and raw
materials
on
shorter
notice.
In
Orleans,
for
example,
merchants
controlled a
network
of
12,171
artisans
scattered
among
various
villages.
At
Lyons,
the
merchants
took strict
control
of the
silk
industry
from
the
pre-
viously
independent
master
craftsmen:
in the
1780s
40,000
silk
weavers were
tending
looms.
In Marseilles
in
1760,
38
soap
works
employed
about
1000 each
(Braudel,
1982,
329-30).
In
Louviers
we
find fifteen
manufactories
employing
thousands
of workers.
In
and around
the town
of
Elbeuf,
there
were
15,000
woollen
workers
during
the
1780s
(Rude,
1974,
67-68).
The list is
vast;
rural industries
and
manufactures
existed
everywhere,
spreading
more
rapidly
in the 18th
century
than at
any
time before.
(Both
in
number of
workers
employed
and
in
gross physical product,
these
industries
doubled
or trebled
during
the
century.)
In 1790
at least
one-half
of
the
rural
population
was at
least
partially dependent
on these
industries!
We
could well
classify
the
putting-out
system
and the man-
ufactory
as
a
simple
commodity/merchant system,
neither feudal
nor
industrial
yet
a
viable
economic
system
in its
own
right.6
One
thing
is
certain:
this merchant-
turned-producer
was not
feeding
6 P.
Sweezy suggests
this when
he writes that
"the
intervening period
was
not a
simple
mixture
of feudalism
and
capitalism:
the
predominant
elements were neither feudal
nor
capitalist"
(Sweezy,
"A
Critique,"
in
Hilton, 1979,
49).
The
problem
with
Sweezy
is
that
he tends to conceive
this
transitional
period
as
merely
production
for
exchange
without
specifying
how this
exchange
is linked
to the mode
of
production.
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302
SCIENCE 6f SOCIETY
off the
existing
agricultural
surplus;
his revenue was a
share
of
the
produce
of domestic workers. Even
if
we
accept
the
observa-
tion that
many
cottagers
were casual workers
who continued to be
tied
to a "whole
body
of traditional
peasant
community
practices,
rights,
and
obligations,"
the
difference remains:
the seizure
of
a
portion
of the
cottagers' output
by
the
merchants was achieved
by
a
relationship
of
exchange,
not
by
extra-economic
coercion. Cer-
tainly
the merchant had no
privileges,
immunities or
seigneurial
rights
over the labor of the
petty
producers.
This is
not
to
deny
that merchant
profits
were
usually
maintained
through
a
system
of
monopoly prices
in
which the merchants were
price-makers
and the
cottage
workers were
price-takers.
The
question
is,
how
was the merchant able
to
subsume the
"independent" producer?
I
would claim it was the economic control the
merchant
had over
circulating
capital,
marketing
skills,
storage
facilities,
and com-
munication,
not
any
form of feudal
privilege.
6.
"Whence
a
bourgeoisie
to
carry
the revolution
if
the
capitalist
mode
of
production
was not
yet
in
being
at
alii"
(M. Dobb)
For
Comninel,
in
contrast to
Dobb,
the
bourgeois
revolution
in
France was not made
by
a real
bourgeoisie
because
"there
simply
were
no
capitalist
relations
-
no
appropriation
of
surplus
value,
as
opposed
to
mere
profit
making
-
that can be
attributed
to the
bourgeoisie
. .
."
(180).
Comninel is left with
that
"in-
famous" merchant who
aspired
towards noble
status
and,
in
com-
mon with the
nobility,
held
property
in
land,
commerce and state
office. But if
there was a
lack
of
any equivalent
in
France to the
class
of
English yeomanry,
what
was the French
Revolution then
all
about? The
noble-bourgeois
conflict,
according
to
Comninel,
must be
sought
in
the
difference in
juridical
status between
these
two
classes: the
bourgeoisie
shared
with
the
nobility
the same
social relations
of
property
but
without
the
special
privileges
of
noble
status.
Now,
to Comninel
this
difference
in
status
was
significant
because
it
gave
the
nobility
a head
start over the
spoils
of
office,
as
noble
privilege
was
essential to
any hope
for
advancement in
the
state
hierarchy.
But what
was so
important
about
the state
offices?
This
brings
us to
the crux
of
Comninel's
thesis.
Simply
stated,
"the
offices
of
the state
played
a
key
role"
in
class
exploitation
because
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FRENCH
REVOLUTION
303
they
"all rested
upon
the further extraction of
surplus
from
peasants
through
taxes, fees,
and
tithes"
(181).
The state offices
gave
access
to that
agricultural
surplus
which the absolutist
state,
through
increased
taxation and
the formation of
a
huge
bureau-
cracy,
had
centralized.
As Comninel
explains,
by
the 18th
century
a
large percentage
of the feudal economic
surplus,
in
contrast
to
"the
specific
structure
of true feudal
manorialism,"
was extracted
from
peasant producers
less as feudal dues than as
semi-private
tax
collection,
rents, sinecures,
and fees.
For this
reason
bourgeois
and noble
alike
saw
the state as one
of the
principal
means
of
increasing
their
wealth
and
moving up
in the
social
hierarchy.
Yet
the nobles
were
"the
pre-eminent
beneficiaries
of
the
surplus
extractive
powers
of the state"
because their status
gave
then
an
easier access
to
the offices
(200).
Nevertheless,
so
long
as
the
bourgeoisie
was
able
by
means of commercial
profit
to enter the
nobility,
they
were
willing
to
accept
their
junior
position
in the
elite and
the
validity
of noble
status.
But then came
the decision
by
the
Parlement
of Paris
(1788)
that the Estates-General
should
meet as
in
1614,
dividing
the
propertied
elite into nobles and
non-nobles.
The
bourgeoisie
saw this as
an
attempt by
the
nobility
to
"translate
their
privileged
status
into a constitutional
monopoly
as
well"
(199).
Consequently
a
rift occurred
within this
ruling
elite.
The
"unprivileged"
bourgeoisie
were now
more interested
in
a
state
open
to
talent,
while the
nobility
(the
conservatives)
sought
to
preserve
a
state that
favored
personal
status.
This
"intra-ruling
class
struggle"
was
directly
linked to access
to
surplus
extraction
via
the state
offices;
it was
not, however,
a
struggle
over
two
different
"form(s)
of
property
and
exploitation"
nor
over
"the
predominance
of
one kind
of
appropriating
class
over
another"
(201).
Rather,
to
Comninel
the
merchant/noble
discord
was a
political
conflict
-
a
liberal versus
a
corporate
ideology
-
about
the
sharing
out of the
surplus
(within
the
framework
of the
state
offices),
once it had
been taken from
the
basic
producers.
Comninel
adds that
a
more fundamental
strug-
gle
entered
the
revolution,
namely
the
"primary" struggle
be-
tween
the
direct
producers
and the
property
owners. This
"fun-
damental
class
struggle"
was a "conflict
of social
interests between
owners
of
exploitive
property
[the
noble-bourgeois
elite]
and
non-
exploitive
direct
producers
[peasants
and
artisans]" (201).
I
agree
with
Comninel
that
the state
offices were a
key
vehicle
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304 SCIENCE
& SOCIETY
to the net
product,
and that
competition
for
these
offices was the
main
point
of friction between the
bourgeoisie
and the
nobility.
This
analysis,
however,
is
defective
in
not
identifying
the
eco-
nomic side of the
liberal
principle
of "a career
open
to
talents."
As
I
see
it,
underneath the
ideological
confrontation
of liberalism
and
reactionary
privilege,
there was
a
conflict
about the
competing
claims
of
two
different forms of appropriating
the
net
surplus product:
one
based on birth
rights,
the
other on contractual
relations.
Moreover,
the
"exploited/exploiter" struggle
in
18th
century
France was not
simply
that
of a
"single," homogeneous propertied
elite
against
the direct
producers.
There was an
specific
confrontation be-
tween the
merchants and
the
peasant-artisan
classes,
a conflict
mediated
by prices
and
"at the
point of consumption
rather than at the
point
of
production."7
Let me elaborate
briefly
on this
unique
social
confrontation
between merchants and basic
producers,
then on
the
noble-bourgeois
conflict.
7. Class
Struggles from
Below: Circulation
and the
Food
Riots
Scholars have
generally
attributed
peasant
unrest to
seigneu-
rial
oppression
and/or
the
heavy
burden of
royal
taxes. On the
question
of state
taxation,
there is
no
doubt
that
the tremendous
fiscal
tightenings during
the
reigns
of Louis
XIII
and Louis
XIV
unleashed a series of
major peasant
rebellions
against
the state.
There is
reason
to
think,
however,
that the 18th
century
saw a
relative cessation of
this
type
of
anti-tax,
anti-centralizing
revolt,
displaced by
attacks on
merchants. For one
thing,
in
the 18th
century
the
tax
paid
to the state
stabilized,
as
LeRoy
Ladurie
writes
"if
not in
real
value,
at
least
quite
definitely
in
the
percent-
age
of
the total
gross agricultural
product (except
in
the
last 10 or
15
years
of
the
Ancien
Regime)"
(Ladurie,
1975,
19).
As far
as
peasant
antiseigneurial
demonstrations are
con-
cerned,
they
continued
unabated
throughout
the
18th
century.
Actually
the
peasant-lord
struggle
was
intensified as
commercial
racketeers to
whom the
lord
leased their
seigneurial
rights
sought
to
bolster the
seigneurial
system
to
squeeze
as
much as
they
could
7
G.
Rude,
in
the
Foreword to
Comninel,
1987. Rude
makes this
statement as
a
sugges-
tion
rather
than as an
argument,
meaning
that
Comninel,
by
conceiving
class
conflicts
solely
from
the
standpoint
of
production,
might
encounter
some
difficulties in
his
proposed
future
study
of the
popular
revolution.
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
305
from these
rights.
For
instance,
if
the lord leased his
rights
to
graze
cattle
in the forest
(droit
de
troupeau
à
part)
the
roturier with
his
large
herds would
attempt
to reduce
the
peasants'
use
of the
commons
in
order
to maximize his
profits.
(Note
however that
in
this
type
of
exchange
there was no relation between the
merchant
and the
producer.
In this
case,
the
commercial
profit
was
obtained
by
enforcing seigneurial rights,
thus
intensifying
the old
feudal
relations.)
Eighteenth-century
France bore witness to a
growing
contest
between
petty
consumers and
merchants,
a conflict
inseparable
from
the
growing
dependency
of the basic
producers
on the
market.
As Charles
Tilly
writes,
"the
timing
of the
increased
importance
of food riots
coincides with the
growth
of
the market
.
. ."
(Tilly,
1971).
Indeed,
as
more and more of the direct
produc-
ers
were driven
into the market
(C-M-C)
they
clashed with
farm-
ers,
millers, bakers,
hoarders,
and
grain
merchants
(M-C-M1).
The
food
riot was
generally
oriented toward
preventing
hoard-
ing,
speculation,
and
profiteering.
It
is
true that "the market riot
was an
old
phenomenon
in
France," but,
as
Tilly
adds,
from the
late 17th
century
onwards
there was
"a
great
increase of such riots
. .
."
(Tilly,
1971,
24).
The
explanation
for this was the
unprece-
dented
growth
of market
exchange
during
this
period.
This is
evident
with
regard
to
the
grain
trade,
where a
large
and increas-
ing
proportion
of its
supply
passed,
not
just through peasants'
hands,
but
additionally through
the hands
of wholesale mer-
chants
-
the
spéculateur,
or the
accapareur.
Due to the
pressure
to
feed
such
rapidly growing
urban centers
as
Paris, Rouen,
Bor-
deaux,
Marseilles,
or
Lyons,
the
number of middlemen
specializ-
ing
in
storing
and
handling large quantities
of
grain multiplied.
(In
the
mid- 16th
century
the
population
of Paris numbered about
130,000;
by
1650 it
was
approaching
the half million
mark,
grow-
ing
to almost
650,000
by
1750
(DeVries,
151-156).)
The
task
of
supplying
this
growing
urban
population
-
unprecedented
in
Europe's past
-
forced
these cities to
reach
far
outside their
environs
for their
food
supply.
This
process
broke down
local
self-sufficiency
and/or
independent peasant exchange, forcing
peasants
into a national
market
dominated
by
merchants. Be-
tween
1709 and
1789
serious
food
riots
involving
large
numbers
of
people
occurred
in
1709-10, 1725,
1739-40, 1752, 1768, 1770,
1775
(the
famous Guerre
de
Farines),
1785,
and 1788-89
(Rose,
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306 SCIENCE & SOCIETY
1959).
AU of these
riots,
in
contrast
to the
subsistence
crises
of
the
17th
century,
which were
brought
about
by
agricultural depres-
sion and
high
taxes,
coincided
with
high
grain prices
or
shortages
in
market
supply.
8. Class
Struggles
From Above: the
Nobility
and the Merchants
The real
question
remains:
Were not merchants
in
historical
actuality seeking
and
obtaining
noble status
and,
in
common
with
the
nobility,
holding "proprietary
wealth," i.e., land,
venal
offices,
buildings,
and
rentes?
Proprietary
wealth,
in the
18th
century,
accounted for more
than
80%
of all French
private
wealth! Com-
ninel,
for
example, acknowledges
that the term
"bourgeois"
stands
juridically
for
the
idea that
"property
was
fully
alienable."
But,
he
quickly
dismisses this remark
with the observation that "all
this was no
less
true for the
property
of the
nobility.
Indeed there
was
no difference
in
the forms
of
property
of nobles and
bourgeois
at all"
(181).
These two classes
were not locked
in
"contradiction"
-
there was no
fettering
of the
PFs
by
the old
social relations since merchants
were
reinvesting
their
profits
in
"proprietary"
wealth. Moreover a sizable number of nobles were
engaged
in
trade,
industry
and
finance,
resulting
in a
"con-
vergence"
of
these two classes into a
single propertied
elite.
To deal with this
paradox
I
differentiate between a
pure
bourgeoisie
-
C-(M-C-Mf)-C
-
and a
pure
nobility
(feudal
dues).
The
concept
"pure,"
in
this
sense,
refers
to the
form of
appropriation
as that which
makes
a
class the
thing
it
is.
A
pure
merchant
is,
by
definition,
someone who starts with
money
(M),
buys
commodities
(C)
and sells them for
a
higher
price,
whether
in
trade,
lending money
to the
state,
or
speculating
in
stocks.
To
be
(being)
a
merchant is to
earn
capital
in
the
sphere
of
circula-
tion;
what a
particular
merchant does with
his
profit
(ex
post
facto)
is
another
matter. In
contrast,
a
pure
noble
is
someone who
derives
his
income
by
virtue of
his
"lordship,"
designating
a
whole
range
of
seigneurial
rights
-
juridical,
economic,
fiscal.
The
object
of
this
procedure
is
to
show that these two
classes
are
analytically
distinguishable
and
mutually
irreducible
even if
their
individual
members are
mixed
and
interrelated with
each
other in
their
ownership
of
property.
The
nobility
and
the
bourgeoisie
did not
share a
single
form of
property; they
shared
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
307
two
forms of
property.
Remember
that
underlying
this
"single"
elite there
were
two different
economic relations
-
seigneurial
production
and
merchant's
capital
-
each
operating according
to
a
specific
set
of
property
norms: the
former
according
to custom-
ary
law, i.e.,
homage,
noble
prerogatives
and coerced
labor;
the
latter
according
to
principles
of free contract and merchant
prop-
erty.
This
was
a
composite,
not
a
single
elite;
the terms
"bourgeois"
and "noble"
reflecting
the two
distinct
forms of
property compos-
ing
this elite.
George
Taylor's
finding
that the
French
bourgeoisie
tended
to convert
its
accumulated
profits
into
non-capitalist
wealth
and
status
forgets
that
this
"conversion"
was
preceded by
another
conversion,
namely
the
transformation
of the feudal
surplus
into
money capital
by
way
of
C-(M-C-Mf)-C.
Before
a
merchant
could
enter
the noble
order,
he had
to enter
the
sphere
of
circula-
tion.
Accordingly,
Taylor's
"conversion"
was
predated by
a con-
tractual
relation
wherein
all
individuals
regardless
of
personal
status
were
formally
free
to amass
property.
Thus the
acquisition
of
noble
wealth
and
status
by
the merchants
flowed
from a differ-
ent
source.
Whereas
nobles
were
born
privileged
(ex
nobilus
ortus),
merchants
gained
access
to the
noble order
on the
basis of
money
and
merit.
The
one
was
privilege
bestowed
by
blood,
the
other
privilege
bestowed
by capital.
Now,
if naked
economic
acquisition
could
bestow
upon
any
commoner
the same
honor as those
who
have
it
by
virtue
of
birth,
was
not the
very
notion of
noble
rights
being questioned
precisely
by
this
"conversion"?
After
all,
the
essence
of
the Second
Order
was that
it was
hereditary
(stratifica-
tion
in
terms
of
status),
a
principle
signifying
exactly
the reverse
of
the
principle
of individual
merit
implicated
in
this
"conver-
sion"!
Some
revisionists
have
gone
so far
as to
argue
that the main
conflict
was
not
between
bourgeois
and
nobles,
but within the
noble order
itself:
a
poor,
provincial
and
reactionary
nobility
versus
a
rich,
urbanized
and
liberal
nobility.
Betty
Behrens,
for
instance,
divides
the
nobility
into
those
who had little wealth
and
possessed
only
their
"privileges
in
the
sense of
legal
rights,"
and
those
who combined
both
legal
rights
and
"privileges
in
the sense
of wealth"
(Behrens,
1963;
1976).
But
why
this division? What
section
of the
nobility
was
poor?
Where did
the wealth
of the
high
nobility
come
from? Had
the
revisionists
asked
themselves
these
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308 SCIENCE
&
SOCIETY
questions
they
might
have seen that this
division was the result of
the
dependence
of the
poor
nobility
on
legal
rights
alone,
while
the
higher
nobility
had
these
rights
plus
money
capital.
Actually,
the revisionists are aware that
the
moneyed
nobility
was
rising,
the
purely
feudal
nobility
declining.
Yet,
in their
eagerness
to
reject
the Marxist thesis of a
moneyed
class
getting
richer
at the
expense
of the
old
nobility, they
insist that
"the
nobility
was not a class
in
decline."
For
example,
Robert Forster
writes that
many provincial
nobles were
"active,
shrewd,
and
prosperous
landlords,"
challenging Georges
Lefebvre's idea of a
degenerating
landed class
(Forster, 1962).
But we
then learn
from
Forster himself
(albeit
indirectly)
that that noble who
depended
solely
on feudal dues was "condemned
to
poverty
and idleness
in
a
crumbling
provincial
chateau." He fails
to
note
that the
tradi-
tional landed class
was able to
survive
in
prosperity only
to
the
extent that
it
earned
money
capital.
As Behrens herself
states,
even
though
birth remained the formal basis
of noble
status,
privileges
"if
unaccompanied by
wealth,
were so valueless that
they
could not
prevent
a noble
family
from
falling
into destitution
and
ultimately,
from
dropping
out of the estate
of
the
nobility
altogether"
(Behrens,
1976,
525).
Seigneurial
income faced an acute crisis
in
the 18th
century
as
the volume of the
surplus
turned over to the
seigneur
as feudal
dues "increased
relatively
little
and often
not
at
all"
(Ladurie,
1975,
19).
Only
the noble
"turned
bourgeois"
-
the
receiver
of
ground
rent
-
managed
to
increase his income.
In
fact,
liquid
assets
(venal
fees,
mortgages,
real
estate,
shares,
ground
rent)
weighed
more and
more
heavily
in noble incomes.
Likewise
pro-
fits from
metallurgy,
mining,
and
trade
far
surpassed
those of
seigneurial rights.
Forster mentions that in
regions
around
Toulouse
and
Bordeaux,
and Le
Mans,
seigneurial
dues were
only
5%
to
8%
of landlord
revenue
(Hufton,
1983,
311).
At
issue
here
is
the fact
that
in
the
overall national
view,
circulating capital
far
surpassed
pure
feudal dues
in
its
capacity
to
generate
wealth.
As
confirmed
by
the Annales
historian Ernest
Labrousse: "Noble
or
bourgeois,
the class
(of
accumulation of
capital)
remained that
which
held the
greatest surplus
of
revenues"
(Labrousse,
1978,
159).
We also
learn from
revisionists
that the
"pure"
nobility
formed the
vanguard
of the
"feudal reaction"
because its
identity
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FRENCH REVOLUTION 309
as
an
order
founded
in
"descent and
virtue"
was
challenged
directly
by
this
"conversion"
of
money
into noble status.
The
petty
nobility,
we
are
told,
enjoyed
certain
privileges
yet
had
little or
no
hope
to climb
up
the
state administrative
ladder
against
those
commoners
who had
money.
For
this
reason,
this
nobility, Guy
Nogaret
points
out,
"tried
to establish the model
of a
nobility
entirely
dedicated
to the
profession
of arms ...
as an
antidote
to
. .
. the
rising power
of
money"
(Nogaret,
1985,
5).
In
fact,
the
18th
century,
to cite another
revisionist,
saw
"unending protests
on the
part
of the old
nobility
.
.
.
against
the
attempt
to
create a
new
ruling
class
by
state
fiat and
money"
(Furet,
1981,
107).8
Indeed
it was
often lesser
nobles,
like
Cázales,
an office holder
from
Languedoc,
who
fought
most
vigorously
to
preserve
the
traditional
social
hierarchy.
On the other
hand,
the constitutional
and liberal
movement
among
the
nobility
was
largely
confined to
individuals
like
Duc
d'Aiguillon,
Mirabeau,
La
Rochefoucauld,
and the
Duke
of
Orleans,
"where
distinctions of wealth were
replacing
those
of birth"
(McManners,
41).
This liberal aristocra-
cy,
socially
and
financially
secure
in
the
ownership
of
both
profit
and
rent,
were
prepared
to concede
juridical equality
to
"profit"
against
the decision
that
the Estates
General should meet as
in
1614.
The
nobility
was
de
jure
the second
order,
and
as
such
it
had a
real
homogeneity.
Traditionally
this
legal
definition also corre-
sponded
to a
clearly
defined socioeconomic
group
which
formed
the
landowning
class. Yet
de
facto
in
the 18th
century,
more
so
than
ever,
the
nobility
no
longer
represented
this
clearly
defined
economic
class,
for
it
was
a receiver of
profit.
Thus the low
and
high
nobility
were
juridically
united
yet economically
divided.
Money
divided
what law
united.
Conversely,
the
high nobility
and
8 Behrens
too
recognizes
this:
"Diatribes
against
the
power
of
money
to
disrupt
the old
relationship
became
a
commonplace
in France
in
the
second
half
of the 18th
century
. . ."
(Behrens,
1963,
569)
In
fact,
C.
Lucas,
F.
Furet,
G.
Nogaret,
and
W.
Doyle
all
concede the
presence
of a
poor
nobility
depending
solely
on feudal
rights.
What
they
refuse
to
acknowledge
is the
presence
of a
rising pure bourgeois
class
founded
on
money capital.
It is for
this reason that
they
fail to see the connection between this
poor
nobility,
the decline
of feudal
wealth,
and the rise
of
bourgeois
wealth. At
one
point,
Doyle
does
come
close to
admitting
the
reality
of
a
rising
pure bourgeois.
After
mentioning
that
the
bourgeoisie
had almost
grown by
300%
in the 18th
century,
he
concedes:
"In this
numerical
sense,
at
least there is little doubt that the
bourgeoisie
was
a
rising group"
(129).
But
having
said
this,
Doyle
does not know what to
make
of
it,
believing
(erroneously)
that
the notion
of
a
rising
bourgeoisie
is
negated
by
the act of
ennoblement.
My
view is that the revisionist
"conversion" thesis is
not
incompatible
with
Marx's contradiction
thesis.
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310 SCIENCE
6f SOCIETY
the
bourgeoisie
were
juridically
divided,
though tending
towards
economic
unity.
In
this
case,
law divided what
money
united.
As
larger
amounts
of
money passed
into the hands of the
nobility,
this class
was
thereby rejuvenated
("young
and
on
the
rise" as
Nogaret
puts
it.)
Yet in the
background,
unknown to the
nobles,
this new
wealth,
in
the
very process
of
renewing
the
noble
order,
was
destroying
the basis
that the
estate
of the
nobility
had
possessed
in
the
past.
In
time this
process
of renewal amounted
to
a
rupture
in
the traditional value
system,
as the
real
mainstay
of
noble
status became
liquid
capital.
If
originally
the
noble
was a
warrior and a
hereditary
lord,
by
the 18th
century
a noble
was
nothing
but
a
commoner
who had
made
money!
The
contradic-
tion
was undeniable: the
noble was
juridically
the
ruling
class,
yet
he could continue to rule
only
if he was
economically
a
bourgeois!9
9.
The French
Monarchy
"
Embourgeoisified"
The clash between
money
and
birth
did not
operate
im-
mediately
between the
bourgeoise
and the
nobility.
Rather,
the
absolute
state,
by
centralizing
the extraction of
surplus
(taxation)
and
turning
the feudal lords and the
merchants into
paid
officials,
mediated this
noble-bourgeois
conflict.
In
this
context,
Barring-
ton
Moore
argue
that venal offices
"imparted
feudal characteris-
tics to
the
bourgeoisie"
as these
offices became
a form
of hered-
itary
property
and
granted
certain
immunities,
privileges
or
9 Comninel
writes that
the
Revolution
was not
bourgeois
because
the
revolutionaries
were not
capitalists.
"It was
not
a
conflict
between a
declining
feudal class
and a
rising
capitalist
class"
(196).
Again,
"If there is
any
sense in which it
may
be
useful to consider
the
French Revolution a
'bourgeois
revolution,'
it
cannot
imply
a
connection
to the
emergence
of
capitalism
.
. ."
(203).
But,
as
we have
seen,
this is
precisely
what
the
Primacy
Thesis
postulates.
Yet
Comninel and the
revisionists,
assuming
that
Marx's
theory
associates the
revolutionary
bourgeoisie
with a
capitalist
mode of
production,
concluded that
the classic
interpretation
was
wrong
once
they
showed
"that
capitalism
had
not become the
dominant mode
of
production
in the
French
economy
before
1789"
(Doyle,
18).
Actually
Mathiez,
Lefebvre,
Soboul
and Rude
were all well
aware that
capitalism,
employing
free
labor and
using
machine
technology
such
as steam
engines,
the
spin-
ning jenny,
or coke
smelting forges
had
barely
gained
momentum in
the 18th
century.
The
problem
with
the
standard Marxist
historiography
is
that,
empirically,
it knew
that
the
18th
century
French
bourgeoisie
was
essentially
a
trade-based
class;
on a
theoretical
level,
however,
by
equating
commerce with
capitalism,
it
committed the error
of
viewing
the
conflict between
the
nobility
and the
merchant
bourgeoisie
in 1
789
as the
embodiment of a
contradiction
between
two
modes
of
production
-
feudalism
and
capitalism.
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FRENCH REVOLUTION
3 1
1
rights
to their
holders
(Moore,
1969).
But this
is
only
half the
story.
Venality
also
symbolized
the
dependency
of the
monarchy
on
bourgeois
capital.
More
than
this,
as
state
power
came to
rest
upon goods
and
services
provided
by
the
market,
this
dependency
gradually
shifted the
social
priorities
of
the
state to favor
the
principle
of merchant
property
over the feudal
nobility.
Back
in
the
1790s,
Joseph
Barnave stated
this
point:
"the more the wealth
of the state
comes
from commerce
.
.
.
the
closer
the
merchant is
to
governing
the
state;
the more the wealth
of
the state comes
from
land
.
. . the
closer the
nobleman is to the
government"
(Barnave,
1971,
144).
From
its earliest
struggle
for centralization the
crown had to
encourage
the
growth
of
bourgeois
incomes
-
i.e.,
to foster
trade,
navigation,
and increase
in
the stocks
of
precious
metals.
The
maintenance
of a
bureaucracy
and an
army
demanded enor-
mous
expenditures,
and
only wealthy
merchants
could
provide
the
money
to
finance
these
through
taxes,
customs
duties,
and
state
loans.
The crown
also needed
the
support
of
the
bourgeoisie
in
its
struggle
to
suppress
the
localist tendencies
of the old
fight-
ing
nobility.
This
was attained
by
selling
administrative
and
ju-
dicial
offices
to the
bourgeoisie
(or
to
any
noble with
sufficient
money-capital).
The sale
of
offices became
the
major
vehicle
in
absorbing
commercial
profits
into the
state
coffers.
(Louis
XIV
financed
his wars
to
a
large
extent
by
the
sale of
offices.)
By selling
state
offices,
the
monarchy
reabsorbed
the
bourgeoisie
into the
service
of the
state,
and
brought
a transfer
of
power
from a
provincial
nobility
to a
royal nobility
-
ministers,
councilors
of
state,
intendants,
etc.
However,
the
right
to serve
in
the
army,
the
clergy,
or
the
judiciary
was
still considered an
essential
prerogative
of the
nobility.
Indeed
civic distinctions were
conditional
upon
leaving
trade.
After
all,
the wealth
of
the
bourgeoisie
was
sought
not
for its
own sake
but as a means to
territorial
expansion
and
military splendor;
and
it
was the
nobility
which
remained
most
closely
associated
with
those
ends.
Thus,
although
the state
was aware
that its
military
ambitions could
only
be advanced
by
merchant
capital,
the
crown
knew
very
well that
royalty
was,
in
its
origins
and
character,
consubstantial
with
the
old
social
power
of
the ancienne
noblesse.
This
explains
Furet's
obscure
phrase
that
the
monarchy
was "torn
between
loyalty
to
the
old
seigneurial
solidarities
and the
requirements
of the new
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312
SCIENCE ö> SOCIETY
social and
bureaucratie
logic,
imprisoned
by
two
contradictory
modes
of
hierarchy
and social
mobility"
(Furet, 113).
The state
was forced
to
guarantee
noble
privileges per
contra
"it
could
no
longer
live,
as
in
the
old
days,
on the
personal
estate
of
the
prince
(landed wealth).
It needed access to the wealth
in
circulation"
(Braudel,
1982,
519).
This balance could
not be sustained forever.
On various occasions
the
monarchy
sought
to reaffirm
noble
birth,
against
mere
possession
of
money,
over
military
ranks,
as
evidenced
in
the
measures of 1718 and
1729,
the edict
of
1750,
and
the
Segur
Ordinance
of 1781.
Yet
despite
this
"superstructur-
al"
goodwill,
social selection
in
the 18th
century
was
increasingly
defined
by
criteria other than
heredity.
For
instance,
in the first
half of the
century,
the words
in
the
royal
letters
of ennoblement
appeared
less as
if
they
were
really
ennobling
than
merely
"recognizing"
or
"maintaining"
nobility.
The letters
emphasized
the
aura
of
family
background,
or
simply
the
presumption
of
nobility.
Yet,
after
1760,
ennoblement
was
seen
as an
official
confirmation
of such middle-class
values as
personal
work,
assidu-
ity,
and
competence.
(As
written
in one
letter,
"To
make
illustrious the merit
born of
personal qualities"; Nogaret,
38-39.)
The
underlying
problem
was
that
feudal
rights
by
themselves
no
longer
sufficed
to
acquire
the
higher
posts
in
the
judiciary, army,
or administration. This
problem
became
particularly
acute
during
the 18th
century
due to an overall
trend for office
prices
to
increase
(between
two and three
times),
so that the
overwhelming
majority
of
buyers
were
financiers,
merchants and industrialists
(Doyle,
1984).
In
the 18th
century
alone, 6,500
new
noble
families
were created
by
bourgeois
wealth,
a
figure representing
Va
to
Vs
of
all
noble families
in
1789!
(Nogaret,
30).
10
Our thesis
then is that the old feudal
class,
owning
land and
receiving
dues,
was
losing
a
battle
against
the
economic
power
of
the
bourgeoisie
as the
mainstay
of the
monarchy.
The
pure
bourgeoisie represented
a
new source of
wealth,
moveable
wealth;
it
was a
dynamic
class,
supplying
the
monarchy
with
revenue and
public
officials.
By
contrast the
pure
nobility
was
dependent upon
a
declining
form
of
wealth,
i.e.
seigneurial rights
of
property
over
10 1
accept
Comninel's view that
land and
the
state were "the real locus of
bourgeois
social
interest." The issue remains
that
"commerce,"
as
Comninel
writes
in the
same
context
(196),
"was the
primary
route
by
which
sufficient wealth could be
acquired
for
a
bourgeois
to
enter the
nobility."
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FRENCH
REVOLUTION
313
the
peasantry.
The contradiction was
clear: the
pure
bourgeoisie
possessed
the
greater
part
of
the fortune of
France,
and
provided
most of the resources and administrative
personnel
to the
monarchy;
nevertheless
it held an inferior
legal
status to that of
the
nobility.
The crisis was within a
monarchy
socially
and
ju-
ridically
founded
on
noble
principles,
but
increasingly dependent
on
the revenue
and talent
produced
by
contractual
relations.
This contradiction
found
concrete
expression
in
the
financial
crisis.
The
principal
problem
facing
the
monarchy
in
the second
half of
the
18th
century
was
that of
raising
enough money
to meet
the
government's
growing
fiscal needs. The
ability
to
conduct war
turned on the
sums it could raise
in
taxes,
and these in turn
depended
on
the
net
national
product.
Of
course,
the
financial
crisis,
considered as an
event,
was
a
consequence
of
the debts
incurred
during
the war
in
America.
However,
from a
structural
perspective,
it
mirrored the exhaustion of the
productive
capacity
of the
lord-peasant
relation. The
seigneurial
system
could no
longer provide
the
required
revenue
for the
monarchy
to
op-
erate;
not
only
was
seigneurial
income
dwindling,
but nobles
refused
any
diminution
of their
privileges.
This
structural crisis
was
well understood
by
the
Physiocrats.
Since
the
days
of
Colbert
it
was
generally
assumed that the
way
to increase
fiscal revenue was
to enhance the
volume and
circulation
of
money
available for
general
commerce
by
attracting
money
from other
countries and
hindering
its
export.
Colbert
voiced this idea
when he
said,
"commerce is the source of
finance,
and finance
is the
sinews of war"
(Wolfe,
1966,
476).
This mercan-
tilist doctrine
remained
dominant until the mid- 18th
century
when
it
became
evident
that
England
had
overtaken France
in
the
conquest
of
foreign
markets
and
colonies,
as well as
in
the in-
troduction
of
technical
innovations. It
was
then that the
physiocratic
school came into
prominence.
The
Physiocrats
pointed
to
agriculture
as the sector from which the
national
wealth
originated,
and
questioned
the mercantilist
assumption
that
a mere increase
in
monetary
stocks would raise
taxable
sources.
The
novelty
of the
physiocratic
thesis, however,
was not
simply
"that
agriculture
was the
unique
source
of
wealth,"
as
Comninel
seems
to believe
(Comninel, 195).
For F.
Quesnay
(1694-1774)
the obstacle
to the
expansion
of
national wealth was
not
mercantilism,
but that this
policy
was
pursued
within
a
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314
SCIENCE 6?
SOCIETY
seigneurial system
of
impoverished
peasants
with
little
in
the
way
of
large-scale
commercial
farming.
Thus
when
Quesnay
spoke
about
the
net
product
coming
from
the
land,
he did not mean the
natural
agriculture
of
a
manorial
economy,
but
commodity
agri-
culture,
producing
for
the market
and
organized
by
tenant
farm-
ers
(Rubin,
1979,
113-116).
In
their
own
manner,
the
Physiocrats
inferred
that there
was
a
"contradiction" between the
need
to
develop
the
agricultural
sector
(the PFs)
to
increase
the state
revenue,
and
the innumer-
able feudal
payments
and
obligations
that
tied the
peasants
to the
landowners.
Similarly,
they
saw a "contradiction" between the
expansion
of
trade and
industry,
and such economic
infringe-
ments
imposed by
the Ancien
Régime
as
corporate monopolies,
internal duties and
tolls,
diverse
measures
and
weights,
and
guild
restrictions. This
is
why
they
proposed
an
agrarian
reform di-
rected
at
replacing seigneurial
obligations
with a
voluntary
con-
tract
between
landlord and
tenant.
They
advocated
a
harmonious
extension
of
the market
system
in
an
economy
where the old
landowning
class would
retain
their
right
of
ownership
over the
land
according
to a
bourgeois
form of
leasehold.
The
Physiocrats
also
demanded a shift
in
government
economic
policy,
from
a
paternalistic
to
a
laissez-faire
economy.
Under the
paternalistic
policy
widespread
government
controls were
in
force to
protect
landowners,
state industries and
peasant
consumers. The
physio-
cratic
theorists
argued
that if
wealth
lay
in
land,
the
peasant
proprietors
should
then be
allowed
to
maximize
their
profits
through
the
free
play
of
market forces.
Higher
agrarian
profits
would in
turn
increase the
tax-paying
capacity
of the
population,
thereby
resolving
the
financial
crisis.
10.
The
Constitutional
Revolution
of
1789
:
Bourgeois
Property
Enshrined
In
1789,
the entire
juridico-political
edifice
upholding
the
noble
order
came
tumbling
down.
The
medieval
conception
that
a
harmonious
society ought
to be
divided into
three
orders
-
those
who
pray,
those
who
fight,
and
those who
work
-
was still
alive
juridically
in
the late 18th
century.
Thus we
had a non-
correspondence
between the
political superstructure
and the
eco-
nomic
instance;
the
economic
criteria which
gave
the Société
dès
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FRENCH
REVOLUTION
315
Ordres its own
character had been
carried
away by
merchant
capital.
"Such a
discrepancy
never
lasts forever. The
Revolution
of
1789 restored
the
harmony
between law
and
fact"
(Lefebvre,
1969,
2).
The Constitution
established
a new
principle
of social mobil-
ity
to be
regulated
exclusively by
the free market. From now on
the offices
were to
be
given
according
to
merit rather
than
privi-
lege,
in
keeping
with the
rationality
of a market
society
where
private property
owners
exchange by
mutual consent.
On
August
4,
a
merchant
form
of
property
was affirmed
-
a definition of
prop-
erty
that redeemed
part
of the feudal
heritage
by
maintaining
a
distinction
between
personal
servitude,
which was abolished
with-
out
compensation
(corvée
and
mainmorte),
and the
rights
arising
from a "contract"
which were
declared
redeemable,
capable
of
being bought
out
(droit
réels,
champarts).
Bourgeois
lawyers
dis-
tinguished
between
"wrongly
acquired"
rights
-
tithe,
mortmain,
banalités
-
and
those
rights
that
were
subject
to
purchase
and
sale
in
the
market.
Before
1789 the
liberty
of contract
was
tempered
by
the
status
of those
contracting,
by privileges
such
as those
held
by
guilds
and
societies.
But the
decree
of
August
4
endorsed
the
gradual
termination
of
these
restrictions,
allowing peasants
to
contract
their
property
as wished.
The Société
dès
Ordres
gave
way
to an
individualistic
society
in
which
every
citizen
had
equal
rights.
"All
citizens
being
equal
in its
eyes
are
equally
admissible
to
all
public
dignities,
offices
and
employments,
according
to their
capacity,
and with
no
other
dis-
tinction
than
that
of their
virtues and talents"
(The
Declaration,
clause
VI).
The Allarde
law
(March
1791)
made freedom
of con-
tract
the basis
of future
social
relations
by abolishing
corporations
and
privileged
organizations.
The
Le
Chapelier
Law
guaranteed
a
free market
in
employment,
banning
all
assemblies
or
associa-
tions,
whether
of
journeymen
or masters.
Price
controls
were
eliminated,
as well
as
internal
customs
barriers
and
monopolies.
In 1791
the
Legislative
Assembly
made free
trade
in
grains,
in-
ternal
and
external,
the
policy
of
revolutionary
France. These
constitutional
changes,
to
quote
one
more
revisionist,
were
the death-knell
of
noble
power
in
France,
for
by
them
nobles lost the
social
and
institutional
advantages
upon
which that
power
had been
built.
They
marked
the end
of the
privilege
of birth.
Privilege
did not
disappear;
it was
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316
SCIENCE öf SOCIETY
merely