Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequality, and the by Michael Sonenscher

By Michael Sonenscher

Ever because the French Revolution, Madame de Pompadour's remark, "Après moi, le déluge" (after me, the deluge), has appeared like a callous if actual prophecy of the political cataclysms that all started in 1789. yet many years prior to the Bastille fell, French writers had used the word to explain a special type of egocentric recklessness--not towards the flood of revolution yet, relatively, towards the flood of public debt. In sooner than the Deluge, Michael Sonenscher examines those fears and the responses to them, and the result's not anything below a brand new frame of mind concerning the highbrow origins of the French Revolution. during this nightmare imaginative and prescient of the long run, many prerevolutionary observers envisioned that the pressures generated through glossy warfare finance could trigger a sequence of debt defaults that may both break validated political orders or reason a unexpected lurch into despotic rule. Nor used to be it transparent that constitutional govt may well retain this hazard at bay. Constitutional govt could make public credits safer, yet public credits could undermine constitutional executive itself. earlier than the Deluge examines how this obstacle gave upward push to a frequent eighteenth-century curiosity in understanding tips on how to identify and keep consultant governments capable of observe the promise of public credits whereas fending off its peril. by means of doing so, the booklet throws new gentle on a ignored point of recent political notion and at the French Revolution.

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Extra info for Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequality, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution

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And if democracy were in turn to fail, France would still find a way to ensure that she was not effaced from among the European powers. 26 This new constitution would set the true scale of society’s needs and fix the true level of public contributions. Not content with the destruction of the nobility and the clergy, this “audacious leveller” would summon the citizenry to even greater liberty and prosperity. ”27 At every step, perpetual meetings would distract the people from industry, agriculture, and commerce, producing a general desire (voeu ge´ne´ral) to entrust him with all public power.

338–42, 351, 357; M. Frederick Lochernes, Robert Walsh (New York, 1941); and Paul Y. Hammond, “The Political Order and the Burden of External Relations,” World Politics 19 (1967): 443–64. 5 Sir James Steuart, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy [1767], ed. Andrew Skinner (Edinburgh and Chicago, 1966), bk. ii, ch. xiv, p. 218. FACI NG THE FUTURE 25 a body of regular troops, officers and soldiers, provided with everything necessary for their maintenance, and that of their wives and families at the public expence.

T. Press; Leamington Spa, Berg Press, 1988). 45 Thomas Hobbes, Elements of Law Natural & Politic [1640], ed. Ferdinand To¨nnies, introd. M. M. Goldsmith (London, Cass, 1969), pt. 2, ch. 8, sec. 7, pp. 173–4. INTRODUCTION 19 abroad. The whole idea of keeping the public faith presupposed concord. The state that was best equipped to maintain it was likely to be the winner in the international capital markets and to reap the reward of lower interest rates and the virtuous circle of public and private prosperity that they brought in their wake.

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