Essay on History of Revolutions
Many of us have heard that revolutions devour their children. Many famous revolutionaries, such as Trotsky, or even Robespierre, agreed with such saying. There are examples of such processes all around the world, and South Africa is just one of them. Powerful people struggle for money and influence; moreover, this is exactly what most revolutions were made for. Every time when a new revolution occurs, doesn’t matter is it successful or not, after a while, comes a time for justice. After successful revolutions, justice is often applied to representatives of the old system. This is understood, since everyone who was a victim of the previous regime takes advantage and uses new position of power against leaders of the past. However, justice to old regime soon turns against those who created a revolution. There are many examples in the world’s history when those who started revolutions began to fight for power, killing each other. We can recall France and Hungary as examples of such revolutions, where people, who developed the very idea of a revolution, and made it real, were executed.
The French Revolution was followed by executions from the very beginning. First were the nobility, as well as the King himself. However, they were not the only victims. Thousands of people were accused of acting against the revolution. Finally, the King and his followers were executed, and France became a republic. Along with monarchy, the Church finally lost its power, and so it couldn’t stand against new political figures. This part of French history is called the terror. Marie Antoinette was beheaded during these times, and Robespierre, who led the Jacobins, established a new structure, named the Committee for Public Safety. Many people were hoping for better days to come, since previous organization was unable to cope with violence and terror. However, the name of the Committee for Public Safety was not consistent with its actions. During only first seven weeks, they managed to execute over 1300 people, and then Robespierre was beheaded by his own followers. Another man who was at the helm of the revolution and reign of terror, Jacques Danton, was beheaded before. Danton could feel what happens, that’s why, on the way to execution, he told Robespierre that he will join them soon, and his house will be beaten down. Such a prophecy turned out to be true. Girondines were killed first, then Danton, and then – Robespierre himself.
Hungarian revolution gives us another example of a revolution that eats it children. Imre Nagy, who led the movement against USSR in 1956, was executed by leaders of communist fraction. In 1953, Nagy became a premier of this communist country, and initiated a number of liberal reforms. He stood against Soviet influence, but two years later lost his office, and in 1956 he was expelled from the Hungarian Communist party. Many workers and students joined anti-communist demonstrations, and this reaction quickly developed into a full-scale revolution led by Nagy. Now Nagy returned his premiere’s office, but another Hungarian minister, Janos Kadar, managed to create an alternative regime and ask USSR for help. In November, 200,000 Soviet soldiers supported by 2,500 tanks entered Hungary. Of course, Nagy should find a shelter, and he found it, for not so long though, in the Yugoslav embassy. Within the safe-conduct agreement, he left the building and was immediately arrested by Soviet soldiers. Thousands of Hungarians were killed, more than 200,000 refugees were forced to leave the country, and many people were executed until this revolution was finally suppressed. Kadar sentenced Nagy to death, for treason. However, when Hungary was freed from communism in 1989, he was reburied with all official honors. Another executed soldier of the revolution was Pal Maleter. He began his career as a Soviet soldier, but then collaborated with Nagy. During their collaboration, Maleter soon became a colonel, and then even a Minister of defense. Soviets captured him during the negotiations, so he was executed along with Nagy.
Most people who led revolutions lived ordinary lives and came from low classes. However, most of them quickly improved their quality of life, and gained significant power during revolution, and in post-revolution society. People trusted them and followed their charisma. We already mentioned the leaders of French and Hungarian revolutions. Talking about Danton and Robespierre, we should say that they both were born in lawyers’ families, and had an opportunity to build their prosperous future. However, both of them joined the revolution, and always stated that the only thing they care about is people. They were intelligent enough to convince people and attract more people to join the movement against the monarchy. Both these men had too much power in their hands, and both of them didn’t like each other. That’s why Robespierre managed to execute Danton, and Danton accidentally told the truth about Robespierre’s future, where he joined a list of executed revolutionaries. The story of Nagy is completely different, since this man wasn’t so radical. He didn’t support terror, and many people missed him. This is a reason why in 1989 he was reburied with honors. Many Hungarians remember him fighting for his country, and his death wasn’t caused by somebody who suddenly switched sides.
The phrase about the revolution that eats its children was very popular during the French Revolution, and even Danton himself mentioned it before he was executed. Robespierre didn’t trust Danton anymore, as well as the Committee of Public Safety didn’t trust hundreds of people suspected in acting against the revolution. Finally, people took control over the National Assembly, and the Jacobins gained more power, which led to new waves of violence. Radicals quickly became conservatives. Over 7,000 people were killed, including revolutionaries. Hungarian revolution is an example of another kind, since it caused most suffers not to its children, but to the whole people of Hungary as well. Russians occupied this country, implementing all features of Soviet country, such as arrests, executions and the atmosphere of total paranoia. Even though now everything changed, and even heroes of that revolution are buried with honors, we cannot get back all people who were sacrificed to revolutions, because even children of revolutions were eaten by their merciful mothers.