Conflicts Within Society

  • David Thomson
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


After 1879 conflicts about dynasty and régime subsided, and increasingly men accepted a Republic as inevitable. But if the hopes of monarchists and Bonapartists alike evaporated, there remained plenty of sources of deep division in the nation. If Frenchmen were divided a little less about the past, they were perhaps rather more divided about the future-the social future of an industrial nation. Extremes met, as democrats and antidemocrats agreed that liberty and authority are ultimately incompatible, so that while an “Alain” urged minimal government in the name of individual freedom, authoritarians urged the destruction of individual freedom in the name of a strong State. So, too, while monarchists, radicals and even some socialists favored decentralization and a diffusion of power from the center to a multiplicity of more autonomous units, the liberals and Bonapartists, strange allies, insisted upon centralized national sovereignty with only moderate delegation of self-government to other bodies. The chief pitfall of studying the political and social divisions of France of the Third Republic is to assume consistent alignments of parties.


Religious Association Military Service National Guard PARIS Commune Socialist Party 
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Copyright information

© David Thomson 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Thomson
    • 1
  1. 1.Sidney Sussex CollegeCambridgeUK

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