The members were careful not to speak against the will of the peoplc and adopted a policy to suit their interests.
When France was invaded by other European powers to restore the monarchy, the masses joined the army to defend the revolution. This time they fought not for the king but for the country a great change in history. They marched to the war f`ront singing the marseillaise, the revolutionary song, to defend their nation against the invading enemies.
Another important step taken by the revolutionary government was to de-Christianise the French society. The church of Notre Dame was stripped of`all religious symbols and declared the church of supreme reason. A new calendar was introduced replacing the Christian one. However, these radical changes were checked when Robespierre was arrested and executed in 1795.
Although the radical phase of the French revolution ended, it provided an opportunity to Napoleon to establish his dictatorship. However, the role of the newly-empowered masses which had been radicalised during the revolution could not be changed. They played an important role in the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. The masses had learned to fight against the army; they had become expert in barricading the streets and put up resistance against the movement of the armed forces. When France was defeated by Germany in 1870, the people captured the city and the commune of Paris controlled its affairs; however, the army used brutal force; the ensuing mass slaughter wiped out any resistance against the government.
Since the French revolution, the masses have continued to play an important role in changing the political system. In Asia and Africa they struggled against colonialism and fought for freedom. In recent history, there are a number of examples when the masses came out on the streets against dictators and supported those political parties who were struggling for democracy.
The contribution of the masses is undeniable in establishing a democratic system based on fundamental rights and justice. Although they have been harassed, tortured and killed by law enforcing agencies, their spirit of resistance could not be crushed.
In Eastern Europe, the masses have suceceded in bringing about peaceful revolutions in their countries, while in the Middle East they protested to change the military-dominated governments. However, the outcome was not the establishment of democracy but the setting up of dietatorial government as in the case of Egypt.
In Pakistan, although the masses often protest against the government and demand for basic needs such as gas, electricity, employment and security. But since they are not organised, their protest is crushed by the police and they are sent back to their homes. They are not successful because they are not united in their efforts and have no support from the elite leadership of political parties. In this case, it is a waste of` their energy which would weaken their inspiration and hope to transform the society. The dream of achieving true sovereignty of the people is still a far away one in our country.
by Mubarak Ali, Dawn.com
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