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The Conservatives: Friedrich Julius Stahl: "What is the Revolution?" (1852)

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Now if revolution is not the same as rebellion, and not the same as political freedom, then what is the revolution?

Revolution means the specific political teaching, the world-altering force, that has shaped the outlook of nations and the institutions of public life since 1789. But if one inquires about its conception and essence, then the answer is this: Revolution is the establishment of the entire public condition on the will of man rather than on God's order and providence: that all governing authority and power is not from God, but rather from human beings, from the people; and that the entire social condition has as its goal not the application of God's holy commandments and the fulfillment of His world plan, but solely the satisfaction and willful behavior of human beings.

This is the internal center from which the entire system of revolution unfolds. It is the key to understanding all of its demands. Permit me first to list these demands and then to comment on them:

Revolution demands popular sovereignty, be it a democratic republic, be it a monarchy in which the king is the servant of parliament, [and] parliament the servant of public opinion or the masses.

Revolution demands freedom, letting people have their way in all spheres, unrestricted divisibility and alienability of landed property, unrestricted freedom of residency and trade, unlimited freedom for public teaching, for the foundation of sectarian institutions, for divorce. It demands the abolition of the death penalty, decriminalization of blasphemy, and honorable burial for suicides.

Revolution demands equality: Abolition of all estates and classes and corporations [guilds], all existing government authorities, leveling of society.

Revolution demands the separation of church and state: equal rights to government offices for followers of all religions, equality for all cults, treatment of the Christian church as a mere private society bereft of interest for nation and state, introduction of the natural religion instead of Christianity in elementary school and public instruction.

Revolution demands the Charter, i.e. the destruction of the entire indigenous historic constitution of the country as it has been formed over centuries by tradition and individual laws, in order to make a new one in One Act, in One Document, so that no law is valid anymore unless it is in this document and only because it is there.

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