One of the most significant charters of human liberties in the history of the French revolution is that of the declaration of the rights of man and the citizen. It came at a time when the representatives of the French citizens decided to form into a National Assembly and was an important step towards the attainment of a constitution for France as a republic. The document attributes its influence to the doctrine of natural rights that encompasses both individual and collective rights that are seen by many as being universal. This implies that whatever it outlines is applicable at all times and in all places about the nature of humans. Consequently, the declaration proclaims that people should be guaranteed rights which in turn act as a shield that protects people from oppression. It gives all its citizens a sense of equality.
One of the declarations implied the nature of men being born and given a meaning of the freedom that ensures that they are treated equally. The use of the words free and equal in the quote implies that the equality of human beings has been defined since the time of birth. The man is therefore born free and therefore should only be answerable to a supreme being; God. The second important article is that which touches on liberty and justice. The freedom to exercise natural rights is unlimited, and only the law can define its limits. Traditionally, there has always been a cosmic law that sets out a mans liberty. Man, however unlike other creatures can choose whether or not to adhere to the cosmic law. A man should, therefore, ensure that he acts with some sense of rationality, a factor which is considered artificial and poses certain limits to liberty. The last article is that which touches on the ability to communicate ideas freely. It is considered as one of the sacred rights of a man. Despite all the freedom that man has been guaranteed, all citizens should still be held accountable for their actions which include what they speak, write or print especially if law defines the abuse to any form of freedom.
The proponents of Enlightenment advocate for both reason and liberty. They mainly wanted to incorporate the possibility of an intervention of God through miracles. Expectations of this kind seemed to conflict with reason since there has always to be evidence for one to substantiate any claims. They also did not tackle the issue of rights extensively. The question of individual rights, in particular, was not addressed in the social contract.
The declaration is more of an attack on the monarchial regime. The notion of equality being put before the systems of law characterized the pre-revolutionary regime. The purpose of the judicial system was to prevent abuses by the ruling government that were headed by the king and his administration. The first article could, however, be interpreted from a different point of view to mean both societal and political democracy. The declaration of liberty and equality did not apply to all citizen. The negroes, for example, were enslaved and subjected to discrimination based on their race and their rights were undermined. The French representatives ignored the plight of the slaves who were even at the time considered sellable and instead insisted that they did not belong to the group that would qualify them as citizens.
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