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Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution

Simon Schama1990





The author, Simon Schama, claims that no nation with pretensions of empire will balance the national budget. During the late 1700's, France's expeditionary and domestic defense expenses in the 7 Years War and American War for Independence pressured the Royalty toward austerity, tax increases, encouraging patriotic subscriptions (war bonds, I guess), and finally borrowing. Of course, it was said, and perhaps is always said, future economic growth will cover the deficit, and perhaps that is sometimes true, as the great empires of Europe weather long lists of conflicts, but before recovery, it sets a country to weather future economic trouble poorly.

The author, though, goes on to point out that for all this, England had it worse. So it is not money, exactly, that can cause revolution. I suppose you might say that Empire is the ultimate collateral as long as people keep faith, from which you might say, any debt is justified if Empire is maintained.