François Furet

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François Furet (French: [fʁɑ̃swa fyʁɛ]; 27 March 1927, Paris – 12 July 1997, Figeac) was a French historian, and president of the Saint-Simon Foundation, well known for his books on the French Revolution. He was elected to the Académie française in March 1997, just three months before he died in July.


The Passing of an Illusion, The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century (1999)[edit]

University of Chicago Press (1999)

  • The bourgeoisie is a synonym for modern society. The word designates the class that gradually destroyed, by its free activity, the old aristocratic society founded on a hierarchy of birth.
    • p. 4
  • The American people were possessed by the capitalist spirit without ever having had a bourgeoisie; French political society, in contrast, created a bourgeoisie devoid of the capitalist spirit.
    • p. 7
  • Born of war, both Bolshevism and Fascism drew their basic education from war. They transferred to politics the lessons of the trenches: familiarity with violence, the simplicity of extreme passions, the submission of the individual to the collectivity, and finally the bitterness of futile or betrayed sacrifices.
    • p.163
  • In Fascism, as in Communism, the idea of the future was based on a critique of bourgeois modernity… It rose from a variety of currents and from authors of very different origins, all of whom demonized the bourgeoisie. The doctrine was cast as post-Marxist, not as pre-liberal.
    • p. 175
  • To understand this relationship we may start with what has become an accepted observation: Stalinized Bolshevism and National Socialism constitute the two examples of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes. Not only were they comparable, but they form a political category of their own, which has become established since Hannah Arendt.
    • p. 180
  • The fact that Communism and Fascism assigned contradictory roles to history and reason—the emancipation of the proletariat versus the domination of the Aryan race—mattered little.
    • p.191
  • What was new about Hitler and Stalin was what Friedrich Meinecke, in an attempt shortly after World War II to express his horror at Hitler’s moral nihilism, called a ‘Machiavellianism of the masses'.
    • p.191
  • In many thundering discourses, Hitler expressed his respect, if not admiration for Stalinist Communism and its leader.
    • p. 191
  • Nazism was a form of Bolshevism turned against its initial form.
    • p. 205
  • Hitler did a better job than Stalin of accomplishing Lenin’s totalitarian promises—better, too, than Mussolini,…
    • p. 205
  • It was in Nazi Germany that Bolshevism was perfected; there, political power truly absorbed all spheres of existence, from the economy to religion, from technology to the soul. The irony, the tragedy, of history was that both totalitarian regimes, identical in their aim for absolute power over dehumanized beings, presented themselves as protection from the danger presented by the other.
    • pp. 205-06
  • Nazism was a German form of Bolshevism.
    • p. 207

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