From a study by Markham, France is what it is today because of two things. The first thing is The French Revolution while the second is the rise to power by Napoleon (1). Historically, these two things played a vital role in shaping France. This paper compares and contrasts the attitudes of people under Napoleon’s reign with those of people under the U.S. government after September 11, 2001 attacks.
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Attitudes of People under Napoleon’s Reign
As pointed out by Markham, Napoleon is generally regarded as one of the greatest administrators in history apart from wearing a military hat. With so much enthusiasm and tact, he played an important role in turning France into a great country in Europe (1). It is alleged that Napoleon achieved the goal of making France a great nation by proposing a number of changes and projects. Among other things, the changes included restructuring the country’s legal system.
During the reign of Napoleon, the French people had just bid goodbye to an oppressive and corrupt regime. Consequently, everyone was eager to embrace a new regime that was capable of defending the country against any form of external aggression by neighboring countries. Afraid of oppression and corruption, the French people were ready to do anything in order to evade the terrible events associated with the previous regime. Suddenly, security became a vital need for the people of France. The people treasured security more than anything else. They put their faith in Napoleon’s ability to ruthlessly deal with enemies and to create an environment that gave them an assurance of safety. Out of fear, the French were made to believe some things that were not even true. Arguably, this was also due to the fact that the majority were not educated enough to understand that some things were not possible.
Attitudes of People under U.S. Government after September 11, 2001
According to Napolitano, any clash between people’s free choices and government efforts to safeguard a nation must respect the free choices by citizens (1). This notwithstanding, the attacks of September 11, 2001, created a need for the U.S. government to be keen on issues of security. As part of its restructuring, the U.S. government had to re-examine personal freedom for all citizens. Considering that the security of the country was at stake, it became apparent to the people of the United States that they had to throw their weight behind the government in order to support efforts to promote security. U.S. citizens have, for example, been compelled to give up their right to privacy. This has created room for the U.S. government to collect information about its citizens without fear.
Similar to the French people during Napoleon’s reign, the people of the United States chose security rather than freedom. Nothing could be compared to having a secure environment. As long as people felt secure, they were ready to give up certain freedoms for the sake of security. Certainly, the ultimate goal of citizens in both countries was to get an assurance that the country was secure.
Freedoms the People of Napoleon’s Day were willing to Sacrifice
Under Napoleon’s regime, the French people were denied many freedoms. Part of his conviction was that civil rights were less important than civil order. Most people would, therefore, prefer to lose personal freedom rather than live in an insecure environment. For this reason, the French people had to live with this understanding during Napoleon’s time in power. Everyone had to wake up to the supposition that order and security was an important requirement in life. The people of France were compelled to make painful choices to give up certain freedoms mainly because the freedoms interfered with Napoleon’s quest to create a secure nation.
One of the things that the French people had to do was to embrace equality rather than inequality. Ostensibly, the previous regimes were characterized by equality. Taking the case of taxation, for example, it was mandatory for some people to pay tax while others such as the clergy and nobles were exempted. During Napoleon’s reign, those who considered themselves privileged and were exempt from paying taxes had to start paying taxes like everyone else. As noted by Butler (1), the taxation system in France had to be centralized. Parent’s authority over their children was also promoted during this period and was legally recognized. The idea of paying tithe to the church was also denounced. In addition, trial by jury was introduced during Napoleon’s period of influence and a free but mandatory education system was instituted.
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Freedoms People of the United States were willing to Sacrifice
The people of the United States were compelled to give up their right to privacy after the September 11, 2001 attacks. As earlier explained, the willingness of the people of the United States to give up their right to privacy opened an avenue for the U.S. government to freely collect information about its citizens and use it to address security concerns in the country.
Generally, people have a strong affinity for freedom. However, a nation that gives freedom to its people often creates room for a thirst for more freedom. Unfortunately, some freedoms can make it difficult for law enforcers to make a nation secure. Although people will ordinarily choose safety over freedom, too much freedom is dangerous for the safety of individuals. While a domineering government can easily subject citizens to unfair treatment, it is better in my opinion, to have a domineering government. To effectively deal with incidents such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, governments must be strict.
Butler, Chris. 2007. The Rise of Napoleon (1795-1808). 2007. Web.
Markham, David. 2010. The Revolution, Napoleon, and Education. 2007. Web.
Napolitano, Andrew. 2013. Giving Up Liberty for Security. 2007. Web.